Author Joyce Maynard had no qualms with the casting of Josh Brolin in the film adaptation of her novel Labor Day.
“There’s nothing metrosexual about Josh Brolin, as he has demonstrated in a few bar rooms of late,” Maynard tells Breitbart News, laughing.
Brolin’s character, an escaped convict named Frank, knows his way around the garage as well as the kitchen. He’s rugged and sincere, a man’s man who isn’t afraid to bake a killer pie after fixing the family car.
“Woman all over America are gonna fall in love with him,” says Maynard, who agrees that many of today’s male actors lack the raw masculinity of their predecessors. Not Brolin’s Frank, one reason why this romance boasts a throwback appeal.
Labor Day stars Kate Winslet as a single mother who ends up harboring a fugitive (Brolin) trying to figure out his next move after a prison break. The mom must not only protect herself but her teen son (Gattlin Griffith), a boy who forges an unlikely bond with their captor. So does mom, starting a tale given gravitas by writer/director Jason Reitman.
Maynard is happily promoting the new film, but she technically had no say over the material.
“It would be a nightmare for a director to have the writer standing over his shoulder,” Maynard says. “You have to let your project go. Unless you’re [‘Harry Potter’ author] J.K. Rowling they’re not interested in what you have to say.”
Reitman treated the source material with respect all the same, finding the balance Maynard featured on the page regarding Frank’s complexities.
The author, who drew plenty of headlines for a memoir recalling her relationship with J.D. Salinger, says she once again tapped into her own feelings to create Frank.
“I’ve been a single mother. I had plenty of experience with men who looked good and turned out to be bad,” she says. “A lot of women know that story.”
Frank exemplifies some of her courtship fantasies, including a desire to be taken care of by a man.
That doesn’t mean women are weak, she quickly says, noting how Winslet’s character tells Frank, “I’m a lot stronger than you,” early in the film, and he believes it.
Maynard spends a portion of each year teaching a writing workshop in Guatemala, time spent coaxing her students to tell their own stories. Budding writers today can share their lives via blogs or Facebook, but she is thankful she didn’t come of age when such literary short cuts were possible.
“I love the immediacy of the Internet, but it also makes for some sloppiness,” she says. “I’m glad I didn’t write [my memoir] in a blog. I wrote it carefully, edited it … with the Internet, it’s zip, zip zip and you hit the send button.”
Maynard’s At Home in the World, which explored a romance with Salinger that began when she was 18 and he was 53, continues to shadow her career.
“It certainly made a lot of trouble in my life, no question about that,” she says. “But in a very deep way I believe that the greatest safety lies in knowing the truth. If everybody knew the truth you proceed from there … I don’t have to worry about what anybody says. I’ve already said it.”
Labor Day the movie is no longer her own creation, technically, but she defends it all the same against some critics who found its romantic subject too similar to a paperback romances.
“Every story I’ve ever written … the story comes out of character, not the reverse,” she says. “As long as actions come out of real character, then I’ll buy them.”
Maynard is currently married, but she wrote Labor Day when she was single.
“I had a little love affair with Frank as I was writing … there was no one in my life at the time, and it was great to go off with Frank for a while,” she says.