The critical reaction to Jonathan Safran Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was decidedly mixed (Michiko was scathing), but I loved the book. I think it remains one of the best fictional treatments of September 11, as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy whose father was killed in the attacks on the Twin Towers.
Paramount and Warner Bros. are co-producing a film adaptation of the novel, and this week we learned of director Stephen Daldry’s surprising choice for the lead role. Thomas Horn, 12, will play Oskar Schell, the precocious youngster consumed by grief over his father’s death. As far as we can tell, Horn has never acted before, but he does have one successful small screen role to his credit — he won first place on “Jeopardy!” during the show’s 2010 Kids Week and took home $31,800 in prize money. Not a bad haul, but presumably far less than what he’ll earn for his film debut. Though he’s a neophyte in the acting department, Horn has experience with being precocious—and fearless. He wagered $12,000 on the final Jeopardy question, which put him over the top.
Foer’s first novel, Everything is Illuminated, was made into a wonderful film by director Liev Schreiber. With its flashbacks and multiple storylines, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close would appear to be a difficult book to adapt to the screen. But with co-stars like Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock already committed to the project, it should be a top-notch effort.
Did you read the novel? Are you looking forward to the film version?