Ewan McGregor’s first film as a director will be an adaption of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1997 novel, American Pastoral. McGregor will also star, playing Seymour “Swede” Levov, a successful, middle-aged businessmen whose perfect life is shattered during the social and political upheaval of the 1960s. Jennifer Connelly will play Levov’s wife, Dawn, and Dakota Fanning his idealistic daughter, Merry, whose rebellious actions in protest to the Vietnam War end in tragedy. The script is by John Romano, who wrote the adaptation of Michael Connelly’s novel, The Lincoln Lawyer. Interestingly, Romano was a writer and consulting producer for the 2002-2005 television series, American Dreams, which also followed the impact of the turbulent 1960s on a conventional American family. He was 20-years old in 1968, so there’s no doubt he knows this era really well.
American Pastoral is the first of a trilogy of novels that Roth wrote in the 1990s that explore the impact of 20th century historical events on everyday American lives. The other novels include I Married a Communist and The Human Stain, which was made into a 2003 film staring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman. All feature the narrator Nathan Zuckerman as a passive observer of events. He was played by Gary Sinise in The Human Stain, but there’s no word yet on whether the character will be included in the new film.
This will be the second recent adaption of one of Roth’s novels, after last year’s The Humbling starting Al Pacino. Other Roth books that have been turned into movies are Goodbye, Columbus; Portnoy’s Complaint; and The Dying Animal (re-named Elergy).