Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Lois Lowry, and Taylor Swift Discuss ‘The Giver’

The Beloved Children’s Book Took Nearly Two Decades To Adapt For The Screen

Aug 13, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The big screen adaptation of The Giver opens in theaters this week after nearly two decades in development. At the film’s New York City press conference, actor Jeff Bridges explained what led him to picking up the film option for Lois Lowry’s beloved, award-winning children’s book about a boy growing up in an egalitarian dystopia.

“I wanted to direct my father [Lloyd] in something, and I wanted it to be something my kids could see,” said Bridges. “I got a catalog of children’s books and I’m looking at the different covers, and I see this photograph of an old, grizzled guy on there, and I say, oh, my dad could play that part. I noticed the Newbury Award stamp on there and I say, this looks like it could be good. I read it and of course it knocks me out as a kids' book, but as an adult I’m just loving the story and themes in it … I said, this is going to be a cinch to get made; over ten million copies sold in 21 countries. The money guys are going to go crazy over this. That did not prove to be true.”

“It seemed as if it would be easy at the time,” says The Giver author Lois Lowry. “It wasn’t. But many good things never come easy. So it was a very long haul; eighteen years after that day finally the movie’s on screen. And most of the people who are here with us today wouldn’t have been part of it 18 years ago, so good things come to those who wait.”

Lowry refers specifically to the film’s young stars: Brenton Thwaites and Taylor Swift, who were only young children when the film was optioned, and Odeya Rush, who had not yet been born. They’re part of a generation who grew up reading The Giver as part of school curriculum.

“When I read the book, it was one of those things that really changed my perspective,” says Swift. “I was in probably fifth grade, and I didn’t do a lot of thinking about the distant future as far as our society goes at that point in my life. This really kind of switched that up for me, and it really blew my mind in a way that stuck with me.”

“[My kids] had a list of required reading over the summer, and it was always--” actress Meryl Streep pantomimes snapping a whip “-- to get them to do it … But [The Giver] was put in front of them and they devoured it.”

The finished film is very different than the one Bridges imagined almost 20 years ago—Bridges now plays the role he originally envisioned for his father—but he’s happy it came together now, because it took them this long to assemble the right crew to shoot it.

“I’m just glad it didn’t take any longer!” says Lowry, bringing laughter from the audience. “I’m 77 years old, and I wanted to still be around when it was finished.”


The Giver opens in theaters this week. For more information about the film, check out its website. To read our review, click here


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