Hollywood has been planning an adaptation of Philip Roth’s seminal American Pastoral for some time now, though whether any film could ever capture the spirit and complexity of the novel is still up for debate (I’m firmly in the “leave it alone” camp). Regardless, The Giver director Phillip Noyce is going to do his best to deliver a satisfying American Pastoral adaptation, and he recently revealed that he’s already locked Ewan McGregor into place for the starring role.
The scoop came from ComingSoon, which recently got Noyce to confirm McGregor’s casting. Oddly, it appears that IF.com.au learned of McGregor’s casting months back but buried the information in a profile on Noyce. We know now that Noyce is plotting American Pastoral as his next project and will begin production on it in 2015.
McGregor will play Seymour “Swede” Levov, the tragic hero of American Pastoral. The film is expected to cover Levov’s successful career in the idealistic late ’50s and his subsequent fall from grace when, in response to the Vietnam War, his teenage daughter Merry sets off a bomb and kills a bystander, after which she goes into hiding. Levov remains understandably traumatized by the event for the rest of his life.
One concern that fans of Roth’s book will have off the bat is that Levov’s story is only part of American Pastoral. The book is actually framed by a 45th high school reunion attended by Nathan Zuckerman (one of Roth’s fictional alter egos and the narrator), who is told Swede’s story by former classmate Jerry Levov, Swede’s younger brother. Whether Romano’s script will include that is still unknown. Additionally, American Pastoral continues outside of Levov’s story, with much of its length focusing on how hearing Swede’s story personally affects Zuckerman.
Regardless, American Pastoral is happening. We’ll hear much more about the movie as its early 2015 production grows closer, but at least McGregor is a talented actor who’ll likely infuse the part of Swede with ample dignity and dramatic pathos.