Lisa Klein, an author from Columbus with five young adult novels, has scored a movie deal for her novel, Ophelia.
It’s been a long time coming. The novelist told me that she was first approached about her book getting a shot at the silver screen in 2007. A decade later, Klein’s Ophelia will hit theaters in a year or so. She recently returned from a trip to Prague where she had been visiting the set and meeting the actors. The author was impressed by everything she saw and very excited to see everything taking shape.
The movie will star big names like Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, and George MacKay.
According to the Clintonville resident, it was the interest of Ridley, Watts, and Australian director Claire McCarthy that really helped get the ball rolling.
“Together those three women anchored it. They were committed enough to it that they could then pull in all the other pieces,” explained Klein.
Ophelia tells the tale of the ill-fated love interest in Shakespear’s Hamlet. A wild young girl, Ophelia grows up in Elsinore Castle and becomes one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting. Prince Hamlet and Ophelia fall in love, but after getting some tragic news, Ophelia goes crazy and drowns in a stream. Another bad thing leads to, well, another bad thing, and (spoiler alert) Hamlet dies. Right?
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 21, 2017
“From my years teaching Hamlet–I just had in me the idea that somebody needed to tell Ophelia’s story!” exclaimed Klein.
Klein was an english professor at Ohio State University. She found that her students were often unsatisfied with the fate of fair Ophelia. After reading Hamlet, her class would often express the need for more about this character.
“I kept turning over that story and decided I just wanted to try writing Hamlet from Ophelia’s point of view. And so, I just did,” said Klein. “I didn’t know if I could write a novel. I’d never written any fiction longer than a short story.”
“I think I’ve probably always been a writer, but I was an academic before I was a novelist,” said Klein.
Back in 1999, before she’d jotted down any notes about Ophelia, her time at OSU was coming to a close. Trinity Episcopal Church asked the writer to chronicle their history, to which she agreed enthusiastically. All they expected was a nice pamphlet, but Klein got so into the poking around in history books that she wrote an entire book about the church. It was the stories of the people that drew her in.
“That’s what really turned me on to writing historical fiction because I could have a lot of fun doing the research,” said Klein with a grin.
The author spent nearly a year and a half writing and getting the feedback of friends. She submitted the manuscript to an agent, and it caught the eye of Bloomsbury Publishing. Once the editing, the copyediting, the publicity, and everything else that comes with publishing a novel was complete, Klein was officially a novelist. Ophelia hit bookstores in 2006.
Her story Ophelia completely reimagines the tale of Hamlet, from the point of view of the heroine. Readers will fall in love with this character that is usually protrayed as a silly, clumsy thing. She’s strong, determined, and young readers will feel empowered by Ophelia.
Like any film adaptation, there will be a couple changes to Klein’s story, but she’s thrilled to see her characters brought to life. But, yeah, Hamlet still dies.
“I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” she laughed. “I really want it to succeed for the sake of all the people that are working so hard on it.”
The young adult novel is often read by teenagers before they ever pick up a copy of Hamlet. Though she had intended the novel to be for college-aged folks looking for more answers about Ophelia, Klein loves the idea that she’s impacting young readers.
I first read Ophelia around 10 years ago and I absolutely loved it. Klein is the mother of a boy I went to grade school with, so she came to our school to do a book signing. When I went to interview her, I had to bring my old copy of the novel and show her what she wrote to me.
I haven’t stopped, Ms. Klein.
Featured image via By Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.