Noel King: You have been involved in the ongoing Francis Coppola On the Road film project. I read that you had suggested Gus Van Sant as a possible director. Is that project still happening, or is it lost in pre-production hell?
Barry Gifford: Unfortunately, that has been the one biggest disappointment I have had in dealing with the movie business. Francis came to me and asked me to write the screenplay for On the Road. He’d had a number written before mine, and probably even after. I know that he and Michael Herr wrote one afterwards. Anyway, I wrote the screenplay, this must have been 1995 or so, and it was all set to go with Gus Van Sant directing, Francis producing. Everybody wanted to be in the movie, it was green-lit at Columbia Pictures, and then the deal fell apart due to Francis’ own conflicts with Columbia Pictures over another deal.
And basically he took On the Road with him and so the movie was not made at that point. I know he’s got another group of people working on it now, he’s had several over the years, it’s just too bad that we didn’t get it done. I thought that really was an appropriate time, I thought Gus was the right director, completely, and Gus and I worked on the revisions together.
Anyway, that’s what happened there. It was a privilege to be asked, and to work with Francis, and he told me that he liked my script very much. So did Columbia Pictures. So I did my part but with a movie, you know, there are so many possibilities about things going wrong, more than go right, and the politics of it gets involved, and one thing and another. Maybe one day it’ll get made.
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