Jennifer Lawrence's 'East of Eden' May Be Two Movies, Says Director (Exclusive Video)

Writer-director Gary Ross says the John Steinbeck adaptation could be his first project following "The Hunger Games" and explains why he didn't return for "Catching Fire."

Jennifer Lawrence may star in not just one but two movies adapted from John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel East of Eden, writer-director Gary Ross said April 12. Ross helped launch Lawrence into global stardom with The Hunger Games.

“It may be two films,” he said. “We may break it in half, into one generation and the next. And that’s what we’re talking about now.”

The picture is in development at Brian Grazer's and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, with no start date yet set. Just when it shoots will depend on her crammed schedule and also Ross’s, as he weighs whether to make that his next film (and his first since The Hunger Games.)

“It’s one of the things that is sort of on my plate, [that] I’m interested in doing,” he said. “I’m not certain if it’s the next movie. Part of that is my schedule. Part of that is Jennifer’s schedule as well. But it’s definitely something that we intend to do.”

Ross spoke to students at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television in the continuing interview series The Hollywood Masters, moderated by THR’s Stephen Galloway. Others who have taken part in the series include Alfonso Cuaron, David O. Russell, Judd Apatow, John Singleton, Alan Horn, William Friedkin and Sherry Lansing.

Explaining his involvement, Ross — whose films include Big (as co-writer, with Anne Spielberg) and Seabiscuit (as writer-director), said: “My kids had actually read it as their summer reading at high school. And I read it along with them, because I’d never read the book, I’d only seen the movie. And I loved the novel. Then I gave it to Justine Ciarrocchi, who is Jennifer’s best friend [and producing partner]. Justine read it and thought, ‘Oh my God, this is the greatest novel’ — Justine is wildly into literature and is very, very literate and is a good friend of my kids as well as mine. Then she gave it to Jennifer and Jennifer ‘This is incredible.  I love this novel. I’d love to play Cathy Ames.’ So then I called Brian Grazer, who had been a producer on various incarnations of East of Eden, and said, ‘I would love to do this and I think Jennifer would love to play Cathy Ames.’ The rights had just become available again and we set it up at Universal.”

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Ross also explained his decision not to direct Catching Fire, the second installment in the Hunger Games franchise. “We got to the end of the process on Hunger Games, and I had literally been only focused on that with the intention of doing it, and then Jennifer’s schedule on X-Men made it very clear to everybody that we were going to have to start the movie in September,” he explained. “I write and direct. That’s just my process. So first I write, and then I direct. And that’s a linear process for me.  So, that was an eight-month process on the first movie. It was going to have to be a four-month process on the second movie, and I didn’t think there was adequate time to write a script and then prep that movie in what normally takes me the same amount of time to write the script.  Now it’s different when you don’t have to write the script and somebody else can be writing while you can be prepping.  But those aren’t simultaneous processes for me and I didn’t feel that I would be doing the movie any service in order to do that.”           

A complete transcript follows on the next page.

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