Best-selling Scottish author Alan Warner has revealed that a new movie adaptation of his book about a group of Highland teenage girls running wild in Edinburgh was delayed for 20 years because Hollywood moguls wanted to move it to California and cast a star in it.
The Oban author, who sold the rights to The Sopranos to Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones before it was published in 1998, said Kate Hudson, the star of Almost Famous and Bride Wars, was attached to a film adaptation.
Speaking at an in-conversation event at Aberdeen University, Warner said both he and Caton-Jones had resisted the prospect of cashing in on an adaptation fronted by the Los Angeles-born Golden Globe winner, the daughter of actress Goldie Hawn.
Caton-Jones, from Broxburn, West Lothian, who directed Rob Roy and Memphis Belle, has told how Channel 4, the BBC and the BFI all turned down the film. He eventually got the go-ahead from Sony to make the movie, which had to be renamed Our Ladies to avoid confusion with the hit mafia series.
The film finally went into production last year in Fort William and Edinburgh with a cast of largely unknown young Scottish and English actors.
However, Our Ladies, which is due for release in the UK in March, went on to win huge acclaim from critics at its premiere in London last month.
Asked why there had been such a long hiatus, Warner said: “To be perfectly frank, it has taken so long because Michael Caton-Jones stuck to his guns on the kind of film he wanted to make.
“He had lucrative offers to move the location and the whole concept in California, with the obvious cultural results. Goldie Hawn’s daughter was pencilled in to do it – and she wanted to do it.
“But that meant a rewrite of the script. Michael said no and he kept saying no. He could have got a massive budget to do it in America – and guess who would have profited from that?
“But I was with him. I was like, ‘No, don’t do it’. It was that old thing about ‘how much are you willing to sell out?’
“It’s nice to be in a position to sell out, but Michael didn’t want to. The offers weren’t thick and fast but when they did come they involved some form of compromise that he wouldn’t go along with.
“But he also had a lot of trouble raising money for the film in Britain.”
Warner, who has just taken up a post as a lecturer in screenwriting at Aberdeen University, revealed he was working on his own script for a project which could reunite him with Caton-Jones.
Asked whether he would try to adapt the work of another author, he said: “I’ve never done it, but I’ve always thought it would be a magical exercise.
“But at the same time I’m scared of it because I know the emotions I’ve been through. You’re treading on someone’s dream, in a way.
“So it would be nice if it was someone who was no longer with us.
“I’d find that a lot easier. It’s a delicate thing.”