At my Seductive Venice promo event in Sacramento, there was a friendly and enthusiastic woman in the audience who piped up to say that her cousin, Kimberly Simi, was one of the writers of the 2005 film Casanova that featured Heath Ledger. While this film gives good Venice and is a playful romp through some pretty fantastical history, it’s not an accurate depiction of Casanova’s life. It plays on the stereotype of him as a seducer and swindler–the overriding image that history has handed down–rather than uncovering the more complex man.
One of my goals in writing Seductive Venice was to discover the real man behind the stereotypes, so I was pretty interested to read the interview with Kimberly Simi about writing her screenplay, which she co-wrote with Jeffrey Hatcher, the story being by her and Michael Cristofer. It helps to explain Ms. Simi’s goal, quite contrary to mine, but at least now I know why she made some of the choices she did.
Here follows most of the interview. (I left out a movie summary from the beginning and an ending section about creating a script outline.)
By the way, Casanova wrote more than ten volumes–it was twelve.
By Dylan Callaghan of the Writers Guild of America
How did you come to this project?
I was reading a European history book and a reference was made to Casanova. I just thought it would be a great idea for a script (laughs). I immediately thought of my log line, which is: “He could seduce any woman in the world, except for the woman he loved.”
And when you decided to tackle this legendary story, how important was it to bring a fresh, female perspective to it? Was that part of the appeal for you?
His character was part of the appeal for me originally. I just thought he’d be a really fun character to write. I felt the story couldn’t be about all the women, it had to be about the one woman.
Did you do a lot of reading about Casanova?
Casanova wrote what I think was a ten volume memoir.
It was ten volumes?
So somebody really does like themselves….
He likes himself. I bought two of the volumes and just randomly skimmed the pages to get an idea of who he was. I felt that his wasn’t going to be historically accurate. That’s not the story I wanted to tell. I mean, there’s no Francesca Bruni (the film’s female lead, played by Sienna Miller), I made her up.
I did do a lot of research on historical Venice itself. In particular, since I hadn’t been there in a while, I felt it was really important to get a sense of what Venice looked like at the time. I looked through a lot of history books and tour books every night when I went to bed.
So would it be fair to say that your initial step in the process on this screenplay was research and immersion in the period?
It kind of happened all at once. I wrote it while I was reading the background information, so it wasn’t a step before, it was simultaneous.