British sci-fi magazine SFX (in issue
#88) recently published a short interview with screenwriter and
frequent Alex Proyas collaborator Stuart Hazeldine.
We obviously can't publish the
whole interview here, so we'll summarize and use some snippets.
- Hazeldine had only a "vague knowledge" of the novels
before starting the project.
- he thought it was "one of
the best concepts for a long-running sci-fi TV show" that he'd
ever heard of, and believes that Riverworld could be destined for
greatness...he can see it as the Star Trek of the 21st Century.
- Hazeldine wrote his first draft of the screenplay based entirely
on Alex Proyas's treatment, so he would have no creative
limitations. After reading the first two books, he found that
most of his ideas were pretty accurate, but "significant work
did need doing."
- he felt that "some of the
stuff in the novels felt dated and needed contemporizing."
- he decided that Farmer's narrative tended to bog down in the face
of the magnitude of his ideas and concepts. Hazeldine felt
that his job was to construct a strong story within the framework of
the established premise.
- he has come up with "a lot
of stuff that riffs off Farmer's explanations" that Executive
Producer Proyas apparently likes.
- Hazeldine had to know how the
story ends in order to begin writing it. In order to keep the
mystery to fans of the books, he has changed some events, especially
in the end, while maintaining respect for Farmer's own
- interview also revealed that
there are, indeed, eight main characters and that three of them are
invented by Hazeldine (these characters are probably Valdemar,
The Polish Jew
and the male lead, Jeff
Special thanks to
Zacharias L.A. Nuninga, from the Philip
Jose Farmer - International Bibliography