Ahead of the release of Mr. Malcolm’s List, Dorkaholics had the opportunity to interview the film’s screenwriter-slash-novelist, Suzanne Allain, about the film and seeing her work brought to life.
Neil Bui: What was it like seeing your work translated from novel to screenplay to this version of the film?
Suzanne Allain: Well, it’s very exciting, especially since it has been such a long process and I’ve lived with these characters for so many years, so I’m excited to have them discovered by a larger audience, you know the ones that get to see the movie besides the ones who have also read the book. I’m really very excited too about the cast in the film and how they encapsulated these characters and really brought them to life. I think they did a terrific job.
Neil Bui: In what ways has the film elevated the ideas, characters, themes, and story that you originally crafted?
Suzanne Allain: I think it was interesting how important it was for Emma Holly Jones to show female friendship. So that was probably emphasized a little bit more in the film than the book. And I think those two actors really had that chemistry between them, not just the female-male romantic leads, but also the female friendship between Zawe Ashton and Frieda Pinto.
Neil Bui: And personally, for you, what was your favorite part of the film?
Suzanne Allain: I really like the singing because it was the entire ensemble cast where they’re in a horse auction, and Gertie Covington, who’s played by Ashley Park, meets the rest of the characters. I was just blown away by her comedic side and acting. She was just so funny. And then all of the other actors really just played off her as well. And so, that was my favorite scene in the whole movie. I know the scene. I wrote most of the dialogue and I was laughing out loud. So, I hope that the audience also finds it similarly amusing and hilarious like I did.
Neil Bui: And what thoughts or feelings do you hope audiences walk away with after watching this film?
Suzanne Allain: I just really hope that because we have such a diverse cast and it’s so much fun, it will take the spotlight off of some of our anger and division and kind of the darkness that we’ve been feeling in this country recently. It may give them a nice escape and just a refreshing time where we can focus on just something lighthearted and fun and where love conquers all.
Neil Bui: And how important was it to have that diverse representation in the film from square one back when it was a novel?
Suzanne Allain: Well, actually in the novel there wasn’t necessarily diversity in the novel. I was explaining that I don’t use a lot of physical descriptions when I write novels, so I kind of leave it open to people’s imagination somewhat. There are some, but a few [characters] like Mr. Malcolm don’t have quite as many physical descriptors. It was actually the director’s idea when she became attached to do this diverse casting. At that time, the most popular production that had done something similar was Hamilton, so she wanted to do like a Hamilton-style casting with Mr. Malcolm’s List, and we were so happy when Refinery29 gave us the funds to create the short film because that was a way to deliver a proof of concept to show that this type of casting would work for a period film. And people just loved the short film, and that idea was proven to be true and that actually was released prior to Bridgerton. So, it was kind of a little ahead of its time. Now of course it’s catching on and we’re seeing more and more of it, which is very nice. But yeah, I love this cast. I love that it’s been made in this way, that really they’re able to use the talents of such a great diverse bunch of people.
Neil Bui: I love that. Thank you so much for your time today, Suzanne. Looking forward to sharing this with other people and hopefully make them fans of the film as well.
Suzanne Allain: Thank you. It’s so nice meeting you and talking with you.
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