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HomeIndustry SectorFilmJ. Mills Goodloe Spends Years Making The Age Of Adaline

J. Mills Goodloe Spends Years Making The Age Of Adaline

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J. Mills Goodloe
J. Mills Goodloe

In 2003, screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe turned his love of the lead character in the international sensation from the period, the French-produced Amelie, into a new idea for a script which eventually became the current hit The Age of Adaline. “I thought it was a terrific wonderful character,” he said of the role played by Audrey Tatou. “It was a clever hook for me. That was a jumping off point.”

At first, Goodloe’s challenge was to create a thoroughly interesting woman who had lived the entire 20th century frozen in time as a 29-year-old living in New York. With a writing partner and another script in tow at the time, Goodloe went into a meeting with producer Steve Golin to see if Golin wanted to produce the Adaline idea independently. “He liked my writing,” Goodloe said of Golin who then related, “Come back next week and pitch me your [new] idea.’”

In the 2003 version of Adaline, the character was a librarian, wanting to stay out of public sight, but many additional elements and details remained different from those in the eventually produced work. After Goodloe stopped working with his writing partner in 2005, he did a substantial rewrite on Adaline in 2009. “The fundamental building blocks of the story remained consistent,” he noted. “Outside of the love interest component, the producers didn’t touch anything, shocking after about 15 years.”

The Age Of Adaline
The Age Of Adaline

Noteworthy is that from 2005 until 2009, little happened with the project. “I would go a solid 18 months and never got any mention about it,” Goodloe related. “The producers at Lakeshore and Sidney Kimmel got involved in 2009. They got excited. They went through a few different actresses who came aboard; they were tenacious. I’ve done projects where within 24 hours of an actress dropping out, nothing happens again for years.”

One element which transformatively evolved in the screenplay was indeed the Ellis character who enters a romance with the reluctant Adaline. Another key element to change was the setting of the story. “In pre-pre-production, it was New York,” Goodloe stated, conveying that he himself has been rewritten, then hired to go back and rewrite the writer who rewrote him. “They changed it to San Francisco. It was much more interesting making it San Francisco. The producers really didn’t touch the script. The final film was very honest to the screenplay which will never happen again.”

AgeD8-125.dng
AgeD8-125.dng

From the first draft, an omniscient voice-over was present in the story, as aspect which was an influence on Goodloe from the third-person narrator utilized in the classic film Network in addition to voice-over used in Amelie plus Y Tu Mama Tambien. Goodloe pointed to a variety of narrated scenes which fill in key 20th century gaps in history in addition to Adaline’s story and noted their importance. “There’s no way to tell that without a narrator,” he conveyed.

One essential component in The Age of Adaline is the character’s journey through her 100+ years of life. Critical to this reality was the casting of an actress without droves of screen baggage, in this case, Blake Lively. “I couldn’t imagine a better person for this role. When I wrote it, she was in high school,” revealed Goodloe. “It worked. Certain actresses make 3-4-5 movies a year. I like the idea that Blake has not been overexposed. It’s an opportunity to be judged fairly.”

AgeD23-106.dng
AgeD23-106.dng

Additional key casting was Harrison Ford as a presently grown man from Adaline’s past. In Ford, Goodloe had an actor who worked uniquely with his lines. “He’s taking dialogue and chopped out a third of it,” said Goodloe. “He was on set and said, ‘I don’t need to say that.’ He had that instinct inside of him.”

One revelatory moment in the screenplay is when Ford, as a character now in his 70s, recognizes Adaline from over 40 years ago in his past. When he first sees her again and says her name, a pivotal point in the story arrives. “The line, ‘Adaline,’ was pretty much as it is right now,” Goodloe remarked of a piece of dialogue from his early drafts, but he turned around and gave due praise to his collaborators. “I’m really lucky for that scene to play out as it plays out. In my heart, I 100% feel like that was the best version of that scene that could have been done. Both sides are playing it perfectly. Part of it is the screenplay, but the majority of it is the director and the actors. Ultimately, you realize that you’re watching the movie for the relationship.”

Of his journey from original spec script to finished movie, Goodloe exudes a humble perspective. “I’m spoiled,” he said. “It won’t happen again. Every project is a different challenge. Assignment work comes with expectations, notes, producers; they’re bringing you on to execute that material. Even those tried and true properties, the proven intellectual properties, you’re still going to make movies that are original. There’s always room for that stuff. I don’t think you can sound the death knell for original ideas.”

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