by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman adapted from the book THE ORCHID THIEF by Susan Orlean

September 24, 1999 Second Draft

EXT. ROCKY TERRAIN - DAY Endless barren landscape. No sign of life. The atmosphere is hazy, toxic-looking. Volcanoes erupt. Meteors bombard. Lightning strikes, concussing murky pools of water. Silence. INT. LARGE EMPTY LIVING ROOM - MORNING SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD, CA, FOUR BILLION AND FORTY YEARS LATER Beamed ceilings and ostentatious fireplace. A few birthday cards on the mantel, two of them identical: "To Our Dear Son on His Fortieth Birthday." Charlie Kaufman, a fat, balding man in a purple sweater with tags still attached, paces the room. His incantational voice-over carpets the scene. KAUFMAN (V.O.) I am old. I am fat. I am bald. My toenails have turned strange. I am repulsive. How repulsive? I don't know for I suffer from a condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I am fat, but am I as fat as I think? My therapist says no, but people lie. I believe others call me Fatty behind my back. Or Fatso. Or, facetiously, Slim. But I also believe this is simply my own perverted form of self-aggrandizement, that no one really talks about me at all. What possible interest is an old, bald, fat man to anyone? I am repulsive. I have never lived. I blame myself. I -EXT. STATE ROAD 29 - DAWN A lonely two-lane highway cutting through swampland. BRITISH NARRATOR As natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection. Suddenly, a beat-up white van barrels around a curve. followed closely by an old green Ford. SUBTITLE: STATE ROAD 29, FLORIDA, FIVE YEARS EARLIER INT. WHITE VAN - CONTINUOUS John Laroche drives. He's a skinny man with no front teeth. The van is piled with bags of potting soil, gardening junk. A Writings of Charles Darwin audio cassette case is on the seat next to Laroche. (CONTINUED) It's

2. CONTINUED: BRITISH NARRATOR It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing... Laroche tries to contemplate the plants and birds whizzing by. Almost too late, he spots the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve sign and makes a squealing right onto the dirt road turn-off. The cassette case flies from the seat and halfburies itself in an open bag of peat. INT. GREEN FORD - CONTINUOUS Nirvana blasts. Russell, Vinson, and Randy, three young Indian men, pass a joint and watch the erratic van ahead. RUSSELL Laroche is asleep at the wheel. RANDY Crazy White Man is now Drowsy White Man. They share a stoned laugh. EXT. NEW YORK APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT SUBTITLE: NEW YORK, TWO YEARS LATER Late night street. The click-click of typing. We move slowly up the building to the only glowing window. ORLEAN (O.S.) (wistful) John Laroche is a tall guy, skinny as a stick, pale-eyed, slouch-shouldered and sharply handsome despite the fact that he is missing all his front teeth. In the window, lit by a single desk lamp, a woman types. INT. APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS We glide over the desk piled with books about orchids, past a photo of Laroche tacked to an overwhelmed bulletin board, and come to rest on a woman typing. It's Susan Orlean: pale, delicate and blond. We lose ourselves in her melancholy beauty. She turns to the camera and talks to us.


3. CONTINUED: ORLEAN Two years ago I went to Florida to meet Laroche after reading a small article about a white man and three Seminole men arrested with rare orchids they'd stolen out of a place called the... INT. RANGER'S TRUCK - MID-MORNING Tony, a ranger, drives along a dirt road past the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve sign and enters the swamp. He sees the white van and Ford parked ahead, spots a Seminole license plate on the Ford. He pulls over down the road, and whispers into his C.B. TONY We got a Seminole, or Seminoles, in the swamp. I'm on Janes Scenic Drive just east of Logging Road Twelve. I repeat, Indians in the swamp. Tony waits for a response. Nothing.

TONY (cont'd) Indians in the swamp. Nothing still. Tony clears his throat into the radio.

RADIO VOICE I don't know what you want me to say. TONY Barry, Indians do not go on swamp walks. If there are Indians in the swamp, they are in there for a reason. No response. Tony glowers, gets out of the truck, watches the vehicles through binoculars. Nothing. He straightens his cap. Mosquitoes land on his neck, his nose, his lips. INT. L.A. BUSINESS LUNCH RESTAURANT - MIDDAY Kaufman, wearing his purple sweater sans tags, sits with Valerie, an attractive woman in wire-rim glasses. They pick at salads. Kaufman steals glances at her lips, her hair, her breasts. She looks up at him. He blanches, looks away. I'm old. KAUFMAN (V.O.) I'm bald. I'm repulsive.

VALERIE We think you're just great. (CONTINUED)

4. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (with studied modesty) Oh, thank you. Valerie absently rubs her nose. rubs his nose in response. Kaufman self-consciously

VALERIE And we're thrilled you're interested. Valerie rubs her nose again. Kaufman pulls at his nostril. A rivulet of sweat slides down his forehead. Valerie watches it. Kaufman sees her watching it. She sees him seeing her watching it. She looks at her salad. He quickly swabs. KAUFMAN Oh, thanks, wow. That's nice to hear. VALERIE You have a really unique voice. KAUFMAN Well, thanks. That's... I appreciate that. VALERIE Very talented. Really. Thanks. KAUFMAN Thank you. Thanks.

VALERIE (looking up) So -Kaufman's brow is dripping again. KAUFMAN Sort of hot in here. VALERIE (kindly) Yeah, it is a bit. So, why don't you tell me your thoughts on this crazy little project of ours. In one motion, Kaufman swabs his forehead and pulls a book entitled The Orchid Thief from his bag. KAUFMAN First, I think it's a great book. He smiles, embarrassed.


5. CONTINUED: (2) VALERIE Laroche is a fun character, isn't he? Kaufman nods, flips through the book, stalling. There's a smiling author photo of Susan Orlean on the inside back cover. KAUFMAN And Orlean makes orchids so fascinating. Plus her musings on Florida, orchid poaching. Indians. Great, sprawling New Yorker stuff. I'd want to remain true to that, let the movie exist rather than be artificially plot driven. VALERIE Okay, great, great. I guess I'm not exactly sure what that means. KAUFMAN Oh. Well... I'm not sure exactly yet either. So... y'know, it's... Oh. Okay. VALERIE Great. So, um, what --

KAUFMAN It's just, I don't want to compromise by making it a Hollywood product. An orchid heist movie. Or changing the orchids into poppies and turning it into a movie about drug running. Y'know? VALERIE Oh, of course. We agree. Definitely.

KAUFMAN Or cramming in sex, or car chases, or guns. Or characters learning profound life lessons. Or characters growing or characters changing or characters learning to like each other or characters overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end. Y'know? Movie shit. Kaufman is sweating like crazy now. moment. Valerie is quiet for a

VALERIE See, we thought maybe Susan Orlean and Laroche could fall in love during the course of -(CONTINUED)

a soulful development executive. lots of books. KAUFMAN I think it's great. (CONTINUED) . MARGARET Yeah. It's Hollywood. There's one you might like.DAY SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD. MARGARET (cont'd) See. KAUFMAN So anyway I just wanted to stop by to congratulate you on your promotion. Margaret pulls a copy of The Orchid Thief from her bookshelf.6. Kaufman. see! I'm not lying to you! KAUFMAN I loved the book. OFFICE . thanks again. it wouldn't happen. Mostly crap. about flowers. CALIFORNIA. watches Margaret. see. Pretty cool. INT. It's all so stupid. MARGARET Oh my God! You're kidding? I loved that book! I read that! Kaufman is thrilled. CONTINUED: (3) KAUFMAN Alienated journalist writes about passionate backwoods guy and he teaches her to love. he's scored. So what's up with you? KAUFMAN I'm considering jobs. it didn't happen. I mean. Audobon posters. nervous and sweaty. Anyway. THREE WEEKS EARLIER The office is decorated with potted flowers. Your photo in the trades and everything. unpack boxes. Flowers? MARGARET Really? What is it? KAUFMAN They want me to do an adaptation of a book called The Orchid Thief. MARGARET Well.

7. they're such beautiful flowers. Laroche leads the Indians through waist-high black water. KAUFMAN They're really great. And MARGARET (shrieks with delight) Testicle! Can you believe it! Margaret giggles happily. Jesus. to immerse yourself in a real subject and learn everything about it? Blake wrote about seeing heaven in a wild flower. CONTINUED: MARGARET Oh.MORNING Hot. MARGARET You should take this job. Kaufman giggles weirdly. Margaret plops onto the couch next to Kaufman. Instead of this bullshit all the time. I know. MARGARET (cont'd) I swear. orchids are the most amazing flowers. isn't nature enough? EXT. it'd be fucking great for someone to have the testicles to make that book into a movie. Doesn't it sound exciting. dirty. people learning profound lessons. Y'know? (whispering) Did you know that orchid means -Testicle. Charlie. so sexy. you can teach me! KAUFMAN (thrilled but controlled) That'd be fun. miserable. (CONTINUED) . Something not about sex and violence and car chases and love stories. So complex. SWAMP . And after you learn all this stuff. KAUFMAN I just read that. He points out a turtle on a rock. man. MARGARET God.

tenderly caresses the petals. VALERIE Adapting someone else's work is certainly an opportunity to think differently. by the way. Although. CONTINUED: LAROCHE Pseudemys floridana. RESTAURANT . VALERIE And it's wonderful. glowing white flower hanging from the tree. A ghost.. LAROCHE (cont'd) Polyrrhiza Lindenii. I'd like to be more like that. even masturbatory stuff. begins sawing through the tree.8. That I can't speak to.. INT.. He stops. business-like: LAROCHE (cont'd) Cut it down. I really admire those guys who know everything about ants or fungus or whatever. Then. They trudge. That's nice to hear.MIDDAY Kaufman still sweats as he talks to Valerie. maybe you fellas specifically. See. Laroche spots something else. The Indians ignore him. I tend to write selfinvolved. I love the idea of learning all about orchids. KAUFMAN . I've arrived at an age where I want to think about the world in a different way. He The Indians come around. Russell.. Russell pulls out a hacksaw. a dull green root wrapped around a tree. Did you fellas know you fellas believe the world rests on the back of a turtle? Not you fellas specifically. KAUFMAN Thanks. Laroche stares at a single beautiful. But I need to challenge myself as a writer. circles the tree. His eyes widen in reverent awe. (CONTINUED) .

MOTHER (hugging him) A wonderful choice! And spiritually significant! Did you know that Native Americans believe the whole world rests on the back of a turtle? Cool! BOY I can't wait to tell the guys. They unceremoniously stuff the flowers into bulging pillowcases. I'm going to an orchid show Sunday? For research? Maybe you'll come? (CONTINUED) . studying the inhabitants. INT. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN Yes. man. SWAMP . clicks glasses. something that would never draw people into a theater and making that fascinating. BOY (cont'd) I want this then. TWENTY-SIX YEARS EARLIER A serious ten year old boy walks from cage to aquarium. INT. KAUFMAN Hey. BOY Any one at all. PET STORE (1972) . and Vinson saw through tree branches supporting lovely flowering orchids. And I welcome the challenge of taking a small subject.MORNING As Laroche supervises. Margaret raises a glass. like orchids. MARGARET To a fucking awesome assignment. who's been following at a respectful distance. The boy returns to his search. He stops EXT. Russell. ma? She nods sweetly. I want to show people heaven in a wildflower.DAY SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI.9.EVENING Kaufman eats with Margaret. Randy. Kaufman. ROMANTIC RESTAURANT . He turns to his frumpy mother. As Blake wrote. He takes a breath. pleased. at a small turtle in an aquarium.

MARGARET (cont'd) . too. MARGARET Like the other day we were in bed discussing Hegel. He sounds great. thanks. MARGARET He wants to meet you anyway.. but rather cyclically... a long time ago. MARGARET Well. All I do is KAUFMAN Oh. struck by his notion that history is a human construct. Y'know. Hegel! In bed! It was fucking amazing. I think David... KAUFMAN That's great. CONTINUED: MARGARET Absolutely. MARGARET You'll like him. that nature doesn't exist historically.10... Have you read much? KAUFMAN Y'know. Kaufman begins the laborious task of getting through his plate of food. The entrees arrive. would enjoy it. He's so honest and smart. Sure. tell him how great you are. A bit. David and I were discussing his Philosophy of History and I was. Okay if he comes along? KAUFMAN (covering heartbreak) Yeah. It's rare to find someone in this town who thinks about things other than this fucking business. Yeah. of course. KAUFMAN MARGARET . anyway. That's nice to hear. this guy I'm seeing. He can no longer look up at Margaret. y'know? Yeah. He's a real naturalist. (MORE) (CONTINUED) ..

ORLEAN (V. He studies their interaction. RADIO VOICE How's that Injun round-up going.MORNING Tony waits. building upon itself.. Her delicate fingers move with a pianist's grace across the computer keyboard. the way she looks at him. Ha! Tony jumps into the truck and turns it around. EXT. He's hurt and fixates on a sexy flower tattoo on her arm. CONTINUED: (2) MARGARET (cont'd) So whereas human history spirals forward. pulls down her sleeve. pleased) We got fuckin' poachers.. TROPICAL RIVER .O. INT. who haul the pillowcases.11. The guy leaves and the cashier waves Kaufman over. Tony? TONY Fuck you. sweaty and mosquito bitten. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT .NIGHT Orlean types. Kaufman waits in line and watches the tattooed female cashier flirting with the handsome guy ahead of him. INT.) Orchid hunting is a mortal occupation. BARNES AND NOBLE . Laroche steps from the swamp with the Indians. which features an engraving of the philosopher on the cover. she expresses no interest in him. Tony tenses. She catches him.O. (into the radio. Her eyes. TONY (cont'd) We got poachers. Barry. carries them to the register.DAY SUBTITLE: ORINOCO RIVER. As she rings him up. ORLEAN (V. JANES SCENIC DRIVE . EXT. nature. ONE HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER An overturned boat and uprooted orchids float on the river. .) The Victorian-era orchid hunter William Arnold drowned on a collecting expedition. you fuckin'.. Rustling near the parked cars. her lips.DAY Kaufman pulls a bunch of orchid books off the shelf.. Barry. The radio crackles. along with a book on Hegel.

RIVER . EXT. you absolutely may. ORLEAN (V. wheezing man with a makeshift bandage wrapped around his head.) (cont'd) Laroche loved orchids but I came to believe he loved the difficulty and fatality of getting them almost as much as he loved the orchids themselves. CLIFF . (CONTINUED) . stabs him. ORLEAN (V. FIELD .DAY SUBTITLE: SIERRA LEONE A man lies at the bottom of a cliff.) Schroeder fell to his death. TONY Morning. May I ask what you gentlemen have in those pillowcases? LAROCHE Yes. The murderer sails down river.. limping. pleurisy. EXT. ORLEAN (V. EXT.O.O. Laroche smiles warmly. clutching a flower..O.MORNING Tony steps out of his truck.O. docks his boat.O.DAY SUBTITLE: RIO HACHA A man lies face down near an unplucked orchid. JANES SCENIC DRIVE .) Augustus Margary survived toothache. EXT. sir.12.DAY SUBTITLE: YANGTZE RIVER An emaciated. only to be murdered when he completed his mission and traveled beyond Bhamo. Someone steps from behind a bush.) Endres was shot dead in Rio Hacha. ORLEAN (V. rheumatism. steals his boat..) (cont'd) . ORLEAN (V.. and dysentery.

But -TONY (CONTINUED) .. They give it. LAROCHE Oh. Did I mention that? You're familiar. even though he has no idea.. Because he's an Indian and it's his right. what. and my colleagues are all Seminole Indians. sir. I'm sure. one of. James E. with the State of Tony's confused. Billie. TONY Exactly. CONTINUED: Laroche goes back to directing the Indians. Well. that's exactly the issue. LAROCHE Yes. one peperomia. Tony nods. LAROCHE (cont'd) The state couldn't successfully prosecute him. sir. Okay then! Let's see. nine orchid varieties. Florida v. About a hundred and thirty plants all told.13. TONY You're aware that it's illegal to remove plants or animals from state owned land? LAROCHE And don't forget these plants are all endangered. Every one of them. which my colleagues have removed from the swamp. (peeking in bags) Five kinds of bromeliad. LAROCHE (cont'd) So you know that even though Seminole Chief Billie killed a Florida panther. forty in the entire world? Laroche looks to the Indians for confirmation. I'm asking then. it is. (afterthought) Oh. TONY Okay. This is a state preserve. As repugnant as you or I as white conservationists might find his actions.

everything is always growing or expanding. but I don't. At the same time. RANDY VINSON RUSSELL TONY Yeah. Chickee huts. I believe. Yeah. Yeah. EXT. RUSSELL He's right. I can't let you fellas go yet. CONTINUED: (2) LAROCHE Not to mention the failed attempts on three separate occasions to prosecute Seminoles for poaching palm fronds. RENTAL CAR .DAY SUBTITLE: AKRON. Yeah. dramatically with golden sunlight.. ORLEAN Nothing in Florida seems hard or permanent. can I get some help? Barry? INT. OHIO. She talks to us. which. SUBURBAN BACKYARD . the wilderness disappears before your eyes. Orlean gets quiet. That's exactly what we use them for. Tony looks at the Indians. Just hold on while I.14... they use to thatch the roofs of their traditional chickee huts. THIRTY YEARS EARLIER (CONTINUED) . Her eyes tear. Her mournful face glows beautifully. onto the freeway. Barry. but the jungle is unstoppably fertile. past congestion and billboards. (into radio) Hey.. The developed places are just little clearings in the jungle.DAY We watch Orlean as she drives out of the Miami Airport parking lot. Laroche again looks to the Indians for confirmation.

He thinks he hears the word "Fatso. kiss between pushes. Donald pulls a purple sweater from the box. BIG SPANISH-STYLE HOUSE . EXT. DONALD (cont'd) I know you think this is just one of my get-rich-quick schemes. Two teenage girls walk by. opening a gift box. Charles. A seven year old girl is gleeful as her parents push her on a swing.) I am fat. deeply in love.DAY Kaufman gets out of his car with his books. my own reflection. I have a plan to get me out of your house pronto. CONTINUED: Lush color. Kaufman watches as one whispers to the other. KAUFMAN A job is a plan. EMPTY HOUSE . enters his bedroom.O. I am repulsive. his identical twin brother. I'm taking a seminar! . Is your plan a job? DONALD (big build up) I'm gonna be a screenwriter! Like you! Kaufman doesn't respond. DONALD (cont'd) Hey. regards himself glumly." The girls giggle.A COUPLE OF MINUTES LATER Kaufman passes a hall mirror.15. INT. She watches from the air as her mother and father. continues down the hall. But I'm doing it right this time. on his back in pajama bottoms. you'll be glad. DONALD Kaufman nods vaguely. DONALD Did you open your present from mom yet? KAUFMAN What's with you? My back. KAUFMAN (V. calls after Kaufman. I cannot bear At the landing Kaufman comes upon Donald. and climbs the stairs.

DONALD (O. Charles.CONTINUOUS Kaufman lies face down on his mattress on the floor. man. DONALD Yeah. Be it in the world of religion -DONALD (indicating his back) I just need to lie down while you explain this to me.) In theory I agree with you. Okay. DONALD (O. INT. I'll pay you back. He gets lost in the picture. Kaufman puts the paper back under his pillow. I apologize. from under his pillow. Sorry. is just -- (CONTINUED) . don't say "industry. As soon as I sell -KAUFMAN Let me explain something to you.16. KAUFMAN Anybody who says he's got "the answer" is going to attract desperate people. appears on all fours in the doorway. now in the sweater. stares at ceiling) Okay.S. Donald. But this one is highly regarded within the industry.) It's only five hundred bucks! KAUFMAN (muffled by pillow) Screenwriting seminars are bullshit.S. this guy knows screenwriting. (lies down. open to a photo of Margaret. KAUFMAN There are no rules to follow. People from all over come to study his method. go ahead. DONALD I'm sorry. Go. I forgot. EMPTY BEDROOM . Sorry." Donald. okay. KAUFMAN Donald. and anybody who says there are. Kaufman pulls a copy of Variety.

Kaufman's head is spinning. and that's good because -DONALD What about Flowers for Algernon? KAUFMAN That's not about flowers. No one's ever done a movie about flowers before. the Understanding completes these its limitations by positing the opposite. And a writer should always have that goal.. DONALD Oh. and has through all remembered time. movie. an opposited. principles. those teachers are dangerous if your goal is to do something new. his sister is weak and anemic. Writing is a journey into the unknown. KITCHEN (1972) . okay. Donald finally speaks DONALD McKee is a former Fulbright scholar. Donald stares at the ceiling.. KAUFMAN My point is. Only his sweet mother pays attention as he chatters excitedly. Getting no no response. It's not building a model airplane. Are you a former Fulbright scholar... His father wears a backbrace. So. fuming. a conditional and conditioning. he pulls out his Hegel book and reads: KAUFMAN (V. I never saw it. He puts the book down. (CONTINUED) . Kaufman waits." KAUFMAN The script I'm starting.EVENING The young boy eats with his family. Charles? INT.) Each being is. this works.17. principle says. there're no guidelines. McKee writes: "A rule says. And it's not a A Go ahead. you must do it this way. it's about flowers.O. because posited. CONTINUED: DONALD Not rules. Both brothers stare at the ceiling.

huh? BOY Uh-huh.. Laroche enthusiastically helps Ranger Mike Owen catalogue the flowers. A guy sprinkles water on them. The turtle shell has remained unchanged for two hundred million years! And there's all different kinds. (checks Owen's spelling) Okay. my friend. Mr. And they're found on every continent! Except Antarptica! MOTHER Antarctica. LAROCHE . Tem-pen-sis. is . Laroche.LATE MORNING Ranger. four Encyclia Tampensis -MIKE OWEN I'm sorry. EXT. The Indians lean against their car. Three Polyrrhiza Lindenii. and state police cars are parked near the van and Ford. sheriff. except in your swamp. Lots of sweating. What I really came for. Nirvana seeps tinnily out the car window. (CONTINUED) . Two Catopsi Floribunda. and what we have here. you really know your plants. the plants lie on black plastic sheets. SWAMP ... Phyrnops rufipes. the ghost orchid.S. The pillowcases have been emptied. These sweeties grow nowhere in the U... Every continent. twenty-two Epidendrum Nocturnum. Dermochelys coriacea coriacea.. Pelusio gabonensis. let's see. MIKE OWEN That true? Boy. bored and smoking. Chitra indica.18. A very good haul.. CONTINUED: BOY Turtles are of the order Testudine! Really? MOTHER Testudine? BOY Yeah. Encyclia what? LAROCHE (pointing to each) Coch-le-ata.. uniformed people. thirteen Encyclia Cochleata.

But that'll all be revealed at the hearing. I do. telling of my story to her. KAUFMAN (V. chomping a hoagie and reading a copy of Story by Robert McKee. Donald. Did you ever consider maybe you're a bit fat? Does it ever occur to you.19. Although these characters are unaware of their subconscious need. EMPTY DINING ROOM . picking at a salad and reading an orchid book. Donald lies on the floor. bored.) The most memorable. KAUFMAN Did you even hear what I said? DONALD Yeah. he's Charlie's twin. fascinating characters tend to have not only a conscious but an unconscious desire. Anyway.." (CONTINUED) . DONALD (V.DAY Kaufman sits at a card table." DONALD Sorry. don't say "pitch. you kind of represent me in the world? That people look at you and think. KAUFMAN Maybe you should watch what you eat. CONTINUED: LAROCHE Yeah..O. Kaufman. looks over at Donald. whose cheeks are stuffed with food.) The Orchidaceae is a large. therefore that's what Charlie must look like? DONALD By the way. I pitched mom my screenplay -KAUFMAN Jesus. ancient family of perennial plants with.. I'm one of the world's foremost experts. mom's paying for the seminar.. she loved my.. Anyway. She said it's like "Silence of the Lambs" meets "Psycho.O. INT..

and. pretty ear.DAY Orlean drives on State Road 29. into swampland. you suck. space. nail-bitten finger along State Road 29 along a Florida road map.) We open on State Road 29. It's driver: a skinny man with no front teeth.. the back. INT. sits in (CONTINUED) . Orlean hurries in. discipline yourself to a reasonably contained cast and world. They go back to their books. past prefab housing. And. RENTAL CAR . maybe you and mom could collaborate.O. She talks to us. DONALD (V. I'm really gonna write this. Rather than hopscotching through time..) Florida is a landscape of transition. and people. INT. nature and artifice. Well.20. Orlean catches us and smiles shyly. INT.. do not multiply locations.. Suddenly a beat-up white van barrels around a curve. KAUFMAN (V. which grows pink with sunlight. And you'll see. and types in a clumsy hunt-and-peck style.DAY Kaufman traces a stubby. He turns to his typewriter.DAY The proceedings are in progress. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN Hey. ORLEAN Florida is a landscape of transition and mutation. We linger on the ear.. A lonely stretch of road cutting through untamed swampland.. a hybrid of unruliness and orderliness. Charles. okay? The two glare at each other. DONALD You think you're so superior. EMPTY BEDROOM .O.. I hear she's really good with structure.O.. COURT ROOM . KAUFMAN (V.) Do not proliferate characters. She brushes a wisp of hair from her face and tucks it behind her small.

and the asexual micropropagation of orchids under aseptic cultures. pierced lips. what is your experience in the area of horticulture? LAROCHE Okay. I'm a professional plant lecturer. in bed masturbating. CONTINUED: Laroche. She unbuttons her blouse and shows him a breast with a heart tattoo. This is laboratory work. BARNES AND NOBLE . (grins) I'm probably the smartest person I know. looks up at the closed door. LERNER LAROCHE You're very welcome. A sweet heartbeat turns to knocking. DONALD Look. LERNER Finally. Kaufman admires the cashier's flower tattoo. KAUFMAN God damn it. Mr. INT. is on the stand. Alan Lerner. not at all like your nursery work. you wanna hear my pitch. both in magazine and book form. I've given at least sixty lectures on the cultivation of plants. Thank you. I have extensive experience with orchids. KAUFMAN Donald stands there for a moment in shadows. Laroche. the tribe's lawyer. I've been a professional horticulturist for twelve years. questions him. I've owned a plant nursery of my own which was destroyed by the hurricane. in a Miami Hurricanes cap. (CONTINUED) . wet. What?! The door opens. wrap-around Mylar sunglasses. I'm a published author.NIGHT Kaufman.21. or what? Go away. EMPTY BEDROOM . and a Hawaiian shirt.DAY As she rings up his books. INT. She catches him and smiles with red.

Kaufman pulls off the covers. the unattainable. he's really also the cop and the girl. On top of that you explore the notion that cop and criminal are really two aspects of the same person. and in the process he falls in love with her. right -Kaufman groans. He's already holding her hostage in his creepy basement. And he's taunting the cop. CONTINUED: DONALD (lost) Y'know. I'm just trying to do something. man. All of them. So the cop gets obsessed with figuring out her identity. KAUFMAN Look. It's all him! Isn't that crazy? Donald waits. Kaufman squints at his brother. is multiple personality. wait. thanks a lot. Even though he's never even met her. DONALD (CONT'D) Hey. the only idea more overused than serial killers. KAUFMAN (through a blanket) It's a little obvious. lies down. like. DONALD Mom called it psychologically taut. there's this serial killer. (flicks on light. Okay? See. then in pitch mode:) Okay. pulls the covers over his face. like the Holy Grail. we find out the killer suffers from multiple personality disorder.22. (CONTINUED) . he's being hunted by a cop. See every cop movie ever made for other examples of this. right? Sending clues who his next victim is. proud. See. sits up. See. DONALD (CONT'D) No. Cool. but there's a twist. don't you think? DONALD Okay. waits. She becomes.

we'll deal with all this at trial. LERNER Buster. there's no way to write this. A charmingly shy Orlean approaches. They're all smoking intently.. (CONTINUED) . Laroche cracks his neck. Lerner and Laroche stand there a moment. KAUFMAN (cont'd) I agree with mom. Okay? How could you. CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN The other thing is. right?. Very taut. I reminded her the Indians used to own Fakahatchee. What exactly would the scene.. apologetic for the intrusion. stubs his cigarette. Sybil meets. and Buster Baxley. Did you consider that? I mean. Buster waves a dismissive hand at Lerner...23. how exactly would you show a character holding himself hostage? DONALD Trick photography? KAUFMAN Okay. BAXLEY I'll go into the Fakahatchee with a chainsaw. What I'm asking is in the reality of this movie. How. if there's only one character.. Kaufman gives up. gets out of bed. Laroche? Orlean smiles. dresses. Look. I swear to God. Vinson shrugs.DAY Orlean exits the courthouse and watches Laroche in a huddle with Lerner. ORLEAN Mr. that's not what I'm asking. Kaufman exits. vice-president of the tribe's business operations. Lerner walks off. I dunno. EXT.. for crying out loud. Vinson. follows Buster. walks away. Donald waits blankly.. LAROCHE They're gonna fucking crucify me. COURTHOUSE . something very taut...

Laroche smiles his toothless smile at Orlean. CONTINUED: ORLEAN (CONT'D) My name's Susan Orlean. He's bored. looks up. large-petalled orchid blooms in dramatic time-lapse. (CONTINUED) . It's a maga -LAROCHE I'm familiar with the New Yorker. takes notes. The New Yorker. Orlean scribbles on her pad. a test: LAROCHE Yeah? Put this in: I don't care what goes on here.O. and a voluptuous form turning slowly around. INT. FIELD . in a booth. one petal is enlarged into a lip and is the most conspicuous part of the flower. I'm right. We slowly." LAROCHE (cont'd) That for real would go in? Orlean nods. the New Yorker. soulful eyes. then.) The Orchidaceae is a large. Laroche twists his head to see that she's writing "Judge can screw herself. That judge can screw herself. A glorious orange. reads his orchid book. So I was interested in doing a piece about your situation down here. SENSUOUS FEMALE NARRATOR The Orchidaceae is a large. I'm a writer for the New Yorker. Laroche scowls.DAY Kaufman. lovingly circle the flower. ancient. smokes furiously. ancient family of perennial plants with one fertile stamen and a three petalled flower. yes. profound orchestral piece.MORNING MUSIC: lush. scanning her station. orange hair. pouty lips.. EXT.. and I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court. watches a waitress with glorious. In most orchid species.24. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN . Right? ORLEAN Right. KAUFMAN (V.

EMPTY ROOM . Hi. I'm watching my. A small slice.MORNING Orlean leans against a car and smokes. ALICE So what looks good today? KAUFMAN Um. CONTINUED: She sees Kaufman. approaches. And a coffee. ALICE So. CA.. I'll be right back with your pie. INT. Yes. please. EXT. He lies lonely in the dark. She smiles warmly at him. please. (CONTINUED) . tiny and lost. inspecting sexy orchids together. sitting across the yard smoking. He goes blank. ORCHID SHOW . KAUFMAN They're really great. From the air she sees her mother.NIGHT Kaufman finishes jerking off. A small awkward pause. Her badge reads: Alice. ALICE (I love you) I absolutely love orchids. Skim milk. The seven year old girl is pushed on the swing by her father. There's a honk. EXT. SUBURBAN BACKYARD . INT. She smiles warmly again and leaves. Arcadia. Orlean snaps out of her reverie to see Laroche screeching to a stop in his banged-up van. Thank you. He flinches at his response. HOTEL PARKING LOT .25. and smiles warmly down at him. A tiny. ALICE (sees book) Orchids! I absolutely love orchids.EVENING Dark and muted.DAY Alice the waitress and Kaufman walk hand-in-hand.. Kaufman sweats. lost figure. Kaufman is humiliated. The key lime pie.

maybe an Aurora. Then I'd clone hundreds of them babies in my lab. Orlean smiles back and indicates. Hi. I'm the only one in the world who knows how to cultivate it. I'll buy myself an awesome car. sell 'em. She opens the passenger door.26. Orlean nods. ORLEAN Why the ghost orchid? LAROCHE The sucker's rare.DAY Laroche drives manically. INT. She situates herself on the seat. VAN . LAROCHE (cont'd) Sit on top of that. ORLEAN (cont'd) Thanks for picking -- LAROCHE I want you to know this van is a piece of shit. that he might want to watch the road. He doesn't take the hint. Collectors covet what is not available. You won't hurt it. Florida can't touch us. get the Indians to pull it from the swamp. I researched it. As long as I don't touch the plants. When I hit the jackpot. and tries to rearrage some of the junk on the front seat so she'll have a place to sit. And that's the ghost. Orlean watches the road and holds one hand against the dashboard. (CONTINUED) Laroche lurches off. LAROCHE The thing you gotta know is my whole life is looking for a goddamn profitable plant. climbs in. and make the Seminoles a shitload of change. with a small jerk of the head. He looks at her and smiles. LAROCHE (cont'd) The plan was. CONTINUED: ORLEAN (to camera) A few days after the hearing. Laroche took me to an orchid show in Miami. .

of two 19th century men leading a horse drawn cart full of poached orchids. A live man in modern work clothes is arranging actual orchids in the cardboard cart. The flowers are saved. EXT. He passes Burger King. squints in the window. CAR . then drives off. I'm a hero. the same at Starbucks. continues typing. Kaufman stops in front of the California Pizza Kitchen. Orlean writes "shitload of change" on her notepad. KAUFMAN (V. picks up The Orchid Thief. the men become mannequins.DAY Kaufman drives slowly past Barnes and Noble. different types. EMPTY BEDROOM . Alice and her orange hair glow through the window. sees a pretty employee. He hesitates.MORNING Kaufman sits on the floor and types. Donald dawdles. It turns to color. SWAMP . Hunters in the Fakahatchee hauled out thousands of orchids in horse-drawn flatbed carts. taken from up high.DAY Old black and white footage. As it does.O.O.) A beautiful orange orchid blooms in timelapse -Donald enters. sees the tattooed cashier. different attitudes. close to the men. the image transforms. Kaufman ignores him.) Men from Florida dominated the orchid hunting scene. the horse becomes papier-mache: it's a display. INT. Laroche and nature win. INT. The camera swoops down.27. Then I give a big speech at the trial about how the legislature should get rid of loopholes smart people like me can find. CONTINUED: In handwriting made jerky by the bouncing van. flips through it. Glassed-in women on display. (CONTINUED) . ORLEAN (V. LAROCHE (cont'd) And I stop future poaching by making the flowers readily available in stores.

DONALD KAUFMAN What do you want. Oh. Donald.. KAUFMAN See. DONALD Oh." DONALD That's kinda good.. Donald? DONALD Nothing.) (cont'd) The camera circles it.28. He'd be known in the tabloids as "The Deconstructionist. I was kidding. Don't worry! For my script! Ha ha! Kaufman stares at Donald. then: KAUFMAN Um. like. in a turtle T-shirt. one thing. The boy. I need a cool way to kill people. . revealing how lovely and perfect and sweet and inviting and delicate and.O. I was just. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (V.NIGHT There are now many turtles in aquariums. KAUFMAN Why are you in here now? DONALD Nothing. killer's a literature professor who cuts off little chunks of his victims' bodies until they die. That'd be very... His eyes are troubled. Sorry. rubs his eyes. I just read about that Swamp Ape that supposedly lives in the swamp? Like bigfoot? You should put that in your script. looks out the window into the darkness. BOY'S BEDROOM (1972) . though? INT. killing people or something. very cool. Many turtle books and posters. You got me! Heh-heh. okay. I like that. Do you mind if I use it. okay. Cool.

but that's hardly the case. then gets solemn.DAY Laroche drives. MOTHER (CONT'D) A slice of pie for my turtle expert? The boy beams with pride. The boy surveys the sad scene.CONTINUOUS The boy comes downstairs. sweet Diane. MOTHER (praying softly) For certain is death for the born/And certain is birth for the dead/Therefore over the inevitable/Thou shouldst not grieve. semi-conscious. INT. huh. Cuora pani.. there's something I feel I have to do. Cycloderma frenatum. His mother looks up. baby? The boy nods his head solemnly.. Cuora galbinifrons. VAN . people think there's only one. Orlean studies him for a moment. INT. His father. (sighs) I don't think my life is worth living if I can't do this. ma. BOY Mom. we'd better get started. LIVING ROOM (1972) . honey? BOY Collect one of every turtle in the world.29. There's a little Hindu altar with candles. (beat) It's a long list. her sad eyes wet and glistening. MOTHER Well. Sweet. smiles. The boy and his mother look at each other. MOTHER What do you have to do. but I feel in my stomach that I have to. solemnly nodding his head. watches TV. His mother pats the girl's head with a damp cloth. (CONTINUED) . I don't know how to do this. Callagur borneoensis. more pale than before. Graptemys versa. in his backbrace. all the Galapagos species. his sister lies on the couch.

Collected the shit out of 'em. I had sixty goddamn fish tanks in my house. I once fell deeply. that's some story. fuck fish. CONTINUED: ORLEAN Wow. You name it.. ORLEAN So. I renounce fish. Then one day I say. profoundly in love with tropical fish. Orlean watches a flying heron. ORLEAN Okay. now what is lap -LAROCHE Ditched lapidary for resilvering old mirrors. Fossils were the only thing made any sense to me in this fucking world. I lost interest right after that. Holacanthus ciliaris. So how many turtles did you end up collecting? LAROCHE (matter-of-fact) Oh. Mirror World October '88? I have a copy somewhere. Laroche fishes through junk as he drives. ORLEAN LAROCHE I dropped turtles when I fell in love with Ice Age fossils.30. Y'know? They drive in silence. Did that with my mom for a while. (MORE) (CONTINUED) . Perhaps you read about us. I'd skin-dive to find just the right ones. did you ever miss the turtles? The only thing that made you ten year old life worth living? LAROCHE I'll tell you a story. Anisotremus virginicus.. Chaetodon capistratus. Oh. which I just adored. Learned everything about them. We had the largest collection of 19th Century Dutch mirrors on the planet. LAROCHE (CONT'D) Then fossils were over when I found lapidary.

THERAPIST So do you think you'll talk to this one? INT. Oh. THERAPIST'S OFFICE .DAY Kaufman. She smiles warmly. watching Alice. CONTINUED: (2) LAROCHE (cont'd) I vow to never set foot in the ocean again. hair combed. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN .DAY Kaufman sits in silence across from his female therapist.31. sits nervously in a booth. that's how much fuck fish. He tenses as she comes up to him. Hi! Hey! KAUFMAN ALICE Some key lime pie for ya today? (CONTINUED) . So -THERAPIST KAUFMAN I'm still obsessed with that girl. She's really nice. THERAPIST The Burger King girl? Dimples and sparkly eyes? KAUFMAN California Pizza Kitchen. INT. I feel pretty certain she likes me maybe. THERAPIST Red hair and nice? Likes orchids? KAUFMAN Yeah. That was seventeen years ago and I have never since stuck so much as a toe into that ocean. And I love the ocean! (beat) But why? ORLEAN LAROCHE (shrugs) Done with fish.

ALICE (pointing at him excitedly) Right! Boy. yeah! That sounds great! Yeah! ALICE I'll pick you out an extra large piece. huh? Okay. ALICE A friend of mine has a pretty little pink one. then. She smiles and turns to leave. ALICE Well. KAUFMAN That's really sweet of you. you know your stuff. KAUFMAN That's what's called an epiphyte. (CONTINUED) . I am. in fact! Beautiful flowers. but they're not parasites. KAUFMAN There are more than thirty thousand kinds of orchids in the world. I hope. I'm impressed. He's so in love. so I'll be right back with a nice big slice of key lime pie for my orchid expert. Epiphytes grow on trees. She winks at him. grows right on a tree branch. Awkward pause.32. Preferred customer. that's a lot. Thank you. They get all their nourishment from the air and rain. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (thrilled she remembered) Okay. I'm just learning. KAUFMAN Yes. He beams. Kaufman blurts: That's great. ALICE Still reading about orchids. ALICE Wow. huh? KAUFMAN Not really.

so. KAUFMAN (V. I am repulsive. some in subtle clothing. He forces himself to look. NEW YORK APARTMENT . They are dull. Her warmth dissipates. one looks like an octopus. I'm sorry. He tries to study the flowers. The other waitress brings his pie. He nods. EXT. anyway. some in garish clothing. ALICE Oh. all glowing.O.. well -I'm sorry. past a Santa Barbara Orchid Society sign. He smiles a thank you.MORNING Orlean sits at her desk and talks to us. (CONTINUED) . one looks like an onion.. Alice turns back.. ORLEAN (V. watches Alice walk away and say something to another waitress. ORLEAN There are more than thirty thousand known orchid species. KAUFMAN I apologize. um.. I am fat.) . KAUFMAN (cont'd) I'm going up to this orchid show on Saturday in Santa Barbara and I -Alice's smile slips away.33.. CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN But. One looks. The other waitress looks over at him. ALICE (nodding) So I'll be right back with your pie then.) I am old.DAY Kaufman walks alone among the crowd of orchid enthusiasts. SANTA BARBARA ORCHID SHOW . INT. One species looks like a German shepherd. colors. Kaufman finds his attention drifting from orchids to women: all different shapes.. He sweats. personalities..O.. I was also wondering. still smiling.

..) (cont'd) Nothing in science can account for the way some people feel about orchids. like a school teacher. love them madly. honey? (CONTINUED) . They spot a beautiful flower. Johnny. He is sick with adoration for the women.. ORLEAN (V.O. one looks like a gymnast. Y'know? His MOTHER (beat) So. TEENAGED LAROCHE Maybe somehow she can see it. MOTHER "You will find something more in woods than in books. TEENAGED LAROCHE That's pretty. One has eyes that dance. Laroche is in awe. one looks like a New York intellectual with whom you'd do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle in bed. one looks like a Midwestern beauty queen. CONTINUED: ORLEAN (V. after this one how many. One looks like that girl in high school with creamy skin. focuses on the flower. Those love them. One has eyes that contain the sadness of the world. ma. The butterfly." Saint Bernard said that. Kaufman is alone in this sea of people and flowers.O. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. an arm slipped through an arm.. a shared look. who pay him no mind.) (cont'd) . EXT. MOTHER Diane would've loved this flower. SWAMP . He carries a camera on a tripod. One by one the women turn to the men they're with: a whisper in the ear. mother almost cries at the flower's beauty. Laroche sets up the tripod.DAY Teenaged Laroche and his mother tromp through the swamp.34. TEENAGED LAROCHE Encyclia tempensis.

ma. I'm not prone to -- Laroche runs over to a flower. (dramatic pause) It'll happen to you. Elaborate displays include orchids on a ferris wheel. I started out just photographing 'em. I could get laid. right? I mean. LAROCHE Once you get the sickness. (CONTINUED) . You'll see. A million women walking down the street. Kaufman glances down at his therapist's breasts. But I want someone to like me. plastic clowns. You know that. No one will ever love me like that. KAUFMAN I'm successful. Now look at me. I'm a screenwriter and she'd look at me differently. Noisy chatter and calliope music. His therapist wraps her shawl around her. THERAPIST'S OFFICE . CONTINUED: Laroche snaps the photo.DAY Kaufman talks to the therapist. For me. Like I love almost every woman I see.DAY Crowded with orchid lovers. INT. The way I'd do anything for that woman walking down the street. rubs his neck. makes a check in his notebook. and a booth that looks like a circus big top. it takes over your life. Y'know? The way I like them. MOTHER And you have to have a photo of every single type of orchid in Florida? TEENAGED LAROCHE I have to. He quickly shifts back to her face. She smiles at him. I could say to a woman. SHOW HALL . TEENAGED LAROCHE Only one hundred and seventeen more. He does it fast and unintentionally. ORLEAN I don't think so. I don't need to know what their jobs are. INT.35.

tropical fish. EXT.proboscis means nose. A sickly Darwin writes at his desk. Everyone thought he was a loon. Life has not begun. thinking. Four billion years ago. INT.NIGHT Kaufman looks off into space. barren terrain. Hegel.) Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form. Then. He picks up The Portable Darwin. Charles Darwin? Evolution guy? Hello? ORLEAN (annoyed) I know who Darwin is. mirror resilvering. by the way -.NIGHT SUBTITLE: ENGLAND. sure enough.and -(CONTINUED) . Silence. he grabs his mini-recorder and paces like a caged animal. into which life was first breathed. DARWIN (V. they found this moth with a twelve inch proboscis -. The cover features a daguerreotype of Darwin. KAUFMAN Okay. INT.DAY Blasting music. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE YEARS EARLIER Sepia. Suddenly. Kaufman paces and reads.NIGHT A depressed Kaufman fishes on his floor through an ever increasing pile of books: books about turtles. etc. CONTINUED: LAROCHE Angraecum sesquipedale! Beauty! God! Darwin wrote about this one.O. INT. EMPTY BEDROOM . SHOW HALL . LAROCHE See that nectary all the way down there? Darwin hypothesized a moth with a nose twelve inches long to pollinate it. BOOK-LINED STUDY . EMPTY BEDROOM . Endless. Silence.36. opening of movie. Laroche shows the flower to Orlean. Crowds. Silence.

She can't find a way in. Thusly. but there's a terrible distance between them. ORLEAN I wanted to want something as much as people wanted these plants but it isn't part of my constitution. you'll devote your life to learning everything about them. She inhales. (beat. A .. There's an orchid that looks exactly like this particular insect. INT. I get it. people buy plants. ORLEAN LAROCHE That's called pseudo-copulation. ORLEAN (cont'd) I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. She looks at us sadly. people carry boxes of purchased plants. feeling petals. So the bug humps the flower and gets covered with its pollen. Laroche mimes humping. Orlean looks deeply into various flowers. These flowers are smart! You gotta fall in love with them..EARLY EVENING Orlean stares at photos of orchids on her bulletin board. People jabber passionately. at a dizzying array of colors and shapes. Orlean stares out the window at the empty street below. Once you learn anything about orchids. She looks over at her husband reading. CONTINUED: ORLEAN I know what proboscis means. staring deep into nectaries. APARTMENT . LAROCHE Every one of these flowers has a specific relationship with the insect that pollinates it. Orlean looks around: people sniffing flowers. but remains detached.37. He smiles at her. plastic bag dips and rises in the breeze. looks back at us) I want to know how it feels to care about something passionately. She smiles back.

SUBURBAN BACKYARD . It's perfect! It's circular! It's everything! He reads back what he's written. And the story begins. Yearning. Both stare blankly in opposite directions. hunting.. I'm fat. then. KAUFMAN (CONT'D) I'm an idiot.O. in the last seconds of the montage. From high up she sees her mother in a window at one end of the house. Then. He's a sweaty mess. LARGE EMPTY LIVING ROOM . HUSBAND You want to do something tonight? (CONTINUED) . He's all for originality. Is there anything more lonely than that? INT. INT. See.38.NIGHT The seven year old girl swings sadly by herself. KAUFMAN (V. just like you! But he says. lust. EXT. The swing completes it's arc and the girl descends. self-consciousness. DONALD McKee is a genius! And hilarious! He just comes up with these great jokes. quietly) You and I share the same DNA. I hate my-The front door bursts open and Donald charges in. ORLEAN'S KITCHEN . war. bam! cut to Susan Orlean writing a book about orchids. so we must find originality within that genre. her father in a window at the other end. farming.. it turns out there hasn't been a new genre since Fellini invented the mockumentary! KAUFMAN (sadly.NIGHT Kaufman types furiously. and everyone laughs! But he's serious. we see the whole of human history: tool-making. You'd love him. after the entire history of life on the planet.) . too. religion.EVENING Orlean eats a silent dinner with her husband. losing sight of her parents. we have to realize we all write in a genre.

he sees a profitable outcome in every situation.. INT. it was a godsend. I've got stuff. TEN YEARS EARLIER A younger Laroche. When he was a young man he worked in construction. the way I see it. LAROCHE (laughing) .. LAROCHE (pleased with himself) Asclepiadaceae.DAY SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI. He nods. in a hard hat.) Laroche is an optimist. anyway.) Laroche once spilled toxic pesticide into a cut on his hand. DINER .EVENING Orlean looks at the photo of Laroche. Isn't that a psycho coincidence? (far away) Y'know. He loses his footing. ORLEAN'S STUDY . From thirty yards.39... ORLEAN (V. Orlean takes notes. INT.) But. falls two storeys. Laroche scarfs his pie.O. ORLEAN (V. picks up her dish.. She smiles.DAY Laroche talks. walks atop a half-built house. I broke my back. It resulted in permanent heart and liver damage. . CONSTRUCTION SITE . Laroche considered it a success. (suddenly excited. Orlean watches him.O. sits sadly for a moment. Most people would consider this a terrible accident. CONTINUED: ORLEAN I should work. we're a family of ailments and pain. EXT. then types. lands on his back.. That is. He spots a flower in a backyard across the street. Yes. puts it in the sink. Exactly how my dad did.

DAY A prim woman reads a magazine article by Laroche entitled. "Would You Die For Your Plants.. flips through book) Movie opens with. LAROCHE I consider the broken back -. EXT.DAY Laroche talks to Orlean. INT. DINER .DAY Laroche and his wife. stand outside their nursery The Bromeliad Tree posing for an auto-timed photo. I got three places. Kaufman stops. emaciated Laroche next to his byline. scratches his head. INT. KAUFMAN (V.O. The camera flashes. Off-screen we hear Donald's enthusiastic typing and giggling. mouth full of pie. skinny as a stick. DINER . in wedding clothes. (stops. INT. He whines.) . the bitch -. Laroche wears a cumbersome back brace.. And me and my lovely new wife -. Orlean takes notes. ORLEAN (V. NURSERY to open our nursery.. because he sold an article about it. EMPTY BEDROOM . (stops.NIGHT Kaufman types tentatively.a stroke of goddamn luck. married the sweetest woman in the world.. His hand is covered with (CONTINUED) ." There's a smiling photo of a frail. (refers to Orchid Thief) "John Laroche is a tall guy.O. loose hairs.) Movie opens with Susan Orlean typing. by the now ex-wife..40.. INT.DAY Laroche talks. I have x-rays -(fishes through bag) -.. SUBURBAN SUN ROOM . flips through book) Movie opens with a young boy picking out his first pet.

Yeah. Well.. you gotta watch the temperature. CONTINUED: LAROCHE People started coming out of the woodwork. what is this? It's so beautiful. One guy pulls Laroche aside. LAROCHE CUSTOMER #3 Mr. Laroche is in the midst of them. Cool. to admire me. LAROCHE Catasetum tenebrosum. Customer #2 enters with a creepy. sure. Hey. THE BROMELIAD TREE . Dora! Good. to admire my plants. which means. happily chatting with whomever approaches him.. VAN . It's neat 'cause its dimorphic. She's fine. Show me a ghost in bloom. CUSTOMER #2 Take me in to the Fakahatchee.. From Peru.NIGHT Laroche drives. Sure. Uh-huh. Customer #3 continues to try and get his attention while he talks. I'm doing well. that should be fine. Don't want an odontoglossum above seventy-five. (CONTINUED) .41. Orlean looks out at the dark night. to ask me stuff. good.. and it's yours. too. INT. LAROCHE Bromeliad Tree. damp it down. CUSTOMER #1 John. man. would you be able to -Laroche picks up a ringing phone.DAY Lots of lonely-looking customers admiring orchids. dark flowered orchid. Oh. CUSTOMER #2 Johnny baby! LAROCHE Henry! Look at that Dracula vampira! It's gorgeous. Laroche. INT. Other customers gather around.

AGENT'S OFFICE . Laroche muses: LAROCHE (cont'd) You know why I love plants? Because they're so mutable.42. (looking up defiantly) (MORE) (CONTINUED) . reads: KAUFMAN "There is not nearly enough of him to fill a book. maybe I can help. I should've just stuck with my own stuff. Orlean looks at him. Kaufman follows the girl's ass with his eyes. He's funny. INT. JERRY It's not only about flowers. JERRY Just kidding. She waves back.DAY Kaufman sits with his agent Jerry in a glass-walled office." Blah blah blah blah blah. (beat) Adaptation means you figure out how to survive in the world. KAUFMAN I don't know how to adapt this. What's the problem. buddy? Kaufman looks at Jerry." blah blah blah. Jerry waves at a passing beauty. so adaptable. Will he accept help from an agent? KAUFMAN It's about flowers. Adaptation is such a profound process. right? Kaufman pulls out a folded newspaper clipping. Hey. so Orlean "digresses in long passes" blah blah blah "no narrative really unites these passages. keeps walking. It's got that crazy plant nut guy. People aren't too good at that sometimes. After a long silence. CONTINUED: LAROCHE I believe some folks'd call me up to talk and just talk because they were lonely. I don't know why I thought I could -See her? JERRY I fucked her up the ass.

The book's a jumping off point.. JERRY She has to travel deep into the darkest swamps to find the mysterious "Laroche. KAUFMAN I didn't want to do that this time. Oh man. . The book has no story. at the end of the day. do something profound and simple. JERRY Are they amazing? KAUFMAN I don't know. Jerry gets distracted by another sexy woman walking by. It's that sprawling New Yorker shit." KAUFMAN I need you to get me out of this. It's someone else's material. You're the king.. I can't structure this.what's his name? KAUFMAN John Laroche. No one in town can make up a crazy story like you. I think they are. I wanted to grow as a writer. JERRY So make one up. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (cont'd) New York Times Book Review. I think it would be a terrible career move. JERRY Look. The journalist spends the whole movie searching for the crazy plant nut guy -. I always thought this one could be like Apocalypse Now. JERRY Charlie. JERRY I'd fuck her up the ass. Anyway. Show people how amazing flowers are.43. what I tell a lot of guys is pick another film and use it as a model. KAUFMAN There's no story. I have a responsibility.

he says. overabundant place might have hidden in it. Kaufman peers through the darkness at the books. Two pioneers slog waist-high through the water. Orlean. okay.NIGHT The room is dark.that's funny.. Enthusiastic off-screen typing... LAROCHE The nursery was going well. with real orchids hanging from the trees. okay. The scene turns into color. (CONTINUED) . Alligators regard them menacingly. The floor is covered with black cellophane representing swamp water. He's funny. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM .. The men turn into mannequins. MONTAGE Jumble of images: Laroche talking. into a place as dark and dense as steel wool.O. but sometimes bad things happen. A guy carrying some orchids walks on top of the cellophane. and dirty plates all around. okay. INT. ORLEAN (V. The swamp turns to cardboard. KAUFMAN (V. INT. EMPTY BEDROOM . flowers. that's why I'm so smart..44.DAY Black and white. he says. Okay we open at the beginning of time..) The pioneer-adventurers in Florida had to travel inward. SWAMP .NIGHT Kaufman awakes with a start.) Okay. Darkness descends. lit only by the light of the TV Laroche's father watches. Laroche and Orlean sit on the couch. we have to have the court case. Okay. The rapid fire click-click of typing. They had to confront what a dark. Okay. Okay we show Laroche.O. EXT. mutation is past the mannequins. papers coffee cups.. the trial. okay. he says. dense. okay.. and foreboding. we open with Laroche driving into the swamp. I love to mutate plants. tangled with foliage. It's dark. Indians. we open with Laroche. he says. we show flowers and. I was mutated as baby.

Laroche smiles back at his mother. Johnny? LAROCHE Everything's good. and uncle out of the house. who just stares at the TV. jerking her forward and landing on top of her. On the TV set are two framed photos: one of Laroche's sister and one of Laroche's mother. dad? His father doesn't respond. Vishnu. His uncle hits Laroche's wife in the head. EXT. There's only a photo of Laroche's sister on the TV set now. LAROCHE'S CAR . We're finally pulling out of this debt. Laroche stands amidst a group of mourners at a double funeral. A screech of tires and another car crashes head on into theirs. INT. mother. This last year's been a dream. Uncle Jim. sits by his comatose wife. honey.DAY SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI. in his mourning suit. I'm telling you. His mother rockets forward smashing through the windshield. HOSPITAL ROOM . LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM . his front teeth fly in all directions. And all the rest of 'em.DAY Banged-up and missing his front teeth. MOTHER Amen. CONTINUED: Laroche glances at his father.DAY Laroche.A FEW MOMENTS LATER They pile into a nice new American car. LAROCHE Sure you don't want to come. his mother and uncle in back. CEMETERY .45. INT. Praise Allah. his wife in front. . Laroche pulls into traffic. His father watches TV. INT. UNCLE JIM Nursery business good. NINE YEARS EARLIER Laroche ushers his wife. Buddha. Laroche's face smacks against the steering wheel.

Laroche got fined five hundred bucks and banned from the Fakahatchee for six months. so when the Seminoles wanted a white guy. He talks nervously to a pretty young woman KAUFMAN . head toward the store.46. beer in hand. I took it. SEMINOLE DISCOUNT CIGARETTE STORE PARKING LOT . INT. They all plead no contest. LAROCHE She divorced me soon after she regained consciousness.. EXT.DAY It's a busy street full of discount cigarette stores. actually. Everything. to get their nursery going. So I came up with the "ghost" plan. WOMAN What an amazing opening! So then it's a courtroom drama. Laroche and Orlean step from his van. Even the Indians aren't allowed to do that.CONTINUOUS Laroche pulls about ten Marlboro cartons off the shelf. INT. Laroche researched it and found that Indians have the legal right to take endangered plants off state lands. DISCOUNT CIGARETTE STORE .NIGHT Kaufman. There are valid arguments on both sides. LAROCHE But I wasn't gonna give them a conventional little potted-plant place. an expert. I was gonna give them something amazing. I mean we took their land! We gave them smallpox! KAUFMAN Well. PARTY HOUSE . about cutting down nonendangered trees. A Few Good Men! And all those Indian rights issues are so complex. see. Florida got 'em on a technicality.. Then the hurricane destroyed my greenhouse. there wasn't much of a trial. stands off in the corner of a room crowded with young Hollywood types. I knew it would break my heart to start another nursery. (CONTINUED) .

KAUFMAN It's. like. then what happens? Oh. I wanted to do something great. That's what I like. KAUFMAN Nothing much. INT. wow. I mean. Y'know what I mean? WOMAN (glancing distractedly around) Absolutely. but she's somewhere else entirely. EMPTY BEDROOM .BEDROOM Kaufman stares at his typewriter. like. CONTINUED: WOMAN So.O.47. how excited we are. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) So it's coming along good? (CONTINUED) . I'm a poseur. KAUFMAN Yeah.) I am a failure. most people's lives don't include a lot of drama and I wanted to sort of be compelling without having to resort to big. Blake talked about seeing the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. KAUFMAN Hi. um. There's a big pile of KAUFMAN (V. I absolutely do. hi. papers next to him. I'm fat. There's no story. Hey! Hi! VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) Sorry to bug you.. I have no ideas.. me too. Y'know? Or like Hegel? The woman smiles. I'm repuls-The phone rings. KAUFMAN (CONT'D) VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) It's Valerie. We were just talking about you. What? Charlie? Oh.

She tenses slightly. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT . but. I'm banned for the next six months. INT. Orlean's husband walks by with a cup of coffee. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN It's good. sits there. (CONTINUED) . EMPTY BEDROOM ." Orlean closes the book. hey. KAUFMAN (calling off-screen) Travelling into the Fakahatchee. INT. put that in the article. if it climbed off a tree and shoved itself up their ass. A line of text catches her eye: "Should one be lucky enough to see a flower all else will seem eclipsed. Goddamn crucified me. but it's going very well. I'm stepping into the confusion of the unknown.MORNING A hollow-eyed Kaufman is zipping up a suitcase. 'Course. She comes to a photo of the ghost orchid glowing white on the page. INT. Yeah. Susie-Q! LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) ORLEAN So I was thinking it'd be good for the article for me to go into the Fakahatchee to see a ghost. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) ORLEAN Hello. is a perfect metaphor for writing. I'm taking the big risk here. caresses her shoulder. smiles up at him apologetically. She returns to the photo. they wouldn't be able to locate a ghost. Donald. Hey.EVENING Orlean looks at a book called The Native Orchids of Florida. Kaufman descends the stairs with his suitcase.48. Get one of them monkey-suited rangers to take you. She dials the phone. It's complicated what I'm trying to do. John? It's Susan. Would you take me? LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) I'd love to.CONTINUOUS Donald types cheerily on a lap-top computer at an ergonomic desk. He smiles back sadly.

Hey! KAUFMAN How was Denver? STEWARDESS Oh. closes the book and watches a stewardess tending to another passenger. INT. dangerous. God.. to go looking for it in the Fakahatchee Strand. INT.O. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN It's dark. sweetie. try to think of a song about split personality. I thought it might be a nice way to break the tension.MORNING Orlean sits in her seat and addresses the camera. but if I do... AIRPLANE . So. He can't concentrate.. STUDIO APARTMENT . STEWARDESS (cont'd) Can I get you something to drink? . INT. ORLEAN (V. The door opens and the stewardess enters dragging her luggage on a little cart. ORLEAN You would have to want something very badly." Donald looks up from his work. I'll have something true to give the world. He hasn't been listening.NIGHT Kaufman reads The Orchid Thief. She kisses him.) . I don't know if I'll come out alive. Charles.49. looks lovingly at him. AIRPLANE . Y'know like when characters sing pop songs in their pajamas and dance around.NIGHT Kaufman fixes a salad in the kitchenette. I'm thinking of putting a song in. That's the difference between writing and aping some moron's "principles. DONALD Hey. I'm so glad to be home.. as dense as steel wool..


INT. AIRPLANE BATHROOM - NIGHT Kaufman finishes jerking off, stands, pulls up his pants, adjusts himself, and exits the bathroom. INT. AIRPLANE - CONTINUOUS Kaufman steps out of the bathroom. The stewardess is there talking to another stewardess. She regards Kaufman blankly, then goes back to her conversation. He heads up the aisle. One of the stewardesses laughs. He tenses, takes his seat. INT. AIRPLANE - MORNING Orlean watches the hundreds of square miles of black, wet Florida swampland pass by below. ORLEAN (V.O.) An early surveyor made this entry in his field notes... EXT. SWAMP - DAY SUBTITLE: FAKAHATCHEE, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS EARLIER A surveyor scribbles in a notebook. alligators. The pond is alive with

SURVEYOR (V.O.) A pond surrounded by bay and cypress swamp, impracticable. Full of monstrous alligators, counted fifty and stopped. INT. HOTEL - NIGHT Orlean lies in bed, wide awake and anxious. ORLEAN (V.O.) Whatever isn't wet in the Fakahatchee is blasted. The grass gets so dry that the friction from a car can set it on fire, and the burning grass can engulf the car in flames. A 1940's botanist noted: EXT. PRAIRIE - DAY A botanist, in a hot, arid field, writes in a notebook. BOTANIST (V.O.) Most impressed by the area's variety of squirrels...


51. CONTINUED: A car drives by on the dirt road. It begins smoking. The driver jumps out of the car just as it bursts into flames. BOTANIST (cont'd) ... and charred automobiles. We pull back to see the area filled with abandoned, burned-up old cars. INT. MIAMI AIRPORT CAR RENTAL BOOTH - DAY Kaufman watches the pretty clerk working on the computer. She looks up, he looks down, studies his road map. INT. RENTAL CAR - EARLY MORNING A charmingly bedraggled Orlean drives on a road surrounded by swamp. She talks to us. ORLEAN The swamp's darkness and denseness can rattle your nerves. A sailor on a plumacollecting expedition wrote in his diary: EXT. SWAMP - DAY SUBTITLE: FAKAHATCHEE, ONE-HUNDRED AND THREE YEARS EARLIER A luggish sailor sits in the distance on a stump, crying. SAILOR (V.O.) The place looked wild and lonely. About three o'clock it seemed to get on Henry's nerves. We saw him crying, he could not tell us why, he was just plain scared. EXT. STATE ROAD 29 - EARLY MORNING Orlean drives onto the dirt road past the Fakahatchee sign and talks to us. ORLEAN The swampy part of the Fakahatchee is hot and wet and buggy and full of cottonmouth snakes and diamond back rattlers and... INT. RENTAL CAR - MORNING Kaufman drives down the same road surrounded by swamp.


52. CONTINUED: ORLEAN (V.O.) ... alligators and snapping turtles and poisonous plants and wild hogs and... EXT. RANGER SHACK - MORNING Orlean gets out of the car, knocks timidly on the shack door. Ranger Mike Owen answers. Charlie? MIKE OWEN

It's Kaufman standing there. KAUFMAN (tremulous) Yes. Hi. EXT. SWAMP - MORNING The sky is overcast. Mike Owen leads Kaufman through a cool swamp, which is completely dry. The two men walk easily on peaty ground. Kaufman, slathered with sun screen and covered head to foot in unnecessary protective clothing, tries to be interested in Owen's lecture. MIKE OWEN So the whole ecosystem is six thousand years old. Five to six thousand years old. About that. Five or six. Okay. KAUFMAN

MIKE OWEN Now the Fakahatchee is the largest of all the cyrpess strands, probably in the world. I don't know of any cypress strand bigger. It's about twenty miles long, or nineteen, nineteen to twenty, nineteen... and right here it's about five miles wide, four and a half, five. So, again, it's twenty miles long, three to five miles wide. And over here -EXT. SWAMP - LATER Mike Owen holds a handful of peat. Kaufman looks at it.

MIKE OWEN The oldest carbon dating they've done on any of the peat out here is fifty-seven hundred years. That's with carbon-14. (MORE) (CONTINUED)

. Mike Owen jots it down in his notebook. Florida's most common. We've been going through a bit of a drought. you said wear heavy boots.O. Sun beating down. so they must have found have of it gone and figured that. trees. (pointing excitedly) Green anole. because it's half-life is fifty-five hundred years. Medicine Man? That's a good movie about protecting nature.. looking out for snakes. have you seen that movie. And when I spoke to you on the phone. CONTINUED: MIKE OWEN (cont'd) That's in the right age where you can really date things accurately with carbon14. (MORE) (CONTINUED) . long pants and. Something! MIKE OWEN The alligators are over by the lakes. I was thinking it would be dramatic. like a cure for cancer.53. Maybe the ghost orchid was a ghost after all.. corrosive water. TRUCK . KAUFMAN Why isn't it wet? Orlean wrote about wading through black. MIKE OWEN There's usually water. I was expecting it to be awful. Say. This time of year can get uncomfortably hot.DAY Mike Owen drives. KAUFMAN It's not even hot.. INT. Kaufman looks down and sees a plain-looking little lizard hanging on a tree. It shows there could be something important in a rain forest we don't even know about. Kaufman stares out the window at boring ORLEAN (V. Alligators. wild hogs. wading through water. She said it was the scariest experience of her life. MIKE OWEN (cont'd) I try to keep a log of sightings. The temperature's a blessing for us.) It had been a hard day and I hadn't seen what I'd come to see.

And belonging to all of us means they belong to none of us. HOTEL ROOM .. and for years there has been an apparition wandering the swamp. Not me.DAY Kaufman and Owen stand by Kaufman's car. He blurts: KAUFMAN Listen. not. MIKE OWEN What Laroche did was wrong. ORLEAN (into phone) I didn't see anything but bare roots. not you. the Swamp Ape. ORLEAN That night I called Laroche..NIGHT Orlean. Have you ever heard stories or -MIKE OWEN (pissy) Tourist garbage! I don't know why people need to invent silly creatures to make nature fascinating.ghosts of rangers who were murdered years ago by illegal plume hunters.54. um. Nobody has a right to take them.) (cont'd) There are certainly ghosts in the Fakahatchee -. and of loggers who were cut to pieces in fights. (MORE) (CONTINUED) .250? I think it's up to 270 now -.O. Those flowers belong to all of us. holds a phone to her ear and talks to us. CONTINUED: ORLEAN (V. EXT. and the body odor of a skunk. She has cute little dirt smudges on her face. Isn't nature amazing enough? KAUFMAN (shamed) I just asked because she mentioned it. not John Laroche. Susan Orlean wrote about a legendary creature called a Swamp Ape. Kaufman is desperate for something else. all 250 million of us -. still dirty from the swamp. INT. which is said to be seven feet tall and seven hundred pounds and have the physique of a human. the posture of an ape. RANGER SHACK .

then looks at the smiling photo of Orlean. of course there are ghost orchids out there! I've stolen them! (MORE) (CONTINUED) . INT. FL. CONTINUED: ORLEAN (cont'd) And I had this thought. One approaches his booth.NIGHT Orlean types. HOTEL ROOM . RENTAL CAR .EVENING Kaufman watches the waitresses.55.EVENING Kaufman drives down a Florida strip-malled highway. Her name badge reads: Caryn. He passes a Barnes and Noble. HOTEL ROOM .wonderful to imagine and easy to fall in love with but a little fantastic and fleeting and out of reach. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (beat.wonderful to imagine and easy to fall in love with but a little fantastic and fleeting and out of reach. He finds himself lost in it.) What I didn't say to him was that life seemed to be filled with things that were just like the ghost orchid -. is on the phone. dirty from the swamp.O. a Burger King. INT. ORLEAN (V. INT. He hi-lites the passage. She sighs. continues typing.) What I didn't say to him is that life seemed to be filled with things that were just like the ghost orchid -.clears throat) Jesus Christ. Tampa. Kaufman is deeply moved. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT . KAUFMAN (V. He parks in front of a California Pizza Kitchen. She glances at her husband. She smiles at Kaufman as she looks right through him.NIGHT A morose Kaufman sits on the bed reading The Orchid Thief.NIGHT Orlean. a Starbucks. INT.O. Maybe the ghost orchid only blooms in the minds of people who've walked too long in the swamp. across the room reading a book. It's pouring and sheets of rain beat against her window. INT. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN (FLORIDA) .

A really unique piece. thank you. ORLEAN Yeah. VALERIE It's funny and fresh.. thanks.. John's a character all right.'" VALERIE (O.56. VALERIE And Laroche is such a fun character. RESTAURANT . um. then he cleared his throat and said: 'You should have gone with me. ORLEAN Well. ORLEAN More John. VALERIE And there'll be more of Laroche? Yeah. ORLEAN Oh. what's next? ORLEAN Oh.C. Thank you. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (cont'd) (beat.) Beautifully written. Random House wants me to expand it into a book. PULL BACK TO: INT. ORLEAN Thanks very much. (CONTINUED) . VALERIE We're big fans. VALERIE So we were wondering.MIDDAY Busy lunch crowd. more orchids. Thank you. Valerie sits at a table with Orlean and an open New Yorker magazine. And sad in a way. a cleared throat) You should have gone with me. So I'll be doing that. CLOSE-UP OF MAGAZINE The line: ".

Laroche swerves into a parking space in the nursery lot. Laroche and Orlean get out of the van. looks at some papers on his desk. CONTINUED: VALERIE Y'know. LAROCHE I've got all the right qualities. (MORE) (CONTINUED) . EXT. ORLEAN (laughing) You want to make this into a movie? VALERIE Laroche is such a fun character. I'll take an acting class. (beat) Who's gonna play me? ORLEAN I've got to write it first. INT.. They look at Laroche sourly. Most things never get made.57. VAN . Someone's gotta write the screenplay. drives crazily thorugh the Hollywood Seminole reservation. INT. A few young Indian guys are hauling bags of potting soil. Orlean holds on. Laroche indicates the giant cartoon Indian on his T-shirt.CONTINUOUS Laroche enters his office. LAROCHE Most of them don't even bother calling me John anymore. LAROCHE I wear this just to screw with 'em. While you write.. SEMINOLE NURSERY . wearing a Cleveland Indians T-shirt. LAROCHE No shit I'm a fun character. TRAILER .DAY Laroche. we'd really like to option it. It's premature to -LAROCHE I think I should play me. It's "Crazy White Man" now.DAY So.

we're not closing shop. Sem-ih-nole! (to Orlean) How do you say Seminole in Spanish? (into phone) That's right. Buster. gestures for Orlean to sit on a chair piled high with junk. BAXLEY Listen. (hangs up) Hey. LAROCHE (cont'd) (Yelling into phone) Hello? Hello? Hi? This is John Laroche from the Seminole Nursery. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) "Crazy White Man" is a good title for the movie. "Collector of Hearts" or something. shares the seat with it. Before Orlean can respond. LAROCHE (cont'd) You won't hurt anything. I don't know. BAXLEY LAROCHE I was trying to order some pink string beans from Argentina.58." Or. BAXLEY No kidding. Laroche picks up the phone and dials an impossibly long number. John. LAROCHE I figure just because Project Ghost Orchid is dead. John -- (CONTINUED) . Orlean moves the junk over. Call the book "Crazy White Man. yes! Yeah. I want to order some more of those pink string beans! Pink string beans! (yelling) Pink String Beans! Pink String Beans! Buster appears in the door. He waits. LAROCHE (cont'd) (into phone) I'll call back.

VAN . LAROCHE They're gonna fire me. (pounds steering wheel) I can't believe I'm dealing with this! (pounds steering wheel) Like I could give a damn. all they do is smoke weed all day. MONTAGE Gray skies. And I ain't going to quit. Simple plant multiplication for the masses. we're thinking maybe now's a good time for you to take a few weeks. he attends a slide-show orchid lecture. He walks around at an orchid show. Crazy White Man's bad publicity. Laroche stares at Buster. Buster stares back. Goddamn politics.DAY Orlean dials the phone. turn 'em into big ones. BAXLEY John. I already did some legal research on this when I was doing the other shit. If they fire me. Finally: (CONTINUED) . So if it's a question of productivity -INT. the Collier County Courthouse. It's all dull. sell 'em at a profit. LAROCHE I don't need a vacation. Laroche's house. I been meaning to talk to you about that. Things are slow. INT.A FEW MINUTES LATER Laroche weaves through traffic. It rings for a long time. CONTINUED: (2) LAROCHE We'll get into plant multiplication. Kaufman drives his rental car: he looks at the Seminole Nursery. He ends up sitting on a bench on an empty beach. the guys on my crew here. He drives through swampy terrain. I'll sue. LAROCHE Y'know. BAXLEY It's a good time. HOTEL ROOM . Buster.59. They can't fire me. Orlean holds on. Buy little ones. staring out at the ocean.

LAROCHE Thank you for your time. lights a cigarette. GUY ON BENCH We could use the rain. I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you. (CONTINUED) . looking out at the ocean. An attractive. ORLEAN C'mon. hoping for a look.DAY Kaufman sits on the bench." Pause. He watches the woman. (waits for response) Orlean.60. EMPTY BEACH . even though he feels the guy's eyes on him. He doesn't want to engage. Pause. huh? Kaufman nods. (waits) So. chatting in German. flips through her list of orchid collector names. Orlean is silent. I was just wondering if you might be willing to talk some more. it's Susan. They're gone. A tan older man sits on the bench. I'm pursuing other avenues. GUY ON BENCH (cont'd) So you from around here? Kaufman shakes his head "no. looking at the ocean. Orlean sits there for a moment. John. I'm trying to put together a book. Laroche hangs up. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) What about? Orlean rolls her eyes. He doesn't get it. EXT. Kaufman continues to look at the ocean. Don't just abandon me down here. LAROCHE I'm no longer interested in orchids. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (groggy) Yeah? ORLEAN John. for something. taps her fingers on the bedside table. spandexed couple skate by.

Just like that. The old guy waits for a response. GUY ON BENCH (excitedly) Yeah? I'm moving to L.61. (beat) Where's a nice place to live if you don't have a car? KAUFMAN You kind of need a car. It's a great idea.A. I guess West Hollywood would be okay. I'll go there and market it myself. KAUFMAN I'm not recommending it. GUY ON BENCH So you recommend West Hollywood then. GUY ON BENCH (cont'd) It's about a mob guy. CONTINUED: GUY ON BENCH (cont'd) So where then? KAUFMAN California. I used to be in marketing in New York. GUY ON BENCH I moved down here for a change. He gets none. Pause. and I wrote the screenplay. they used to go together in high school. I just wrote a screenplay. See. (CONTINUED) . I sent it to a lot of agents. so I know exactly how to sell this thing. then:) You know anything about screenplays? Kaufman shakes his head. the cop's lying because he wants her for himself. A cop tells this mob guy's wife that the mob guy's cheating on her. but it's not your regular mob story. (waits for response. There's a twist. But the truth is. But if they turn me down.

(beat) I'm a born again Christian. Well. to taste it. You'd have I don't know you. KAUFMAN I don't know. I came up with all these amazing twists out of nowhere. how would you know if it really was or if it was water? There's only one way. GUY ON BENCH (annoyed) No. right? KAUFMAN It could be poison. GUY ON BENCH Well. You can't smell vodka. (beat) You have faith? No. That requires accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. the object is to make people think you're going in one direction. Believe me. GUY ON BENCH You don't believe in anything? Kaufman shrugs. if I was to show you a bottle of clear liquid and told you it was vodka. GUY ON BENCH (cont'd) I don't know how you can look out at this beautiful ocean and not believe there's an intelligence that created it. It's not poison. KAUFMAN Not really. not nowhere. KAUFMAN I'd smell it. CONTINUED: (2) GUY ON BENCH (cont'd) Well. Okay? (resuming control) (MORE) (CONTINUED) . then you twist it to keep 'em surprised. GUY ON BENCH (angry) Look. let's go with the analogy I'm drawing here. you can't know until you experience it. Lookit.62.

I'm a screenwriter.) I have failed. Kaufman. You mind if I ask what your movie's about? I No (CONTINUED) . response. sits in lecture halls. I have nothing to say. DRIVER Mr. AIRPLANE . LIMO .63. DRIVER (impressed) A song writer? KAUFMAN No. y'know? MONTAGE Susan Orlean talks to various orchid enthusiasts. DRIVER Oh. visits nurseries. INT. INT. Right? That's my point. attends orchid shows. CONTINUED: (3) GUY ON BENCH (cont'd) So you'd have to taste it to know. do you mind if I ask what type of work you do for Sony? KAUFMAN I'm a writer.O.NIGHT A stewardess places a cup and an airline-sized bottle of vodka down in front of a lost Kaufman. She is bored and distracted. Because how long can you look at an ocean. KAUFMAN GUY ON BENCH That's all I'm saying. am fat. I am not a writer. sits in the library reading orchid books. He opens the bottle and smells the vodka. He smiles at her.NIGHT Kaufman sits in the back seat and stares out the window. KAUFMAN (V. huh? I think I'll make it out this year. (beat) So West Hollywood. wow! Good for you. The driver looks at him a couple of times in his rearview mirror. Right.

CONTINUED: KAUFMAN It's about flowers. KAUFMAN (cont'd) It's about this poacher who steals orchids out of a swamp.64. DRIVER I heard about that! Yeah. Kaufman tries to make it interesting. (types. I've chosen the motif of broken mirrors to show my protagonist's fragmented self. Drug flowers. DONALD Cool! Hey. DONALD No. right? DRIVER I heard about that! That's great! Action-adventure is my favorite genre. No response. Donald. KAUFMAN You sound like you're in a cult. INT. EMPTY HOUSE . Bob calls it an invaluable asset. KAUFMAN That's it. then:) (MORE) (CONTINUED) .NIGHT Kaufman enters with his bags and heads to the stairs. Kaufman disappears upstairs. my script's going amazing! Right now I'm working out an Image System. it's just good writing technique. Because of my multiple personality theme. looks up. Bob teaches that an Image System greatly increases the complexity of an aesthetic emotion. typing furiously at his desk. man? KAUFMAN (climbing the stairs) Okay. DONALD How was Florida.

O. Donald." I was worried about putting a song in a thriller. Okay. KAUFMAN (V. Donald appears backlit in the doorway and seems oddly threatening. They look at each other. Susan says What Is Passion? And okay we open on a swamp and suddenly a white van comes tearing around. 19th century orchid poachers slogging. Y'know? DONALD Oh. INT. Okay. the greatest screenplay ever written. Mixed genres.. flashback to young Laroche had turtles. Laroche jabbering. slept in a week.. Donald breaks the tension.CONTINUOUS Kaufman tears down MCKEE'S TEN COMMANDMENTS. . did exactly that. I made you a copy of McKee's Ten Commandments... smiles. MONTAGE SEQUENCE Mishmash of images: alligators snapping. DONALD You shouldn't have done that. orchids blooming. so we open the swamp.. Mike Owen lecturing. but Bob says. CONTINUED: DONALD (cont'd) Oh.. It was invented for people who can't find the actual world fascinating. KAUFMAN I need to go to bed. Casablanca. Sorry.. DONALD I haven't Donald remains on the floor.65.) .. any sign of that Swamp Ape? KAUFMAN There is no Swamp Ape. DONALD (cont'd) 'Cause it's extremely helpful. I've posted one over both our work areas. I didn't know that. Orlean typing. (lies down on floor) Hey. okay. Hey. I got a song! "Happy Together. okay. EMPTY BEDROOM .

KAUFMAN (V. It talks.) There are too many ideas and things and people. Then: Kaufman is alone in bed. making love. too many directions to go. KAUFMAN And you're. KAUFMAN Such sweet. He stares at the photo. He closes his eyes. I can't sleep. It somehow seems sleepy now. Damn it.. sweating. The photo smiles warmly at him. flips through it. find the thing you care passionately about and write about that. He reads one. She smiles at him throughout. There are now many yellow hi-lited passages. It's 3:32. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. KAUFMAN Donald snores happily off-screen. (CONTINUED) . Then: Kaufman and Orlean are in his bed together. He looks over at the clock. So true. Charlie. I'm fat and repulsive -ORLEAN PHOTO Shhh. I like looking at you. Kaufman switches on a lamp. I'm afraid I'll disappoint you.NIGHT Kaufman lies half-awake in bed. sad insights. You've written a beautiful book. Kaufman flips to the glowing. I'm losing my hair. INT. focus on one thing in the story. Whittle it down. his eyes darting back and forth.66. KAUFMAN I don't know how to do this. smiling author photo. ORLEAN PHOTO I like looking at you. He looks at the still smiling photo. too. You're not.O. heaving. pulls The Orchid Thief from his bag. Its smile broadens. Kaufman begins to jerk-off.. They finish. EMPTY BEDROOM .

fragile. CONTINUED: Kaufman studies her delicate. haunted by loneliness. DONALD Thanks. DONALD Cool. man. Hey. It's like a battle between motors and horses. hey. flirty smile) I figured there might be something. Morning. KAUFMAN I have some new ideas. beautiful. Thanks. pours coffee. KITCHEN . DONALD KAUFMAN He's in love. DONALD You seem chipper. KAUFMAN We see Susan Orlean. I'm good. that's the big pay-off.MORNING Kaufman paces and talks animatedly into his mini-recorder. right? DONALD Yeah. She looks at the camera and talks to us: "John Laroche is a tall guy. KAUFMAN They're all still one person... ORLEAN PHOTO (cont'd) (sweet. skinny as a stick.67. delicate.. typing at her desk. slouchshouldered.." Donald enters in his underwear. INT. melancholy face. Me too. The cop is after them on a motorcycle. it sounds exciting. hey. . I'm putting in a chase sequence now. pale-eyed. The killer flees on horseback with the girl. KAUFMAN (nice) Well.

going to shows. She talks to us. ORLEAN I suppose what I'd been doing in Florida was trying to understand how people found order and contentment and a sense of purpose in the universe by fixing their sighs on one single desire. It's fascinating. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (groggy) Yeah what? ORLEAN Hello. Now I was also trying to understand how someone could end such intense desire without a trace. It rings for a while. (CONTINUED) . The end. ORLEAN That sounds good. Yeah hi. it's Susan. how's everything going? LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Great! I'm training myself on the internet. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) ORLEAN So. It's amazing how much these suckers will pay for photographs of chicks. Orlean stops at a payphone and dials. I am officially no longer interested in orchids or the losers who are still interested in them. ORLEAN So I've been meeting a lot of orchid people.68.DAY Orlean drives through swampy landscape. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) It's great is what it is. I thought you might want to hear about it. CAR . John. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Sorry. I'm doing pornography. And it doesn't matter if they're fat or ugly or what. INT.

ORLEAN If you really loved something. (copying from book) "Florida is a landscape of transition and mutation. like a marriage. The last line jumps off the page: "She now lives in New York City with her husband. KAUFMAN I'm so thrilled I get to adapt your book.. EMPTY BEDROOM . Y'know. A passing woman (CONTINUED) . snickers. It now looks warm and inviting.) Susan and her husband eat dinner in silence..69.O. INT. CONTINUED: Laroche hangs up. INT. INT. It's intimate.NIGHT Kaufman holds The Orchid Thief open with one hand and types with the other. the book shuts. Husband: You want to do something tonight? Susan: I should work." Kaufman's hand slips.DAY Kaufman and Orlean move furniture into the room. She talks to us.O. Orlean looks off into the flat distance. STREET .A. Orlean wears a bandana kerchief.NIGHT Kaufman types. L. KAUFMAN (V. KAUFMAN (V. distraught." EXT. I got stuff. get to merge my thoughts with yours.. I love that. EMPTY BEDROOM . He opens it to the wrong page and sees an About The Author paragraph. wouldn't a little of it always linger? She turns to the camera.) Susan Orlean drives. A dying relationship. The golden light of the afternoon sun caresses her sweet face. a hybrid of . EMPTY LIVING ROOM ..NIGHT Kaufman wanders the street.

KAUFMAN (cont'd) This is good...70. ORLEAN Isn't it ironic? You adapting my book? My three years in Florida meditating on my inability to experience passion resulted in my finding it with you. From high in the air she sees her parents in separate rooms staring blankly in opposite directions.MORNING Kaufman paces with his mini-recorder. He smiles at Orlean's photo. It's Valerie. Uh-huh. How's everything going? Good. Kaufman is immensely pleased. She kisses him. Great. This symbolizes the profound scarring their waning passion has had on the girl's psyche. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) So I spoke to Susan yesterday. KAUFMAN (beat) Oh. Charlie. Just bugging you again. Off-screen typing. KAUFMAN Maybe what marriage could be. uh-huh. KAUFMAN I think really good now. Her eyes tear up. The phone rings. KAUFMAN . I'm finding you. how she became afraid to ever really love something because it would go away. INT. CONTINUED: ORLEAN Not like a marriage. Yallo? KAUFMAN VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) Hi. (CONTINUED) . EMPTY BEDROOM . and in the final sequence Susan as a young girl swings alone in the backyard.

It's not glowing... CONTINUED: VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) I told her you were making terrific progress and she's really excited to read the script. Charlie. KAUFMAN And tell her how much I love her book. Kaufman paces frantically. Okay. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . Okay then. or confusing to discuss what I'm exploring in the screenplay at this point. y'know.CONTINUOUS Donald types at his desk on his computer... KAUFMAN Nice talking to you. It's still smiling.. VALERIE (cont'd) Just keep us posted. KAUFMAN Um. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) Good enough. All color drains from Kaufman's face.. well. (CONTINUED) . Will do. Kaufman storms in. KAUFMAN VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) And she said she'd love to meet you. INT. As she sees fit.71. for me it's distracting to. So.. Oh.. it. Okay. Good. Donald's off-screen typing grows louder. KAUFMAN Tell Susan I'd be very happy to meet her at a future date. I'll let her know. Sweat appears on Kaufman's brow. Kaufman hangs up and looks at the photo of Orlean. but not at him. Maybe it's even smirking. holding his stomach. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) That's fair. Say I think she's such a great writer. before I finish.

O. fat.O." INT. He smiles. KAUFMAN No Hollywood bullshit. He lies there for a moment. Just raw truth. Sometimes that takes a while to find. KAUFMAN (V. I am fat. then his eyes light up. JERRY She said you sounded weird. (CONTINUED) . paces the room. like some kind of fucking funhouse mirror version of me! But let me tell you. She looks through him. EMPTY BEDROOM . doubles over.DAY Kaufman types passionately on his computer. old. EMERGENCY ROOM . CONTINUED: KAUFMAN You can sit here and pretend to be a writer. sits with his agent. AGENT'S OFFICE . JERRY . "I am old. He watches a slightly haggard woman with a bandaged head sitting in a small room across the hall. you don't know what writing is! Kaufman grabs his stomach. She glances over in his direction. How repulsive? I don't know for I suffer from a condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.72. Good. My toenails have turned strange.) Movie opens. Valerie called yesterday. INT. INT. we need to talk about the orchid script. I am bald. His voice-over carpets the scene. I am repulsive.: Charlie Kaufman. looking tired and wild-eyed.DAY Kaufman is on a gurney and hooked up to an IV. They're getting antsy.DAY Kaufman.. bald.) She thinks I'm repulsive. KAUFMAN I think I've got it on track now. mocking the seriousness of what I do.. KAUFMAN (V.

" T. It's a girl taking a shit. KAUFMAN It's goddamned honest. Orlean watches them. writes his time. Motes looks up. in writing himself. But we do need to give Valerie a ballpark -KAUFMAN I'm sick of their constant harassment! EXT.DAY It's an enormous hall filled with people setting up elaborate displays.S. KAUFMAN This is more honest than anything anyone's ever done before in a movie.O. INT. The only truth we can offer is the truth that's our own experience of the world. I'll tell you that.73. hey. my friend sent me this fuckedup internet thing. but a trout comes out. "The great poet. ORLEAN (CONTINUED) . 1993 John Laroche and three Seminoles illegally removed one hundred and thirty rare plants from the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. You got email yet? I'll send it to you. Okay. JERRY It sounds good. ORLEAN (V. MOTES You've been checking out the displays? Yeah. MIAMI CONVENTION CENTER . JERRY Oh.DAY Black and white shot of Laroche and the Indians slogging through Fakahatchee. Jerry. SWAMP . CONTINUED: JERRY What's the time frame here? It's true. Eliot.) On December 21. Martin Motes and his assistant work on the Laroche display. buddy. The camera swoops down and the scene turns into a mannequin version.

NIGHT Orlean stands in the poetry section and reads a Wallace Stevens book./In which nothing solid is its solid self. Orlean is moved by the quote. ORLEAN Right. we're supposed to illustrate something about Florida history. Now Laroche is part of Florida history. He eyes her as she picks at her salad. His mini-recorder is on. As a mannequin.NIGHT Kaufman is on the floor typing. I'm a reformed poetry professor. EMPTY BEDROOM . KAUFMAN'S VOICE (ON RECORDER) Kaufman sits across from Valerie. HOTEL ROOM . He tries to sound like he knows what he's talking about. MOTES It's a world of words to the end of it. You'll have to forgive me. INT.) The greatest poverty is not to live/In a physical world. ORLEAN (V. CONTINUED: MOTES It's the Miami centennial. INT. INT. She compliments him on his work. a pretty film executive. He's full of shit. She looks up and he looks down.O. She rubs her nose. He pulls at his nostrils. to feel that one's desire/is too difficult to tell from despair.74.NIGHT Orlean dials the phone. (CONTINUED) . He sweats. ORLEAN Who is that? MOTES Wallace Stevens. BARNES AND NOBLE .

LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) I'm not interested. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Tomorrow. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) I'm not involved in that world now. You're famous. Pick me up at 5:30 am or it'll get too hot.75. I'll buy all the supplies we'll need. INT.NIGHT Kaufman types. I still haven't seen a ghost. ORLEAN John. EMPTY BEDROOM .) Kaufman jerks off to the book jacket photo of Susan Orlean. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Yeah..O. (CONTINUED) DONALD I finished. ORLEAN So. KAUFMAN (V. Donald appears in the doorway with a script. I'll take you in.. look. Really? ORLEAN Thank you so much! I just. . My script. yeah. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) ORLEAN I went to the Orchid Society Show a couple of days ago. ORLEAN There was a display of you stealing the ghost orchids. it's Susan. And I was wondering -LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Yeah. John. What?! KAUFMAN What do you want? I'm done. I know.

doesn't say anything. DONALD I don't know what that means. It's pathetic. to eat herself. It's. It's eating itself. It was very helpful. Because at the end when he forces the woman. I'm eating myself. like. I wanted to thank you for your idea. KAUFMAN I'm insane. who's really just him. DONALD (cont'd) So would you show it to your agent? Kaufman grabs Donald's script and throws it on his bed. puts his head in his hands. Now the killer cuts off body pieces and makes the victims eat them. I'm fat and pathetic. Also. DONALD That's kinda weird. It's solipsistic. KAUFMAN I've written myself into my screenplay. DONALD I don't think so. I once saw this picture of a snake swallowing it's tail -Kaufman collapses. (CONTINUED) . KAUFMAN It's self-indulgent. I'm pathetic.76. But it's cool for my killer to have this modus operandi. I changed it a little. KAUFMAN Ourobouros. It's narcissistic. I'm Ourobouros. Oh. DONALD (cont'd) Thanks. CONTINUED: Kaufman stares at his typewriter. KAUFMAN The snake is called Ourobouros. he's also eating himself to death. DONALD I don't know what that is.

O. DONALD Hey. So if you're stuck -Kaufman shoots Donald a look. Phoniness is transparent.DAY Orlean walks through alone. His eyes well with tears. Because I'm pathetic. HOTEL ROOM . Out the window he sees colorful fireworks far down below. . Things slither by in the water. but Bob's got a seminar in New York this weekend. am I in the script. too? KAUFMAN I'm going to New York. KAUFMAN (V. (CONTINUED) Orlean is in bed. panicked. INT. All the vegetation is greener and crazier-looking than we've seen before. HOTEL ROOM . Because I suck.77. DONALD Don't get mad at me for saying this. PLANE . Because I can't make flowers fascinating. EXT. You're an artist. sleeping fitfully. That's what I have to do. KAUFMAN The reason is I'm too timid to speak to the woman who wrote the book. Charles. Charles. CONTINUED: (2) DONALD I'm sure you had a good reason. SWAMP . and it is tiresome. I'll meet her. INT.NIGHT Kaufman sleeps fitfully.LATER The lights are off. Because I have no idea how to write. A flower is God's miracle. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonders of nature. That's it.) Give yourself a reality check. like small flowers blooming on the black earth. brush up against her.NIGHT Kaufman reads Ann Landers's column in a paper dated July 4th. INT.

It looks hot. CONTINUED: She tenses. Laroche pulls a new pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. We'll get crap at the Indian trading post on Alligator Alley. She stares at the ceiling. looks at the clock. steps into a sinkhole. She closes her eyes. (MORE) (CONTINUED) . I wanted to turn back.78. no. the room is filled with murky water. through the most intense heat I'd ever felt. Laroche shrugs. LAROCHE'S HOUSE . my mother and I came to the Fakahatchee to look for a ghost to photograph. We couldn't find one. LAROCHE (cont'd) Look. which wraps around her leg as she attempts to extricate herself. don't worry about it. bedcovers tangled around her legs. The clock reads 4:23. It's 4:10. She heaves.A BIT LATER The sun has come up strong. It's 3:30. The alarm goes off. hits her head on the headboard. ORLEAN Where are our supplies? LAROCHE Got everything I need right here. fifteen or so. want me to drive? INT. The room is back to normal. INT. She closes her eyes. An alligator pokes its nose out of the water. begins to climb onto the bed.EARLY MORNING Orlean pulls up to the curb where Laroche stands. He opens the door and climbs in. She looks at the clock again.CONTINUOUS Orlean snaps awake. Orlean turns off the ignition and stares at the steering wheel. thin pants. dressed in a short sleeve shirt. LAROCHE I remember one time when I was a kid. Orlean is tense. CAR . She looks at the clock again. The car veers onto the shoulder. We walked for hours. and his Miami Hurricanes hat. She opens them. HOTEL ROOM . But my mom said. EXT. Hey. the bed an island of dryness. She falls face forward into the black water. he lazily corrects it. It's 3:30. flails. Orlean jumps back. looks at the clock. gets tangled in a vine. paying little attention to the road. Laroche speeds along with one finger on the wheel.

INT. there it'll be.most people in some way or another do strive for something exceptional. Kaufman still stands there.DAY Orlean types at her desk. rather than abide an ordinary life. snowy Polyrrhiza lindenii.79. I had goddamn bloody blisters on my feet. past the absolute certainty that you'll never find it. ORLEAN He made it sound like a Bible story. people get on. Things slither past in the water. if you keep searching past that. sun blasted. EXT. The elevator doors open. He arrives at the New Yorker building and enters with steely determination. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) She said. The ground is soft. So we walked. Birds screech. OFFICE .A FEW MINUTES LATER Kaufman waits for the elevator. They drive in silence for a little while. Gnats and mosquitoes bite. Encyclia tempensis. People get off. SWAMP . the hopeful journey through darkness into light. BUILDING . EXT. if you keep searching for something past doubt. John. walks along. desolate. INT. MIDTOWN NEW YORK CITY STREET . and dragonflies hover.MORNING Laroche and Orlean step off the levee into black water. And there in the middle of it was this one gorgeous. but I was realizing more and more that Laroche was an extreme. something to pursue. (CONTINUED) . sweating even more profusely. Something big runs by in the distance. even at their peril. Laroche points to a yellow flower. the elevator doors close. it's a struggle to pull their feet up to walk. not an aberration -. Frogs croak. y'know. And we found ourselves in this charred prairie. She watches him.DAY Kaufman. sweaty and anxious. Laroche lights a cigarette. I never thought many people in the world were like John. They sink to their knees. Bees. LAROCHE Here we go. past hopelessness. She turns to us and talks.

. Uh-huh. But I'm no snob. Kaufman follows her. studies the back of her head. LAROCHE Clamshell orchid. INT. He points at a tiny orchid on another tree. Kaufman sweats.A FEW MINUTES LATER A miserable Kaufman sits in the window. and faces front. NEW YORK CITY STREET .80. I'm interested in all orchids. The doors close. The doors open. Kaufman hesitates. INT. ELEVATOR . Orlean looks at him blankly. sipping coffee and watching the New Yorker building across the street. COFFEE SHOP . people get off and on. I'll show you every orchid you want today. exits the coffee shop. Nobody gets off or on. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) Nice little sucker. That's an ugly-ass orchid. Cute. EXT. Kaufman hates himself. It stops a few times. Not just pretty ones. It begins its descent and stops once again at the New Yorker. The elevator continues up. I'll find you a fucking ghost if it kills me. Kaufman is absolutely panicked. then follows.DAY Orlean walks along. ORLEAN Laroche continues walking and Orlean attempts to keep pace. You know that. Kaufman sweats. Soon the elevator is emptied out with the exception of Kaufman. The elevator arrives at the lobby. He steels himself. (pointing to another orchid) Rigid Epidendrum. isn't it? Orlean examines it from a distance. The New Yorker logo is painted on the wall opposite the elevator. I found you two already. This time Orlean gets on. presses "lobby".A FEW MINUTES LATER Kaufman rides up in the crowded elevator. ORLEAN LAROCHE See. Orlean gets out.

KAUFMAN (V. dirty.O.LATE MORNING The sun is much higher in the sky. stop. (CONTINUED) . SWAMP . anxious. LAROCHE (peppy) They're right nearby.NOON Orlean follows Laroche.) Likes lemon in tea and her voice is not at all what I imagined. He scribbles in his notebook. SWAMP . Kaufman takes notes.O. Interesting! EXT. Orlean seems depressed. KAUFMAN (V. EXT.DAY Orlean sits by herself. Just follow me. Funny detail: New Yorker writer reads Vanity Fair. Good stuff! Orlean looks up from her magazine and smiles at the waitress.) Reads Vanity Fair. scraped.) (cont'd) Likes tuna. Good character details. ORLEAN Could I get some lemon please? Kaufman scribbles. Use! A waitress brings a tuna sandwich and an ice tea to Orlean.O.DAY Orlean window shops at a shoe store. She watches him start off in one direction. Thanks. drinks ice tea. ORLEAN Laroche. The waitress nods and leaves. EXT. Kaufman sits a few tables away. RESTAURANT . Orlean is a sweaty mess. start off another direction. then go straight ahead. KAUFMAN (V. NYC STREET . INT.81. frizzed hair. reading Vanity Fair. LAROCHE We're not lost. can I ask you a personal question? Laroche turns and scowls at her.

he puts the twig back.DAY The sun is hot. He is sweaty and wild-eyed. He looks up at her. comes up with a straight twig. EXT. I am nothing. (CONTINUED) . I am fat. She stares at him. Orlean heads down the street. LAROCHE (cont'd) A sundial. He stretches his legs. Laroche takes out a cigarette. She massages her eyebrows. Laroche sticks the twig into the ground. and we'll be able to tell which way the sun is moving.82. Orlean takes a cracker. I'll just set this up. I am over.O. leaving a residue of dirt on her face. She enters the New Yorker building. wait a few minutes. knocks over the twig. SWAMP . Laroche is twenty feet ahead of Orlean. KAUFMAN (V. INT. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (V. Kaufman waits outside. We want to be heading southeast. I am lost. You should eat something. EXT. SWAMP .NIGHT Kaufman reviews his notes. Finally. Laroche speaks without looking up.O. He busies himself opening the backpack and pulling out food. LAROCHE We're not lost. Kaufman follows. Orlean and Laroche sit on dry ground. sees her staring at him. She watches him march forward with great authority. Without looking at Orlean. He pokes around on the ground for something. stares at it. Okay. Laroche won't look at her. LAROCHE (cont'd) This is no big deal.) Eyeing Stuart Weitzman pumps.) I have nothing. HOTEL ROOM . lights it. This relaxes Laroche. LAROCHE (cont'd) I'm just turned around a little.LATER The sun is high.

Laroche seems unaware. They rise. Orlean stares at the twig in the ground. We'll just go straight and eventually we'll get there. She looks at Laroche. She looks sadly at Laroche. LAROCHE Well. Laroche points them in a direction and they walk. her fists clench into balls. Her eyes become wild. LAROCHE It is so working. Orlean's anger softens. The thing I like is that I'm immersed in it but it's not a living thing that's going to leave or die or something. I prefer having the minimum number of living things to worry about in my life. it's about -ORLEAN The sundial isn't working. Out of here. logically.. LAROCHE (cont'd) The thing about computers. we have to get out as long as we walk straight. Laroche looks down at it. . CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) So do you collect anything? ORLEAN (non-responsive) Not really. I mean. fuck the sundial. LAROCHE Okay. John.. some dark fantasy plays out in her brain. Rage and panic sweep across her face. LAROCHE (cont'd) What I mean is we'll get somewhere. y'know it's not really about collecting the thing.83. Laroche smiles sheepishly at Orlean. ORLEAN So.

KAUFMAN Susan Orlean. The phone rings. Good. Myself. don't say that. JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) How's it going? Has it been helpful to talk to the writer? What's her name? Yeah. and I is just amazing. and I? JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Your brother's script. It's tight. HOTEL ROOM . KAUFMAN JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) I'm gonna sell it for a shitload. KAUFMAN Jerry. it's okay. are you making headway? Valerie's breathing down my neck. fine. He reaches for it. KAUFMAN What the hell is Me. it's Jerry.MORNING Kaufman is sleeping. edgy thriller. Um. maybe you could bring Donald on to help you finish the orchid thing. Oh. I mean. Myself. JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Well. I woke you? KAUFMAN No. A smart.84. Two fucking talented guys in one family. Hello? KAUFMAN JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Hey. I mean -(CONTINUED) . KAUFMAN You can't rush inspiration. Y'know? JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Okay. It looks like it's been a rough night. Y'know. inventive. The best spec script I've read this year. INT. the other reason I'm calling is to tell you Me.

I am just one more old. INT. fat. buddy. I have an appointment. I have accomplished nothing. EXT. I just say to myself. I gotta go. He eyes other sad-looking. Laroche leads Orlean back into the brush. SWAMP . I gotta go.DAY Laroche leads the way. The guy moves on and the attractive registrar looks without interest at Kaufman. KAUFMAN Jerry. . bald man on the street. NYC STREET . He watches the handsome guy ahead of him flirt with an attractive female registrar. NYC STREETS (MONTAGE) .) I am fat. I am old. I can't write. REGISTRAR May I help you? Kaufman averts his eyes from her cool gaze. they come to rest on a pile of McKee's book Story next to her. buddy. screw it.MORNING Kaufman sees a white school building ahead. glowing in the sun. Finish! Finish! EXT. overweight men wandering the streets also. EXT. CONTINUED: JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Just a thought. There's a sadness.O. a sense of defeat and humiliation that he tries to conceal. LOBBY . He walks toward it. Orlean is stony. He's really goddamn amazing at structure.85.MORNING Kaufman wanders. LAROCHE I've done this a million times. crowded with enthusiastic people signing up for something. Kaufman waits in line. balding. KAUFMAN (V. and go straight ahead. Whenever everything's killing me. I am repulsive.MORNING The lobby of an auditorium. JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Adios.

McKee continues to talk but his voice goes under. last. I am a loser. and an end. . KAUFMAN (V. (deadpan) Well. MCKEE So. what is the substance of writing? Nothing as trivial as words is at the heart of this great art. the imperative is to tell a story. my friends.. I have sold out. Everyone. an opinionated arrogant asshole. AUDITORIUM . I am worthless. MCKEE Twenty three hundred years ago. when storytelling goes bad in a society. I am fat. except for Kaufman who looks pained. the result is decadence. a middle. Kaufman watches with disdain as people take notes. laughs giddily at McKee's joke. McKee paces the stage with MCKEE Years from now you'll be standing around a posh cocktail party congratulating yourself on how you spent an entire weekend locked in a room with an asshole. First. MCKEE Literary talent is not enough. MCKEE (cont'd) Aristotle also said: A story must have a beginning.) I am pathetic. The students nod in appreciation at this profundity.. I am panicked. Aristotle said. and always. except Kaufman. for your art.. The audience laughs.86. I. KAUFMAN (V.) I have failed. INT.O..O. I am fat.A BIT LATER Kaufman sits in the packed room. a mic clipped to his lapel. just look around you.

You must present the internal conflicts of your character in image. in symbol. I'll start over -(starts to rise) I need to face this project head on and -MCKEE .. Easy answers. and God help you if you use voiceover in your work. And here I am.. Well. looks up.87. at him. KAUFMAN (V. The audience members take copious notes.. There is no sound. It's some kind of complicated time-line with actbreaks and corresponding page numbers indicated.A FEW MINUTES LATER Students exit onto the street in small groups. because my jaunt into the abyss brought me nothing. startled. McKee seems to be looking MCKEE God fucking help you! It's flaccid. INT. "Any idiot. sloppy writing. MCKEE (cont'd) Okay.. AUDITORIUM . Film is a medium of movement and image. Kaufman looks around at people scribbling in notebooks. my ultimate lack of conviction that brings me here with all these desperate idiots lapping up everything this bag of wind spouts. Rules to short-cut yourself to success. I should leave here right now.) It is my weakness. Kaufman sweats. Kaufman wanders by himself.." writes the guy on the other side.. .O. Kaufman stops. my friends. isn't that the risk one takes for attempting something new. one hour for lunch. EXT. "Flaccid. His face is troubled.LATER McKee scribbles a diagram onto a transparency in an overhead projector. Any idiot can write voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character." writes the guy on one side of him. NYC STREET .

The ontology of the screen is that it's always now and it's always action and it's always vivid. Kaufman sits and listens. MCKEE Long speechs are antithetical to the nature of cinema. The audience is tired. Life is rarely vivid. AUDITORIUM .and I include myself in this -.LATER It's late. We are not recreating life on the screen. There's not a person in this world -. AUDITORIUM . my friends. We stay firmly planted on his face as he talks and talks. Writers are not tape recorders. You want to have an original voice like Neil Simon or Nora Ephron. Look at the second hand on your watch as it makes one complete rotation around the clock face and you'll get an idea of how intolerable that would be for an audience.LATER McKee lectures. A guy behind Kaufman gives an appreciative "mmmm. energetic as ever. Real people are not interesting.who would be interesting enough to take as is and put in a movie as a character. And that's an important point. The Greeks called it stykomythia -. MCKEE You want your writing to be original. but still attentive. requires that the camera hold on the actor's face for a minute. say a page long. A long speech in a script." DISSOLVE TO: INT. wears his sweater tied around his shoulders.88. Have you ever eavesdropped on people talking in a coffee shop? Then you know how dull and tedious real conversation is. The book features a bust of Aristotle on the cover. INT.the rapid exchange of ideas. Well. let me tell you something. The key to originality is not eccentricity. A copy of Aristotle's Poetics sits on his lap. McKee. DISSOLVE TO: . Now Kaufman takes serious notes.

LATER STILL McKee faces the audience. AUDITORIUM . MCKEE Anyone else? Kaufman timidly raises his hand.DAY The daguerreotype Darwin. sits in the back. Bob.MORNING Kaufman. the Aristotle sculpture. do you think Michelle Pfeiffer is pretty. He pauses theatrically. my friends. sips his coffee. HOTEL . giggles a little. holding a cup of coffee. INT. INT. the Hegel engraving. (CONTINUED) . Yes? MCKEE (cont'd) McKee paces. INT. there'll be a Q and A tomorrow morning before class starts.NIGHT Kaufman tosses and turns in bed. with dark circles under his eyes. DREAM-LIKE FIELD . that there's a fucking God. bleary-eyed. That's it for tonight. MCKEE Someone asked me recently. Kaufman. MCKEE (cont'd) Okay. AUDITORIUM . then: MCKEE (cont'd) (deadpan) Michelle Pfeiffer is proof. and the Orlean book jacket photo are alive and in the middle of brutal and bloody fist fight. Remember. The overtired audience breaks into uproarious laughter.89. DISSOLVE TO: EXT.

EXT. if you write a screenplay without conflict or crisis. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN You talked about Crisis as the ultimate decision a character makes.NIGHT The last of the students are filing out. don't know much about life! And why the fuck are you taking up my precious two hours with your movie? I don't have any use for it! I don't have any bloody use for it! KAUFMAN Okay. they don't have any epiphanies. They struggle and are frustrated and nothing is resolved. A shaky. (CONTINUED) . thanks. then you. where people don't change. Secondly: Nothing happens in the real world? Are you out of your fucking mind? People are murdered every day! There's genocide and war and corruption! Every fucking day somewhere in the world somebody sacrifices his life to save someone else! Every fucking day someone somewhere makes a conscious decision to destroy someone else! People find love! People lose it. my friend. but what if a writer is attempting to create a story where nothing much happens.90. Mr. NYC STREET . for Christ's sake! A child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a church! Someone goes hungry! Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman! If you can't find that stuff in life. tired Kaufman approaches him. you'll bore your audience to tears. carrying his brown leather bag. McKee emerges. leaning against the building. More a reflection of the real world -MCKEE The real world? The real fucking world? First of all. Kaufman waits. McKee? Yes? KAUFMAN MCKEE KAUFMAN I'm the guy you yelled at this morning.

MCKEE I could use a drink. As they walk the sounds and colors become subdued. ORLEAN (V. far down the diagonal of the levee.) (cont'd) So we turned to the left. I don't meet people well. KAUFMAN Mr. please. KAUFMAN I need to talk. and there. It's about my choices as a human being. What you said was bigger than my screenwriting choices.) We turned to the right and saw only more cypress and palm and sawgrass They turn left and see metal flashing in the sunlight. I'm self-conscious and timid. It wouldn't be fair to the others. Nice to see you. My even standing here is very scary. we could see the gleam of a fender.DAY Laroche and Orlean slog through the water with purpose. CONTINUED: MCKEE (trying to recall) I need more. McKee hesitates for a moment. my friend. then reaches out and puts his arm around Kaufman. okay.O. right. SWAMP . MCKEE Oh. . MCKEE I make it a rule not to give private tutorials to my seminar students. looking only straight ahead. McKee.91. But what you said this morning shook me to the bone. Soon there is silence. Please. KAUFMAN I was the one who thought things didn't happen in life.O. Orlean and Laroche walk toward the car. EXT. We followed it like a beacon all the way to the road. ORLEAN (V.

but wow them at the end.NIGHT Kaufman and McKee sit at a table with beers. There's a pause. MCKEE I see. The last act makes the film. You can have an uninvolving. That's not a movie. and you've got a hit. Tears form in Kaufman's eyes. Yes. Find an ending. Kaufman hugs him.. BAR . it was hell. It's about disappointment. Kaufman reads KAUFMAN . back and put in the drama. McKee sips his beer. We followed it like a beacon all the way to the road. I can't go back. I was doing a Kojak once and. Give them that and you'll be fine. INT. Kaufman closes the book. Use what you've learned this weekend. tedious movie. I wanted to show that Orlean never saw the blooming ghost orchid... eyes Kaufman. I'm way past my deadline. McKee recognizes his bulk. I wanted to show flowers as God's miracles. You must go KAUFMAN (pause) I've got pages of false starts and wrong approaches. KAUFMAN You promise? McKee smiles.92. the everpresent deadline. MCKEE Then what happens? KAUFMAN That's the book. (CONTINUED) . I wanted to present it simply. without big character arcs or sensationalizing the story. MCKEE Ah.. MCKEE (cont'd) Tell you a secret. from his copy of The Orchid Thief.

Donald. KAUFMAN You mentioned that in class. He's the one who got me to come.) Climax.NIGHT A drunken Kaufman paces. My twin brother Donald. (CONTINUED) . Kaufman is lost. KAUFMAN That's great. MCKEE Twin screenwriters. Julius and Philip Epstein. A revolution in values from positive to negative or negative to positive with or without irony -. McKee's Ten Commandments are taped to the wall. He dials the phone. DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Isn't that cool? Jerry says he can make me. tries to read Story. how's the trip? Gettin' it on with that lady journalist? You dog you! KAUFMAN Yeah. As is a photo of Michelle Pfeiffer ripped from a magazine. Donald.who wrote Casablanca were twins.a value swing at maximum charge that's absolute and irreversible. KAUFMAN DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Hey.O. KAUFMAN (V. INT. DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Great writers residence. He rubs his temples. MCKEE The finest screenplay ever written. HOTEL ROOM . Listen. like.93. high-sixes against a mill-five. I'm calling to say congratulations on your script. CONTINUED: MCKEE You've taken my course before? KAUFMAN My brother did.

Okay. KAUFMAN I wasn't any help. like. CONTINUED: DONALD (PHONE VOICE) I want to thank you for all your help. I -- DONALD Hey. I mean.94. KAUFMAN I was trying something. DONALD (PHONE VOICE) C'mon. KAUFMAN So.MORNING Donald lies on his back on the floor intently reading the script. what would you do? DONALD You and me are so different. How would the great Donald end this script? DONALD (giggling) The great Donald. We're different talents. KAUFMAN So. HOTEL ROOM . DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Oh my God. Charles. huh? Sorry. KAUFMAN Well. Donald finishes. I don't mind. Just for fun. do you need the whole court case? (CONTINUED) . look.. yes! I'm flattered! INT. you let me stay in your place and your integrity inspired me to even try.. (serious) Well. It's funny. Kaufman paces. I've been thinking. maybe you'd be interested in hanging out with me in New York for a few days. is quiet. KAUFMAN I know. what would you do? DONALD Script kind of makes fun of me.

No offense. you're the "mill-five" kid. what am I doing giving suggestions to you? I mean you're like a seasoned professional. A setting of great dramatic possibility. Um. I think that's the gold here. Reveal some surprising thing about Laroche. A courtroom scene should be dramatic. for example. (CONTINUED) . KAUFMAN The book's about orchids. Stick the ruling in a line of dialogue. Is that real? Maybe make a bigger deal of that. I don't know. It's a tremendous fictional world. But don't let it ruin the movie. KAUFMAN C'mon. Use the swamp better. Okay. It's DONALD It's boring. it's what happened to Laroche. Get rid of it. crazy action sequence in the swamp. Frankly. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN Uh. I'd focus more on the relationship between the brothers.95. I mean. DONALD That's a problem. use the orchids in a more dramatic way. maybe. DONALD (enjoying this) Shut up! (thinks) I love the Laroche porno web-site stuff. God. Pare that stuff down to a minimum. But -DONALD And put some twists in. KAUFMAN DONALD Too much about orchids. Have some kind of bang-up. No one cares about orchids. kind of important. KAUFMAN That's true. You're an artist.

but the room is aglow with light from Donald's laptop computer. Go ask her about this. wow. DONALD I could easily pretend I'm you.96. I'm embarrassed. KAUFMAN I'm not gonna ask her about this. DONALD What? She's kinda cute. You don't like her? I dunno. (CONTINUED) . Donald looks up. KAUFMAN Jesus. I haven't actually DONALD It's sex.NIGHT The front door opens and Kaufman enters. hi. I think she's okay. huh? I KAUFMAN Jesus! DONALD I think this is maybe a good thing for the script. man! Incorporate it. Kaufman shows Donald Orlean's book jacket photo. Jesus. Donald. It's Orlean smiling at him. Kaufman passes Donald. Kaufman sees a silhouetted Donald masturbating in front of the computer. I don't want you to. I was doing some research.. caught. The lights are off. DONALD Oh. KAUFMAN No. Oh. found Laroche's site and. glances at the grainy nude on the screen. It's not like I'm marrying her. HOTEL ROOM . seen the site. He's stunned. CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN I think it's real. DONALD You want me to? I don't mind. INT.. DONALD (cont'd) That's kind of a twist.

when she pulls out a cell phone and dials. Orlean emerges. ORLEAN (cont'd) Ten-twenty. DONALD We'll go together. Both men are in pajamas. Orlean. KAUFMAN What was she wearing? DONALD I don't know. Kaufman sits in a chair in the corner. Orlean doesn't notice him.97. ORLEAN So you'll pick me up? Orlean stops to look in a shoe store window. KAUFMAN I don't want to do this.DAY Donald. Donald.NIGHT Donald is focused on the computer. Donald walks off. Yes. He's about to talk to her. INT.CONTINUOUS Orlean talks on the phone. Like a dress maybe. (CONTINUED) . Donald decides to be a spy and follows her out of the building. Yeah. of course I will. NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING . TWA. tomorrow. TWA flight 651. NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING . waits by the elevators. EXT. It'll be good. Donald trails close behind her. Donald stops and looks in the window also. Arriving Miami 10:20 tomorrow morning. KAUFMAN Did she look at me? At you? DONALD Finally! Da-da-da-daaaaah! S. Donald turns and smiles across the room to Kaufman. CONTINUED: KAUFMAN No! No! INT. HOTEL ROOM . dressed like Kaufman.

KAUFMAN (momentously) No. nervous. EXT. peruses Kaufman's script. Kaufman and Donald drive by. which speeds and swerves through traffic. keeping up with the van. and watches as Laroche lugs Orlean's suitcase into the house. INT. KAUFMAN It's so weird to actually see that van in real life. right? I mean. DONALD Go for it. CAR .98. Kaufman gets out of the car. The beatup white van pulls up. Donald persists. SUBURBAN STREET .LATER The van pulls into the driveway of a neat. parks. how do you know -EXT. it should be me. gets out of the car. Orlean gets in. MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT . Donald picks up a hairbrush. Orlean seems different now: more exotic. Kaufman walks past the house. You the man. He starts to sing "Happy Together. I want to go. middle-class house. shrugs Donald off. I mean. Donald gets in. DONALD I'll get a closer look. Donald drives up the street. the van speeds off. in time to see Orlean and Laroche emerge from the van. Okay? KAUFMAN Okay." Kaufman smiles sheepishly.. She's wearing some kind of sexy sarong. They do the whole number and fall laughing into each other's arms.A BIT LATER Donald drives. (CONTINUED) . You wait here. bro. Kaufman is sweaty.. CONTINUED: Kaufman looks squeamish. DONALD So you want to build the symbolic charge of the story's imagery from the particular to the universal. holds it to his mouth. I should go.DAY Orlean waits with a suitcase outside the terminal. trying to peer in windows. He sees nothing. Another car pulls away from the curb and follows it. Finally Kaufman joins in. but when you're creating an image system. He slinks around back.

CONTINUOUS Laroche throws Kaufman down into a chair. nobody. Laroche cuts him off. HOUSE . tips over. INT. Holy. It's filled with There's movement in a window in the house. I'm just. ORLEAN Don't stop. groping. drags him into the house. grabs him. ORLEAN (CONT'D) Johnny! Where are you going? Kaufman makes a mad dash around the side of the house. Kaufman finds a greenhouse. Johnny. I just -Laroche shakes Orlean off his leg. white teeth. Kaufman is heartbroken but transfixed.S. LAROCHE Who the fuck are you? KAUFMAN Um. LAROCHE (O. I dunno what's come over you! Kaufman crawls over to the house. row upon row of ghost orchids. (CONTINUED) . kissing. KAUFMAN I just. and undressing each other.99.. Orlean seems uninterested. Suddenly Laroche locks eyes with Kaufman. She kisses Laroche's leg. CONTINUED: In the yard. LAROCHE Who the hell are you? Kaufman notices Laroche has a set of beautiful. I'm looking for the Johnson family. Orlean and Laroche are laughing.. lifts his face to the window. Laroche jumps up and runs naked to the back door. LAROCHE I got your Johnson family right here. The chair slides across the floor. kicks Kaufman in the gut. KAUFMAN Kaufman ducks. I was at the wrong house...) Darlin'.

This registers with Laroche. CONTINUED: Laroche kicks Kaufman in the head. Orlean is unforgiving. I swear. Her book LAROCHE Jesus Fucking Christ. LAROCHE Who the hell sent you? I'm not -KAUFMAN His scalp bleeds. (then. KAUFMAN (cont'd) I'm the screenwriter.. ORLEAN Honey. LAROCHE What the fuck does that mean? KAUFMAN I'm the guy adapting her book. trying to make sense) Why the fuck were you in my backyard? KAUFMAN I was. darling'. I don't know. back. (CONTINUED) .100. ORLEAN (excited) Really? I wanted to meet -(realizing) Oh. trying. ORLEAN Who's the bloody fat guy? LAROCHE This is the fellow adapting your book for the movies.. Rudy? Orlean kisses Laroche's Again Laroche kicks Kaufman in the head. um. What does he know? KAUFMAN I don't know anything. come back to bed. Kaufman whimpers. about you.

oh. Laroche paces. fascinated by his every muscle movement. LAROCHE Small article in newspaper. Laroche paces. Donald peers. Is this credible? ORLEAN (concentrates) Um. KAUFMAN I don't even under -- ORLEAN Johnny. It won't. (to Orlean) We can't have this appear on the silver screen. the back window. Orlean lies down. LAROCHE Focus. unseen. I'm so tired now. (to Kaufman) Screenwriter. Is that credible from a journalistic standpoint? ORLEAN Johnny.. come lie on top of me. his lips. this screenwriter was killed doing research in Jamaica a few years ago. LAROCHE (cont'd) Screenwriter doing research for movie about notorious orchid poacher was found drowned in the Fakahatchee after accidentally slipping and hitting his head on a rock.101. into LAROCHE He needs to be gotten rid of.. becomes fixated on his voice. End of story. darling'. you have a car? (CONTINUED) . What?! KAUFMAN Donald's eyes widen. Orlean watches Laroche. CONTINUED: (2) LAROCHE He knows about the greenhouse. Orlean snaps out of her muscle fixation.

" (CONTINUED) . leave it on the side of the swamp. She skims Kaufman's screenplay. here's one of my lines. ORLEAN We drive his car there. KAUFMAN I thought I had a sense of you from your book. I don't care what you two are you doing. holding a gun. That works. um. sits next to him. Orlean.BEFORE DAWN Kaufman drives. RENTAL CAR . ORLEAN KAUFMAN Look. (beat) I had a little crush on you. no. ORLEAN Hey. Huh. ORLEAN (to Kaufman) Sorry. INT. LAROCHE I like that. I -Laroche gets ready to kick him again. Good. Please don't kill me. KAUFMAN Donald disappears from the window. KAUFMAN (cont'd) A rental.102. You're different than I thought. The headlights shine on Laroche's van ahead. CONTINUED: (3) KAUFMAN I. to tell the truth. a rental. no longer stoned. Please. (mockingly reading from screen) "Isn't it ironic? You adapting my book? My three years in Florida meditating on my inability to experience passion resulted in my finding it with you.

CONTINUED: KAUFMAN I was trying to do something. (CONTINUED) . KAUFMAN I thought you didn't even like orchids. SWAMP . It was orchids. can't. I know. it's kind of pathetic. (jealous) From Weirdo Laroche. Chill.. On the way out of the swamp. ORLEAN Here's me! Here's me again! (mocking) "I wanted to know what it's like to care about something passionately.DAY Laroche leads Orlean through the swamp. Orlean reads more of the screenplay. It's sad. ORLEAN Yeah. That's a quote from your book. KAUFMAN You can laugh. LAROCHE The jewel of the Fakahatchee. And it wasn't John who made me passion. You can be passion. I'm laughing at who I used to be. Orlean comes around and sees a beautiful ghost orchid hanging from the tree. awestruck. tries to feel some passion for it. ORLEAN I lied about what happened at the end of the book. EXT. dontcha think? They drive in silence." Orlean laughs derisively. ORLEAN You can't learn about passion. He spots something on a tree. but I didn't make that line up. Orlean looks at it.. KAUFMAN So now you learned about passion.103. Bully for you. Charlie-boy. ORLEAN Well. circles it. and stands there.

BASEMENT . INT. Laroche pulls a saw from his bag and cuts the branch.O. ORLEAN The first time I tried it. ORLEAN (V.NIGHT Orlean nervously snorts some green powder off the coffee table while Laroche watches. The drug takes effect and Orlean turns away from us. Laroche is extracting some gooey substance from the nectary. I loved them with a passion I'd never felt for anything. cries at its beauty. caresses it. INT. His plan had always been to clone the flower and make a fortune marketing this drug. INT. RENTAL CAR .104.BEFORE DAWN ORLEAN Isn't it curious? An orchid made me passionate about orchids. CONTINUED: ORLEAN I still don't get it. I understood orchids. I can see it's pretty.) Back in John's basement he explained his real plans for the ghost. (MORE) (CONTINUED) . the split second it took effect. He'd discovered a chemical inside with psychoactive properties. there it is. She talks to the camera. it wasn't a controlled substance because the government didn't know it existed.DAY There's a makeshift lab. She smells it. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM . I mean. but -LAROCHE You'll get it. For anyone. It was Laroche's kind of plan. becomes fixated on the ghost orchid sitting on the table before her. KAUFMAN You're throwing the truth away for a chemical confusion of your synapses -ORLEAN With this powder I am passionate about everything.

Orlean finds a place to sit on a hammock. ORLEAN (cont'd) Follow him.. then hit him on the head? Uh-uh. A body bleeds different if the heart's stopped. Laroche stops. Orlean's drugs kick in. he sees Donald on the floor of the back seat. They slog through silently. As Kaufman comes around the car. Kaufman shakes and whimpers as they all step down into the thigh-high water. Orlean trails off. John and I are making a fortune with this extract. lividity. So I'm done with writing.a way to remove yourself from passion. (MORE) (CONTINUED) . CONTINUED: ORLEAN (cont'd) I'm alive in a profound world now. We call it "Passion. Kaufman shivers." (giggles) Isn't that cute? Up ahead. Now writing is -.words are -. Laroche talks to the spaced out Orlean. EXT. please. baby. These new forensic guys are very smart. She unwraps a small square of paper and snorts something out of it. putrefecation. It's big in the Miami club scene. JANES SCENIC DRIVE . We really have to know our corpses to stand a chance: rigor mortis. Holy. LAROCHE Should we drown him. Laroche paces.. Laroche turns off the road at the Fakahatchee sign.105. (thinking aloud) Now how do we do this? Hit him in the head with a rock first? Keeping in mind we can only hit him once and only with as much force as would be created by him slipping and falling onto the rock. Kaufman parks behind him.. ocular changes. ORLEAN Holy Jesus..A LITTLE WHILE LATER Laroche parks. It sizzles with beauty and horror and sex. LAROCHE This spot looks good. Orlean prods Kaufman to follow him. Orlean gestures with her gun for him to get out. hey. Hey. Laroche emerges from his van with a flashlight and a rifle slung over his shoulder.

choking causes an irritation of the mucous membranes. baby. How would you do it? What's a good way to kill somebody? KAUFMAN I don't write this kind of bullshit. This creates a shitload of mucus in the windpipe. spaced. She staggers moonily toward Laroche. She's confused by a second Kaufman standing there with a bag of potting soil. microscopic fibers. contrary to popular belief. . Fuck! LAROCHE (cont'd) ORLEAN (receptively) Yeah. Tire tracks. not -fill with water in a drowning. let's. hair. What happens is. (to Kaufman) What do you think? You're a writer. LAROCHE Don't get all huffy. They all tell a tale to today's forensic scientists. flies forward into the water. LAROCHE Not now. the lungs do not -. There's a lot to be aware of. It's the presence of this white foam that indicates drowning. CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) Maybe you think we hit him on the head and force water into his lungs after he's dead? No. I was simply -Suddenly Laroche gets whacked in the back. Laroche pulls himself from the water. They'll know he didn't drown. Donald grabs Kaufman and they run back toward the road.106. Orlean looks up. Efforts to breathe turn the mucus into a sticky foam which may or may not mix with vomit. darlin'. See. He pushes her away. Susie. And now I guess that other guy as well. We got to kill that guy. ORLEAN (disappointed) Ohhh.

don't you? LAROCHE Asclepias lanceolata. . why didn't you do something while we were in the car? DONALD My back had seized. Laroche's van pulls close to them and rams them from behind. who is admiring all the plant life. Laroche steps out of the van. this time sending them down into the swamp. Red milkweed. Charlie or something.CONTINUOUS Kaufman and Donald speed along the swamp road. Extremely fuckable. DONALD We've gotta ditch this thing. But we don't have time. Johnny? What's that one called? I just so want to fuck that flower. KAUFMAN (hysterical) It's a rental! It's a rental! Now! DONALD Kaufman and Donald climb from the car. The van stops. dragging Orlean.. Laroche follows them in on foot. INT. ORLEAN That's beautiful! What's that. Laroche shoots at the brothers. Donald tries to back the car onto the road. (CONTINUED) Kaufman whines. Shit! KAUFMAN It rams them again..107. LAROCHE (to Orlean) What's his name? ORLEAN Um. make their way deep into the swamp. KAUFMAN For Christ's sake. I couldn't move. CAR . the wheels just spin. y'know.

They jump onto it. Cut you up. Kaufman kicks at it as Donald attempts to steer the boat.108. hears a distant galloping and squealing. They pull away from the shore just as the pigs catch up. the engine starts. presses it. ORLEAN Identical twigs? (laughs crazily) Did I say twigs? I meant twins. The galloping gets louder. Wild hogs. Nowhere to go. Laroche and Orlean get closer. It slices them like razor blades. Kaufman yells in pain. DONALD Do you hear something? Kaufman stops. Kaufman and Donald are stopped by a large body of water. Laroche and Orlean close in. Donald finds a button. The brothers run in the opposite direction. There's alligators and poisonous snakes. I know these swamps forwards and backwards. Donald spots an airboat on the shore. A kick connects and the pig flies into the water. Walk with us and I'll be sure you avoid all the pitfalls. Blood oozes through their shirts and pants. CONTINUED: LAROCHE Charlie! Listen. let's talk! This pie is big enough for four people! (to Orlean) Why are there two of him? Orlean shrugs. KAUFMAN Donald. You want to watch out for that. Wait. The pigs get closer. Laroche! LAROCHE Just tryin' to be helpful. Sawgrass. It's wild pigs. search hysterically in the dark for bow to start it. KAUFMAN Fuck you. That's some evil shit. that sounds bad. One pig leaps on board. LAROCHE Cladium jamaicense. The brothers run along the periphery of the lake. fellas. squealing. Kaufman and Donald run through a colony of sawgrass. guys. (CONTINUED) . Donald stops.

The murky lake bottom is lit a dim orange by the fire on the surface. fired. Kaufman panics. watch out. DONALD I think we're okay. Donald looks back and the boat heads for a cypress stand. Fuck! KAUFMAN Fuck. It explodes in a ball of flame. Donald treads water. looks all around for Kaufman. watch out! Donald gets the boat back on course. along with flaming pieces of debris. Orlean shoots at the boat from the van window. we're dead. grabs Kaufman. It skims the water near Kaufman. How's your leg? KAUFMAN I don't know. Underwater. and brings him to the surface. comes back down with a broken propeller blade. Laroche and Orlean have been left far behind. He hacks the alligator's head off.109. surfaces. Kaufman puts his head in his hands. Suddenly Laroche's van comes tearing around a corner and speeds along the road at the water's edge. Bullets whiz. illuminating the whole swamp. KAUFMAN Watch out. A dazed Kaufman tries to get his bearings. The alligator violently shakes Kaufman by the leg. Donald slows the boat. How's your back. The van keeps up. the shooting continues. Donald dives. Hold on! DONALD (cont'd) Donald speeds up. Donald spots Kaufman pop out of the water. CONTINUED: (2) Laroche stands at the shoreline and fires his rifle. Charles?! DONALD (cont'd) Charles?! Where are you? Underwater. A bullet hits the airboat's gas tank. It nicks the boat. An alligator appears. then get jerked back down. Donald. On the surface. Another shot is DONALD We're okay. Donald swims to shore with Kaufman in tow. Donald surfaces. (CONTINUED) . Kaufman and Donald are thrown.

The van follows. DONALD Well. Donald makes it to shore. The van appears out of the bush. shooting.. (CONTINUED) . Kaufman screams heavenward.. DONALD But don't let them get you. Laroche and Orlean circle the lake in the van. You've been really nice. His right leg is bloody and mangled. KAUFMAN You're gonna be okay. I'm so sorry. Donald! KAUFMAN Kaufman sloshes to shore. smashes into a tree. Mike Owen. bizarre thing to say and an awful time to say it. Kaufman rolls his brother out of the way. And I hated me. (weak smile) You got a fucking awesome third act. in pajamas. too. CONTINUED: (3) DONALD My back is fine. Donald touches Kaufman's face. and limps off into a slough. No. leaves his house. this is an awful. DONALD It's really. I thought you were me. KAUFMAN See. I'm so sorry. KAUFMAN Okay? Donald dies. It's fine. Donald's face glows radiantly in the fire light. Okay. barreling for them.110. He lifts his brother's head onto his lap. Kaufman looks at his brother. He climbs out and is helping Kaufman. but I'm sorry I didn't get to know you better. and comes to a halt. it's just I thought I knew you already. jumps in his truck and agitatedly drives toward the noise and flames. when he gets hit by a bullet and falls. don't do that anymore. KAUFMAN (crying) Donald.

There. ORLEAN Can we fuck now. MIKE OWEN Who's got guns? What are you -Before Owen finishes. is a giant man-like beast. sees bloody Donald on the ground.. tries to radio for help. MIKE OWEN (cont'd) (CONTINUED) . his truck is flipped over. that writer guy. baby? Fuck like lemons? Owen tears along the dirt road. Laroche and Orlean Out ORLEAN Water sounds so sparkly. MIKE OWEN Jesus.111. Like lemon plastic jewels plopping onto a silver trampoline! Dontcha think? LAROCHE Darlin'. Holy shit. He lifts Donald into the back of the truck and speeds off. MIKE OWEN What the hell is going on here? KAUFMAN They're after me. into the truck's headlights. Donald's body flies into the water. You gotta help me. please. They follow Kaufman into the swamp. follow the sound of his sloshing. CONTINUED: (4) Smoke pours from the grill and is lit by the headlights.B. They've got guns. KAUFMAN You gotta help me. Laroche and Orlean appear with guns. Mike Owen pulls next to the disabled van. Kaufman limps through the dark water. Kaufman limps out of the swamp. He gets out. It's broken. Up ahead. It's repulsive. of the smoke. staring Kaufman and Owen down. They killed my brother. Owen climbs out. surveys the mess. Kaufman hurriedly limps over to the disabled truck. Owen grabs his C. covered in algae-matted fur. He checks the back to see if Donald's body is still there and skids off the road into the swamp. Owen is confused.

baby. Susie! LAROCHE (cont'd) Susie! Can we trade? Orlean looks around. He runs right into the arms of Orlean. It's real! MIKE OWEN (cont'd) I can't believe it. You don't Kaufman. Nothing there. so is Laroche. Her nose is practically touching the barrel. sweetness. it's the screenwriter! KAUFMAN There's a thing back there! want to be here. Suddenly the creature grabs Laroche. let's get this over with. Orlean studies Laroche's gun. fires repeatedly into the darkness.S. agitated and disoriented. (CONTINUED) . LAROCHE You're right.) Orlean. Laroche puts the gun to Kaufman's head. Kaufman screams as he runs. watches over his shoulder. Something slumps forward in the water. The creature is dead. Laroche reaches for Orlean's arm to pull her away. I never -- The creature grabs Owen and snaps his neck like a toothpick. ORLEAN I love your gun. keeping her gun on Kaufman. ORLEAN Where'd Johnny go? Susie! LAROCHE (O. Orlean. CONTINUED: (5) The two men turn and run. pulls him into the swamp. I don't want to be here. LAROCHE Stand back. I'm tired.112. Kaufman tenses. Orlean steps cautiously over. ORLEAN Hey. and Laroche look back.

Johnny. Really? KAUFMAN ORLEAN So wonderful. She sits next to Laroche and pets his head. The sun is coming up. She stares at him for a long while. I want to run through your dripply dripples. KAUFMAN It's the drugs. her. Orlean stands and walks toward Kaufman. Johnny. I read your words and I thought you were smart and maybe lost and lonely like me. It's so beautiful. Johnny's teeth. KAUFMAN I figured you could look at me and see something. I can see inside your soul. then: ORLEAN You're really so wonderful. Kaufman watches KAUFMAN I'd just stare at your picture. even with all my flaws you could look at me and find something. It's raining inside you. I do. And the way you wrote about Laroche.. I love you. you could maybe someday write a description of me that would be nicer than the one I write day in and day out in my head. It glows with orange sadness. (hopefully) Would it be? Kaufman takes Orlean's chin in his hand and directs her gaze to him. Kaufman lets go of her face and sits on a rock. CONTINUED: (6) ORLEAN (crying softly) Oh. and you looked so sweet. You said he was handsome even though he had no front teeth -ORLEAN Oh. Oh.. (CONTINUED) .113.

Orlean slumps over Donald. I just want to hold you and -.. soaking wet figure. fatty. fat. Kaufman keeps walking. crap. gets up. She aims again through her tears. KAUFMAN Donald and Orlean roll on the ground. ambulances.. A tow-truck extricates one of the crashed vehicles.. bald. SWAMP . Kaufman turns. Kaufman watches her for a moment. DONALD My brother is not fat. it's wearing off. it's me. Kaufman falls to his knees. EXT. You don't even know how to write! You're not even. keeps walking. Fires smoulder. Orlean shakily aims the gun at his back. I'm out. unfolds her little square of paper. My brother is a great writer! He was trying to do something important! The gun fires.Oh. Kaufman is wrapped in a blanket. Look at you. ORLEAN (cont'd) I'm fucking cleaned out.. I can't let ORLEAN (cont'd) You hear me? You pathetic. (CONTINUED) . ranger trucks abound. You're not leaving here! (screaming. He's not bald. It's the real me. CONTINUED: (7) ORLEAN No. Kaufman keeps walking. Kaufman falls.114. Kaufman arrives. State police cars. Okay.MORNING The sun is high. you make this public. Crap! She paces. bye. crying) I need a fix! Everything's so ugly! Orlean screams in anguish. She shoots. Suddenly she's pounced on by a bloody. KAUFMAN ORLEAN I can't let you go. Donald! Kaufman limps back. Both Donald and Orlean are dead.

working longhand on a legal pad. A copy of Story by McKee is among his reference material. then: POLICE OFFICER You two really look alike. CONTINUED: He is with a cop and pointing to the bodies spread on a black plastic tarp. Alice. hi. I've been away. KAUFMAN (proudly) Yeah. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN . Really? (beat) (MORE) That's so cool. Yes. ALICE So you studying screenwriting? KAUFMAN I'm actually finishing one up. I think it might be a Swamp Ape. gets reserved) Oh. my twin brother. Kaufman cries a little. the waitress. John Laroche. ALICE Really? Wow. He's a little scraped-up. Actually I'm writing this one for Sony Pictures. God. He saved my life. ALICE Oh. And that's Donald.115. Haven't seen you in a while. I don't know what that is. walks by and glances at the table. a little tougher. The cop waits sympathetically. Susan Orlean. KAUFMAN Yeah. (CONTINUED) . INT. we do. it's so hard to get in. ALICE Good for you! Me too. huh? Everyone and their brother is writing a screenplay.DAY Kaufman sits in a booth. Hi. I love McKee! (recognizes Kaufman. KAUFMAN Yeah. KAUFMAN That's Mike Owen.

such an important message. from the flower to the human being. ALICE I'm so sorry.. Alice smiles. Charlie. Let's see. . ALICE (shrugs) It's a stupid job. sits. Charlie. you can't really love anyone. That's so horrible. ALICE Listen. it helped put things in perspective. in awe. about being yourself. CONTINUED: ALICE (cont'd) Wow! So what's it about. KAUFMAN I'm Alice. You poor man. maybe. You.. It was a wake up call. if you don't mind my asking? KAUFMAN That's tough. my twin brother was murdered recently -Oh God! ALICE I'm sorry. ALICE That's true. Life is a miracle. Me. God. And I want to show people that. For my brother. Alice just stares at him. Like part of me ripped away. It's about learning that if you can't love yourself. Forever. y'know? KAUFMAN See.116. do you mind if I sit for a sec? KAUFMAN But you're working. The two of them begin to talk. I've always really liked that name. that's so true. All life. Charlie. It's KAUFMAN Thanks. KAUFMAN Anyway. For everyone. y'know. ALICE I like that name. There's a pause.

William Shakespeare In Loving Memory of Donald Kaufman THE END ." .NIGHT SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD. Sleek-headed men and such that sleep o' nights. WHITE TEXT ON BLACK SCREEN: "Let me have men about me that are fat.117. SPACE . EXT. Silence. dimly lit by faraway stars. CALIFORNIA. floats by. FIVE BILLION AND FORTY YEARS LATER An enormous chunk of rock. FADE TO BLACK.