► Director Michael Almereyda on Making “Marjorie Prime”

Michael Almereyda
Michael Almereyda, left, with actors Lois Smith and Jon Hamm (Photo: Collider)

In this episode of The Scene, my guest is film director, screenwriter and producer Michael Almereyda. Almereyda is perhaps best known for Hamlet, starring Ethan Hawke; other select film credits include Twister, Nadja, Happy Here and Now, William Eggleston in the Real World, Cymbeline and Experimenter, and his essays and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, Film Comment, The Believer, Artforum, Bookforum and DVD booklets for the Criterion Collection. His new film is Marjorie Prime, an adaptation of Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, starring Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Geena Davis and Tim Robbins. Marjorie Prime takes place in the near future, in a time when people can create holographic projections of deceased loved ones, and it explores the conflict that results when a family gets an artificial version of Walter, their late husband and father. It’s a story that raises questions on the reliability of our memories, our dependence on technology and how we respond to mental illness, and it has received very high praise from critics. So here is my talk with Almereyda on his process of making this film. We discuss what initially drew him to the play, the difference between adapting Shakespeare, compared to modern plays, and whether he would want to bring the dead digitally back to life.

I should also note that there are no spoilers in our talk, so if you haven’t seen the film or it isn’t playing by you yet, we hope you can use this as an introduction before you go see it yourself.

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Marjorie Prime
A scene from Marjorie Prime.

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Sean Douglass
Sean Douglass is the Managing Editor of The Clyde Fitch Report, as well as an author, playwright and dramaturg. He is the Company Dramaturg for Something Marvelous, Chicago's annual magical realism festival, and has previously worked at Northlight Theatre and Chicago Dramatists. His plays have been produced or developed at UW-Madison, The Vermont College of Fine Arts, The Chicago Fringe Festival, Luminous Theatre of Milwaukee, Something Marvelous, Chicago Dramatists and Stagecloud. He hosts the CFR's podcast The Scene and is also an arts writer for the digital news publication Rantt.