Author Matthew Quick on 'Silver Linings Playbook'

Author Matthew Quick on 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Image courtesy the Weinstein Company

Matthew Quick quit his job as a high school English teacher, sold his house, traveled for a bit, and moved in with his in-laws to pursue his dream: writing. With the support of his wife, Quick spent the next three years holed up in his in-law's unfinished basement writing. His finished manuscript, The Silver Linings Playbook, was picked up by a literary agent and proved to be a bestseller in several countries.

While Quick was thrilled with the success of his book, he was even more thrilled when the Weinstein Company bought the film rights, and director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) got on board to write the screenplay and direct the film. Megastars like Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver joined the project, and the film opens in theaters this week.

To an outsider, it might seem like Quick's success came overnight, but it was years in the making. Quick says he knew he wanted to write ever since he was little, but his parents believed in more traditional career paths.

"I grew up in a blue-collar town. The people who raised me were very pragmatic Protestant bankers who did not have artistic temperament," Quick says. "In high school when I first started writing poetry and reading a lot, it was something I did in private. It was not something that was generally encouraged."

Author Matthew Quick on 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Image courtesy the Weinstein Company

Quick went to college for secondary education and English thinking that he would teach high school and write on the side. He imagined that teaching would be easy, and would give him plenty of time to write, but he soon discovered that teaching was a huge time commitment.

"I got really involved with the school, and I took teaching very seriously," Quick says. "I was very passionate about it. I loved my students and I was telling them, 'If it's in you, follow your bliss. All of these authors we study in class, they all went out and wrote books. If it's in you to do so, then why not?' Of course I started to feel like a hypocrite because it was in me."

The voice inside Quick was telling him to write a novel, but he says the rational part of himself was saying not to give up tenure at one of the best high schools in South Jersey. Quick says he felt conflicted, and went into a very private and very deep depression. It was Quick's wife that saw his downward spiral, and suggested a change. After quitting his job, selling their home, floating the Peruvian Amazon, backpacking around South Africa, and hiking the Grand Canyon, Quick settled into his in-law's basement.

Working without a paycheck while he pursued his dream was difficult.

"When you're in high school and you tell someone you want to write a novel, everyone thinks it's cute," Quick says. "When you're 30 years old and you say, 'I'm going to quit my job and seriously make a go at the arts without collecting a paycheck,' people make it sound as though you're doing something criminal."

After three years of writing, Quick sent his manuscript off to New York. The only other person who had read his book was his wife, so he wasn't sure what publishers would think. He was ecstatic when it was picked up and sold in several countries. He was shocked when the Weinstein Company bought the film rights.

Author Matthew Quick on 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Image courtesy the Weinstein Company

"My immediate response [when I got the call about adapting the book to a film] was, 'Can I write the screenplay?'" Quick laughs. "They said, 'Ah...maybe David O. Russell will write the screenplay.' I heard that name, and I am a huge fan of his work. I got off the phone and I thought, 'Is this a joke? Did I just hallucinate this? What is going on?'"

As the shock wore off, Quick says he was excited and eager to see the finished film. He had no involvement with the filmmaking, but says he was happy with the casting choices. Mark Wahlberg and Anne Hathaway were originally selected to play the leading roles, but the film was eventually recast with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

Cooper plays Pat Solatano, a guy who returns home to live with his Philadelphia Eagle obsessed parents Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Delores (Jacki Weaver) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. As he works to get his life back on track, Solatano's main priority is to reunite with his wife, whom he has a complicated relationship with. When Pat strikes a friendship with Tiffany (Lawrence), his parents are worried that her troubled past will be destructive for him.

The pair soon find that they can help each other out and their friendship helps them to discover the silver linings in their lives.

"When Bradley was cast, I was really excited because he's from Philly. He's an Eagles fan tried and true, so I knew that he would bring that local understanding to the movie which was great," Quick says. "I'd seen Jennifer in Winter's Bone which was a fantastic performance. She was unbelievable."

Quick first saw Silver Linings Playbook at the Tribeca Film Festival, and says it was stressful for him.

"I was watching the first half hour with my fists clenched, feeling kind of anxious. I'm watching as a fan of David, as a fan of movies, as someone whose career is at stake," Quick says. "All these thoughts are running through my head. About a half hour in, my hands started to unclench and I just lost myself in the film. I think at that point I realized that this was a great film. In that room, I had that transcendent feeling and I knew we had something special."

Quick says that he hopes people will read the book in addition to seeing the film.

"I hope people pick up my book and enjoy it. I hope it entertains them, and hope it's a good experience for them. Mental health issues are really important to me, as someone who has worked in the mental health community and as someone who considers himself a member of the mental health community. Also, I think that for whatever reason we tend to demonize stories that give us hope. There's a reason that Shakespeare wrote tragedies and comedies -- we need both," Quick says.

He is happy with the way the film turned out and wants people to leave the theater with a feeling of hope.

"It's really heartening when I go to a screening and someone says, 'I loved the book and I loved the film but let me tell you..' and they'll have this big smile on their face and will say something like my son is bipolar or a member of the mental health community and it's so nice to see something on screen that feels realistic," Quick says. "They leave with a little bit of hope. I think that's important."

Silver Linings Playbook opens in theaters November 21.

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