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I Am Number Four: An Interview with Screenwriter Marti Noxon

Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer executive producer, and writer of the remake of Fright Night, Marti Noxon provides some details on adapting the novel I Am Number Four, about young aliens among us.
What follows are some excerpts from the interview:

QUESTION: What appealed to you about adapting this novel?

MARTI NOXON: Well, when I came into the project, there were already a couple of scripts, and so at that point, I was reacting more to the the movie that Dreamworks was envisioning. And I think I responded to the same thing that I love about the Spider-man stories, which is real characters in extraordinary situations, and to some extent the Buffy story too. Even though the main charater knows that he’s from another planet, we’re on a journey with him, as he discovers his power and the challenges that he’s going to face. And the whole goal was to keep it grounded.

QUESTION: So there were already two scripts that other writers had done? What did you bring to it, when you came in and rewrote it?

MARTI NOXON: I did a lot of work on some of the character stuff. There was a really good structure in place, and a lot of good character foundation. But part of what Dreamworks was looking to do was expand the appeal of the movie, and make sure that the female characters were feeling really lived in. And Sarah and John’s relationship is really a big part of the movie. I was just like, “Teen alien romance? I’m so in.” Supernatural mixed with romance is one of my sweet spots. I’m a sucker.

QUESTION: What’s it like going back to paranormal high school after Buffy? How is this different from how Buffy treated these themes?

MARTI NOXON: I mean, tonally this is a really different movie. This is much more in the vein of Twilight. The world of Buffy was overtly comic, overtly kind of pushed into a kind of genre world that was a little bit over the top. This is much more living in that space of “What if this was really happening?” And so, tonally, that’s just a different vibe, you’re not looking as broadly at the comedy, [and] what there is much specific to the charcters. The dialogue on Buffy was just so stylized. I went back and rewatched a couple of episodes, and I was like, “Wow, I forgot how intensely we worked the language.” They were speaking their own fricken language. That’s a really fun kind of writing, but it’s really different than trying, on some level, to keep your ears to how people are talking now and what sounds credible.

QUESTION: What were the biggest differences you ended up with between the book and the movie?

MARTI NOXON: [The movie is] very much in the time and space it’s in. We don’t do a lot of backstory on [the alien's home planet] Lorien. And we don’t do a lot of explaining of the mythology of the nine. That’s kept relatively sparse. But I think it’s pretty easy to understand the general concept. They came here, the Mogadorians are after them, and the nine [aliens] have been depleted. All that’s pretty clear. But we found that too much mythology was confusing people. It’s all backstory, it’s all stuff you don’t actually see.

QUESTION: One of the interesting things in the book is that it’s a science fiction world, with aliens and space travel, but there are also spells and magic. How do you work that in the movie?

MARTI NOXON: I think if there’s one element we didn’t incorporate much from the book, [it would be the magic spells]. We didn’t do a lot about the magic or the spells, there are allusions to it, we didn’t go too much into that. And I think if there’s more I Am Number Four, there’ll be more of that.

For much more of this interview, please follow the link.

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