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Interview: Author Emily Giffin on ‘Something Borrowed’

May 5, 2011

On May 6, the movie Something Borrowed will open in theaters nationwide. Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Rachel, a single attorney who realizes that she is in love with her best friend Darcy’s (Kate Hudson) fiance.

The film is based on the book by Emily Giffin, a popular author who has gathered legions of female fans over the course of her career. She has published five novels to date. Time Out New York has called Something Borrowed “A contemporary fairy tale”, and that seems like an accurate take on the novel.

I was recently asked to participate in an interview with Giffin, along with some book bloggers. The following is the transcript from our discussion.

Question:  I heard in an interview last year that you said that you had a speaking part for Something Borrowed written into your contract.  I was wondering if you made it into the movie?

Emily Giffin:      I did.  I don’t think it was a speaking part if I said that.  I was incorrect about that, but it’s a cameo.  There’s a little scene where I can be found on a park bench reading my book.  It was a lot of fun to be on set.

Question: Was there a scene from the book that you knew absolutely had to be in the movie?

Emily Giffin:      I felt very strongly that there should be flashbacks that we were able to see since the movie starts the night of her birthday party, and in books you can write flashbacks so easily.

I wanted to see into the night where things change and how Dex ended up going for Darcy instead of Rachel, and I wanted to see a feeling of how all of them got to this point in their lives.

They’re actually my favorite parts of the movie, those moments.  Because I think we all have moments in our lives that we would look back to as a fork in the road or a turning point where we say that we took, you know, we broke up with that guy that night or we said this or we took this job or went to this school.

And so I really like that they capture the strong emotions of these moments.

Question: Are you Team Rachel or Team Darcy?  Who are you pulling for?

Emily Giffin:      I’m pulling for Rachel in this movie.  And with this book, I’m pulling for Rachel because it’s her story.  It’s really about her art and her learning to stand up for herself and go after what she wants.  And so I really pull for her in that respect.

I think that there are a lot of stories where there’s definitely one person who you’re pulling for and there’s another person who you’re not supposed to like.

But I don’t feel that way about mine.  I didn’t feel that way as I wrote the book, and I don’t feel that way as I watched the movie.  It’s much more complicated than that.  And even though I’m more on Rachel’s side, you know I don’t hate Darcy.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson play best friends Rachel and Darcy in 'Something Borrowed'

Question:      I was really excited to talk to you because back in the day this book was passed around among all of my friends.  We all read it.  And I was really, really pleased with the casting from the movie.

Are you happy with the casting?

Emily Giffin:      I loved the cast – the cast is fabulous.  I mean, they’re so perfect.  Ginnifer Goodwin, with her face and her expression and her hair, is so much like the Rachel I imagined.  And John Krasinski, though a bit taller than Ethan, has that sort of original face that I had imagined for Ethan, but yet he is still very good looking.  And then Dex is gorgeous! Colin Egglesfield is so beautiful that he’s actually a little better looking than the Dex in my mind. He really is often such a nice guy and that comes through.  His performance is very sincere, and that was important to me.

And then Kate Hudson knocks it out of the park.  She taps into Darcy like no other actress could.  Hilary Swank says this, and I’m right there with her.  She is the only one we wanted for Darcy.  And that’s true even though her hair is the wrong color. Darcy is a brunette instead of a blonde.  And yet, you forget about the physical characteristics as soon as you see her in that very first scene.

Question:      I have a question about the other novels that you’ve written.  You often come back and revisit characters from previous books. Had you always planned on doing that and how you are able to incorporate them back into the story?

Emily Giffin:      I think in the beginning it was because I wrote the sequel and then there was a sense that there was going to be a series.  I never intended to even write a sequel let alone a series.  So part of it is just that I like to make my readers happy.  And I like to give them updates of what’s going on with these characters that they love.  And sort of answer questions like, “What do you think?  Do you think Claudia and Ben had a baby?  Or, do you think that Dex and Rachel still happy?” and so forth.

And so I think that’s really why I do that.  And then a nice little by-product of that is to show the interrelatedness of the people.  I like combining these different worlds.

Question:  I have read that Something Blue is kind of in the works for possibly being made into a movie, and I was wondering if that one is  going  into production at some point in the near future?

Emily Giffin:      That’s really the plan.  They’re already working on the screenplay.  Everyone’s on board, and Kate mentioned it yesterday.  I anticipate that that will happen.

Question: What was the most exciting part about making the book into a movie?

Emily Giffin:       Just seeing these characters brought to life is as thrilling to me as it is for I think my readers, and the fact that they kept this world right.

For example, when I saw the set of Rachel’s apartment and then when I actually saw the scenes, that’s exactly what her apartment looked like.  And some of the details were even in a box.  She was also wearing an apron at one point that I never described, but if I were going to buy an apron for Rachel for her birthday, it would have been that one.

So, that was a lot of fun to see that world brought to life in a much more visual way than it can be in a book.

Question:      As a writer, I’m really fascinated by your books.  You kind of go into taboo areas, and I think you’re very brave, because we all think about these things.  For instance, there’s Something Borrowed.  Everyone’s thought about getting together with their best friend’s boyfriend or whatever.  But you also go on in some of your other books, admitting that maybe it’s not so happy-go-lucky to be a mom, etc.

Have you had any trepidation or any fear about having some of these things out there?

Emily Giffin:      Right.  You know, I think I tried to create their world with multidimensional, real characters.  Even though some mothers say,  “I love being pregnant.  Life is so rosy, and my husband and I never fight” I just don’t think that it’s realistic, and I think it’s unrealistic to think that our friends are never going to make us mad.

And we’re not going to never make mistakes and there’s never not going to be dishonesty between people. I think the trick is that we don’t abandon our friends.  We would probably abandon our friends if they slept with our fiancée or our husband, but, for being imperfect, we don’t get rid of those friends.

And we forgive people and we expect to be forgiven and so I like writing about this things.  And then capturing the shades of gray of relationships.  And people aren’t all black and white, and good people do some hurtful things.  And people who are very obnoxious like Darcy can be redeemed.  They can change.

I believe people can change and so at the same time that I write about all these missteps and mistakes and these unsympathetic tasks, I believe in redemption and hope and change.  And I really believe in the forgiveness of ourselves and of others.

And I think at that the theme of forgiveness has emerged in many of my books.

Question:   You have a lot of dialogue between your characters in your books.   I  wondered if you have any tips on how to create great conversations between your characters?

Emily Giffin:      I think that as writers we all have weaknesses as well as things that we’re good at, and dialogue is just something that I don’t really necessarily work that hard at.  I feel like I have an ear for it.  And I like it, so they just appear as these conversations in my mind.  For me, it is harder to describe a room. Describing settings is something that I struggle with.

Question:      This is sort of a silly question, but with the royal wedding coming up, we wanted to know if there was something that you would give to Kate as her Something Borrowed, for her wedding.  What would you recommend?

Emily Giffin:      I don’t think I have anything that Kate, a princess, would want to borrow.  That’s a tricky one.  I would like to get her that jelly bean though of her likeness.  Did you see that on Yahoo?  Some man found a Jelly Belly with a design on it that looks like her.

Google “Jelly Belly,” and it’ll return with Kate.  And it’s going for $800 on eBay.  It’s crazy.  So I would get her the jelly bean as a gift.

Question:      At this point, do you think that after Something Borrowed and Something Blue are produced, the other books will go into production?

Emily Giffin:      Hopefully, yes.  Four of them have been optioned.  Hilary Swank and her partner, Molly Smith, also bought Heart of the Matter.  So, we’re starting to talk about that script and that movie.  So, yes, that’s the plan.

Question:      Going back to the idea of writing about uncomfortable topics…did you have an impetus that caused you to start to write Something Borrowed?  Did something happen in your life?

Emily Giffin:      The story is not autobiographical at all.  And all the characters, including Hillary who isn’t in the movie, aren’t based on anyone I know.  I think one of the broader themes of this book is learning to follow your heart and go after what it is that you want.  And for Rachel, it was telling Dex how she felt.  And sort of being true to her heart in the context of a friendship and her feelings for Dex.

And for me, it was upon turning 30, I quit my job as a lawyer, moved to London and wrote this book.  That was my dream and the things that I were going for the most and so, I could very much relate to the feeling of turning 30 and not being happy.  What can you do to get happy?  And what do you need to do to fix it?  I had to take that risk.  So that was more of how I related to Rachel.  That and hating being a lawyer.

Author Emily Giffin (right) makes an appearance in a scene from the film.



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