Best Adapted Screenplay: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’s Simon Beaufoy

by | February 22, 2009 at 9:16 PM | 81st Academy Awards

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Simon Beaufoy captured the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ He thanked the book’s author, Vikas Swarup. Beaufoy, who also wrote The Full Monty, stood backstage with his Oscar and said, “I am sure it is a cliché, but it is strange to have this statue in your hands.”

Beaufoy said it was at the Toronto film festival “when we realized we had a good film on our hands, just from the response.” In writing the screenplay, he had to get outside of his normal way of thinking – and going to India helped. “In India I learned to stop being English about love,” he said. “The English are a very repressed people. People in India are incredibly uncynical about love.

He also spoke about bringing the kids from the film over for the ceremony. “We were so worried about bringing them over in case it seemed incredibly inappropriate to bring over from where they live to the most kind of lavish ceremony there is for films. Actually, they’re completely cool about it. We’re all worried and they’re all running around, having a laugh. And it’s fantastic being nine because you don’t really have stress or tension. They’re just having fun. So in the end, it was absolutely the right thing to do, to bring them over, because they’re just having a lot of fun.”

Beaufoy has learned a thing or two about adapting a screenplay from a book. “You have to be very bold and in some respects, you have to be kind of willfully disrespectful to material. You have to put the book away and do your own thing with it, because I’ve learned over the years that the worst thing you can do is be very respectful to the material and kind of transliterate from book to screen. It’s such a different medium. You have to take the core of it and then change everything around it. I would say if you keep the soul of it the same, then you succeeded, but everything on the periphery will change. And I always say that to the novelist if I’m adapting a novel. I always say, ‘Everything will change, but I promise to keep the soul of your novel the same.’”