In order to reach our interview destination Thursday afternoon inside a gorgeous home on Habersham Road in Buckhead, we had to make our way past a team of gardeners edging the lush lawn, Atlanta caterer Dennis Dean and staff in the kitchen preparing for a movie premiere party, over a pair of zebra skin rugs, up a spiral staircase and through a stately master bedroom filled with beautiful women in white robes.
Inside the posh powder room sat Atlanta author Emily Giffin, surrounded by trays of crustless cucumber sandwiches and a glass water pitcher enhanced with slices of fresh strawberries and leaves of mint. Clad in a matching bathrobe, the animated Giffin was attempting to hold still as a make up artist finished her work prior to the Atlanta premiere of “Something Borrowed,” the film adaptation of Giffin’s first New York Times best-selling novel.
The film stars Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Colin Egglesfield and John Krasinski. Unlike most authors who cash a Hollywood check and immediately begin shopping for a frock for the film’s premiere, Giffin was on set, massaging dialogue and interacting with the cast and serving as sounding board for director Luke Greenfield as he attempted to translate the beloved characters of the book to the big screen.
“I feel like I overuse this word but it’s the only word that fits and that’s ‘surreal,'” Giffin told us. “This whole thing has been an out-of-body experience for me. This was a story I created only with the hope that my mother would read it. And it’s turned into all this!”
On why she took such an active interest in consulting on the film, Giffin told us: “I know from experience that the books you love are often turned into films you don’t like.” After striking up friendships with Hilary Swank‘s producing partner Molly Smith and director Greenfield, Giffin became a part of the film’s creative team.
“But I was always careful to remember that my book was already written and it is its own work and has its readers and I am not a filmmaker. I would say, ‘Here is my opinion since you’re asking for it but this is your movie and you know best.'”
Giffin even has a sly cameo in the film, sitting on a park bench reading a paperback copy of “Something Blue,” her debut novel’s sequel (and the film that will likely get made with the same cast if “Borrowed” becomes a box office hit).
While the cast of the film is inspired overall, Krasinki’s break out performance as Ethan in “Something Borrowed” could be the role that finally catapults him out of his cubicle on “The Office” and into feature film leading man parts.
“Don’t you think?!” Giffin agreed. “Ethan is the voice of reason and Krasinski plays that beautifully. He’s just so appealing to me. I’ve always loved Ethan more than Dex. Dex is beautiful but I’ve always been more drawn to the Ethan type. I love quirky guys.”
Just before we impeded the progress of Giffin and girlfriends getting dressed for their big night, Entertainment Weekly posted its venomous review of “Something Borrowed” online, written by the mag’s infamous rom com crankypants Lisa Schwarzbaum, who dismissed the film as “soul-sucking.” With the film up against the big screen debut of Marvel Comics’ hammer-swinging God of Thunder superhero “Thor” this weekend st the box office, the pan couldn’t have come at a less desirable time.
“She spent the entire six inches of the review panning the decisions of the characters,” said Giffin, shaking her head. “To my thinking, that doesn’t make for a bad movie. It might make for unsympathetic characters but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great story. It’s perfectly obvious to me that she went into the screening with the goal of panning a romantic comedy so she would appear smart. Believe me, I know the type and I guarantee you, if I sat down and had a drink with her, that’s who she would be. And say that I said that too!”
But Giffin remains extremely optimistic about box office receipts for “Something Borrowed.” “Women want relationship stories that are layered and interesting,” she said. “We don’t want to be insulted and we don’t want caricatures. The producers and director had the same vision for this movie. They made a smart romantic comedy. And it’s a shame that you have to insert that adjective. Every time you say ‘it’s a romantic comedy’ you have to follow it up with ‘but it’s smart’ or ‘it’s chick lit but it’s well-written.’ Unfortunately, that’s just the landscape out there. The back-handed compliment I always get from book reviewers is ‘It’s surprisingly good.’ Why does it have to be ‘surprisingly?’ Because it has a pink cover and I’m not an idiot? Come on! Hopefully, this movie will help to change that conversation.”