For Nip/Tuck and Glee creator Ryan Murphy — a man who likes change — discovering the best-selling memoir Eat Pray Love proved a real boon. The 44-year-old filmmaker read the book upon its 2006 release and felt an immediate connection. He’d even go as far as saying that the book altered his life.
“It spoke to me on such a personal level,” begins Murphy, the man who adapted the screenplay and directed the cinematic incarnation starring Julia Roberts. “I read it as a fan, I had just come through a terrible break up, and what it said to me is that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. It is never too late to try to be happy. If you are in a bad relationship try and get out of it and if you don’t like where you are living, try and change it.”
The book, and indeed the film, tells the true-life tale of Elizabeth Gilbert, a successful travel writer who falls out of love with her husband and suffers a painful divorce. Gnawed at by guilt, she takes a year out, heading first to Rome in Italy, where she indulges her passion for food (Eat), then to an ashram in India, where she bids to find a spiritual meaning to her life (Pray), and finally to a familiar haunt in Bali, where, out of the blue, she meets, and falls for, a Brazilian man (Love). It is a hugely popular book, which spent three uninterrupted years on the New York Times best-seller list.
“It is about a general way of living your life. I love the phrase that they’re using to market the movie which is, ‘Let yourself go.’ I know that not everybody can afford to take a year off from work and travel round the world. I can’t. But I don’t think you need to leave your house to try and find something spiritual and find joy. So the book expanded my worldview. It got me out of my shell. It made me feel that it is okay to try something that you are not comfortable with. It did change my life.”
In fact, the book had such a profound effect on Murphy’s life that he adapted a screenplay and ensured that he got the job directing the movie. Murphy already had moviemaking experience, having adapted and directed the film version of Augusten Burrough’s controversial memoir Running with Scissors, although adapting and shooting Eat Pray Love gave him the chance to step up to the next level, to make a truly commercial movie, with a positive message, and to assemble a dazzling array of major movie stars.
Among the impressive supporting cast, Murphy draws performances from Javier Bardem (Liz’s Brazilian love interest), Billy Crudup (her ex-husband), James Franco (a lover who awakens her interest in spirituality) and Richard Jenkins (an older man who encourages her to let go of her guilt), while the role of Liz Gilbert herself is played by one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Julia Roberts, which is something of a coup for Murphy; not since her Oscar-winning turn in Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 drama Erin Brockovich has Roberts appeared in every scene of a film.
“And yet I want to see a movie where Julia Roberts is in every scene,” beams Murphy. “I grew up with Julia Roberts. I love her. I had ideas that I wanted for Julia Roberts in make up, hair and clothes, things that she had never done before.” He laughs. “I think she thinks I am kind of insane because I was so passionate about her, but I also think that she liked the fact that we saw the story in the same way.”
Opening soon across the Philippines, Eat Pray Love is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit www.sonypictures.com.ph to get the latest movie news, video clips, games and free downloads. Find us on Facebook www.Facebook.com/ColumbiaPicturesPH and join our fan contests.