The Spectacular Now helmer James Ponsoldt is coming off one of my favorite films of 2015 so far, David Foster Wallace feature The End of the Tour, and today brings news that the director is set to tackle yet another literary icon: The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ponsoldt is angling to adapt and direct Stewart O’Nan’s novel West of Sunset, which is a fictionalized biography of Fitzgerald’s later-in-life struggles to make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood.
The director is lining up Dave Eggers’ adaptation The Circle right now, so West of Sunset wouldn’t shoot until at least after that project, if not later. No actor is yet attached, but the role of Fitzgerald will certainly be a coveted one, especially given that Jason Segel is earning awards buzz for his turn as Wallace in Ponsoldt’s End of the Tour and that the director is next working with Oscar winner Tom Hanks on The Circle.
West of Sunset will pick up with the author in 1937, near the end of his life with few remaining assets, flagging health and an institutionalized wife. He spends time trying to make it as a screenwriter on the MGM lot while also writing The Last Tycoon (Fitzgerald would die three years later, leaving the novel unfinished). The idea is for the film to interweave his last years with flashbacks from his early days as a literary success, bringing figures like Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart into the story.
Fitzgerald is a fascinating figure, especially when you consider that he died believing his work would be forgotten and that he had failed to leave a mark on the literary world. The Great Gatsby and his other work would later be hailed as some of the 20th century’s finest writing, and he is today considered one of the greatest writers of all time. If West of Sunset can introduce his tragic but enthralling story to general audiences, I’m certainly all for it.