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The sleeping Giant

Given the massive success of The Wrestler, it’s curious that the film’swriter, Robert Siegel would choose to direct his followup scripthimself. Especially given his complete lack of experience.

Given the massive success of The Wrestler, it’s curious that the film’s writer, Robert Siegel would choose to direct his followup script himself. Especially given his complete lack of experience.

“I honestly didn’t know anything,” he confesses while on the phone from his New York apartment. “When I decided to direct this I bought Film Making for Dummies, which is an underrated book in my opinion.”

Although the movie stars comedian Patton Oswalt and there are some extremely funny scenes, the film is far too dark to be called a comedy. Oswalt plays a New York Giants obsessed super-fan in his mid-30s who still lives at home. He derives the bulk of his self-esteem from his ability to deliver cutting diatribes about his team on a sports call-in show.

“He’s kind of a composite of guys,” says Siegel. “Everyone who sees the movie says ‘I know that guy.’ The movies I like tend to have these types of characters, 70s character driven dramas about these sort of loner outsiders.”

Siegel wrote the script back in 2002, long before The Wrestler, while he was still editor of long-running satirical newspaper The Onion.

“I was looking for what was next, writing screenplays on the side at night. This was my first good screenplay, in my opinion and pretty much everyone else’s.”

The script made the rounds in Hollywood, floating from director to director. Eventually it landed in the hands of Darren Aronofsky who was originally slated to helm the project. Instead he asked Siegel if he’d be interested in writing a screenplay about wrestling.

Finally, on the script’s fifth birthday, Siegel says “I decided to make the damn thing myself.”

“There are directors who go to film school and know how to operate every piece of equipment on set. But then there are directors who don’t know anything, but just know what they want,” he explains. “By virtue of my total lack of experience, I was one of those directors.”

He was lucky enough to have spent some time on set for The Wrestler. And even though pre-production for Big Fan overlapped with filming for The Wrestler, Siegel shied away from digging for advice from Aronofsky. “He was busy. I kind of left him alone. But I definitely watched.”

• Big Fan opens in theatres Friday

 
 
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