CARL ELLSWORTH ON THE ‘Y: THE LAST MAN’ MOVIE
The ‘Disturbia’ screenwriter re-teams with director D.J. Caruso—and possibly Shia LaBeouf—on the adaptation of the Vertigo book
By Rickey Purdin
Posted December 6, 2007 11:35 AM
WIZARD: How did you get involved with “Y: The Last Man?”
ELLSWORTH: I was having breakfast with D.J. Caruso, the director of “Disturbia.” He had also been sent the material and had really responded to it and I told him I had really liked it. He and I took a couple weeks and developed a take on what a potential movie could be.
Were you a fan of the comic beforehand?
ELLSWORTH: I had heard of it a couple of years ago, but it’s funny—I don’t even consider myself a fan of comic books per se. I grew up on “Star Wars” and watching movies, but the comic book thing kind of passed me by. That being said, I was pitched the premise and it sounded great. Once I started reading the comic books I couldn’t put them down.
How do you deal with fan anticipation of a comic book movie?
ELLSWORTH: This is a comic book that people care about. So D.J. and I had some nervous laughter over it where it’s like, “Oh, man, what have we gotten ourselves into?” It has been a challenge trying not to be too intimidated. That just gets me all in an uproar and I don’t end up writing anything. I had read stories about when David Goyer, one of the producers on “Y: The Last Man,” started writing “Batman Begins” and the reaction that it got. So, it’s like, “What have we done here?”
Are you breaking the comic series into installments?
ELLSWORTH: There is such an abundance of material in the comics that it’s logical to conclude that there’s way too much for a single movie.
The last issue of the comic hasn’t come out yet. Has comic creator Brian K. Vaughan told you the ending?
ELLSWORTH: We didn’t get a script for the final issue, but we had a very good conversation with Brian and told him about some of the things that we were thinking, and actually I think that D.J. and I were surprised that we were on the same page. So if that brings any comfort to the fans we’re proceeding forward with Brian’s blessing. [Laughs]
How do you handle the end of the world in the film?
ELLSWORTH: In the comic book, we’re presented with an end-of-the-world scenario pretty darn quickly. It then becomes the adventures of Yorick and 355, but I would say that a movie version must have more of a sense of urgency and jeopardy. It’s not going to be a “Mad Max” film. Where we want to start is what simply would the world be like if this “absurd” thing were to happen. I don’t think you’re going to see “Mad Max” or even cars burning in the streets. It’s actually going to have more of a haunting feel to it as Yorick our main character is attempting to get his bearings and what the immediate aftermath of the plague means.
Would you still keep basic comic elements, including Yorick as a magician?
ELLSWORTH: We haven’t gone out of the way to reinvent a lot of the comic because it works so well. What we’re actually trying to do is give more of a foundation to the characters and what makes them tick. I wouldn’t so much call this an origin-type movie, but the villains in the comic spring up quickly. For example, the Daughters of the Amazon—we’re interested in exploring how that group doesn’t just spring up overnight.
Will “Disturbia” star Shia LaBeouf be in the film?
ELLSWORTH: Right now that’s just a rumor to me. Shia is great and I think it would definitely be a fitting role for him so we’ll just have to wait and see.
If you were the last man on Earth, what’s the first thing you would do?
ELLSWORTH: That is a good question. Gosh, I’m always thinking about food. [Laughs] What does Yorick do anyway? He goes and tries to find his mom. So I would do what Yorick does. I would run to mommy.
What can you tell us about any other characters showing up? Please tell me there’s a monkey.
ELLSWORTH: Where would we be without Ampersand?
Have you ever tried to write a script with a monkey?
ELLSWORTH: No, I haven’t. I’ve done a fair amount of research on Capuchin monkeys. I’ll defer to D.J. on that and how he wants to have this monkey clinging against Yorick’s shoulder.
Are there any post-apocalyptic worlds in film that you love?
ELLSWORTH: I love, and I don’t know if it’s post-apocalyptic or not, but I really like “Children of Men” and in terms of an overall future, dark setting I love “Blade Runner.” There’s “Mad Max,” and then this might send shivers up people’s spines, but a very good post-apocalyptic movie, as far as the feel of the world goes, is Kevin Costner’s “The Postman.”
When do you expect filming to begin?
ELLSWORTH: It’s a ways off. D.J. is going to direct Shia in “Eagle Eye” and so best-case scenario would be next year. That’s if the screenplay gods smile on me and they don’t show me the door.