Zodiac, written by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith and directed by David Fincher has been getting rave reviews in America. It opens in the UK next month. For the Writers Guild of America, west, Denis Faye talks to Vanderbilt.
The audience is going to spend 120 minutes or so in the grimy, dark world of Zodiac. You, the writer, spent over a year there. How'd you cope with that?
I honestly think part of being a writer is that you deal in dark shit so you don't bring it out in your real life. I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky guy because I can deal with dark shit and get it out on the page and not have it follow me home.
The other side of it is that it's funny. We talked to a lot of homicide detectives and the surviving victims of the Zodiac, and there's just a lot of humor to it, a lot of dark humor. You watch shows like Homicide, and you see them joking over dead bodies. That's what you sort of need to do to decompress and not think about it. I remember the first time Brad Fischer and I went out to one of the murder sites up at Lake Berryessa. We went there with Robert Graysmith. He showed us around. We went back to the hotel and got blind drunk. It was ridiculous. We're in the bar telling strangers about this experience. It's just this horrible stuff, but at the same time, there's something about being able to excise it by putting it out there on the page or putting it out there on the screen.