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Zoe Kazan on ‘Ruby Sparks’ and Creative Inspiration

Actor, playwright, and screenwriter Zoe Kazan was inspired in part to write her movie “Ruby Sparks” by the story which became the play and movie musical “My Fair Lady.”

“I’ve always really been interested in the Pygmalion myth and both what it has to say about creativity and what it has to say about relationships between men and women,” Kazan said in an interview.

“I’d been thinking about what I would want to do with that if I was going to write on that theme, and one morning I woke up and Calvin and Ruby were in my head. So, like Calvin, I woke up with a dream, and wrote it down.”

The basic story, as noted by reviewer Roger Ebert, is that a novelist named Calvin (played by the dynamic Paul Dano) “had the misfortune to write, in his late teens, a book that was loved and treasured by just about everyone. He’s been blocked ever since.”

But then he has a series of dreams about a young woman, Ruby, starts writing about her, and she magically shows up in his life in the flesh, as the saying goes.

It is a delightful and satisfying movie, with rich themes such as imagination, creative block and artistic passion and endeavor, played out in a story of a romance.

Kazan, who also plays Ruby, says writing was “kind of fast” at first. “I wrote the first 20 pages in the summer of 2009, and then I didn’t feel like I had the concentration at that time to finish it. Also, I sort of knew what the broad comedy version of the movie looked like, but I knew that that wasn’t what I wanted to write, so, I felt like, ‘I have to be in an emotional place where I’m prepared to write this.’

“So I put it away, and then in the spring of 2010, like six months later, I felt ready. I wrote in two and a half, three weeks, and then I did a polish of it and sent it off to producers.”

From Zoe Kazan’s LA Dream Girl, by Colleen Kelsey.

In another Interview magazine piece, she commented about feeling a period of passionate inspiration.

“When there is a fecundity, when there’s a period of time when you are especially creative, you kind of owe it to yourself to kind of work overtime, and that is what I feel like has been happening to me. My brain has been going twice the speed that my body can go, so I’m trying to keep up.”

From The Exploding Girl Blows Up, By Meryl Cates, Interview mag.

In his review of Ruby Sparks, Roger Ebert also writes, “Zoe Kazan of course is an actress as well as a writer, and in her career, she must have often felt tugged this way and that by the fantasies and requirements of the (mostly) men who wrote and directed her roles. Surely one of the most dreaded things an actress can hear is, ‘We’ve made a few changes to your character.’

“But if characters have lives of their own on the page, they also take on a reality in the minds of those who portray them, and the finished character we see in a film may be more of a compromise than anyone’s personal vision.”

If you’re a writer or just interested in exploring that form of creativity, visit my site The Inner Writer

There are several mentions of actors who also use their writing talents on my site The Inner Actor

Related posts:

Multiple Talents, Multiple Passions, Burnout

Passion Fuels Creative Expression


Zoe Kazan on ‘Ruby Sparks’ and Creative Inspiration

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). Zoe Kazan on ‘Ruby Sparks’ and Creative Inspiration. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Jul 2012
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