Stewart O’Nan’s recent well-received volume West Of Sunset offered a fictionalized look at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final years in Hollywood. Now that book is on track to become a movie as Deadline Hollywood reports that director James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, Smashed) is optioning it to adapt and direct.
As the book describes, Fitzgerald was in a bad place by the time he moved to Hollywood. After garnering much praise for his three novels and short stories in the ’20s, culminating with 1925’s The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald took nine years to write his next novel, the less-well-received Tender Is The Night, published in 1934. In 1937, he moved to Hollywood to try for a career in screenwriting and write his final novel (the unfinished The Last Tycoon, now renamed with Fitzgerald’s reported preferred title, The Love Of The Last Tycoon). By this point, his wife Zelda had been committed to an insane asylum, he was running low on money, and he was in the final stages of his devastating alcoholism. O’Nan’s book offers appearances from other writers in Fitzgerald’s era who were also trying to make it in Hollywood, like Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker, as well as silver-screen actors like Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. No casting prospects have been tossed around yet, but this will undoubtedly be a desirable part. (Fitzgerald was only 44 when he died in Hollywood in 1940.)
After his intimate, relationship-based films, this will be Ponsoldt’s second biopic in a row. His David Foster Wallace film starring Jason Segel, The End Of The Tour, comes out this summer.