'The Girl on the Train': 5 Differences Between the Novel and the Movie

The Girl on the Train - Still 1 - EMILY BLUNT -H 2016
Courtesy of Dream Works Pictures

New characters are introduced while others are altered as the Tate Taylor-directed film also features more detail about what happens in the tunnel.

[Warning: The following story contains spoilers about The Girl on the Train movie and novel.]

The Girl on the Train hits theaters on Oct. 7 and fans of the popular novel are eagerly anticipating the film adaptation's release.

Directed by Tate Taylor, the movie version of the Paula Hawkins-penned book (Erin Cressida Wilson wrote the screenplay) focuses on Rachel (Emily Blunt), an alcoholic struggling to recover from a tough divorce from Tom (Justin Theroux), who is now married to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). The plot revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett) — Tom and Anna's neighbor and nanny who Rachel watches from her train into New York City — and Rachel's hazy memory of the night Megan vanished.

The Hollywood Reporter took a look at some of the differences between the novel and the film and outlined them below. 

1. Lisa Kudrow's character Martha and her role in Rachel's realization that Tom has been gaslighting her

In the novel, Rachel begins to realize that Tom was not honest about what happened while she was intoxicated. After conversations with Kamal, her therapist (played by Edgar Ramirez in the movie), Rachel discovers that the reason her memories of her feelings don't match up with what Tom told her she was feeling is because Tom was inventing situations. For example, she says she remembers an incident happening with a golf club, and Tom told her she had been angry and tried to attack him with the golf club. But she remembers feeling fear, not anger. The same confusion happens around a fight with Tom's colleague's wife, but eventually Rachel realize Tom is gaslighting her.

In the film, Lisa Kudrow's character Martha helps Rachel realize Tom was lying. First, Rachel remembers getting into a fight with Martha, Tom's co-worker, and she recalls throwing a plate of deviled eggs against a wall. But later Martha explains that none of that happened and that, despite what Tom said, her behavior wasn't the reason Tom got fired.

2. Rachel's relationship with Megan's husband Scott (played in the movie by Luke Evans)

In the novel, Rachel and Scott connect multiple times and eventually it's insinuated that they sleep together in the bed he used to share with Megan. Rachel wakes up the next morning and can tell Scott is uncomfortable and he goes to take a shower, which makes Rachel guess he's trying to "wash her" off of him.

In the film, Rachel and Scott still interact but it doesn't appear they are involved sexually, and Scott spends the night platonically in her bedroom once, mimicking a scene from the novel.

3. Dr. Kamal Abdic's role

In both the novel and the film, Megan's therapist Kamal plays a supporting character in the plotline. However, in the novel Megan makes it seem like Kamal is starting to return some of the affection she has for him. They kiss a few times, usually prompted by Megan but also by Kamal.

In the film, Kamal is more firm in his resistance of Megan. Also, the number of times Rachel goes to see Kamal later on in the book when she wants to know more about him, is downplayed.

4. The tunnel scene 

The film, much like the novel, unwraps the story's key tunnel scene in pieces, but the movie adds more detail and clarity about what happened the night that Megan disappeared and Rachel interacted with her. The film also plays up the red herrings that were not featured as prominently in the novel.

5. Detective Riley's role

In the novel, Megan's disappearance is investigated by a male detective with a female assistant detective. However, in the film, Taylor gave Detective Riley a much more prominent role. Rather than play an assistant detective, Riley (Allison Janney) is the lead detective on the case. It makes for a nice bit of symmetry in the film, which focuses on a trio of female protagonists in Rachel, Megan and Anna.