Stuart Blumberg, 'The Kids Are All Right'
Click to read the full The Kids Are Alright screenplay.
When Lisa Cholodenko had the idea to write a film about a lesbian couple whose children seek the truth about their sperm-donor father, she went to her good friend Stuart Blumberg (Keeping the Faith) for co-writing support. Four years later, Blumberg and The Kids Are All Right director are flush with accolades for their domestic dramedy, including an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay.
The Hollywood Reporter: So, how does it feel to be an Oscar nominee?
Overwhelming. I can’t speak for actors, but if you are a screenwriter toiling away year after year, and then all of a sudden this happens — it’s nuts. The morning of nominations, I went to Barnes & Noble and bought a book. I gave the cashier my card, and he looked at me and asked, “Are you Stuart Blumberg who wrote The Kids Are All Right?” I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “You’ve had a very good day.” For a screenwriter, that’s ridiculous.
THR: Which of this year’s other nominated screenplays would you have liked to have written?
I love Mike Leigh’s Another Year. I also admire Aaron Sorkin’s writing — I think many people do. He’s sui generis; he’s original, and I love it. I would have to say it’s a pretty strong year all around for screenwriters. I really dig all the movies.
THR: You are nominated with Kids director Lisa Cholodenko for best original screenplay. What was your co-writing process?
We outlined it sitting with each other, writing notes and putting them on a card. Then, once we started writing, we were in a room together. I’m sort of a control freak, and Lisa was right beside me. We used a desktop computer, and we wrote every draft of the script over four years just sitting side by side, on and off. We would take breaks while I was off writing something or she was off writing something. We spent a solid eight months getting the first two drafts ready. Over the next four years, we kept writing and rewriting and writing and rewriting.
THR: How did the script change from the first draft?
Not much. There were little modulations during shooting, given changes in locations, etcetera. Also, when we started shooting, you get into a scene and just have to sort of rework things. For the most part, it was pretty close to the script. There was room for great little improvs and throw-ins and add-ons, but it was pretty close.
THR: Did the characters evolve?
I think everyone was pretty close to how we imagined, but I think Mia Wasikowska specifically had such a soft kind of vulnerability and brought something very unique to the role, whereas we had planned on somebody a little harder. When we got her, it just shifted to be her, and it shifted beautifully.
THR: Focus Features bought Kids at Sundance in 2010, so you essentially wrote the film without notes from a studio. Did that feel like a luxury?
Yes. We were alone in a vacuum for a long time, and then we went out looking for money — and it took awhile. We finally cobbled together the budget we got in 2009, made it and took it to Sundance. There are benefits to that. It can play to your disadvantages because no one can pick it up and no one will see it, but the plus side is, you really do get to make the movie you want to make.