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Pictures emerge of David Foster Wallace biopic you forgot was happening

Back in December, a couple of weeks before Christmas, news emerged that Jason Segel would star as the late David Foster Wallace – the revered American author of Infinite Jest, Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, amongst others – in a kind-of-biopic based on Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace, David Lipsky’s account of the five days he spent interviewing Wallace on the 1996 press junket for Infinite Jest. Jesse Eisenberg would co-star as Lipsky, and the film would be directed by James Ponsoldt, most recently responsible for The Spectacular Now.

Whether through the general hustle and bustle of the festive period (possible) or through your brain realising this sounded like A Terrible Idea and deciding to deny all knowledge of such a project of its own volition (more likely), you probably forgot this was happening. Now, however, the first photographic evidence of the retitled End of the Road has appeared online, and if DFW readers were afraid that the sum total of the effort to make Segel resemble Wallace would be to slap a long-haired wig, a bandana and a pair of round glasses on him then, uh, maybe don’t look down.

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Whilst obviously this is just a candid on-set photo captured by a passer-by on a location shoot, and so we can’t even begin to judge the finished product, much less Segel’s performance in it, admirers of Wallace would be forgiven for feeling unease over the project’s very existence. Since Wallace’s death in 2008 at the age of 46, there’s been an increasing tendency towards reducing a frighteningly intelligent, bitingly satirical, irreducibly complex writer down to something of an inspirational quote machine, a secular Buddha dispensing life lessons in easily digestible soundbites as opposed to 1,110 page opuses in which a key character commits suicide, graphically, via microwave – a trend that reached its nauseating nadir last year with an appallingly literal-minded viral video set to Wallace’s This is Water, the beautifully humanistic commencement address he delivered at Kenyon College in May 2005.

Though the book upon which the film is based was generally well-received, it will take an exceptionally sensitive effort to balance a true representation of Wallace’s life and work with the still raw circumstances of his death, particularly with an air of stunt casting hanging over Segel’s involvement. Until then, maybe try to put it out of mind by referring to it as I Love You, Brief Interviews With Hideous Man or something.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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