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David Foster Wallace was brought back to life Monday night at the L.A. premiere of The End of the Tour, based on David Lipsky’s 2010 novel Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. The audience at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills was plunged into the comical and insightful look at humanity as laughter echoed through the room accompanied by quiet focus.
Before the movie played, director James Ponsoldt brought some of the cast and crew to the front of the theater to thank them for the experience. There was a shared appreciation for Wallace’s work and the desire to bring him to the screen. The filmmakers had access to the actual recordings of the road trip, providing an interesting understanding for the cast and crew.
As producer James Dahl told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’ve been a lifelong fan [of Wallace]. Infinite Jest completely changed my life. And then when I saw what [Lipsky’s] book was about and the time that Lipsky was able to spend with him in a sort of personal setting that hadn’t been explored before — there wasn’t a lot about his private life or him opening up in the way he did to Lipsky — so it sort of started with the draw of Wallace and getting to work with his legacy and what he might have been like.”
Said Ponsoldt: “There was something weirdly exciting in knowing that these men had actually spoken this language, but you didn’t want it to be restrictive, either. I mean, we wanted to tell the best film possible. It wasn’t a documentary. We were trying to give it a deeper truth than simply just reciting lines of two men who had actually spoken.”
This film isn’t just a look into the mind of Wallace, it also provides a fresh perspective: Jason Segel, who plays Wallace, said that he had a better comprehension of Infinite Jest after working on the movie.
“It allowed me to read Infinite Jest with a very focused perspective and really pick out the themes,” Segel told THR. “And I found that they’re really the same theme the movie explores, which is, we’re sort of told in this culture that achievement or entertainment or whatever are going to satisfy this itch we have that something is missing, and what happens when you find out you’ve been lied to.”
Also at the premiere were Mamie Gummer and Mickey Sumner, who play friends of Wallace in the film, as well as actor/comedian Jason Mantzoukas and actress Madeline Zima.
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