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David Magee on Life of Pi's journey from novel to film

by AirTalk

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Suraj Sharma as Pi Patel in "Life of Pi," which earned a best picture nomination. Courtesy 20th Century Fox

When screenwriter David Magee set out to transform the book "Life of Pi" into a screenplay, he faced a monumental task. The novel, by Yann Martel, is fantastical, outlandish, even hallucinatory.

RELATED: Author Yann Martel and how 'Life of Pi' became a Hollywood film

On the page, it's far easier to damn a young man to a lifeboat with a hungry tiger. Making it believable for a movie audience is a much more daunting exercise. The book is also beloved for conveying a deeply touching spiritual journey. Magee and director Ang Lee needed to capture that, too. They succeeded, judging by critical and commercial success.

How did Magee stay faithful to the original story? Was he worried about how Martel and his fans would receive it? What was it like working with Lee?


David Magee, Oscar-nominated Writer (for Best Adapted Screenplay category), “Life of Pi;” based on the novel by Yann Martel; Magee is nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

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