have to admit, I didn't actually read it; I just started
flipping through [it]. I got to a point where I started
seeing Orlean, Orlean, Orlean and I thought, 'Wait a minute.
Orlean, Orlean, Orlean?' I didn't read the script that night,
I just flipped forward trying to figure out what this was."
- Susan Orlean
Questioning the Story:
Did Charlie Kaufman's real life experience with writing
the Adaptation screenplay at all resemble his fictional
character's experience in the film?
Yes, Charlie Kaufman was stumped on how to approach the
screenplay in real life as well. In an interview, Kaufman
said that for weeks he woke up feeling like he couldn't
do it. Jonathan Demme's company had hired him to adapt Susan
Orean's "The Orchid Thief," and it was only after
coming up with the adaptation parallel that things began
to fall into place. After turning in the finished screenplay,
Kaufman got the feeling that producer Ed Saxon was a little
upset by what Kaufman had done, but after a second read
through and input from his peers, Ed quickly saw the brilliance
in Kaufman's work.
What did Susan Orlean think about Kaufman's screenplay
portraying her as a drug-snorting wreck?
In an interview Susan said the following, "...the
idea of being portrayed as a drug-snorting [mess] just didn't
square with me. Also, on another level, I thought, 'I don't
want to be a character in a movie.' Even though I'm used
to having my by-line published and so forth, it just seemed
too public. It made me think I don't want to be that exposed.
It wasn't even the idea that the character had unsavory
habits, it was more that I was uncomfortable with just having
my name being in a movie."
What changed Susan's mind toward the film including her
as one of its characters, especially one who develops a
In an interview, when speaking about her conversations with
Adaptation producer Ed Saxon, Susan said the following,
"First Ed said to me, 'Everybody in the movie is using
- I realize this is probably the way cops do it in interrogations
- 'Susan' is going to use her name. Everyone else in it
is going to use their names and we really want to be able
to use your name.' I said, 'But I feel funny. Here I am
using drugs and having sex with my subjects.' He said, 'Susan,
look at Charlie. Charlie is masturbating through the whole
movie using his name.' And I thought, 'You know, he's got
a point there. What am I complaining about?'"
Susan Orlean develop a sexual relationship with John Laroche
in real life?
the true story reveals that in real life Susan Orlean did not develop any sort of intimate
relationship with the orchid thief, John Laroche. In interviews
she has explained that a unique relationship does develop
due to the often lengthy period of constant contact with
the subject, but she never lets such relationships turn
Have any of Susan's subjects ever fallen for her?
In an interview Susan said that this has happened, but
that she never lets things advance. Orlean said that its
easy for subjects to fall for writers who are doing a story
on them, because as a writer you give your subjects a great
deal of attention, and they often respond to someone so
interested in their lives.
Did Susan Orlean really come into contact with aligators
during her research for the book?
Obviously, John Laroche didn't get attacked by an alligator
in real life. However, Susan did see many alligators in
the Fakahatchee swamp area, including baby ones that she
said looked deceivingly cute. She speaks of this during
the Diane Rehm radio interview below.
Does Susan Orlean make an appearance in the movie Adaptation?
The real Susan Orlean did shoot a supermarket scene with Nicolas
Cage, but it was cut from the final edit of the film.
Does Charlie Kaufman really have a brother named Donald?
No, there is no Donald Kaufman. He is a fictional character
for the film created by Adaptation screenwriter Charlie
Susan Orlean Radio Show Interview:
January 21, 2003, Susan Orlean sat down with Chicago area radio
talk show host John Williams to discuss her, at the time, new
book, The Orchid Thief. Susan talks about going to awards
shows for the movie Adaptation and seeing celebrities. She speaks of orchids
and the orchid thief, John Laroche. It's an informative
interview. We learn about the story from Orlean's perspective
before it took on its "adapted" form.
(.ram, 8:56 min)
Pictures of Susan Orlean on the set of Adaptation:
Personal Photographs at SusanOrlean.com
Read the Adaptation Script:
version is from online and is not very crisp for some reason.
The better copy is available for purchase here.
READ THE SCRIPT (PDF
Read Susan Orlean's "Surf Girls of Maui" Article
on Which the 2002 Film Blue
Crush was Based:
READ THE ARTICLE "Surf
Girls of Maui"
Watch the Adaptation Movie Trailer: