Jack Nicholson’s Film Adaptation Of Henderson The Rain King Never Found A Home

There’s not much known about Nicholson’s attempts to get “Henderson the Rain King” off the ground. In a separate interview with The Los Angeles Times, he had revealed that he wanted to direct the film but spoke about it in the past tense. Coincidentally, an adaptation of another “unadapatable” book, “Lie Down in Darkness” by William Styron, was among these bygone pitches. Maybe he has a penchant for abstract and philosophical books.

Regardless of how much information is available, it’s not that hard to assume why an adaptation of the Bellow novel was a hard sell. The complicated racial politics, unfortunately, may not have played a major role in studios rejecting it at the time, but one other major factor may have. The way the book is written doesn’t lend itself to an easy script conversion. It is teeming with symbolism that can only really be interpreted through the act of reading, meaning they wouldn’t translate well acted out on screen. If you’re looking to see this translation problem for yourself, look no further than 1986’s adaptation of his novel, “Seize the Day.”

It’s unlikely that “Henderson the Rain King” will ever get adapted. However, it is pretty cool that Nicholson got the blessing of Bellow to adapt it, at least according to what he said in the Chicago Tribune interview.

“He said, ‘Oh, no, I think you’d play the part [of Henderson] beautifully,'” Nicholson recalled. “Well, just that single statement from him encourages me to play it.”

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