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My Book, The Movie with Annie Ward's "The Lying Club"

Mar 20, 2022

MY BOOK, THE MOVIE by Marshal Zeringue

Annie Ward is the author of Beautiful Bad. She has a BA in English literature from UCLA and an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starring Adam Scott, was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She has received a Fulbright scholarship and an Escape to Create artist residency. She lives in Kansas with her family.

Here Ward dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Lying Club:

I moved from Kansas to Los Angeles when I was eighteen to go to college. I had always thought I wanted to write poetry, short stories or eventually a novel. Less than a year after arriving in L.A. I’d caught the local bug, film fever. I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter and ended up getting my master’s degree from the American Film Institute. Inevitably, when hanging out with other aspiring filmmakers, we would fantasize about who we would love to see appear in the movies we would “one day” make. It was self-indulgent good fun, as we all knew quite well that we were more likely to get struck by lightning or win the lottery than see our “wish lists” come true.

Did it stop us from daydreaming? Not at all, and I continue to do so to this day.

The Lying Club “cast” consists of (primarily) five women, one man and a handful of teenagers. Though ultimately it’s a dark thriller with a very serious core about a horrible crime, I would like to think that it uses humor throughout to balance the depravity. As I was writing, I pictured Demi Moore as Brooke, back when she was forty-five, with those flashing eyes, the sleek, waist-length hair, and that throaty laugh.

If we cast the book today, I would want to look for a director who could embrace the notion that a sordid, racy, sinister book like mine could also be… (I hate to say it!) Fun.

I would start off by approaching Liz Feldman, the showrunner of one of my favorites from recent years, Dead To Me. She (along with others) wrote, produced, and directed a hit Netflix series that is classified as a “mystery, drama, comedy.” Brilliant! That’s everything good all rolled into one. I thought the series was twisty, smart, and at times hilarious. If I could, I would cast the two main actresses Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as Brooke Elliman and Linda Leland. Or Parker Posey and Elizabeth Banks. I would love to see the brilliant Mindy Kaling be both fierce and funny as Asha Wilson, Kate del Castillo as the regal, mysterious Elena Ruiz, and I think Julia Garner would make a diminutive yet tenacious and threatening Natalie Bellman.

And as for Nick? Okay, this might surprise you. Think of Nick’s coaching outfits comprised of khaki shorts and collared polos. His whistle on a rope. His pervasive insistence on “knowing and doing what’s best.” Imagine Ted Lasso with a very dark secret. Jason Sudeikis is from my hometown, and I would love to see him tackle a character completely unlike his previous roles, breaking out beyond comedy with the challenging role of the duplicitous Nick Maguire. Jason Bateman would also likely be perfect for the role, channeling the smarminess of the character he played in Juno.

As for the teenagers, you could literally cast them out of the brilliant and disturbing high school series Euphoria, and I would be thrilled. Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi, however, is truly the Reade Leland that existed in my imagination back when I first started writing The Lying Club.

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