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Adapting popular books is harder than it looks, screenwriter Scott Frank says

Frank, best known for adapting “Get Shorty,” is also proud of his other Elmore Leonard script, “Out of Sight.”

65th Annual Writers Guild East Coast Awards  - Arrivals Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Screenwriter Scott Frank is perhaps best known for 1995’s “Get Shorty,” which he adapted from the 1990 Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. But he almost didn’t do it.

“I didn’t want to write about Hollywood and I’d had a horrible experience on a movie called ‘Malice,’” Frank said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “I was just mad at the business, for whatever reason.”

The producers of the film — Stacy Sher, Danny DeVito and Michael Shamberg — prevailed on Frank to read the book again, and he took the project. But he said adapting Leonard’s writing, which he did again in 1998’s “Out Of Sight,” was a “tough” process.

“They’re tough because they’re all talk,” Frank said. “And it’s great talk, but he’ll introduce a character on page 80 who’ll suddenly become the main character. Even the ending of ‘Get Shorty,’ which is very different than the movie, a character says something like, ‘Endings: Aren’t they a bitch?’ He doesn’t care.”

“I don’t want to be one of those screenwriters that trashes the books they adapt to make themselves look better, ‘cause those were great books,” he added. “They were really great books. I took gobs of stuff from both of those books. But they didn’t work as movies. The shape of them, the story wasn’t an interesting movie.”

Frank’s latest movie is “Logan,” the R-rated sendoff for Hugh Jackman’s “X-Men” character, Wolverine — which he describes as a superhero movie for people like him who don’t like superhero movies.

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