As President of Fox 2000 Pictures, Elizabeth Gabler is one of Hollywood's leading movers and shakers. Her leadership has given rise to movies such as Walk the Line, Marley and Me, Water For Elephants and box office hit, The Devil Wears Prada.
Life of Pi, Fox 2000's latest offering, hits cinemas later this month as a lavish, beautifully animated adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling novel. Here we speak to Elizabeth about spying out a potential movie from a book and how she juggles a demanding work schedule with family time...
Life of Pi is out on 20 December. Click here to watch the trailer
1. What do you look for in a book for it to work as a film?
A compelling story line with a concept that film audiences will be responsive to without having read the book, original and dimensional characters, and a central idea that is both original and engaging.
2. Some would say Life of Pi is quite tricky to do as a movie adaptation, as there’s so much descriptive prose and it’s based largely on a row boat. How did you envisage overcoming this when you worked to adapt it, and are you pleased with the outcome?
First of all, I am thrilled and overwhelmed by the outcome. I always knew that the success of the adaptation depended on the skill of the filmmaker. Ang Lee has the imagination and vision to transcend the challenges of Pi's isolation on the lifeboat with Richard Parker, the tiger. He was able to incorporate the magical elements of the ocean universe to make the scope of the film so large.
3. Did you anticipate the success that came with the movie adaption of Devil Wears Prada? Meryl Streep pretty much embodied the character of Miranda Priestly – did you want her cast in that role from the off?
I always thought the concept of Devil Wears Prada was a very relatable and fun one. Everyone can relate to the first job with the boss from Hell. And combining that with the fashion industry was very enticing and fresh for a film idea. As for Meryl – well, we always aim for the stars, and she is the best of the best. But really, she created her vision for Miranda Priestly and we embraced that!
4. How much involvement do you have over casting in general?
For the larger roles in our films, I have a great deal of involvement, but it is a team effort with great respect for the director's vision.
5. What adaptation have you been most proud to work with in your career and which one has presented the most challenges?
Life of Pi would have to be the answer to both questions.
6. Are there any books out there that you think are crying out for an adaptation, but it hasn’t happened yet?
Yes, the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell, which we are working on right now!
7. You have a very high-profile position at Fox. What advice would you give to other women hoping to get to the top in their careers and overcome barriers along the way?
Life is a balance and family is a priority. Stay focused and give some time to yourself, even if it is a half hour to read or take a walk. Your head will be clearer for it!
8. How do you juggle work life with the needs and demands of your loved ones?
My husband and I are extremely fortunate that both of us have careers that allow us to be flexible with our family time. Communication is the most critical part of the equation!
9. What does your typical working day involve?
Staff meetings and often great staff lunches in our conference room, screening visual effects footage, hearing writers' visions on how to adapt literary properties, emails, emails, emails and conference calls. Sometimes – the best! - going over to the scoring stage to see and hear a magnificent orchestra scoring one of our films!
10. If you could have one superpower to help you in your job, what would it be?
To clone myself.