David Diamond and David Weissman never intended to write a Christmas classic. The screenwriter duo known for evolution, old dogsand when you are in rome were just curious about the decisions people make on a daily basis. “We live our lives, we make choices, the choices have consequences, and we can never know for sure what would have happened if we had made different choices,” Diamond explained in a Zoom conversation with Weissman and SYFY WIRE. “It has always been true and always will be true.”
This existential reflection—a decision in and of itself—led her down a path The family mana 2000 Christmas fantasy about successful New York businessman Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) who wakes up one morning to find himself in the Jersey suburban life he might have had if he was hanging out with his college girlfriend Kate (Tea Leonie).
Instantly horrified at losing his extravagant bachelor lifestyle overnight, Jack begins to realize that true happiness doesn’t come from penthouse apartments, hot one-night stands, or multi-billion dollar mergers. As Weissman puts it, he “moves from no connection on Christmas Eve to the deepest connections.”
“Christmas is a time of year when people reflect on their lives,” Diamond explains of the festive setting. “It’s the end of the year, New Year’s is coming, it’s family time. We didn’t set out to write a Christmas movie, but it felt like the right time of year to make a movie that had those themes… If it was just a random week in May, it might not have that impact.”
Directed by Brett Ratner (rush hour, X Men: The Last Stand), The family man opened in cinemas three days before Christmas 2000. It grossed just over $124 million worldwide on a $60 million production budget and drew critical comparisons It’s a beautiful lifealthough the screenwriters claim they weren’t aiming for a remake of the Frank Capra classic.
The goal, says Diamond, was “to make something that has a heritage but feels like it’s very current and it’s about a character that’s actually going through things in real-time in the world that we’re in.” where we are today.” And besides, the concept of supernatural lessons surrounding the holiday season is nothing new. In fact, it’s older It’s a beautiful life around a century in Dickens A Christmas song.
“We’ve always loved movies with magic,” quotes Weissman Groundhog Day as a major creative influence. “[Diamond and I have] we’ve been best friends since we were 13 and we probably spent the first 25 years of our partnership just talking about the past. That’s all we did. When you have a history like that, that was one of the most powerful things. So the idea that you could see what an alternate lifeline looks like has always been a really powerful idea, I think.”
George Clooney, Kevin Kline, and John Travolta were all briefly considered for the role of Jack, but it was Cage that the writers wanted from the start. “We wrote it with his voice in our heads,” says Diamond. The pair eventually settled with the actor at his lavish Bel Air mansion, once owned by Dean Martin.
“It was hard for me not to be conscious that I was sitting in the room we were sitting in, which was the 100 rooms in Nic Cage’s mansion, and a butler was bringing us snacks and drinks,” Diamond recalls. “But ultimately the other guys are – Nic and [producer] Mark Abraham – were chosen to be what this film was supposed to be about; how we wanted the film to sound; and what we wanted was the problems and conflicts of the character that it drew us into. It was creatively exciting and satisfying.
greatly underestimated at the time The family man remains a warm-hearted fable wrapped around a serious message of human connection and a reassessment of one’s priorities. It even served as an omen of things to come with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In the film, Jack transitions from Goliath to David, trading the grueling world of mergers and acquisitions for a humble executive position in his father-in-law’s auto parts business. “We were maybe a bit ahead of the curve,” says Weissman of this economic foresight. “So much so that I think when the film first came out, some people thought it was preachy.”
While most screenwriters prefer to keep their old screenplays in the past, the creative dyad has decided to make an exception for an upcoming stage music adaptation of the film entitled Glimpse. The production takes its name from the magical glimpse into Jack’s alternate life – bestowed on him by a mysterious stranger named Cash (played on-screen by Don Cheadle).
“The show has its own structure that’s a little different from the film, but we used the script as the basis for the book,” reveals Diamond. “And actually, there’s a lot of dialogue from the film in the lyrics to the songs.”
The author even goes so far as to call the musical “funnier than the movie” because of the toe-tapping element. “It’s wall-to-wall songs. Some of them are very cute and emotional [and] some of them are funny. But from start to finish it’s just a lot of music and dancing and singing. Even though it’s the same story and there’s something melancholy about the story itself, the stage musical is just a real crowd pleaser.”
Rocking a book written by Diamond, Weissman and lead producer Lynn Shore (he also wrote the music and lyrics with Mark Vogel), View was made outside of Los Angeles and could open in New York as early as the 2023 holiday season.
“The 20-odd years since then has allowed us to explore many of the issues in a way that wasn’t possible on film,” Weissman admits. “Especially this thing between Wall Street and Main Street that’s really resonating now. But at the time it was an era in the country when you were still sort of in the world of Gordon Gekko… I think in writing the book we were able to clarify and even delve a little deeper into some of those themes, particularly what this character is learning [from] living life in New Jersey.”
“When we wrote the original screenplay for The family man, neither of us was married,” concludes Diamond. “Now we are both married and we both have children. So we lived this life [and] that makes a difference.”
The Family Man is now streaming on Peacock.