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Nick Hornby chose An Education because he could relate to it

British author Nick Hornby wrote the script for An Education premiering at TIFF.

Elisabetta Villa/2008 Getty Images

Writer Nick Hornby admits that at this point in his career, he's basically assured that whatever he hands in to his publisher will get printed. Not so for film. His script for An Education was a red herring at best.

He was quickly drawn to a short biographical piece by British journalist Lynn Barber, about her experience being seduced by an older man when she was a teenager, when it originally ran in the literary journal Granta.

Hornby felt a close kinship to the story. Substitute Barber's yearning to grow up and see the world with Hornby's youthful urge to experience life through music and soccer (as told in his book Fever Pitch), and you basically have the same universal coming-of-age story, he says.

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Yet there he was, trying to get financial backers interested in his adaptation of Barber's story set in the early 1960s. Remember, British producers are inundated with period drama, much of which "is awful," Hornby says.

It also required the nearly impossible task of finding a seriously talented young female lead, who could carry the film in every scene (which they eventually found in rising star Carey Mulligan). And they needed a sufficiently devious, yet believable male lead for a part Hornby expected no big-name actor would want. (Luckily, the role appealed to Peter Sarsgaasrd early on the script-writing stage.)

Right until days before shooting began last year, Hornby wasn't convinced the film was a go. Sitting in a restaurant during the festival, the ever-unassuming Hornby admits he's now finally convinced it all worked out.

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About the Author

Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More

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