SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Writer, director Ryan Murphy has built a Hollywood career making dark movies and television shows, including cosmetic surgery drama “Nip/Tuck.”
But in 2009, Murphy’s career kicked into high gear with the upbeat TV comedy “Glee,” and now he’s taken his career even higher by writing and directing mainstream, big-budget movie “Eat Pray Love,” starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem.
Murphy spoke to Reuters about “Eat Pray Love,” which is based on a best-selling book, his fast-changing career and why he may only have two more years on “Glee.”
Q. You’ve said “Eat Pray Love” changed your life. How?
A. “I had gone through a horrible break up — the world’s worst — and I was just sort of sad and looking for direction or something. I read this book, and I was a fan. Then I got the offer. I wrote it (the screenplay), and it forced me to sort of get out my comfort zone and travel around the world ... In my personal life I feel a sense contentment and balance. I don’t think I would have gotten there without doing the movie.”
Q. Did you pray?
A. “I tried to pray. I tried to be spiritual. I’ve always wanted to be a spiritual person, and I’ve failed miserably. You know I can’t do yoga, I can’t meditate. I have what (author Elizabeth Gilbert) calls in the book, monkey mind.”
Q. How is directing a movie different than a TV series?
A. “I feel like it’s the same thing. I’m a show runner (on TV) and that means you choose (everything) if you want. And I’ve liked to do that. I approve every piece of wardrobe. I’m in charge of the look, the casting, the music, the editing. So it’s almost like directing a movie. This (the film) took a lot of pre-production. I had to fly around the world three times to go to Bali before we started shooting to pick the locations and the actors and all that stuff. I was also doing “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee” at the same time. It was a little bit of a difficulty.
Q. How did you balance the three?
A. “I have no idea. I had a really rough year. I smoked a lot and drank a lot. I feel like I’m coming out of it. I was shocked that everything was happening at once. I was like, ‘I can’t do this’ but I did. I had a lot of good people behind me, and I had a lot of love behind me and I just said, ‘yes. And If I die, I guess I die.’ What am I going to do? I’m not going to turn down a Julia Roberts movie, I’m not going to turn down the chance to do “Glee,” and I’m not going to turn down the chance to finish “Nip/Tuck” the way I wanted to. So, I went with it.
Q. And your career has changed a lot.
A. “I’ve had some mainstream success. I’ve always done very well and I’ve been very lucky, but my work has been mostly dark and edgy and quiet and what they call ‘culty,’ which is code for, ‘no one will watch that.’ The fact ‘Glee’ was such a big, international, mainstream success is shocking to me. I don’t really understand it because I still write it for myself.
“With this (‘Eat Pray’) I was like, ‘I want to do a mainstream movie, I want to do a movie star movie, I want to do a movie with Julia Roberts. I want to see if I can do it.’”
Q. Are you looking at anything else to adapt into a movie?
A. “No. I have to love it. It has to mean something to me. The message of ‘Eat Pray Love’ means something to me. It tells people it’s never too late to change your life. It’s never too late to be happy. And I think that’s a very powerful message that I really wanted to put out there. The message of “Glee” is very powerful, which is the most different thing about you is the most beautiful thing. Too many people are afraid of that.”
Q. Javier Bardem will appear on “Glee.” What role?
A. “I don’t know. He wants to play a Spanish rock star. I guess I should try that. Although I might be mean and make him a singing janitor. I’m just going to write something and send it to him and say, ‘Here it is,’ and see if he shows up.”
Q. Do you have concerns about “Glee” losing momentum?
A. “When you start worrying about that is when (audiences) do leave because then you start trying to second guess them ...They can smell it a mile away.
“The only thing you can do is you have to write it for yourself ... We still are in that we’re in love phase. I won’t do that show forever. I’m probably only going to do it for two more years after this and I’ll do something else.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney