by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman adapted from the book THE ORCHID THIEF by Susan Orlean
Revised - November 21, 2000
EXT. PLANET - DAY SUBTITLE: THE EARTH From space the Earth is brown and meteor-scarred. We move in until we are on its endlessly barren and lifeless surface. The atmosphere is hazy, toxic-looking. Volcanoes erupt. Meteors bombard. Lightning strikes, concussing murky pools of water. All this in silence.
INT. LARGE EMPTY LIVING ROOM - MORNING SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD, CA, FOUR BILLION AND FORTY YEARS LATER Beamed ceiling, 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. His incantational voice-over carpets this and every scene he's in. It is at times barely audible, but always present. KAUFMAN (V.O.) I'm old. I'm fat. I'm bald. (reaches for notebook, catches sight of bare feet) My toenails have turned strange. I am old. I am -(flips through notebook, paces) I have nothing. She'll think I'm an idiot. Why couldn't I stay on that diet? She'll pretend not to be disappointed, but I'll see that look, that look -(passes mirror, glances quickly at reflection, looks away) God, I'm repulsive. (another glance) But as repulsive as I think? My Body Dysmorphic Disorder confuses everything. I mean, I know people call me Fatty behind my back. Or Fatso. Or, facetiously, Slim. But I also realize this is my own perverted form of selfaggrandizement, that no one talks about me at all. What possible interest is an old, bald, fat man to anyone?
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EXT. STATE ROAD 29 - DAWN A lonely two-lane highway cutting through swampland.
3 CONTINUED: 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 4 INT. WHITE VAN - CONTINUOUS John Laroche, a skinny man with no front teeth, drives. 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. 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. 5 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. 6 EXT. NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING - NIGHT SUBTITLE: NEW YORKER MAGAZINE, TWO YEARS LATER Late night street. The click-click of typing. We move slowly up the building to the only glowing window. 6 5 4 * It's 3
a ranger. We lose ourselves in her melancholy beauty. drives past the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve sign and enters the swamp. Indians in the swamp. they are in there for a reason. TONY We got Seminoles. 3
6 CONTINUED: ORLEAN (O. RANGER'S TRUCK .MID-MORNING Tony. No response.. OFFICE . If there are Indians in the swamp. Indians do not go on swamp walks. Tony waits for a response.
. He pulls over down the road. TONY Barry. It was 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. He straightens his cap.pg. Nothing. RADIO VOICE I don't know what you want me to say.CONTINUOUS We glide over a desk piled with orchid books. delicate and blond.O. He sees the white van and Ford parked ahead. in the swamp. Tony glowers. past a photo of Laroche tacked to an overwhelmed bulletin board. and come to rest on a woman typing. pale-eyed. Tony clears his throat into the radio. spots a Seminole license plate on the Ford. watches the vehicles through binoculars. Nothing. whispers into his C.) (wistful) John Laroche is a tall guy.S. gets out of the truck. his nose. skinny as a stick.B. It's Susan Orlean: pale. his lips. 8 INT. Mosquitoes land on his neck. 7 INT..) I went to Florida two years ago to write a piece for the New Yorker. 8 * * 7 * 6
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TONY (cont'd) I repeat. slouch-shouldered and sharply handsome despite the fact that he is missing all his front teeth. ORLEAN (V.
KAUFMAN She looked at my hairline. 4
INT. I'd love to find a portal into your brain. We are. Thank you. it is. He quickly swabs. BUSINESS LUNCH RESTAURANT . I appreciate that.pg. Boy. KAUFMAN (laughing) Trust me. her breasts. VALERIE (laughs) So you're in production. wearing his purple sweater sans tags. He blanches. She thinks I'm fat. She looks at her salad. (CONTINUED)
. thanks. it's no fun. A rivulet of sweat slides down his forehead. She sees him seeing her watching it. right? KAUFMAN Yeah. wow. KAUFMAN That's. They are. That's nice to hear. She -VALERIE We think you're great. Kaufman steals glances at her lips. Yeah KAUFMAN Kaufman tries to fill it. her hair.MIDDAY Kaufman. L.. sits with Valerie.
Uncomfortable silence. They pick at salads.
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VALERIE (still looking at her salad) Such a unique voice.A.. Valerie watches it. She looks up at him. She thinks I'm old.
KAUFMAN (cont'd) It's exciting to see one's work produced.
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VALERIE That must be so exciting. VALERIE We all just loved the Malkovich script. Kaufman sees her watching it. looks down. an attractive woman in wire-rim glasses. KAUFMAN Oh.
I mean. VALERIE Oh. sprawling New Yorker stuff. an orchid heist movie or something. A photo of author Susan Orlean smiles from the inside back cover. Indians. tell me your thoughts on this crazy little project of ours. and also not force it into a typical movie form. His brow is dripping again. so I'd want to go into it with sort of open-ended kind of.. great. stalling. And Orlean makes orchids so fascinating. I guess I'm not exactly sure what that means. VALERIE Laroche is a fun character. In one motion. great. KAUFMAN Oh. KAUFMAN First. KAUFMAN Absolutely. Like.. let the movie exist rather than be artificially plot driven.. I think it's a great book.. (MORE) (CONTINUED) * * * Valerie 9 * *
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. VALERIE (cont'd) Good. isn't he? Kaufman nods. I don't want to ruin it by making it a Hollywood product. what you're saying. (looking up) So -Kaufman looks up. I'm intrigued.. flips through the book. So. too. Well. KAUFMAN (blurting) It's just. orchid poaching.pg. Plus her musings on Florida. That sounds interesting. VALERIE Okay. I like to let my work evolve. I'd want to remain true to that. 5
9 CONTINUED: VALERIE (looking up) I bet. Kaufman swabs his forehead and pulls a book entitled The Orchid Thief from his bag.. pretends not to notice. Great.
Audubon posters. MARGARET Char-lay Kauf-man! She hugs him enthusiastically. Then: VALERIE I guess we thought maybe Susan Orlean and Laroche could fall in and -KAUFMAN Okay. In the hall behind him are framed posters for action movies. I feel very strongly about this. Y'know? Why can't there be a movie simply about flowers? That's all. it didn't happen. Margaret turns. KAUFMAN Knock knock. or car chases. Definitely.DAY SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD. VALERIE That's what we're thinking. Life isn't like that. but we can't make out the words. We hear Kaufman's self-flagellating voice-over through the silence. I don't want to cram in sex.. 10
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. OFFICE . a soulful development executive. * * * 9
KAUFMAN Like. It just isn't. Or growing or coming to like each other or overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end. 6
9 CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN (cont'd) Or changing the orchids into poppies and turning it into a movie about drug running.this alienated journalist writing about a passionate backwoods guy and he teaches her to love-that's like. lots of books. unpack boxes. Valerie is quiet.pg. Kaufman appears in the open doorway. Kaufman is sweating like crazy now.. 10 INT. or guns. fake. but to me -. Y'know? The book isn't like that. Or characters learning profound life lessons. CALIFORNIA. I mean. Margaret. It wouldn't happen. THREE WEEKS EARLIER The office is decorated with potted flowers.
at the closeness. MARGARET (mock impressed) Ooh. God.. Take a load off. sits on the couch. Flowers? MARGARET Really? * He tenses *
. about flowers. Kaufman enters. KAUFMAN It's great. Margaret sits down next to him. covers by talking. nods) So. There's one you might like. just wanted to say hello. congratulate you on the promotion. Very very cool. with Robert? Oooh. MARGARET Oh. Mostly crap. * 10
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Margaret closes the door. So what's with you? man. thanks. Are you kidding? I saw your photo in Variety and everything. such an awful picture.pg. It's all so stupid. KAUFMAN You looked great. 7
10 CONTINUED: MARGARET (cont'd) What are you doing in this Godforsaken hell-hole? KAUFMAN Meeting upstairs. Kaufman laughs..
MARGARET (cont'd) (mock whisper) Lousy with spies. Pretty fancy office. KAUFMAN I'm considering jobs. KAUFMAN (smiles. MARGARET Anyway. Come in. Margie! MARGARET Well.
he's scored. MARGARET I'll read it. to immerse yourself in a real subject and learn everything about it. you know that Blake line about seeing heaven in a wild flower? That's the fucking truth. I dunno. MARGARET You should definitely do it. (presses button on phone) Andy. yelling) I don't care. sex and drug deals and violence. You're all the recommendation I need. KAUFMAN I'd like to try. I'm so sick of it! KAUFMAN (looking at ceiling) Margaret. Robert! (back to Kaufman) Hey. 10
Kaufman is thrilled. Jesus. could you get a book called The Orchid Thief by. Cool. man. Robert. MARGARET I don't care. somebody needs to save us all.pg. KAUFMAN Susan Orlean. smiles at him) If anyone could figure out how to do a movie about flowers. (looks up at ceiling and yells) God.. Get paid for it! Charlie! Not this movie bullshit. About orchids. MARGARET Susan Orlean. Thanks. (looking up. (hangs up. And it sounds exciting.
. KAUFMAN I loved the book is all. it would be you. Y'know? * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED) *
MARGARET You should.. 8
10 CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN Demme's company wants to adapt this book The Orchid Thief.
(conspiratorially) After you learn all this flower stuff. 13 INT. They trudge. RESTAURANT . Soon there are millions of them. SWAMP . Laroche stares at a single beautiful. you can teach me. 11 EXT. 13
. Did you fellas know you fellas believe the world rests on the back of a turtle? Not you fellas specifically. 9
10 CONTINUED: (3) KAUFMAN 10
I know.MORNING Hot. Russell. dirty.
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MARGARET I know you know.DAY SUBTITLE: THE EARTH. closer. miserable. maybe you fellas specifically. until we see a singlecell organism multiplying. 12 EXT. He stops. closer. MURKY POOL OF WATER . business-like: LAROCHE (cont'd) Cut it down. His eyes widen in reverent awe.pg. He points out a turtle on a rock. LAROCHE (cont'd) Polyrrhiza Lindenii. glowing white flower hanging from the tree. Laroche spots something else. Although. Laroche leads the Indians through waist-high black water. a dull green root wrapped around a tree. begins sawing through the tree. A ghost. LAROCHE Pseudemys floridana. The Indians ignore him. circles the tree. KAUFMAN (thrilled but controlled) That'd be fun. He 12 11
The Indians come around.MIDDAY Kaufman still sweats as he talks to Valerie. That I can't speak to. THREE BILLION YEARS AGO We move into the pool. tenderly caresses the petals. Then.
Russell pulls out a hacksaw.
The girl rests her head on the mother's shoulder. studying the inhabitants. VALERIE Adapting someone else's work is certainly an opportunity to think differently. anemic-looking little girl. As Blake said. The mother strokes the He stops * * * * 14 * * * 13
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. I don't want to get by on quirkiness. BOY (cont'd) I want a turtle then.DAY SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI. The boy returns to his search. BOY Any animal at all.. PET STORE (1972) . My stuff tends to be weird. 10
13 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN . That's nice to hear.pg. 14 INT. He turns to his frumpy mother. But I'm ready to challenge myself. MOTHER (hugging him) A wonderful choice! (to the girl) Don't you think so. I'd like to take something real like orchids and show people how profound they are.plus I love the idea of learning all about orchids and trying to do something simple. It's like. girl's hair as she talks to the boy. KAUFMAN Thanks. ma? She nods sweetly. I want to think differently. I don't want to fall back on weirdness the way other writers fall back on sex and violence. Diane? The glassy-eyed girl doesn't respond. TWENTY-SIX YEARS EARLIER A serious ten year old boy walks from cage to aquarium. show people heaven in a wildflower. VALERIE But not weird for weird's sake. at a small turtle in an aquarium. This one.. KAUFMAN Yeah. who is sitting with a frail. listless.
MARGARET He wants to meet you anyway. this guy I'm seeing. 16
MARGARET To a fucking awesome assignment. Okay if he comes? KAUFMAN (covering heartbreak) Yeah. Did you know Native Americans believe the whole world rests on the back of a turtle? Cool! 15 BOY I can't wait to tell the guys! 15 14 * * *
EXT. (He takes a breath) Hey. would enjoy it. KAUFMAN Great! Great! We could have breakfast first or whatever? MARGARET That sounds nice. Sure. of course. man. All I do is tell him how great you are. 11
14 CONTINUED: MOTHER (cont'd) And spiritually significant. I'm going to an orchid show in Santa Barbara on Sunday? For research? Maybe you'll come? MARGARET Absolutely.MORNING
As Laroche supervises. He probably hates you already. too. clicks glasses. They unceremoniously stuff the flowers into bulging pillowcases. I can't thank you enough for telling me about it.EVENING Kaufman eats with Margaret. thrilled. ROMANTIC RESTAURANT . Margaret raises a glass. I think David. SWAMP . I'm just so pleased you liked it. The book is just amazing. Kaufman. KAUFMAN God. (CONTINUED)
. 16 INT. Russell. Randy. and Vinson saw through tree branches supporting lovely flowering orchids. He's a naturalist.pg.
right? KAUFMAN Um. (to waiter) Thanks. then:) Have you read much? KAUFMAN Y'know. He's just honest and smart. Y'know. 16
Oh. He can no longer look up at Margaret. MARGARET Like the other day we were in bed discussing Hegel..
MARGARET You'll like him. David and I were joking about the Philosophy of History. okay. Hegel! In bed! After really hot sex! Like my dream come true. I mean. so. long time ago. (to Kaufman) . Kaufman begins the laborious task of getting through his plate of food. it's impossible to find someone in this town who thinks about things other than the fucking business.. in this goddamn town? (marvels at this for a moment. Uh-huh. MARGARET So I was lying there... kind of post-coital dreamy..
MARGARET Well.. KAUFMAN * * * * * * * *
. a long time ago. KAUFMAN He sounds great. 12
16 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN That sounds good.. anyway. A bit. I'm sure you know. The entrees arrive.pg. and I was suddenly struck by how profound the notion is that history is a human construct... MARGARET (cont'd) ... You've read that...
DAY SUBTITLE: ORINOCO RIVER. nature. sweaty and mosquito bitten. her lips. As she rings him up. she expresses no interest in him. along with a book on Hegel which features an engraving of the philosopher on the cover. Laroche steps from the swamp with the Indians. pleased)
Tony jumps into the truck and turns it around..) Orchid hunting is a mortal occupation. building upon itself. the way she looks at him.O. * 19
RADIO VOICE How's that Injun round-up going. the body language.. 13
16 CONTINUED: (2) MARGARET . JANES SCENIC DRIVE .MORNING Tony waits. 19 EXT. BARNES AND NOBLE . He's hurt and fixates on a sexy flower tattoo on her arm. ONE HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER (CONTINUED) 21 20
. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT . Kaufman waits in line and watches a tattooed female cashier flirting with the handsome guy ahead of him. recoil. who haul the pillowcases. 20 INT. Tony tenses. ONE BILLION YEARS EARLIER Odd. She pulls down her sleeve. With every fiber of his being. he studies their interaction.DAY SUBTITLE: EARTH. ORLEAN (V. carries them to the register. small blind jellyfish collide. TROPICAL RIVER . Her delicate fingers move with a pianist's grace across the computer keyboard.NIGHT Orlean types. that nature doesn't exist historically. but rather cyclically. 18 INT. 17 EXT. The guy finally leaves and the cashier waves Kaufman over.. TONY (cont'd) (into the radio. 21 EXT. The radio crackles. Her eyes. OCEAN . and hover. Tony? Rustling near the parked cars. So whereas human history spirals forward.pg.DAY 18 * 17 * 16
Kaufman grabs some orchid books off the shelf..
ORLEAN (V. CLIFF . stabs him. steals his boat.) Schroeder fell to his death. clutching a flower.pg.. 22 EXT.O.O. wheezing man with a makeshift bandage wrapped around his head. 25 EXT.) (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.. ORLEAN (V. JANES SCENIC DRIVE . 25 23 24 * * 22 21
TONY Morning. The murderer sails down river. and dysentery..) (cont'd) .) Augustus Margary survived toothache. RIVER . docks his boat..DAY SUBTITLE: SIERRA LEONE A man lies at the bottom of a cliff.O. 23 24 OMITTED EXT.DAY SUBTITLE: YANGTZE RIVER An emaciated. only to be murdered when he completed his mission and traveled beyond Bhamo. sir. May I ask what you gentlemen have in those pillowcases? LAROCHE Yes. you absolutely may. Laroche smiles warmly.O. limping. rheumatism. pleurisy. (CONTINUED)
21 CONTINUED: An overturned boat and uprooted orchids float on the river.MORNING Tony steps out of his truck. ORLEAN (V. ORLEAN (V.) The Victorian-era orchid hunter William Arnold drowned on a collecting expedition. Someone steps from behind a bush.O. ORLEAN (V.
one of. which my colleagues have removed from the swamp.
Florida v. nine orchid varieties. sir. LAROCHE Oh.. that's exactly the issue. Every one of them. it is. one peperomia. (afterthought) Oh. what. They give it. forty in the entire world? Laroche looks to the Indians for confirmation. But -TONY
. and my colleagues are all Seminole Indians.
Tony nods. Did I mention that? You're familiar.
LAROCHE (cont'd) The state couldn't successfully prosecute him. 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. LAROCHE (cont'd) So you know that even though Seminole Chief Billie killed a Florida panther. About a hundred and thirty plants all told. I'm asking then. Okay then! Let's see.. sir. TONY Exactly. As repugnant as you or I as white conservationists might find his actions. James E. This is a state preserve. LAROCHE Yes. I'm sure. 15
25 CONTINUED: Laroche goes back to directing the Indians.pg. (peeking in bags) Five kinds of bromeliad. TONY Okay. Well. even though he has no idea. Billie. with the State of 25 Tony's confused. Because he's an Indian and it's his right.
.O. (into radio) Hey... everything is always growing or expanding. but the jungle is unstoppably fertile. At the same time. but I don't.. the wilderness disappears before your eyes.) (cont'd) The developed places are just little clearings in the jungle. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I believe. That's exactly what we use them for. ORLEAN (V. I can't let you fellas go yet. ORLEAN (V. Tony looks at the Indians.. Chickee huts.) (cont'd) .) Nothing in Florida seems hard or permanent. 16
25 CONTINUED: (2) LAROCHE Not to mention the failed attempts on three separate occasions to prosecute Seminoles for poaching palm fronds.O. * 26 *
. they use to thatch the roofs of their traditional chickee huts. Just hold on while I.. Orlean drives past endless swampland. which. ORLEAN (V. can I get some help? Barry? 26 INT.DAY Orlean drives out of the Miami Airport parking lot. RANDY VINSON RUSSELL 25
TONY Yeah.. Laroche again looks to the Indians for confirmation. RUSSELL He's right. She passes urban congestion and garish billboards advertising nature theme parks. Barry..O.pg. RENTAL CAR .
die. This happens many times in an accelerating sequence. then starts to weep inconsolably." The girls giggle. I have a plan to get me out of your house pronto. KAUFMAN (V. 29 EXT. you'll be glad.A COUPLE OF MINUTES LATER Kaufman passes a hall mirror. Charles. Kaufman watches as one whispers to the other. 30 INT. KAUFMAN What's with you? My back. and climbs the stairs. I am repulsive. Orlean finishes organizing her stuff. continues down the hall.pg. I cannot bear 30
At the landing Kaufman comes upon Donald.DAY/NIGHT SUBTITLE: EARTH. She sits blankly on the bed for a long time. BIG SPANISH-STYLE HOUSE . DONALD (cont'd) Hey. HOTEL ROOM .
.DAY 29 28
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Kaufman gets out of his car with his books. his identical twin brother. 17
INT. The TV is turned to the hotel information channel.) I am fat. the plants grow. EMPTY HOUSE . whither. on his back in pajama bottoms and his new purple sweater. RIVER'S EDGE . He thinks he hears the word "Fatso. They are replaced by new plants which go through the same process. DONALD Did you wear your sweater from mom yet? Comfy.AFTERNOON
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Orlean unpacks her suitcase on the bed.O. On the screen a pretty woman walks us through what to do in case of fire. In a time lapse sequence. Two teenage girls walk by. regards himself glumly. my own reflection. THREE HUNDRED MILLION YEARS EARLIER Simple green flowerless plants line the water. DONALD
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Kaufman nods vaguely. 28 EXT.
paper back under his pillow. this guy knows screenwriting.) It's only five hundred bucks! KAUFMAN (muffled by pillow) Screenwriting seminars are bullshit. Charles.S. People come from all over to study his method. Kaufman puts the * 31
DONALD I'm sorry. DONALD Yeah. Okay? But this one is highly regarded within the industry.S. 18
30 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN A job is a plan. I'm taking a three-day seminar! 31 INT. DONALD (O.) In theory I agree with you. EMPTY BEDROOM . Is your plan a job? DONALD Drumroll. As soon as I sell -KAUFMAN Let me explain something to you. Kaufman pulls a photo of Margaret. I know you think this is just one of my get-rich-quick schemes. please (supplies it) I'm gonna be a screenwriter! 30
Kaufman doesn't respond. okay. He gets lost in the picture. I forgot.pg. I'll pay you back. KAUFMAN Donald. don't say "industry. DONALD (cont'd) Okay. DONALD (O. enters his bedroom. buddy. clipped from a trade paper. But I'm doing it right this time. (CONTINUED)
." Donald appears on all fours in the doorway.CONTINUOUS Kaufman lies face down on his mattress on the floor. from under his pillow.
keep going. McKee writes: "A rule says. And a writer should always have that goal. this works.. is just -DONALD Not rules. KAUFMAN There are no rules to follow. he pulls out his Hegel book and reads: 31
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. KAUFMAN Look. (lies down. Writing is a journey into the unknown. my point is." KAUFMAN The script I'm starting. stares at ceiling) Okay. Sorry. what about Cactus Flower? I saw that. it's about flowers.pg. 19
31 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN Anybody who says he's got "the answer" is going to attract desperate people. okay. And it's not a movie. there're no guidelines. Okay. Kaufman waits. Hey. and has through all remembered time. those teachers are dangerous if your goal is to do something new. Go. and anybody who says there are. There's definitely a flower in that. fuming. not building a model airplane. Okay. and -DONALD What about Flowers for Algernon? KAUFMAN That's not about flowers. go ahead. Sorry. Be it in the world of religion -DONALD (indicating his back) I just need to lie down while you explain this to me. Donald. Donald stares at the ceiling. I apologize. you must do it this way.. There was a book -DONALD Oh. So. I never saw it. principle says. No one's ever done a movie about flowers before. Getting no response. principles.
31 CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN (V. Are you a former Fulbright scholar. 32 INT. Lots of sweating.O. SWAMP . and state police cars are parked near the van and Ford.. and what we have here. Donald! The girls look at each other and giggle maliciously. Laroche enthusiastically helps Ranger Mike Owen catalogue the flowers. Kaufman's head is spinning.DAY Kaufman stares at a blank sheet of paper in a typewriter. They seem to be enjoying Donald.. sheriff. puffs out her cheeks. four Encyclia Tampensis -MIKE OWEN I'm sorry. He spots Donald chatting up two pretty girls. He says good-bye and walks happily away. LAROCHE . He looks out the window onto a courtyard where kids are smoking and eating lunch. He puts the book down.LATE MORNING Ranger. Charles? Kaufman looks over at Donald's repulsive girth. LIBRARY . an opposited. my friend. uniformed people.. is . bored and smoking. a conditional and conditioning.DAY SUBTITLE: CONNECTICUT.pg. the Understanding completes these its limitations by positing the opposite.) (CONT'D) Each being is. A guy sprinkles water on them.. GIRL Bye. 33-34 OMITTED 35 EXT.. Donald finally speaks DONALD McKee is a former Fulbright scholar. because posited. TWENTY-FOUR YEARS EARLIER A teenaged Kaufman reads a book. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . the plants lie on black plastic sheets. Nirvana seeps tinnily out the car window. The pillowcases have been emptied. 32A INT.. Both brothers stare at the ceiling. Encyclia what? (CONTINUED) 33-34 35 One 32A * * * * * * 32 31
. thirteen Encyclia Cochleata. The Indians lean against their car...
Mr. Three Polyrrhiza Lindenii. KAUFMAN Hi. 35A INT. my name is Charlie Kaufman and I'm writing a screenplay based on Susan Orlean's book The Orc -Oh. So.pg. (checks Owen's spelling) Okay. twenty-two Epidendrum Nocturnum. you really know your plants. What I really came for. y'know. But that'll all be revealed at the hearing. MIKE OWEN That true? Boy.
. and I was wondering if you could give me a little information about supplies I might need. LAROCHE Yeah. I'm one of the world's foremost experts.DAY Kaufman talks on the phone as he prepares a salad. EMPTY KITCHEN . A very good haul. Tem-pen-sis.
KAUFMAN Yeah. I want to come down to the Fakahatchee and -Great! MIKE OWEN We'd love to have ya'. hi! MIKE OWEN 35A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 35
KAUFMAN Hi. 21
35 CONTINUED: LAROCHE (pointing to each) Coch-le-ata. These sweeties grow nowhere in the U. Bug spray.S. Two Catopsi Floribunda. I do. the ghost orchid. bug sprays -MIKE OWEN Bug spray would be helpful. except in your swamp. let's see. Laroche. KAUFMAN I can do that.
pg. Mosquito netting.. KAUFMAN 35A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 36 * * *
MIKE OWEN Or the alligators. I like to josh it's a little like walking through a biting. Donald lies on the floor. fascinating characters tend to have not only a conscious but an unconscious desire. And the water's black. Did you ever consider maybe you're a bit fat? Does it ever occur to you. bored. Kaufman. KAUFMAN (clearly not going) Sounds good. Although these characters are unaware of their subconscious need -KAUFMAN Maybe you should watch what you eat. gray could. chomping a hoagie and reading a copy of Story by Robert McKee. thighhigh water. So I'll check my schedule and get back to you. 22
35A CONTINUED: MIKE OWEN You might want the strongest you can find. With Deet. He picks at his salad and reads Orlean's book. something they won't easily bite through. heavy pants.A BIT LATER
Kaufman sits at a card table in the otherwise empty room. buzzing. whose cheeks are stuffed with food.. ancient family of perennial plants with. Heavy.O. DONALD (V. Okay. KAUFMAN The Orchidaceae is a large. You'll be trudging through acidic. you kind of represent me in the world? (MORE) (CONTINUED)
.) The most memorable. Long sleeves. EMPTY DINING ROOM . Donald. so you won't be able to see the snakes. MIKE OWEN Look forward to it! 36 INT. So a strong boot. looks over at Donald.
) Florida is a landscape of transition and mutation. DONALD You think you're so superior. and people. and. Charles. you suck.) Do not proliferate characters.DAY SUBTITLE: FLORIDA. I pitched mom my screenplay -KAUFMAN Don't say "pitch. She said it's "Silence of the Lambs" meets "Psycho.. mom's paying for the seminar. Anyway.. Rather than hopscotching through time.. RENTAL CAR . ORLEAN (V. THREE YEARS EARLIER Orlean drives on State Road 29...pg. I'm really gonna write this.O. Anyway. she loved my. And.. And you'll see. They go back to their books. DONALD (V.O. I hear she's really good with structure. 23
36 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (cont'd) That people look at you and think. discipline yourself to a reasonably contained cast and world." KAUFMAN Hey.) The Orchidaceae is a large. telling of my story to her." DONALD Sorry. he's Charlie's twin. therefore that's what Charlie must look like? DONALD By the way. KAUFMAN Did you even hear what I said? DONALD Yeah. do not multiply locations.. maybe you and mom could collaborate.. * * 36
KAUFMAN (V.. 37 INT. past prefab housing. Well. 37
* * * *
. space.. ancient family of perennial plants with.O. okay? The two glare at each other.
Alan Lerner. I'm a professional plant lecturer. and types in a clumsy hunt-and-peck style. I've been a professional horticulturist for twelve years. He turns to his typewriter. and a Hawaiian shirt. I've owned a plant nursery of my own which was destroyed by the hurricane. and the asexual micropropagation of orchids under aseptic cultures. stares off) It's swampy and lonely.
. Orlean hurries in. not at all like your nursery work. what is your experience in the area of horticulture? LAROCHE Okay. Thank you.DAY The proceedings are in progress. LERNER Finally. I'm a published author. Its driver: a skinny man with no front teeth. types) A white van appears from around a curve.O. I have extensive experience with orchids. wrap-around Mylar sunglasses. LERNER 39
* * *
LAROCHE You're very welcome. thinks.) We open on State Road 29. (stops. I've given at least sixty lectures on the cultivation of plants.DAY
Kaufman traces a stubby. nail-bitten finger along State Road 29 along a Florida road map. (grins) I'm probably the smartest person I know. This is John Laroche. This is laboratory work. 24
INT. Laroche. KAUFMAN (V. sits in the back. both in magazine and book form. in a Miami Hurricanes cap. Laroche. COURT ROOM . questions him. the tribe's lawyer. Mr.pg. (typing) A lonely stretch of road cutting through untamed swampland. (stops. EMPTY BEDROOM . 39 INT. is on the stand.
She catches him and smiles with red. KAUFMAN It's a little obvious. thanks a lot. EMPTY BEDROOM . BARNES AND NOBLE . then in pitch mode:) Okay. like. What?! The door opens. there's this serial killer. the unattainable. man. DONALD (CONT'D) No.pg. don't you think? * *
. sits up. wait. stares at the ceiling. Kaufman admires the cashier's flower tattoo. 41
DONALD Look. KAUFMAN Donald stands there for a moment in shadows. So the cop gets obsessed with figuring out her identity.DAY
As she rings up his books. Kaufman squints at his brother.NIGHT Kaufman. (flicks on light. 25
INT. KAUFMAN God damn it. She becomes. See. Cool. he's being hunted by a cop. And he's taunting the cop. looks up at the closed door. pierced lips. right? Sending clues who his next victim is.
DONALD (lost) Y'know. or what? Go away. you wanna hear my pitch. She unbuttons her blouse and shows him a breast with a heart tattoo. He's already holding her hostage in his creepy basement. and in the process he falls in love with her. Even though he's never even met her. wet. in bed masturbating. waits. DONALD (CONT'D) Hey. I'm just trying to do something. A sweet heartbeat turns to knocking. lies down. 41 INT. right -Kaufman groans. like the Holy Grail.
proud. Kaufman gives up. Okay? See. I really liked Dressed to Kill...pg. KAUFMAN The only idea more overused than serial killers... * * * 41
KAUFMAN (cont'd) I agree with mom... Did you consider that? I mean... he's really also the cop and the girl. Sybil meets. how could you have someone held prisoner in a basement and working in a police station at the same time? DONALD Trick photography? KAUFMAN Okay. 26
41 CONTINUED: DONALD Okay. KAUFMAN (O. DONALD (calling after) Cool.S. but there's a twist. what I'm asking is. DONALD Mom called it psychologically taut. until the third act denouement. Donald waits blankly. gets out of bed. See every cop movie ever made for other examples of this.) That's not how it's pronounced. KAUFMAN The other thing is. Okay? How could you. Very taut. there's no way to write this. All of them are him! Isn't that fucked-up? Donald waits. Listen closely.. See. Dressed to Kill. What exactly would the.. right?. is multiple personality. Kaufman dresses and exits. in the reality of this movie. I dunno. (CONTINUED)
.. if there's only one character. On top of that you explore the notion that cop and criminal are really two aspects of the same person. that's not what I'm asking. we find out the killer suffers from multiple personality disorder.
BUSTER I'll go into the Fakahatchee with a chainsaw. ORLEAN Mr. Didn't I remind her the Indians used to own Fakahatchee? Look. Vinson. smokes furiously. LERNER Buster. A charmingly shy Orlean approaches. 42
Okay. the New Yorker. Buster waves a dismissive hand at Lerner. Laroche? Orlean smiles.pg. COURTHOUSE . Laroche scowls. 42 * 41
Oh. apologetic for the intrusion. yes. Right? ORLEAN Right. I swear to God. Lerner and Laroche stand there a moment. vice-president of the tribe's business operations. stubs his cigarette. They're all smoking intently. So I was interested in doing a piece about your situation down here. and Buster Baxley. we'll deal with all this at trial. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
. Vinson shrugs. The New Yorker.
* * *
ORLEAN (CONT'D) I find your story really fascin -LAROCHE Yeah? Put this in: I don't care what goes on here.
EXT. LAROCHE They're gonna fucking crucify me. I handled it. follows Buster. 27
41 CONTINUED: (2) DONALD Sorry. walks away. ORLEAN (CONT'D) My name's Susan Orlean.DAY
Orlean exits the courthouse and watches Laroche in a huddle with Lerner. It's a maga -LAROCHE I'm familiar with the New Yorker. Lerner walks off. Orlean tries some more. I'm a writer for the New Yorker. for crying out loud. Laroche cracks his neck.
42 CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) I'm right, and I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court. That judge can screw herself. Orlean scribbles on her pad. Laroche twists his head to see that she's writing "Judge can screw herself." LAROCHE (cont'd) That for real would go in? ORLEAN Absolutely. Laroche smiles his toothless smile at Orlean. LAROCHE I'll have to speak to my advisors. 43 EXT. FIELD - MORNING MUSIC: lush, profound orchestral piece. A glorious orange, large-petalled orchid blooms in dramatic time-lapse. We slowly, lovingly circle the flower. SENSUOUS FEMALE NARRATOR The Orchidaceae is a large, ancient family of perennial plants with one fertile stamen and a three petalled flower. In most orchid species, one petal is enlarged into a lip and is the most conspicuous part of the flower. 44 INT. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - DAY Kaufman, in a booth, reads The Orchid Thief, takes notes. KAUFMAN (V.O.) The Orchidaceae is a large, ancient... He's bored, looks up, watches a waitress with glorious, orange hair, pouty lips, soulful eyes, and a voluptuous form, turning slowly around, scanning her station. She sees Kaufman, approaches, and smiles warmly down at him. Her badge reads: Alice, Arcadia, CA. Kaufman sweats. ALICE So what looks good today? KAUFMAN Um, hi. The key lime pie, please. A small slice. I'm watching my... And a coffee, please. Skim milk. Please. (CONTINUED) * 44 * 43 * * * * * 42
44 CONTINUED: ALICE (sees book) Orchids! I absolutely love orchids. Kaufman goes blank. Cool! KAUFMAN A small awkward pause. * 44
He flinches at his lameness.
ALICE So, I'll be right back with your pie. She smiles warmly again and leaves. 45 EXT. ORCHID SHOW - DAY Alice, in her CPK uniform, and Kaufman walk hand-in-hand, inspecting sexy orchids together. She smiles warmly at him. ALICE I think these flowers are so sexy. Alice stands very close to Kaufman. Her bare arm touches his. Kaufman looks at the touching arms. Alice continues to study the flower but intertwines her fingers in Kaufman's. ALICE (cont'd) Let's see what's around back. She leads Kaufman behind the display to a quiet, wooded area. She unbuttons her uniform. It falls to the ground, leaving her naked, dappled in sunlight, her beautiful red hair glowing. Kaufman drops to his knees in front of her and kisses her thighs, caresses her ass. Alice glides Kaufman's head to her crotch. 46 INT. EMPTY ROOM - NIGHT Kaufman finishes jerking off. 47 INT. GIRL'S BEDROOM - NIGHT SUBTITLE: CANTON, OHIO, FORTY-THREE YEARS EARLIER He lies lonely in the dark. 47 * 46 * * Kaufman is humiliated. 45
* * * *
It's dark. A lonely, little girl in a nightgown lies on her bed, holds a flashlight in one hand and writes in her diary with the other.
47 CONTINUED: LITTLE GIRL (V.O.) Today I played with Mary. We had fun. We played Mommy and Daddy. I got to be the Mommy. It was very fun. Footsteps in the hall. The little girl flicks off the flashlight, closes her eyes. The door opens. A middle-aged woman walks in, bumps tipsily into the dresser, sits on the edge of the bed, looks at her daughter and cries quietly. 48 EXT. HOTEL PARKING LOT - MORNING Orlean leans against a car and smokes. A tiny, lost figure. There's a honk. Orlean snaps out of her reverie to see Laroche screeching to a stop in his banged-up van. ORLEAN (V.O.) A few days after the hearing, Laroche took me to an orchid show in Miami. She opens the passenger door. Hi. ORLEAN (cont'd) Thanks for picking -48 47
* * * * *
LAROCHE I want you to know this van is a piece of shit. When I hit the jackpot, I'll buy myself an awesome car. What are you driving? An Aurora. Awesome. ORLEAN It's my father's. He lives --
LAROCHE I think I'll get one of those.
Orlean nods, climbs in, and tries to rearrange some of the junk on the front seat so she'll have a place to sit. LAROCHE (cont'd) Sit on top of that. You won't hurt it. She situates herself on the edge of the seat, rests her feet on an open bag of potting soil. Laroche lurches off. 49 INT. VAN - DAY Laroche drives manically. Orlean watches the road and holds one hand against the dashboard. 49 *
steers with knees as he lights another.pg. My theory is -Orlean switches on a mini-cassette recorder. 31
49 CONTINUED: LAROCHE Where do these people learn to drive? The world is insane. Uh-huh. I'm the only one in the world who knows how to cultivate it. Orlean tries to figure a way in. Then I'd clone hundreds of them babies in my lab. pulls out a notebook. ORLEAN * * * * *
She indicates. LAROCHE The sucker's rare. Orlean writes. He doesn't take the hint. with a small jerk of the head. Orlean writes: "crushes out cigarette. As long as I don't touch the plants." Uh-huh. get the Indians to pull it from the swamp. The thing you gotta know is my whole life is looking for a goddamn profitable plant. I researched it. yeah. Collectors covet what is not available." Laroche looks over and smiles. Florida can't touch us. Orlean smiles back. We see that Orlean is writing "The world is insane."
. Laroche clams up. ORLEAN Why the ghost orchid? 49 * * * * * * * * * * * *
While Laroche talks. She's writing: "skinny as a stick. ORLEAN So I was so impressed to hear how accomplished you are in the world of horticulture and -LAROCHE Yeah. sell 'em. posture of al dente spaghetti. LAROCHE The plan was. that he might want to watch the road. and make the Seminoles a shitload of change. And that's the ghost.
49 CONTINUED: (2) LAROCHE (cont'd) And I stop future poaching by making the flowers readily available in stores. Then I give a big speech at the trial about how the legislature should get rid of loopholes smart people like me can find. I'm a hero. The flowers are saved. Laroche and nature win. Orlean writes: "guy is priceless." LAROCHE (cont'd) Did you get that last part? ORLEAN Yes, of course. 50-52 OMITTED 52A INT. 7 1/2 FLOOR SET - MORNING 50-52 52A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * They nod * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED) 49
The set from Being John Malkovich. Crew people bustle about, bending down as they enter the squat set. No one pays any attention to Kaufman, who stands by himself to the side. Donald is at the craft service table, picking at food. Caroline, a pretty, young make-up woman, stops by the table. Kaufman watches nervously as Donald eyes her. Finally Donald says something to her. She looks over, says something back. It's too far away to hear the conversation. Donald says something else and Caroline laughs. The conversation warms up. Kaufman can't believe his eyes. The assistant director appears in the hall. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Scene 23 up next! All keys to set! Catherine Keener and John Cusack pass Kaufman. perfunctorily. Hey. KAUFMAN
Cusack enters the hallway set. I'm fat. KAUFMAN (V.O.) (CONT'D) I'm old --
Keener sees Caroline, who's still chatting with Donald. KEENER (playfully) Caroline, c'mon, jeez. movie here. Let's go!
We're shooting a Let's go!
52A CONTINUED: Kenner grabs Caroline pulls her down the hall. CAROLINE (laughing) You're insane, Keener! Kaufman watches. 52A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Donald approaches Kaufman. DONALD
KAUFMAN Please don't hit on crew members, Donald. DONALD No, Caroline's a really nice girl. KAUFMAN Just don't embarrass me. Okay? to work with these people. I have
DONALD I won't. Anyway, listen, I meant to ask you, I need a cool way to kill people. Don't worry! For my script! Ha ha! KAUFMAN I really don't write that kind of stuff. DONALD Oh, man, please. You're the genius. Kaufman stares at Donald, rubs his eyes, sighs. KAUFMAN Here you go. The killer's a literature professor. He cuts off little chunks of his victims' bodies until they die. He calls him "The Deconstructionist." DONALD That's kinda good. I like that.
KAUFMAN See, I was kidding, Donald. DONALD Oh, okay. Sorry. You got me! Ha-ha. Do you mind if I use it, though?
INT. BOY'S BEDROOM (1972) - NIGHT There are now many turtles in aquariums. Many turtle books and posters. The boy, in a turtle T-shirt, looks out the window into the darkness. His eyes are troubled. MOTHER (O.S.) (praying softly) For certain is death for the born/And certain is birth for the dead
INT. LIVING ROOM (1972) - CONTINUOUS The boy comes downstairs. His father, in a backbrace, watches TV; his sister lies on the couch, semi-conscious, more pale than before. His mother pats the girl's head with a damp cloth. There's a little Hindu altar with candles. MOTHER Therefore over the inevitable/Thou shouldst not grieve. (beat) Sweet, sweet Diane. The boy surveys the sad scene. His mother looks up, smiles.
MOTHER (CONT'D) A slice of pie for my turtle expert? The boy beams with pride, then gets solemn. BOY Mom, there's something I feel I have to do. I don't know how to do this, but I feel in my stomach that I have to. MOTHER What do you have to do, honey? BOY Collect one of every turtle in the world. (beat) It's a long list, ma. Cuora galbinifrons, Graptemys versa, Callagur borneoensis, all the Galapagos species, people think there's only one, but that's not true. Cycloderma frenatum, Cuora pani... (sighs) I don't think my life is worth living if I can't do this. The boy and his mother look at each other. (CONTINUED)
. VAN . Perhaps you read about us. 35
54 CONTINUED: MOTHER Well. Oh.DAY Laroche drives. Collected the shit out of 'em. I lost interest right after that.
ORLEAN I guess I'd like to know how you can just detach from something when you've invested so much of your soul -LAROCHE Ditched fossils for resilvering old mirrors. How many turtles did you end up collecting? LAROCHE (matter-of-fact) Oh.pg. Fossils were the only thing made any sense to me in this fucked-up world. that's some story. Orlean writes "What is Passion?" on her pad. solemnly nodding his head. Mirror World October '88? I have a copy somewhere. They drive in silence. ORLEAN 55 54
LAROCHE I dropped turtles when I fell in love with Ice Age fossils. huh. She underlines it. did you ever miss the turtles? The only thing that made you ten year old life worth living?
. baby? The boy nods his head solemnly.. Laroche fishes through junk as he drives. Orlean watches a flying heron. ORLEAN Wow. her sad eyes wet and glistening. 55 INT. The tape recorder is on between them. My mom and I had the largest collection of 19th Century Dutch mirrors on the planet. Orlean studies him for a moment. ORLEAN So. we'd better get started.
KAUFMAN California Pizza Kitchen.DAY Kaufman sits in silence across from his female therapist. I renounce fish. not a lot a lot. Kaufman nods. likes orchids? 56 57
* * *
Right. KAUFMAN I'm still masturbating a lot. That was seventeen years ago and I have never since stuck so much as a toe into that ocean. (beat) No. fuck fish. THERAPIST Burger King? Dimples and sparkly eyes? No. THERAPIST'S OFFICE . The new girl I'm obsessed with. profoundly in love with tropical fish. I once fell deeply. Chaetodon capistratus. And I love the ocean! (beat) But why? ORLEAN 55
LAROCHE (shrugs) Done with fish. (beat) The same woman? KAUFMAN I mean. Anisotremus virginicus. Then one day I say. THERAPIST Red hair. that's how much fuck fish. You name it. I vow to never set foot in the ocean again. I'd skin-dive to find just the right ones.pg. Holacanthus ciliaris. I had sixty goddamn fish tanks in my house. 56 57 OMITTED INT. Different woman. THERAPIST Uh-huh.
* * (CONTINUED)
55 CONTINUED: LAROCHE I'll tell you a story.
Could we maybe talk for a bit? I'm just trying to get a feel for -VINSON You have very beautiful hair.. He gently reaches out and touches it. Hi..pg. Thank you. Oy. is how I know.. My
* * * * * *
. (CONTINUED) It's lovely.
ORLEAN (cont'd) Hi. ORLEAN (taken aback) I'm just a little tired. 37
57 CONTINUED: THERAPIST (CONT'D) So do you think you'll talk to this one? 57A EXT. 57A 57
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Vinson comes over to her... Anyway.. His longblack hair is braided.. Orlean approaches.. heart holds yours. I'm using a new conditioner and. SEMINOLE NURSERY . He's handsome. VINSON John's not here today.. Yes. She's taken. right? I saw you at the courthouse.DAY Orlean pulls up to the nursery. His eyes are gentle.. A few Indians are hauling plants.
ORLEAN Susan Orlean. Oh. ORLEAN Oh. VINSON I'm Vinson Osceola. I washed it this morning.. ORLEAN I'm looking for John Laroche. Today he's wearing a green t-shirt with white skulls.. so. I'm writing an article about John and I thought I'd drop by to. VINSON I can see your sadness. ORLEAN
(beat) So you were in the swamp with him. She recognizes Vinson from the courthouse. Hi.
watching Alice. KAUFMAN Yes. She just stands there.DAY 58 57A * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Kaufman. Preferred customer. She watches him haul potted plants. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN . grows right on a tree branch. sits nervously in a booth. reading about orchids. 58 INT. in fact!
ALICE A friend of mine has this pretty little pink one. ain't I. She smiles warmly. muscles straining against his shirt. She winks at him. It's not personal. It's the Indian way. KAUFMAN That's really sweet of you. yeah.
ALICE Well. I could get some background for the -VINSON I'm not going to talk to you much. I am. Vinson smiles.pg. That sounds great. He touches her hand and heads back to work. Orlean scribbles "He turns me on" on her notepad. I'm just a sweetie. I hope. ORLEAN (cont'd) So maybe we could go and chat. Just like that. I can't remem --
. completely present. He's so in love. He tenses as she comes up to him. hair combed. Still *
Thank you. 38
57A CONTINUED: Vinson nods. It cuts right through her. immersed in the activity. Hi! Hey! KAUFMAN ALICE Some key lime pie for ya today?
KAUFMAN (thrilled she remembered) Okay. ALICE I'll pick you out an extra large piece.
KAUFMAN That's great. He beams. I was also wondering. that's a lot. Kaufman blurts:
KAUFMAN But. you know your stuff! KAUFMAN Not really. KAUFMAN There are more than thirty thousand kinds of orchids in the world. ALICE Well. Epiphytes grow on trees.
. ALICE Oh. um. KAUFMAN (cont'd) I'm going up to this orchid show on Saturday in Santa Barbara? And I -Alice's smile slips away. anyway. still smiling. ALICE (pointing at him excitedly) Right! Right! Boy. so. Awkward pause. 39
58 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN That's what's called an epiphyte. They get all their nourishment from the air and rain. 58
ALICE So I'll be right back with a big slice of key lime pie for my orchid expert. huh? Yeah.pg.. She smiles and turns to leave.. Alice turns back. I'm just learning. Her warmth dissipates. KAUFMAN I apologize. ALICE Wow. well -I'm sorry. but they're not parasites. I'm sorry. I'm impressed.
60 EXT.. One looks like that girl in high school with creamy skin.. He tries to study the flowers. Fuck the pie. some in garish clothing. 40
58 CONTINUED: (2) ALICE (nodding) So I'll be right back with your pie then. NEW YORKER . One species looks like a German shepherd. One has eyes that contain the sadness of the world.pg. personalities.O. Kaufman finds his attention drifting from orchids to women: all different shapes. 59 INT. at her desk. watches Alice walk away and say something to another waitress. He nods. I am old. ORLEAN (V. one looks like a gymnast. one looks like a New York intellectual with whom you'd do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle in bed.. 60 He smiles a thank you and 59 * * * * * * 58
. past a Santa Barbara Orchid Society sign. The other waitress looks over at him. all glowing. obligingly eats. some in subtle clothing.) (cont'd) .) .O.MORNING Orlean. colors. He forces himself to look. One looks.. KAUFMAN (V.O. I have to get out of here right now. ORLEAN (V...) I am fat. He is sick with adoration for the women.. One has eyes that dance.DAY Kaufman walks alone among the crowd of orchid enthusiasts. He sweats. one looks like a Midwestern beauty queen. who pay him no mind. copies something from her notebook onto the computer. The other waitress brings his pie. one looks like an octopus. one looks like an onion. ORLEAN (V.. like a school teacher.O. SANTA BARBARA ORCHID SHOW .) There are more than thirty thousand known orchid species. They are dull.
His therapist wraps her shawl around her. a shared look. admiring a view. war. We see old age and birth. KAUFMAN I could tell a woman I'm a screenwriter and I could get laid. THERAPIST I'm sure that's true. eating meat. religion. We see Alice serving food. We finish on sad Kaufman getting into his car and leaving the Santa Barbara Orchid Show. The way I like them. smiling at customers.pg. commerce. He quickly shifts back to her face. love them madly.) (cont'd) Nothing in science can account for the way some people feel about orchids. The entire sequence takes two minutes. an arm slipped through an arm. * 63
. We see man interacting with his environment: farming. 61 62 OMITTED MONTAGE 61 62 * * 60
This sequence shows the entire history of mankind from a world sparsely populated with primitive hunter-gatherers to today's overcrowded technological society. A million women walking down the street. We see it again and again at dizzying speed. I don't need to know them at all. 63 INT. (a terrible sadness) No one will ever love me like that. The way I'd do anything for some woman walking down the street.DAY Kaufman talks to the therapist. He does it fast and unintentionally. Those love them. Kaufman is alone in this sea of people and flowers. THERAPIST'S OFFICE . We see the history of architecture. I don't need to know what their jobs is. One by one the women turn to the men they're with: a whisper in the ear. Kaufman glances down at his therapist's breasts. KAUFMAN But I want them to like me. 41
60 CONTINUED: ORLEAN (V. We see Orlean as a child alone with her diary. We see Laroche as a child alone with his turtles. We see murder and procreation.O.
Hegel. Uh-huh. 66 INT. ORLEAN God!
LAROCHE Charles Darwin? Evolution guy? ORLEAN (annoyed) I know who Darwin is.pg. It's all I think about. The cover features a daguerreotype of Darwin. 42
INT. He finds The Portable Darwin. plastic clowns. LAROCHE Once you get the sickness.DAY
Crowded with orchid lovers.) 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. Look at me. into which life was first breathed. fondles its petals.NIGHT
65 * *
A depressed Kaufman fishes on his floor through an ever increasing pile of books: about turtles.NIGHT SUBTITLE: ENGLAND. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE YEARS EARLIER Sepia. and a booth that looks like a circus big top. You'll see. 65 INT. it takes over your life. ORLEAN I don't know. A sickly Darwin writes at his desk. Noisy chatter and calliope music. 66
. SHOW HALL . LAROCHE Angraecum sesquipedale! Beauty! Darwin wrote about this one. etc. DARWIN (V. Elaborate displays include orchids on a ferris wheel. I'm not prone to -Laroche runs over to a flower. BOOK-LINED STUDY . fish. mirror resilvering. (dramatic pause) It'll happen to you.O. Kaufman paces and reads. EMPTY BEDROOM .
proboscis means nose. thinking. is so much larger than either of them. KAUFMAN We start before life. 69 EXT.
Laroche shows the flower to Orlean. Think about it.O. the world lives. 43
INT. SHOW HALL . this passion. he grabs his mini-recorder and paces like a caged animal.
LAROCHE See that nectary all the way down there? Darwin hypothesized a moth with a nose twelve inches long to pollinate it. MEADOW .. sure enough. (MORE) (CONTINUED) * * * * * * * * * 69
.pg. Silence. It finds an orchid which it resembles.DAY We're with an insect as it buzzes along. Then. LAROCHE (V. EMPTY BEDROOM . And this attraction. It lands on the flower and begins rapidly jerking its abdomen. All is silent. The point is what's wonderful is that every one of these flowers has a specific relationship with the insect that pollinates it. The flower insists. The insect has no choice but to make love to that flower. like a lover.) There are orchids that look exactly like a particular insect. This isn't a pissing contest.and -ORLEAN I know what proboscis means.) (cont'd) So it's attracted to the flower.DAY Blasting music.
EXT.. Neither understands the significance of this interaction.NIGHT Kaufman looks off into space. LAROCHE Let's not get off the subject. Everyone thought he was a loon. Suddenly. they found this moth with a twelve inch proboscis -. by the way -. Crowds.O. LAROCHE (V. But because of it.
APARTMENT . It's unexpected.) (cont'd) The insect. You have to. jabber passionately. but taught himself everything there is to know about -(punchline) -.O. In the background people buzz around flowers: feel petals. It merges with thousands of insects doing the same thing: Flying. Orlean nods. buzzing around flowers. SHOW HALL . Right. FEMALE GUEST Oh. falls in love with another flower and pollinates it.orchids! Orchids? MALE GUEST I love that. She remains detached and scribbles on her pad: "Is this guy more alive than I am?" 71 INT. Susie? 71 70 69 * * * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
HUSBAND Still lives with his dad. 70 INT. LAROCHE You gotta fall in love with them. that's a great detail.pg. carries it off. flies away. Orlean looks at Laroche. not too educated. No front teeth. Once you learn anything about orchids.EARLY EVENING Orlean sits at the dining room table with her husband and another couple. you'll devote your life to learning everything about them. carry boxes of plants. How did this relationship develop? This odd connection? Does it matter? Can we fight it? Should we? The insect. then deeply into various flowers: a dizzying array of colors and shapes. HUSBAND He's a great character. 44
69 CONTINUED: LAROCHE (V.
. stare deep into nectaries. You're supposed to. covered in pollen. covered with pollen.DAY Orlean looks at Laroche. One of those trailer guys. She is detached here as well.
S.CONTINUOUS Orlean enters and stares at herself in the mirror.O. HUSBAND (O. NEW YORKER OFFICES . who get obsessed with these. 74 INT. He's a sweaty mess. LARGE EMPTY LIVING ROOM . They smile at each other. but there's a terrible distance between them. plus this tremendously quirky character -Orlean's husband goes on talking.) I wanted to want something as much as people wanted these plants.O.) What is it about people who collect.) I want to know how it feels to care about something passionately. As the words appear on her screen.. BATHROOM .O...) . we hear them in voice-over.O. which she loves. 74 73 * * * * * 72 * * 71
.. ORLEAN (V. 72 INT. but it isn't part of my constitution. 73 INT. Orlean cries and types.. Susie gets to do a natural history thing. We see "I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion" on the computer screen. ORLEAN (V.. things? It's a real modern phenomenon ripe for the picking.) I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. 45
71 CONTINUED: HUSBAND So.pg. no pun intended -ORLEAN (V. ORLEAN (V.EARLY EVENING Orlean is at her desk. Orlean past her own reflection to the reflection of her husband chatting in the background. She gets up and heads toward the bathroom.NIGHT Kaufman paces furiously with his mini-cassette recorder. but his voice goes under.
. we have to realize we all write in a genre. it turns out there hasn't been a new genre since Fellini invented the mockumentary! Kaufman sits. It breaks every rule. we see the whole of human history: tool-making. He's all for originality. bam! Cut to Susan Orlean writing a book about orchids. And the movie begins. This is amazing! The taped voice continues. TAPED KAUFMAN VOICE We start before life begins. Kaufman quickly turns off the recorder. hunting. 46
74 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN . he slowly shifts from unbridled enthusiasm to a bottomless pit of depression.. after the history of life on the planet. then. in the last seconds of the montage. Yearning. adapted. See. You'd love him. He rewinds the recorder. All is silent. Charles. Is there anything more lonely than this? 75 OMITTED 75 * * * * 74
* * * * * * *
. Donald waits for a response. We see the first amino acid and show step by step how things mutated. DONALD McKee is a genius! And hilarious! He just comes up with these great jokes. and everyone laughs! But he's serious. so we must find our originality within that genre. No response from Kaufman. presses "play. just like you! But he says. Kaufman stares despondently out the window." As he listens. This has never been attempted in a movie before. farming. heaving with excitement. too. The front door bursts open and Donald charges in. into the night.pg. war. Then. religion. DONALD (cont'd) My genre is thriller! What's yours? KAUFMAN (quietly) You and I share the same DNA. lust. evolved.
EVENING Orlean looks at the photo of Laroche. we see Orlean's husband at the kitchen table finishing his dinner. ORLEAN'S STUDY . what is this? It's amazing! LAROCHE Catasetum tenebrosum. From Peru. to admire me. 47
INT.O.O. my wife. LAROCHE (V. Laura was such a class act. CUSTOMER #1 John. to ask me stuff. too. Through an open door. One guy pulls Laroche aside. Say.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED)
CUSTOMER #2 John. then types.
76 * * * * * 77-86 87 * * *
77-86 OMITTED 87 INT. sits sadly for a moment.) I got married. CUSTOMER #1 It's a shame. did you see the number he brought to the Miami show? Could be his daughter. would you come over and look at my Eulophia? It's not doing well and I don't want to move it. what can you tell me about this Dactylorhiza?
. John. to admire my plants. browse.) People started coming out of the woodwork.DAY
Laroche and his wife stand amidst lonely-looking plant enthusiasts who ask him questions. She was beautiful. NURSERY . LAROCHE Are you simulating it's dry season? Because excessive watering will -CUSTOMER #2 But Dave Maxwell said -LAROCHE Why would anyone listen to Maxwell? CUSTOMER #3 Hey.pg. LAROCHE (V. stare into space. We opened a nursery.
Everyone gathers around as Laroche begins to talk. KAUFMAN I don't know how to adapt this. It means you figure out how to thrive in the world.NIGHT Laroche drives. She waves back. 89 INT. KAUFMAN It's about flowers. Orlean looks at him. MARTY (cont'd) Just kidding. 88 INT. they have no memory.DAY Kaufman sits with his agent Marty in a glass-walled office. maybe I can help. I should've just stuck with my own stuff. It's like running away. Orlean looks out at the dark night. After a long silence. They just move on to what's next. People can't sometimes. For a person. Kaufman follows the girl's ass with his eyes. Adaptation is a profound process. 48
87 CONTINUED: LAROCHE Everything. VAN . Hey. Kaufman looks at Marty. (CONTINUED)
. it's easier for plants. Marty smiles at him. * * 88 87 * * *
LAROCHE I believe some folks were really spending time with me because they were lonely. Laroche muses:
LAROCHE (cont'd) You know why I love plants? Because they're so mutable.pg. Will he accept help from an agent? He glances at Marty's non-receding hairline. his full head of hair. keeps walking. it's almost shameful to adapt. 89
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Marty waves at a passing beauty. AGENT'S OFFICE . ORLEAN Well. I don't know why I thought I could -See her? MARTY I fucked her up the ass.
right? Kaufman pulls out a folded newspaper clipping. The book has no story. It's got that crazy plant nut guy. I can't structure this.. 49
89 CONTINUED: MARTY It's not only about flowers. No one in town can make up a crazy story like you. I always thought this one could be like Apocalypse Now. MARTY I'd fuck her up the ass.what's his name? (CONTINUED) * *
* * * * *
. It's someone else's material. (uncertain) I think they are." (looking up defiantly) New York Times Book Review. You're the king. reads: KAUFMAN "There is not nearly enough of him to fill a book. Anyway. The girl journalist spends the whole movie searching for the crazy plant nut guy -. Show people how amazing flowers are. I wanted to grow as a writer. do something profound and simple. KAUFMAN I didn't want to do that this time. MARTY Look." Blah blah blah.. The book's a jumping off point. It's that sprawling New Yorker shit.pg.. Marty gets distracted by another sexy woman walking by." So Orlean "digresses in long passes. MARTY Are they amazing? KAUFMAN I don't know. 89 *
* * *
KAUFMAN There's no story. I have a responsibility. "No narrative really unites these passages. Oh man. what I tell a lot of guys is pick another film and use it as a model. He's funny. MARTY Make one up..
." KAUFMAN I need you to get me out of this. MARTY She has to travel deep into the darkest swamps of Africa to find the mysterious "Laroche. smoking and ranting at Orlean. 89B EXT. The judge is a moron. LAROCHE I told you I'd be crucified.) The Orchidaceae is a large -The empty bedroom seems to get bigger and sadder. at the end of the day. He lies there. at his car.. three Seminole men and a Miami orchid grower for trying to steal rare orchids -Seminole lawyer Lerner is on the steps talking to reporters. Laroche hides around the corner of the building. He reads the page. he gets up and sits naked in front of his typewriter. COURTHOUSE .. LERNER The only reason we made the no-contest plea was for convenience.DAY A crowd of people.O. EMPTY BEDROOM . KAUFMAN (V. 89A INT. MARTY Charlie. Buster. Reporters talk to video cameras. alone in bed. 50
89 CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN John Laroche. ejaculates. After a few moments. I think it would be a terrible career move. 89B 89A * * * 89
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
REPORTER . She didn't know shit about Indian rights and she didn't know shit about shit.DAY Kaufman. talks to reporters.pg.
Orlean. ORLEAN Hence the branches. goddamned Indians. It was all so maddening. especially Laroche. the trial. Indians. flowers. I love to mutate plants. we open with Laroche. PARK OFFICIAL The ruling is murky. it isn't worth the paper it's printed on.pg. But the endangered species were attached to ordinary branches. PROSECUTOR (shaking his head) I hate that guy. Please don't put in I said. 89C 89B * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 90 *
PROSECUTOR I was determined to convict them. A park official is being interviewed. So that's what we got 'em on. It doesn't protect the preserves the way we would've hoped. They were nailed on a technicality. Okay.) Okay. not even the goddamned Indians. Nobody's allowed to take those. KAUFMAN (V. He's funny. isn't it? Laroche gets a five hundred dollar fine and a six month ban from the Fakahatchee. who I found so maddening.O. 89C INT. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
89B CONTINUED: BUSTER Just like any treaty you guys sign. 90 MONTAGE Jumble of images: Laroche talking. She sips iced tea. The Native American protection is only in regard to endangered species. RESTAURANT . (turns to waitress) Could I get some lemon. please? PROSECUTOR Exactly. he says. what with the protection the Native Americans have. The rapid fire click-click of typing. ORLEAN It's a hollow victory.DAY Orlean interviews the prosecuter.
ORLEAN (V.. Enthusiastic off-screen typing. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT . (CONTINUED)
. Just thought I could get some more info. that's why I'm so smart. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) No problem.NIGHT Orlean lies on her bed in her underwear.
ORLEAN Oh.. okay we open with Laroche driving into the swamp.) The pioneer-adventures in Florida had to travel inward. LAROCHE What are you up to? 93A INT. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Going over some paperwork. David's out of town. ORLEAN Ah.pg. Okay we open at the beginning of time. John. we have the court case. How about you? Nothing. opens it. I'm just hanging out.that's funny.NIGHT 91 * * * * * * * * 92 93 * * * * 93A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 90 * * *
Kaufman awakes with a start.. I was mutated as baby. 92 93 OMITTED INT. I don't mean to bother you.. okay -91 INT. dense. reads.) (cont'd) Mutation is fun.O. Okay. Orlean is silent for a moment. He peers through the darkness at the books.. we show flowers... 52
90 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (V. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM . he says.O. He picks up The Orchid Thief. Laroche talks on the phone and half watches TV. They had to confront what a dark.NIGHT Lit only by the light of the TV Laroche's father watches. into a place as dark and dense as steel wool. ORLEAN I think you say some pretty smart things. papers coffee cups.no. EMPTY BEDROOM . overabundant place might have hidden in it. We show Laroche. okay.
LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM .DAY SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM . Vishnu. then gets professional to cover. Laroche pulls into traffic. 94 INT. And all the rest of 'em. his wife in front. what happened to your nursery? 93B INT. mother. MOTHER Amen. LAROCHE Sure you don't want to come.A FEW MOMENTS LATER They pile into a nice new American car. LAROCHE'S CAR . Laroche smiles back at his mother. ORLEAN So. Laroche's face smacks the steering wheel. There's only a photo of Laroche's sister on the TV set now.pg. His father watches TV. (CONTINUED) 95
. LAROCHE It was going well. 95 INT. Darkness descends. Johnny? LAROCHE Everything's good. We're finally pulling out of debt. his mother and uncle in back. On top are two framed photos: one of Laroche's sister and one of Laroche's mother. honey. UNCLE JIM Nursery business good. tell me. This last year's been a dream. I'm telling you. A screech of tires and another car crashes head on into theirs. Uncle Jim. but sometimes bad things happen. Praise Allah. NINE YEARS EARLIER Laroche ushers his wife. Buddha. dad? His father doesn't respond. and uncle out of the house. his front teeth fly in all directions.NIGHT 93B 93A * * * * * * * * * * * * 94
Laroche glances at the TV. Orlean starts to tear up. 53
93A CONTINUED: LAROCHE The smartest guy I know.
in his mourning suit. LAROCHE She divorced me soon after she regained consciousness.NIGHT 98 * * * * 98A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 98B * * * * 97 96 95
It's dark. ORLEAN If I almost died. 97 INT. Laroche. 98B EXT. too. and the green pulp that was once plant life. And then. 96 EXT. Laroche stands amidst a group of mourners at a double funeral.DAY Laroche walks through a field where the remains of his greenhouse are scattered about: glass. LAROCHE'S STOOP . 54
95 CONTINUED: His mother rockets forward smashing through the windshield. HOSPITAL ROOM . 98A INT. His uncle hits Laroche's wife in the head. wood. 98 EXT. Why? LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
ORLEAN Because I could. No one can judge you if you almost died.pg. It's like a free pass. sits by his comatose wife. She regains control and flips it down to talk. stares out at the street where the accident took place. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) I judged her.DAY Laroche. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT -NIGHT Orlean is crying hard now. CEMETERY . adding insult to injury. jerking her forward and landing on top of her. STREET .DAY Banged-up and missing his front teeth. I think I'd leave my marriage. She has the phone mouthpiece flipped up so she can't be heard. on the cordless phone. the hurricane destroyed my greenhouse.
(beat) Well. KAUFMAN I've been busy is all.) Everything. sit. I don't know. I was gonna give them something amazing. lover? KAUFMAN I shouldn't have taken it. I took the job. Hey.O. She's drunk. I understand. You don't call me no more. He tries to duck but she spots him. I wanted to do something amazing. John. I can't figure out how to make it work. sit. LITTLE BOY'S BEDROOM . 98C INT. She pulls him down onto a couch and puts her arm around him. how's the script. There's no story. sees Margaret across a room crowded with young Hollywood types.NIGHT 99 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 98C 98B * *
* * * * * * * * *
A sad Kaufman. beer in hand. I'm full of shit. so when the Seminoles wanted a white guy. Y'know? ORLEAN (PHONE VOICE) Yeah. 99 INT. man! MARGARET
KAUFMAN Hi. 55
98B CONTINUED: LAROCHE (V. MARGARET (cont'd) So. Oh. She runs over and hugs him. an expert. (CONTINUED)
. PARTY HOUSE . Margaret. The many turtle posters been replace with many orchid posters. LAROCHE I wasn't gonna give them a conventional little potted-plant place. MARGARET You hate me. to get their nursery going.NIGHT Laroche is on his cordless phone. I know. I knew it would break my heart to start another nursery.pg.
but. assumed there'd be some dramatic -KAUFMAN It was scary. MARGARET Hey you. Hey.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
DAVID Well. story. wow. Margaret doesn't bother removing her arm from Kaufman's shoulder. Davey.. Man. Boy. we should head.
A young man approaches. this is my friend David. Cool. KAUFMAN That'd be great. huh? KAUFMAN Not really. DAVID No? I was fascinated. DAVID KAUFMAN
MARGARET David spent some time in the Everglades. (to Kaufman) Charlie. God bless you for trying.pg.. Oh.. Kaufman and David shake hands. (CONTINUED)
. Charlie said it wasn't really helpful for him to be down there. so did you get anything out of going into the swamp? Um -KAUFMAN 99 * * * * * * * I * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MARGARET S-s-scary the way Orlean described it. It is a challenging one.. Hey. 56
99 CONTINUED: MARGARET Oh. Marg. MARGARET No. Charlie. I had a piece about it in National Geographic. I'll get Marg to send it to you.
hey. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) I'd love to. dangerous. I'll have something honest to give the world. Donald. if it climbed off a tree and shoved itself up their ass. Goddamn crucified me. man. Kaufman descends the stairs with the suitcase. I don't know if it'll kill me. (MORE) (CONTINUED) 102
* * * * *
. but. 100 INT. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . Kaufman watches Margaret and David head off.pg. A line of text catches her eye: "Should one be lucky enough to see a flower all else will seem eclipsed. sits there.CONTINUOUS Donald types cheerily on a lap-top computer at an ergonomic desk. Yeah. 102 INT. put that in the article! 101 INT. 57
99 CONTINUED: (2) MARGARET (pecks Kaufman on cheek) You'll figure it out. EMPTY BEDROOM . I'd like you to take me. Hey. She sees a photo of a ghost orchid glowing white on the page. KAUFMAN The swamp is dark. She dials the phone. She kisses his ear. I'm banned. And you are amazing. but if it doesn't.EVENING David puts his 100 * 99
Orlean looks at a book called The Native Orchids of Florida. hand on Margaret's ass." Orlean closes the book. 'Course. they wouldn't be able to locate a ghost. Susie-Q! LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) ORLEAN 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. Hey. as dense as steel wool. Get one of them monkey-suited rangers. NEW YORKER OFFICE .MORNING 101
* * *
A hollow-eyed Kaufman puts mosquito netting in his suitcase. You're the best.
Like when characters sing pop songs in their pajamas and dance around. try to think of a song about multiple personality. counted fifty and stopped. The pond is alive with
ORLEAN (V. sweetie. 104A EXT. 105 INT.DAY 104A * * * * * * * * * * * * 104B * * * 105 103 104 * * * * 102 *
SUBTITLE: FAKAHATCHEE. He closes the book and watches a stewardess tending to another passenger. SWAMP .NIGHT
Kaufman fixes a salad in the kitchenette. God.) You would have to want something very badly to go looking for it in the Fakahatchee Strand.NIGHT Kaufman is getting more nervous. 104B INT. So. AIRPLANE . AIRPLANE . ORLEAN (V.O. 58
102 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (cont'd) That's the difference between writing and aping some guy's "principles.pg. Full of monstrous alligators. DONALD Charles. The door opens and the stewardess enters dragging her luggage on a little cart. I'm putting a song in. Hey! KAUFMAN How was Denver? * *
STEWARDESS Oh. Hey. (kisses him) (MORE) (CONTINUED)
. alligators.NIGHT Kaufman reads The Orchid Thief.) An early surveyor made this entry in his field notes: A pond surrounded by cypress swamp.O. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS EARLIER A surveyor scribbles in a notebook." Donald looks up from his work. I'm so glad to be home. impracticable. where you going? 103 104 OMITTED INT. STUDIO APARTMENT . I thought it might be a nice way to break the tension.
. Okay. Kaufman. takes his seat. probably in the world. 116 117 OMITTED EXT. About that. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
. stands. The two men walk easily on peaty ground. AIRPLANE BATHROOM .pg. Five or six. I've waited all day to feel you inside me. slathered with sun screen and covered head to foot in unnecessary protective clothing. tries to be interested in Owen's lecture. She regards Kaufman blankly. which is completely dry. AIRPLANE . One of the stewardesses laughs. Five to six thousand years old. MIKE OWEN So the whole ecosystem is six thousand years old.O. He tenses. He heads up the aisle. The stewardess is there talking to another stewardess.. She sighs contentedly. Mike Owen leads Kaufman through a cool swamp. Kaufman slides his hand into her open shirt and caresses her breast. 108-114 OMITTED 115 INT. pulls up his pants. 106 INT.CONTINUOUS 107 106 105 * *
Kaufman steps out of the bathroom. 59
105 CONTINUED: STEWARDESS (cont'd) Did you get any writing done? God. 107 INT. and exits the bathroom. then goes back to her conversation. He takes notes. The stewardess slips out of her blazer. KAUFMAN
MIKE OWEN Now the Fakahatchee is the largest of all the cyrpess strands.) The swampy part of the Fakahatchee is hot and wet and buggy and full of cottonmouth snakes and diamond back rattlers and alligators and snapping turtles and poisonous plants and wild hogs and. RENTAL CAR .NIGHT Kaufman finishes jerking off. SWAMP . unbuttons her blouse.MORNING 116 117 * * * * *
The sky is overcast. adjusts himself.MORNING 108-114 115
A pale. ORLEAN (V. pasty Kaufman drives down a road surrounded by swamp.
ORLEAN (CONT'D) (into phone) I didn't see anything but bare roots. She said it was the scariest thing she's ever done. We've been going through a bit of a drought. MIKE OWEN Well.wonderful to imagine and easy to fall in love with but a little fantastic and fleeting and out of reach. It's pouring and sheets of rain beat against her window.NIGHT 118 119 * * * * 117
* * *
Orlean.O. black water. holds a phone to her ear. ORLEAN (V.pg. again. it's twenty miles long. there's usually water. continues typing. And I had this thought. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT . It's about twenty miles long. ORLEAN (V. four and a half. There were snakes and alligators.NIGHT Orlean types. nineteen.. across the room reading a book. 120
. She glances at her husband. I called Laroche. in her underwear and still dirty from the swamp. It was sweltering.) What I didn't say to him is that life seemed to be filled with things that were just like the ghost orchid -.O. Her caked-with-mud clothes are on the floor. and right here it's about five miles wide. 120 INT. Maybe the ghost orchid only blooms in the minds of people who've walked too long in the swamp. nineteen to twenty.) That night after Mike Owen took me into the swamp. She sighs. though! 118 119 OMITTED INT. KAUFMAN Um. HOTEL ROOM . why isn't it wet? Susan Orlean said when she came she was up to her thighs in horrible. or nineteen. 60
117 CONTINUED: MIKE OWEN (cont'd) I don't know of any cypress strand bigger. So. She has cute little dirty smudges on her face. five. three to five miles wide.. Good for us today.
John's a character all right. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (beat. He hi-lites the passage.
ORLEAN Well.. KAUFMAN (V.C. Really unique.O.) . ORLEAN Thanks very much.... Thank you.NIGHT Orlean. *
VALERIE We're big fans. Laroche is such a fun character. of course there are ghost orchids out there! I've stolen them! (beat. a cleared throat) You should have gone with me. He finds himself lost in it. then looks at the smiling photo of Orlean.MIDDAY 126 125 124
Busy lunch crowd. fleeting and out of reach. HOTEL ROOM . VALERIE It's funny and fresh. PULL BACK TO: 126 INT.pg.'" VALERIE (O. dirty from the swamp. 125 CLOSE-UP OF MAGAZINE The line: ". is on the phone.) Beautifully written. then he cleared his throat and said: 'You should have gone with me.
* * * *
Kaufman is deeply moved. ORLEAN Yeah.clears throat) Jesus Christ. PLANE . 124 INT. 61
121-123 OMITTED 123A INT. thanks. Valerie sits at a table with Orlean and an open New Yorker magazine. And sad in a way. (CONTINUED)
. RESTAURANT . Thank you.NIGHT A morose Kaufman reads The Orchid Thief.
the nursery lot. (beat) Who's gonna play me? Orlean laughs. These things mostly never get made. drives crazily thorugh the Hollywood. ORLEAN (laughing) You want to make it into a movie? VALERIE Laroche is such a fun character. um. Then someone's gotta do the screenplay. 127 INT. ORLEAN I've got to write it first. Random House wants me to expand it into a book. ORLEAN More John. Orlean is charmed. what's next? ORLEAN Oh. * 126
VALERIE Y'know. but seems to be enjoying herself now. VAN . LAROCHE No shit I'm a fun character. 128 Laroche swerves into a parking space in . SEMINOLE NURSERY
Laroche and Orlean get out of the van. VALERIE And there'll be more of Laroche? Yeah. a real affection for Laroche in her manner. wearing a Cleveland Indians T-shirt. Florida Seminole reservation. 62
126 CONTINUED: VALERIE So we were wondering. we'd really like to option this. Orlean holds on. So -LAROCHE I think I should play me. So I'll be doing that.
.DAY 128 *
Laroche. more orchids.
Orlean scans the grounds for Vinson. yes! Yeah. LAROCHE I wear this just to screw with 'em. A few young Indian guys haul bags of potting soil and look at Laroche sourly. shares the seat with it. Back! (hangs up) Hey. Sem-ih-nole! (to Orlean) How do you say Seminole in Spanish? (into phone) That's right. LAROCHE Most of them don't even bother calling me John anymore. I'll study the shit out of acting. John. looks at some papers on his desk.pg. gestures for Orlean to sit on a chair piled high with junk. LAROCHE (cont'd) (into phone) I'll call back. Before Orlean can respond. Laroche picks up the phone and dials an impossibly long number. 63
128 CONTINUED: LAROCHE I've got all the right qualities to play Laroche. LAROCHE (cont'd) You won't hurt anything. While you write. I'll take acting classes. LAROCHE (cont'd) (Yelling into phone) Hello? Hello? Hi? This is John Laroche from the Seminole Nursery." That's a good title for the movie. Laroche indicates the giant cartoon Indian on his T-shirt. 129 INT. Now it's "Crazy White Man. TRAILER . I want to order some more of those pink string beans! (yelling) Pink String Beans! Pink String Beans! Buster appears in the door. Orlean moves the junk over.CONTINUOUS 129 128
* * * * *
Laroche enters his office. BUSTER (CONTINUED)
. Buster. He waits.
pg. Buy little ones. Buster stares back. Simple plant multiplication for the masses. John -LAROCHE We'll get into plant multiplication. sell 'em at a profit..I got lot's of ideas. Laroche stops short. LAROCHE Orlean does * * * * 129
Laroche stares at Buster. VAN . BUSTER Listen. BUSTER No kidding. And we'll recover quick and -130 INT. so all the dead shrubs. ORLEAN I'll wait outside. humiliated in front of her. I been meaning to talk to you about that. BUSTER John. 130
* * * * * *
. There are tears welling in her eyes. The sprinklers were busted for a while. all they do is smoke weed all day.
LAROCHE (CONT'D) Y'know. He glances over at Orlean. the guys on my crew here. No. we're thinking maybe now's a good time for you to take a few weeks..A FEW MINUTES LATER Laroche weaves through traffic. But I got it fixed. I'm really excited about. Laroche looks back at Buster. LAROCHE I figure just because Project Ghost Orchid is dead. It's fixed. So if it's a question of productivity -. what she can to make herself invisible. 64
129 CONTINUED: LAROCHE I was trying to order some pink string beans from Argentina. turn 'em into big ones. we're not closing shop. Orlean holds on. Buster. Her heart is breaking for him.
Orlean dials the phone. It rings for a long time. There is nothing on the walls. it's Susan.pg. 131 132 OMITTED INT. I'm pursuing other avenues. I was just wondering if you might be willing to talk some more. He's in the room but the camera searchs and never finds him. If they fire me.CONTINUOUS 133
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The flower posters are gone. Laroche gets quiet and they drive in silence. LAROCHE (O.)
ORLEAN . and anonymous.C. The room looks sad.C. crazy white man. ORLEAN (PHONE VOICE) John. 65
130 CONTINUED: LAROCHE Goddamn politics. I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you. And I ain't going to quit. Crazy. empty.. Crazy White Man's bad publicity.) I'm no longer interested in orchids.DAY 131 132 130
* * * *
It's on the side of a desolate stretch of Florida road. Look.C.
. (pounds steering wheel) I can't believe I'm dealing with this! (pounds steering wheel) Like I could give a damn.. LAROCHE (O. I'll sue. Finally: LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (ghost-like) Yeah? 133 INT. Oooh. LITTLE BOY'S ROOM .. Susan who? LAROCHE (O. I already did some legal research on this.) What about? ORLEAN (PHONE VOICE) John! Stop! I'm trying to put together a book.. Don't just abandon me down here. We don't see Laroche at all. They can't fire me. PHONE BOOTH .
She is bored and distracted. I couldn't stop. a NOW button. how perfect. on the floor are records and books. lies on her bed and writes in her journal. lonely and lost. And I thought.NIGHT SUBTITLE: CANTON. Susan.NIGHT 137A
* * *
Orlean sits on her bed. She is so pure. hip-hugger bell-bottoms and a peasant blouse. 137A INT. Laroche hangs up. What happens to everyone? I apologized to her for what she will have to become to survive the nastiness. 66
INT. At one point. There is no one to call. then falls to the floor and breaks into tears. A blonde.CONTINUOUS LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) Thank you for your time. her journalist persona on. Then I cried. Velvet Underground and a pilfered movie poster from Bergman's Persona. HOTEL ROOM . THIRTY-FOUR YEARS EARLIER
The little girl's room from before. On the walls are posters of Dylan. GIRL'S BEDROOM . attends orchid shows.) I baby-sat for Kelly tonight and just stared into her blue. sits in lecture halls. visits nurseries. OHIO. Orlean stands there for a moment. a copy of I Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Farina. ORLEAN Goddamnit. She flips through her address book. 136 137 OMITTED MONTAGE 136 137
* * *
Susan Orlean.O. what are --
* * * * * * 135 * * * * * * * * *
INT. Bob Dylan's Just Like a Woman plays on the stereo. make-up. skinny teenage girl in embroidered. talks to various orchid enthusiasts. infant eyes. (CONTINUED)
. PHONE BOOTH . Just stop crying! This is your fucking life! What are you doing? What are you doing. it's starting already. Kelly smiled up at me: the baby trying to comfort the fucked-up adult. TEENAGE GIRL (V.pg. so beautiful. On the dresser. a tampax box. but it's a teenager's room now. so present.
HOTEL ROOM . She picks up. eyes herself in the mirror. her trembly fingers. I'm glad you reconsidered talking. After a long beat she dials the phone. ORLEAN Hello? David! Hi. Let me call you in the morning. Okay. honey. VINSON I don't know. ORLEAN Um. Work good? Good. okay. hon. Yeah.
There's a silence. it might be late. plays with her hair. Y'know? Vinson watches
Just. This should be really helpful.. Hey. After a few moments. I was just fascinated with this story and. There's Vinson's phone number. Vinson enters. 67
137A CONTINUED: 137A * * * * * * * * * * * * * 137C * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
She studies her orchid contact list.
Orlean. large the scope was and. I'll speak to you in the morning. Yeah.
ORLEAN Yeah. Not really. how. He saunters over and sits. all the Native American aspects and. The phone rings. can I call you back? I've got an interview and -..A LITTLE LATER
Orlean sits by herself at a table and watches the door. It must've been crazy! Boy. So. this whole media circus? Orlean fumbles to turn on her tape recorder. HOTEL BAR . um. She sips a glass of champagne. dolled-up. ORLEAN (slightly tipsy) Hey. y'know. She waves.. Uh-huh.No. what was it like for you.pg. VINSON Sure thing. okay. y'know. anxiously gets ready to go out. Her notebook and tape recorder are on the table. Um. 137C INT... 137B INT. thanks for coming.
DONALD How was Florida. 138 139 OMITTED INT. ORLEAN Oh. do you want to get laid or not. Native American. No. Gosh. 137C * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He heads out the door without looking back. EMPTY HOUSE . so I thought it would be helpful.. 68
137C CONTINUED: Orlean trails off. here. Donald.. He barely looks at her. ORLEAN Oh. VINSON (stares at her for a moment) Listen. Orlean is at a loss. I just -. Um. She finishes her drink. I just wanted to get some.Did I -communicate something? No. You were awfully fucking flirty on the phone. fuck.. I apologize. to hear a little bit about your background and how you came to -VINSON We should go to your room. if -Ah. I think we can -. She's shaking. Vinson is different than the last time she met him. No.this seems fine. I can reveal all sorts of Native American aspects up there. he seems bored and impatient. VINSON I drove an hour to get here. DONALD Hey..pg. for me. my script's going amazing! Right now I'm working out an Image System. no. we can talk here.NIGHT Kaufman enters with his bags and heads to the stairs... um. Orlean just sits there. um. man? KAUFMAN (climbing the stairs) Okay. ORLEAN (cont'd) . typing furiously at his desk.. looks up. Y'know.. (MORE) (CONTINUED) 138 139
sweating. I've chosen the motif of broken mirrors to show my protagonist's fragmented self. It's 3:32. one of the greatest screenplays ever written. EMPTY BEDROOM . (CONTINUED) 141 142 * *
. KAUFMAN I need to go to bed. I got a song! "Happy Together. but Bob says Casablanca. Mixed genres. I made you a copy of McKee's Ten Commandments. Good night. Donald. smiles. 69
139 CONTINUED: DONALD (cont'd) Because of my multiple personality theme. Bob says -KAUFMAN You sound like you're in a cult.pg. 141 142 OMITTED INT. (lies down on floor) Hey. it's just good writing technique. He looks over at the clock. DONALD You shouldn't have done that. DONALD No.CONTINUOUS Kaufman tears down the Ten Commandments. Donald appears backlit in the doorway and seems oddly threatening. slept in a week. Bob says an Image System greatly increases the complexity of an aesthetic emotion. his eyes darting back and forth. 140 INT. I've posted one over both our work areas. 140 * 139
DONALD (cont'd) 'Cause it's extremely helpful. DONALD Cool. Okay. Donald breaks the tension. did exactly that." I was worried about putting a song in a thriller. EMPTY BEDROOM . Kaufman disappears upstairs. I haven't
* * * *
Donald remains on the floor.NIGHT Kaufman lies half-awake in bed. They look at each other. (types. then:) Oh.
) (CONT'D) There are too many ideas and things and people. find the thing you care passionately about and write about that. I'm fat and repulsive -ORLEAN PHOTO Shhh.
. He looks at the still smiling photo. You're not. It talks. flips through it. KAUFMAN I don't know how to do this.
Charlie. sad insights. KAUFMAN (V. but can be heard happily snoring off-screen. There are now many yellow hi-lited passages.
Then: Kaufman and Orlean are in his bed together.
ORLEAN PHOTO I like looking at you. too many directions to go. smiling author photo. He reads one. He's in love. heaving. begins to jerk off. They finish. Then: Kaufman is alone in bed. I'm afraid I'll disappoint you. 70
142 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN * * 142
Damn it. I'm losing my hair. KAUFMAN (cont'd) I like looking at you. too.pg. Kaufman switches on a lamp. Whittle it down. It seems somehow sleepy now. melancholy face. KAUFMAN (cont'd) Such sweet. You've written a beautiful book. So true. He stares at the photo.O. pulls The Orchid Thief from his bag.
Kaufman closes his eyes. The photo smiles warmly at him. Focus on one thing in the story. Its smile broadens. making love.
Donald is no longer in the room. She smiles at him throughout. Kaufman flips to the glowing. 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 studies her delicate. I can't sleep.
KAUFMAN We see Susan Orlean." Donald. KAUFMAN I have some new ideas. hey. typing at her desk. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
142 CONTINUED: (2) ORLEAN PHOTO (cont'd) (sweet. 143 INT. The killer flees on horseback with the girl. skinny as a stick.. shirt we've seen Donald wearing. KAUFMAN
DONALD (pouring coffee) You seem chipper.. smiles. delicate. too. beautiful.MORNING Kaufman paces and talks animatedly into his mini-recorder. Hi! DONALD CAROLINE * * * She's in a T* * 143 142
Kaufman looks up.pg. We hear her voice-over. haunted by loneliness. really good ones. Hey. (reading book) "John Laroche is a tall guy.
* * * * * * * * *
DONALD (modestly) I got some ideas. enters with Caroline. in his underwear. sees Caroline with Donald. I'm good. The cop is after them on a motorcycle. DONALD I'm putting in a chase sequence now.. Morning. you guys are so smart! brain factory here. flirty smile) I figured there might be something. KITCHEN . It's like a
CAROLINE God.. fragile. CAROLINE Really. this morning.
He reads the lyrics to Just Like a Woman andseems pleased.A. women snicker. right? DONALD Hey. I Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Richard Farina." 149 EXT. that's the big pay-off.pg. Thanks. At him? 150 INT.NIGHT Kaufman types with new resolve. L. STREET . KAUFMAN And they're all still one person. 144-147 OMITTED 148 INT. The notebook page already includes: Tampax Box.NIGHT 144-147 148 * * * * * * * * * * 143
Kaufman has a bunch of 1960's reference books on the floor in front of him. She thinks. He copies down the names of Bob Dylan and Velvet Underground.NIGHT Kaufman wanders the street. He is looking at one entitled Pop Music of the Sixties. The last line jumps off the page: "She now lives in New York City with her husband. distraught. who is this man? She thinks. CAROLINE Told you he'd like it. Caroline kisses Donald on the cheek. DONALD Thanks. Like technology versus horses. how did this happen? 149 A couple of passing 150
* * * *
. Kaufman seems quite pleased with his research.O. But he opens the book to the wrong page and sees an About the Author paragraph.) Susan watches her husband across the dinner table. KAUFMAN (nice) Well. man. peasant blouse. KAUFMAN (V. EMPTY BEDROOM . EMPTY BEDROOM . Bergman's Persona. NOW button. it sounds exciting. 72
143 CONTINUED: DONALD (cont'd) It's like a battle between motors and horses. why am I here? She thinks. He picks up The Orchid Thief to reward himself with a glance at the Orlean photograph.
EMPTY BEDROOM .
* * *
INT. The phone rings. her mother's disappointment at life. She kisses him on the cheek.pg. Yallo? KAUFMAN (cont'd) (CONTINUED)
. It's intimate. 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.
153 * * * * * * *
KAUFMAN (cont'd) This is good.DAY Kaufman and Orlean move furniture into the room. Her drunken mother enters. 73
INT. KAUFMAN I'm so thrilled I get to adapt your book. They kiss and fall onto the new couch. KITCHEN . sits on young Susan's bed and cries. Kaufman is immensely pleased. I'm finding you. Orlean wears a bandana kerchief. ORLEAN Not like a marriage. get to merge our thoughts. KAUFMAN We see the little girl writing in her journal. We see the loneliness of her childhood. It now looks warm and inviting.MORNING Kaufman masturbates alone in bed.DAY Kaufman paces with his mini-recorder. and how it forever scars the little girl. exactly as Caroline kissed Donald. He smiles at Orlean's photo. Off-screen laughing and chattering from Donald and Caroline. KAUFMAN Maybe what marriage could be? Her eyes tear up. like a marriage. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . I love that.
VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) And she said she'd love to meet you.. for me it's distracting to. KAUFMAN Tell Susan I'd be very happy to meet her at a future date. Okay?
. or confusing to discuss what I'm exploring in the screenplay at this point.. 153
KAUFMAN (beat) Uh-huh. I'll let her know.. It's Valerie.. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) I told her you were making terrific progress and she's really excited to read the script. Charlie. well. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) Good enough. Say I think she's a great writer. Great. How's everything going? Good.. y'know. before I finish. Okay.. Tell her I said that. Good.
KAUFMAN And tell her how much I love her book. So.. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) That's fair. VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) So I spoke to Susan yesterday. As she sees fit. KAUFMAN Um. uh-huh.pg.. Sweat appears on Kaufman's brow. All color drains from Kaufman's face. 74
153 CONTINUED: VALERIE (PHONE VOICE) Hi. KAUFMAN I think really good now. Just bugging you again.
Maybe it's even smirking. Kaufman paces frantically. Of course it's impossible for me to write about anyone else's -Kaufman's eyes light up.O. She glances over in his direction.CONTINUOUS 154 * *
Donald types at his desk on his computer. Caroline. He watches a slightly haggard woman with a bandaged head sitting in a small room across the hall. It's not glowing. KAUFMAN (V. holding his stomach. doubles over. 153
* * *
Kaufman hangs up and looks at the photo of Orlean. why aren't there any cute guys in emergency rooms.DAY 155
Kaufman is on a gurney and hooked up to an IV. 155 INT.DAY Kaufman paces with his mini-cassette. It is obvious she's only semi-conscious. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . like some kind of fucking funhouse mirror version of me! But let me tell you. I'm completely selfinvolved.) (CONT'D) I'm an idiot. (CONTINUED) 156 * * * * * * * * * *
. Charlie. She looks through him. She thinks -An attendant enters the room across the hall and wheels the woman out.) She thinks I'm repulsive. EMERGENCY ROOM . but not at him. mocking the seriousness of what I do. 75
153 CONTINUED: (2) VALERIE (cont'd) Will do. you don't know what writing is! Kaufman grabs his stomach. He smiles. She thinks. 156 INT. EMPTY BEDROOM . It's still smiling. on the floor. Kaufman storms in. sips coffee and skims a magazine. Because we're very excited and anxious and all those good things. Just keep us posted. 154 INT.pg.O. KAUFMAN Nice talking to you. Okay. KAUFMAN You can sit here and pretend to be a writer. KAUFMAN (V. Donald's off-screen typing grows louder.
CONTINUOUS The room is now filled with computer equipment. I know. how's it going? 161A INT. ORLEAN (PHONE VOICE) That sounds good. She is shaky and drunk and still dolled-up from her interview with Vinson. LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
* * * * 161A Posters of * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ORLEAN Um. yeah. And it doesn't matter if they're fat or ugly or what. And I was hoping. but I still haven't seen a ghost. HOTEL ROOM . Yeah? LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) 157-160 161 * * 156
* * *
ORLEAN It's Susan again.O. paces. fat. "I am old. I am fat.pg.
Oh. look. naked women adorn the walls. ORLEAN (PHONE VOICE) So. LAROCHE It's great is what it is. It's fascinating." 157-160 OMITTED 161 INT.NIGHT Orlean is on the phone.) Movie opens. LITTLE BOY'S BEDROOM . bald. 76
156 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (V. John!
. I hate feeling like I'm being a pain to you. Really? ORLEAN Thank you so much! Tomorrow. old. It's amazing how much these suckers will pay for photographs of chicks. I'll take you in. His voice-over carpets the scene. I'm doing pornography. Charlie Kaufman.
LAROCHE Great! I'm training myself on the Internet. maybe you'd -LAROCHE Yeah.
DONALD I don't know what that means. 77
INT. ridiculous. doesn't say anything.NIGHT Kaufman types. What?! KAUFMAN (cont'd) What do you want? I'm done. But. I wanted to thank you for your idea. Kaufman grabs Donald's script and throws it on his bed. it's cool for my killer to have this modus operandi. I changed it a little. (CONTINUED)
* * *
. KAUFMAN Ourobouros.pg. EMPTY BEDROOM . Because at the end when he forces the woman. to eat herself. Also. The Three is printed on the cover in some dramatic bold typeface. DONALD (cont'd) Thanks. It's. DONALD I don't think so. Now the killer cuts off body pieces and makes the victims eat them. who's really him.
KAUFMAN (ON RECORDER) Kaufman. Donald appears in the doorway with a script.
DONALD I finished my script. anyway.
Kaufman stares at his typewriter. It was very helpful. he's also eating himself to death. KAUFMAN The snake is called Ourobouros. DONALD (cont'd) So would you show it to your agent? (proudly) It's called The Three. jerks off to the book jacket photo of Susan Orlean. The cassette player plays. like. Caroline has this great tattoo of a snake swallowing it's tail and -Kaufman puts his head in his hands. repugnant.
Charles. I'm Ourobouros. 163 164 OMITTED INT. It looks hot. but Bob's got a seminar in New York this weekend at the Hyatt Regency. DONALD Don't get mad at me for saying this. KAUFMAN I've written myself into my screenplay. he lazily corrects it. You're an artist. That's what I have to do. Because I suck. huh? 162
KAUFMAN It's self-indulgent. The car veers onto the shoulder. I'll meet her. Because I have no idea how to write. Because I'm pathetic. 78
162 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN I'm insane. I'm pathetic. CAR . That's it. Oh.pg. It's solipsistic. DONALD I'm sure you had good reasons. Orlean is tense. paying little attention to the road. So if you're stuck -Kaufman shoots Donald a look. Charles. DONALD Hey. It's eating itself. It's narcissistic. It's pathetic. Laroche speeds along with one finger on the wheel. Because I can't make flowers fascinating. I'm fat and pathetic. KAUFMAN The reason is I'm too timid to speak to the woman who wrote the book. DONALD I don't know what that word means. am I in the script? KAUFMAN I'm going to New York. I'm eating myself. (CONTINUED) 163 164 *
* * *
.A BIT LATER The sun has come up strong. DONALD That's kinda weird.
I wanted to turn back. And there in the middle of it was this one gorgeous. if you keep searching for something past doubt. LAROCHE Here we go. Gnats and mosquitoes bite.DAY Kaufman. even at their peril. Kaufman arrives at the New Yorker building and enters with steely determination. and dragonflies hover. snowy Polyrrhiza lindenii. something to pursue. Bees. Things slither past in the water. And we found ourselves in this charred prairie.most for something exceptional. sweaty and anxious. I had goddamn bloody blisters on my feet. The ground is soft. Birds screech. walks along. Encyclia tempensis. it's a struggle to pull their feet up to walk. 164A * * 164
* * *
* * * * *
Laroche and Orlean step off the levee into black water. They sink to their knees.) He made it sound like a Bible story. there it'll be. Something big runs by in the distance. We couldn't find one.pg. But my mom said. I never thought many people in the world were like John. SWAMP . rather than abide an ordinary life. not an aberration -.MORNING 165-167 168 She watches him. Laroche points to a yellow flower. They drive in silence for a little while. sun blasted. We walked for hours. ORLEAN (V. Laroche lights a cigarette. but I was realizing more and more that Laroche was an extreme. my mother and I came to the Fakahatchee to look for a ghost. (CONTINUED)
164 CONTINUED: LAROCHE I remember one time when I was fifteen. 164A EXT.O. So we walked. MIDTOWN NEW YORK CITY STREET . through the most intense heat I'd ever felt. y'know. desolate. the hopeful journey through darkness into light. past the absolute certainty that you'll never find it. Frogs croak. John. past hopelessness. 165-167 OMITTED 168 EXT.
. The New Yorker logo is painted on the wall opposite the elevator. Orlean gets out.DAY 169 170 * * *
Kaufman rides up in the crowded elevator. 171 EXT. It begins its descent and stops once again at the New Yorker. 172 Kaufman follows her. But I'm no snob. You know that. ELEVATOR . I found you two already. Kaufman sweats. Nobody gets off or on. Not just pretty ones. Orlean is a sweaty mess.DAY Orlean walks along. scraped. dirty. 80
168 CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) Nice little sucker. Uh-huh. The doors open. Orlean looks at him blankly.LATE MORNING
The sun is much higher in the sky. 172 171
EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREET . I'll show you every orchid you want today. Laroche continues and Orlean attempts to keep pace. (pointing to another orchid) Rigid Epidendrum.pg. Kaufman hates himself. Kaufman is panicked. He points at a tiny orchid on another tree. Kaufman hesitates. people get off and on. The elevator arrives at the lobby. frizzed hair. It stops a few times. SWAMP . LAROCHE (CONT'D) Clamshell orchid. ORLEAN * 168
LAROCHE See. and faces front. That's an ugly-ass orchid. anxious. The doors close. presses "lobby". Soon the elevator is emptied out with the exception of Kaufman. LAROCHE (peppy) They're right nearby. I'll find you a fucking ghost if it kills me. Kaufman sweats. I'm interested in all orchids.
Just follow me. The elevator continues up. Orlean laughs appreciatively. isn't it? Orlean examines it. studies the back of her head. 169 170 OMITTED INT. This time Orlean gets on.
Good character details. hysterical.pg.) Reads Vanity Fair. yanks the sheets from the bed. swings them wildly. KAUFMAN (V.) Orlean turns from the prosecutor to the waitress and says: Could I get some lemon. then go in another direction.
The waitress nods and leaves. ORLEAN Could I get some lemon please? Kaufman scribbles.) Likes lemon in tea and her voice is not at all what I imagined. Funny detail: New Yorker writer reads Vanity Fair.DAY
Orlean sits by herself. SWAMP . KAUFMAN (V. KAUFMAN (V. 81
INT. RESTAURANT . drinks iced tea. HOTEL ROOM . (CONTINUED) 175 * * * * * * * * 174 * *
. knocking over a bedside lamp and shattering the bulb.) (cont'd) Likes tuna.O.
KAUFMAN (V. 175 INT.O. He paces. reading Vanity Fair. Good stuff! Orlean looks up from her magazine and smiles at the waitress. She watches him start off in one direction. LAROCHE We're not lost. Kaufman sits a few tables away. ORLEAN Can I ask you a personal question? Laroche turns and scowls at her.O.NIGHT Kaufman types from his notes.NOON Orlean follows Laroche. stop. Interesting! 174 EXT. Use! A waitress brings a tuna sandwich and an iced tea to Orlean. tries to tear them. He scribbles in his notebook.O. Thanks. please? Kaufman reads what he has written. He's frustrated.
Oh. are you making headway? Valerie's breathing down my neck. the other reason I'm calling is to tell you The Three is just amazing.
175 CONTINUED: He stops. KAUFMAN (hollow) You can't rush inspiration. MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Donald's script! A smart. It's been okay. Best script I've read this year. Y'know. it's Marty. I have an appointment. heaves. Hello? KAUFMAN (CONT'D) 175 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Hey. bends to pick up the broken glass. maybe you could bring your brother on to help you finish the orchid thing. buddy. Um. still holding the glass. I mean --
MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Just a thought. KAUFMAN I gotta go. fair enough. KAUFMAN I don't know what that is. Good. I mean. He answers it. edgy thriller.pg. MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Well. How's it going? Has it been helpful to talk to the writer? What's her name? KAUFMAN Susan Orlean. MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Okay. Two fucking talented guys in one family. don't say that. KAUFMAN Marty. KAUFMAN
MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) I'll sell it for a shitload. He's really goddamn amazing at structure. The phone rings.
sees her staring at him. LAROCHE
Orlean stares at the twig in the ground. He pokes around on the ground for something. LAROCHE (cont'd) A sundial. amigo. She looks at Laroche. it's about -ORLEAN The sundial isn't working.pg. LAROCHE Well. and we'll be able to tell which way the sun is moving. LAROCHE (cont'd) You should eat something. He looks up at her. wait a few minutes. he puts the twig back. Without looking at Orlean. Laroche sticks the twig into the ground.LATER 176 175 * *
The sun is high. She stares at him. stares at it. Finally: LAROCHE I'm just turned around a little. Laroche smiles sheepishly at Orlean. It is so. comes up with a straight twig. but busies himself opening the backpack and pulling out food. (CONTINUED)
. Finish! Finish! 176 EXT. We want to be heading southeast. SWAMP . knocks over the twig. This relaxes Laroche. Orlean and Laroche sit on dry ground. y'know it's not really about collecting the thing. Laroche looks down at it. 83
175 CONTINUED: (2) MARTY (TELEPHONE VOICE) Adios. her fists clench into balls. He stretches his legs. He won't look at her. Orlean takes a cracker. LAROCHE (cont'd) So do you collect anything? ORLEAN (non-responsive) Not really. Rage and panic sweep across her face. I'll just set this up.
Laroche seems unaware. There's a sadness. Orlean looks sadly at Laroche. overweight men wandering the streets also. Whenever everything's killing me. we have to get out as long as we walk straight. 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. KAUFMAN (V. LAROCHE (CONT'D) Okay. can't write. Orlean is stony.pg.) I am fat. I am repulsive. fuck the sundial. NYC STREETS (MONTAGE) . screw it. LAROCHE I've done this a million times. 84
176 CONTINUED: Her eyes become wild. I am just one more old. We'll just go straight and eventually we'll get there. Laroche points them in a direction and they walk. He eyes other sad-looking. ORLEAN (panicky) Look. I need to -LAROCHE The thing about computers. look. logically. LAROCHE (cont'd) What I mean is we'll get somewhere. 179 EXT. bald man on the street. I am old. I just say to myself. Laroche leads Orlean back into the brush. They rise.DAY I * * 179 177 178 * * * 176 * * * * *
* * *
Laroche leads the way. a sense of defeat and humiliation that he tries to conceal.MORNING Kaufman wanders. and go straight ahead.O. fat. I mean.
. SWAMP . balding. 177 178 OMITTED EXT. Out of here. some dark fantasy plays out in her brain.
NYC STREET .O.) I have failed. The guy moves on and the registrar looks without interest at Kaufman. Yes? REGISTRAR
Kaufman averts his eyes from her cool gaze. AUDITORIUM . I. LOBBY . I am a loser. I have sold out.MORNING
The lobby of an auditorium. McKee continues to talk but his voice goes under. I am panicked. except for Kaufman who looks pained.
180 He 181 * *
INT.MORNING Kaufman sees a glass building ahead. they come to rest on a pile of McKee's book Story next to her. First. glowing in the sun. (CONTINUED)
.) I am pathetic. Kaufman watches with disdain as people take notes. MCKEE Literary talent is not enough.
MCKEE So. 182 INT.A BIT LATER Kaufman sits in the packed room.pg. I am fat.. what is the substance of writing? Nothing as trivial as words is at the heart of this great art. KAUFMAN (V. a mic clipped to his lapel.. Kaufman waits in line. He watches the handsome guy ahead of him flirt with a female registrar.. last.. KAUFMAN (V.O. I am worthless. and always the imperative is too tell a story. crowded with enthusiastic people signing up for something. I am fat. The audience laughs. walks toward it. 85
EXT. 182 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 from Hollywood for your art.
You must present the internal conflicts of your character in action. when storytelling goes bad in a society. isn't that the risk one takes for attempting something new. 183 INT. Kaufman sweats. Kaufman looks around at people scribbling in notebooks. Well. KAUFMAN (V. I'll start over -(starts to rise) I need to face this project head on and -MCKEE . (deadpan) Well. because my jaunt into the abyss brought me nothing. the result is decadence.. Easy answers..) It is my weakness. Any idiot can write voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character. sloppy writing. Everyone except Charlie laughs at McKee's joke.LATER 183 * * * * * 182
McKee scribbles a diagram onto a transparency in an overhead projector. * * * * * *
MCKEE (CONT'D) God help you! It's flaccid. The audience members take copious notes.. MCKEE (cont'd) Your goal must be a good story well told. and God help you if you use voiceover in your work. "Flaccid. "Any idiot. Craft is the sum total of all means used to draw the audience into deep involvement. Aristotle said. AUDITORIUM . 86
182 CONTINUED: MCKEE Twenty-three hundred years ago." writes the guy on one side of him. I should leave here right now. It's some kind of complicated time-line with actbreaks and corresponding page numbers indicated. And here I am. my ultimate lack of conviction that brings me here. Kaufman looks up.. my friends.O. Rules to short-cut yourself to success. McKee seems to watching him..." writes the guy on the other side. and ultimately to reward it with a moving and meaningful experience. just look around you. startled.pg.
Now Kaufman takes serious notes. We are not recreating life on the screen.pg.A FEW MINUTES LATER 184 183
Students exit onto the street in groups. McKee. holding a cup of coffee. AUDITORIUM . We stay firmly planted on his face as he talks and talks.and I include myself in this -. And that's an important point. Kaufman wanders by himself.the rapid exchange of ideas. AUDITORIUM . DISSOLVE TO: 187 INT. A long speech in a script.LATER 185 186 *
It's late. The Greeks called it stykomythia -. 185 186 OMITTED INT. say a page long. but still attentive. There's not a person in this world -. His face is troubled. MCKEE The other day someone asked me if Michelle Pfeiffer were beautiful. Writers are not tape recorders. Have you ever eavesdropped on people talking in a coffee shop? Then you know how dull and tedious real conversation is. energetic as ever. 184 EXT. 87
183 CONTINUED: MCKEE (cont'd) Okay. The audience is tired. MCKEE Long speechs are antithetical to the nature of cinema. NYC STREET .who would be interesting enough to take as is and put in a movie as a character. 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. (CONTINUED) * * 187
.LATER STILL McKee faces the audience. Real people are not interesting. one hour for lunch. There is no sound. requires that the camera hold on the actor's face for a minute. The ontology of the screen is that it's always now and it's always action and it's always vivid. wears his sweater tied around his shoulders.
A violent fight ensues. They struggle and are frustrated and nothing is resolved. Kaufman struggles with Aristotle's Poetics. sits in the back. DISSOLVE TO: 189 OMITTED 189 189A * * * * * * * * * *
189A INT. 190 INT. collapsing it. Kaufman can't get out of the way. deadpan: MCKEE (cont'd) Michelle Pfeiffer is proof for the existence of God. 88
187 CONTINUED: He pauses theatrically. they don't have any epiphanies. grabs Aristotle's foot and pulls him down. It's silent and tense. there'll be a Q and A tomorrow morning before class starts. Aristotle rises to stretch. can't seem to move as the two men brutally bludgeon each other. MCKEE Anyone else? Kaufman timidly raises his hand. he smashes Darwin in the back of the head. where people don't change. The overtired audience breaks into uproarious laughter.DAY
Darwin and Aristotle and Kaufman have tea. then. sips his coffee. HOTEL . with dark circles under his eyes. 190
KAUFMAN What if a writer is attempting to create a story where nothing much happens. Out of nowhere. Yes? MCKEE (cont'd) McKee paces. AUDITORIUM . More a reflection of the real world -(CONTINUED)
. bleary-eyed. giggles a little. There's a photograph of a bust of Aristotle on the book's cover.pg. smash against walls leaving bloody prints. Remember.MORNING Kaufman. He walks around the table. KAUFMAN'S DINING ROOM . Kaufman. 188 INT.NIGHT 188 187 * * *
In bed. MCKEE (cont'd) Okay. He turns. Darwin flies face forward into the card table. That's it for tonight.
pg. thanks. okay. my friend. MCKEE Oh. KAUFMAN I was the one who thought things didn't happen in life.NIGHT The last of the students are filing out. if you write a screenplay without conflict or crisis. Secondly: Nothing happens in the 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. carrying his brown leather bag. 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. 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. right. MCKEE (trying to recall) I need more. then you. tired Kaufman approaches him. you'll bore your audience to tears. NYC STREET . leaning against the building. 89
190 CONTINUED: MCKEE The real world? The real fucking world? First of all. Kaufman waits. Mr. 191 EXT. McKee? Yes? KAUFMAN MCKEE 191 190
KAUFMAN I'm the guy you yelled at this morning. McKee emerges. Nice to see you. (CONTINUED)
. A shaky.
KAUFMAN Mr. 192 EXT..pg. It's about my choices as a human being. all the way to the road. 193 INT. McKee hesitates for a moment. looking only straight ahead. SWAMP . BAR . my friend. There's a pause.O. Soon there is silence. and there... (CONTINUED) Kaufman reads 193 192 * * * * 191
.) We turned to the right and saw only more cypress and palm and sawgrass They turn left and see metal flashing in the sunlight. McKee. we could see the gleam of a fender..NIGHT Kaufman and McKee sit at a table with beers. What you said was bigger than my screenwriting choices. my even standing here is very scary. then reaches out and puts his arm around Kaufman. But what you said this morning shook me to the bone.) (cont'd) We followed it like a beacon. MCKEE I could use a drink.) (cont'd) So we turned to the left. far down the diagonal of the levee. KAUFMAN . As they walk the sounds and colors become subdued. I don't meet people well. ORLEAN (V.O. ORLEAN (V. Kaufman closes the book. 90
191 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN I need to talk.O. Please. ORLEAN (V. Orlean and Laroche walk toward the car. from his copy of The Orchid Thief. MCKEE I'm sorry.DAY Laroche and Orlean slog through the water with purpose. I can't talk to writers about material I haven't read.
My twin brother Donald. I wanted to present it simply. Tears form in Kaufman's eyes. tedious movie. But don't cheat! Don't you dare bring in a deus ex machina. acts. MCKEE (cont'd) Tell you a secret.
. eyes Kaufman. It's about disappointment. I can't go back. Kaufman hugs him. and you've got a hit. You can have an uninvolving. I wanted to show that Orlean never saw the blooming ghost orchid. He's the one who got me to come. I'm way past my deadline. (beat) That's not a movie.
* * * *
MCKEE You've taken my course before? KAUFMAN My brother did. Find an ending.pg. 91
193 CONTINUED: MCKEE Then what happens? KAUFMAN That's the end of the book. I wanted to show flowers as God's miracles. without big character arcs or sensationalizing the story. MCKEE (disappointed) I see. 193
Maybe you've got two
KAUFMAN (pause) I've got pages of false starts and wrong approaches. McKee sips his beer. Your characters must change and the change must must come from them. McKee recognizes his bulk. The last act makes the film. but wow them at the end. KAUFMAN You promise? McKee smiles. Do that and you'll be fine.
MCKEE (V. 92
193 CONTINUED: (2) MCKEE Twin screenwriters. Julius and Philip Epstein. KAUFMAN *
DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Hey. 195 INT. 196 INT. dials the phone. Caroline giggles in the background. He 196 195
DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Great writers residence. HOTEL ROOM . McKee's Ten Commandments is taped to the wall.who wrote Casablanca were twins. how's the trip? Gettin' it on with that lady journalist? You dog you! KAUFMAN Yeah. 194 INT.NIGHT 194 * * 193
Kaufman paces. (CONTINUED)
. Donald. They drink wine and are in the middle of a board game. He rubs his temples. Listen. A revolution in values from positive to negative or negative to positive without irony -.) Climax. As is a photo of Michelle Pfeiffer ripped from a magazine. tries to read Story.CONTINUOUS 196A * * *
Donald sits on the floor with Caroline and Catherine Keener. 196A INT. like Darwin before him.NIGHT Kaufman is lost in McKee's text.NIGHT McKee. MCKEE One of the finest screenplays ever written. I'm calling to say congratulations on your script. EMPTY LIVING ROOM .a value swing at maximum charge that's absolute and irreversible.O. MCKEE'S OFFICE . HOTEL ROOM .pg. sits at his desk and writes. KAUFMAN You mentioned that in class.
We're playing Boggle. She's great.CONTINUOUS What? KAUFMAN 196B 196A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
DONALD (PHONE VOICE) She stopped by after work with Caroline. KAUFMAN (PHONE VOICE) That's great. It's been a wild ride. 196B INT. please. DONALD C'mon.. long moment. look. Um. DONALD I want to thank you for all your help. high-sixes against a mill-five. You should hang out with her. Keener says she really wants to play Cassie! KEENER (jokingly. KEENER (O. Caroline. please.C. KAUFMAN Yeah. taking this all in. Donald. please. HOTEL ROOM . KAUFMAN (PHONE VOICE) I wasn't any help. Kaufman is silent for a
KAUFMAN Catherine Keener is in my house? DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Yeah. 93
196A CONTINUED: DONALD Isn't that cool? Marty says he can make me. maybe you'd be interested in hanging out with me in New York for a few days. you let me stay in your place and your integrity inspired me to even try. like..
. And she picked up the script and couldn't put it down. and Donald laugh. tipsy) Oh.pg. Donald. I've been thinking.) (IN BACKGROUND) I couldn't put it down because I had glue on my hands! Keener.
It's funny. Y'know. HOTEL ROOM . 94
196B CONTINUED: DONALD (PHONE VOICE) Oh my God. huh? Sorry. Just for fun. Y'know. We're different talents. KAUFMAN I know. Charles. I --
DONALD Hey. like. Donald finishes. who is Susan Orlean? (CONTINUED) * *
. yes! KAUFMAN Yeah? I was going to show my script to some people. KAUFMAN (stung but covering) All right. subtext.
KAUFMAN Good. Okay. what would you do? DONALD Script kind of makes fun of me. I'm thinking. Like what? DONALD I don't know. KAUFMAN I was trying something. I don't mind.MORNING Donald lies on his back on the floor intently reading the script. Of course! 197 DONALD (PHONE VOICE) I'm flattered! 197 196B
* * * * * * *
INT. How would the great Donald end this script? DONALD (giggling) Shut up. (serious) I feel like you're missing something. is quiet. too. Maybe you could read it. Kaufman paces. if you like. So. The great Donald. what would you do?
DONALD You and me are so different.pg. KAUFMAN So. man.
KAUFMAN But you've got to be exactly me.. KAUFMAN I don't know. I can't. some glimpse of life that expands like those Japanese paper balls you drop in water and they bloom into flowers. reads) "Sometimes this kind of story turns out to be something more. DONALD Pretend I'm you. look. but I think you need to actually talk to this woman. A long silence while Kaufman looks his brother up and down. it's just a metaphor. You can't be a goofball. DONALD (CONT'D) I want to do it. yes. DONALD Maybe. You can't be an asshole. * * * * * * * * * * * * * 197
Kaufman rolls his eyes. KAUFMAN Really.. (picks up Orchid Thief." (looks up) First of all.
. she said she didn't care about flowers. DONALD For what? What turned that paper ball into a flower? It's not in the book. You're reaching. 95
197 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN She's a journalist writing a story. That's inconsistent. Someone's got to talk to her. and the flower is so marvelous you can't believe there was a time all you saw in front of you was a paper ball and a glass of water. I'll go. but. of course she's that. DONALD Is she? I mean. I have a reputation to maintain. KAUFMAN For God's sake.pg. Charles. To know her.
you could become a pretty good writer. (CONTINUED) *
* * *
. He said. No bad jokes. "You know. ORLEAN I had a brief phone conversation with him when the book came out. Donald scribbles. doing his best serious writer impression. Don't laugh how you laugh. certainly an intimacy develops in that type of relationship. Care to comment? ORLEAN Our relationship was strictly reportersubject. 96
197 CONTINUED: (2) DONALD I'm not an asshole. You spend a lot of time together.pg. mumbles under his breath. I was very interested in everything he had to say. ORLEAN
DONALD The reason I ask. if you write a couple more books. By definition. But the relationship ends when the book ends. Do you keep in touch with Laroche? Orlean responds with what might be a practiced casualness. DONALD (sort of hurt) I'm not going to laugh. Thanks. DONALD So. ORLEAN'S OFFICE . I guess I'll bring out the big guns now. It's an honor.DAY 198 * * * * 197
Orlean is behind her desk. KAUFMAN You know what I mean. Donald." Donald laughs appreciatively as he scribbles on his pad. In the subtext. 198 INT. dressed as Charlie. is that I felt I detected an attraction to him. I get to have people think I'm you. I mean. No flirting. DONALD (flirty despite himself) I think you're a very good writer now. sits across from her.
INT. enters. just one more question..pg. Einstein or Jesus. watches TV. KAUFMAN What do you mean "Jesus and Einstein"? DONALD Listen. She's lying. stares out the window. KAUFMAN What do you mean? What happened? DONALD Nothing. Very good. That's a prepackaged answer. 97
198 CONTINUED: ORLEAN (CONT'D) 198 *
DONALD Nothing. (reading from pad) If you could have dinner with one historical personage.. who would it be? Orlean is somewhat relieved she's dealing with an idiot. HOTEL ROOM . 199 DONALD Interesting answer. Too right. Okay. Did you embarrass me? DONALD People who answer questions too right are liars. I have an idea. KAUFMAN What's Jesus and Einstein?
* * *
* * *
. living or dead.DAY Kaufman paces. She said all the right things. DONALD She was nervous. KAUFMAN Maybe they're too right because they're true. ORLEAN I'd have to say. Charles. And everybody says Jesus and Einstein. dressed as Charlie. You need to buy me a pair of binoculars.
pg. Leave. EMPTY SUITE OF OFFICES . KAUFMAN Let's go. and sings and dances around Kaufman. window with binoculars.
DONALD I'll just stay a little longer. Donald stares out the 200 * *
* * *
KAUFMAN I don't want to be caught here. Sadly. DONALD (O. is she doing anything at all? DONALD Still just staring off.CONTINUOUS We watch this in silence through the binoculars. She closes her office door. Orlean waits as the phone rings. A conversation ensues. holds it like a microphone. KAUFMAN What the hell do you need binoculars for? 200 INT. (CONTINUED) 201
. picks up a pen. 98
199 CONTINUED: 199
Donald winks. I do.
Kaufman can't step out into the hallway by himself.NIGHT Kaufman nervously watches the door.
DONALD She's dialing her phone! 201 INT. ORLEAN'S OFFICE . DONALD (singing) Imagine me and you.S. becoming more and more agitated. (singing) I think about you day and night -(talking) C'mon. Let's go. (talking) C'mon. who just stares at him. sing with me! (singing) It's only right to think about the one you love and hold her tight.) She's upset. want to be doing this. KAUFMAN Well.
" 203 INT. She hung up the phone. HOTEL ROOM . Through binoculars we see Orlean on her computer at an online airline reservation site. EMPTY SUITE OF OFFICES .pg. KAUFMAN This is morally reprehensible. I thought she was done with Laroche. Heh heh. 202 She starts to cry. DONALD She's crying. (turns to Kaufman) Hmm. Leave her alone. DONALD United to Miami.) Stop watching her. KAUFMAN I'm trying to read. DONALD That was no parent phone call. DONALD Have you checked out Laroche's porn site? No.CONTINUOUS
Kaufman paces behind Donald. Don't tell my old lady. Research. my friend. KAUFMAN Don't say "my friend. She's at her computer. Donald. KAUFMAN You mean mom? (CONTINUED) * * * *
.S. Donald flips a pencil lazily in the air and reads The Orchid Thief.NIGHT Kaufman tries to read McKee's Story. 99
201 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (O. I'm gonna look at it. DONALD Anyway. Tomorrow morning. Orlean looks out her window. * 203 * * * * *
Donald tapes some computer keys. 202 * 201
INT. who watches through binoculars. KAUFMAN Her parents live in Florida.
DONALD I'll get a closer look. 204 INT. keeping up with the van. DONALD
KAUFMAN It's so weird to see that van in real life. On the screen is a Kaufman stares 204
Kaufman sighs. Orlean waits on the sidewalk with a suitcase. 205 INT. nervous.LATER 206 Donald follows. Orlean seems different now: more exotic. goes over to the computer. 205
The van pulls into the driveway of a neat. KAUFMAN I said. incredulously at it. Orlean gets in. KAUFMAN 203 * *
DONALD (studying website) Some of these chicks are okay. (waits for website to come up) I still say we go to Miami tomorrow. middle-class house. in time to see Orlean and Laroche emerge from the van. DONALD I said. RENTAL CAR . The beat-up white van pulls up. posed but awkward. (CONTINUED)
. gets out. Donald behind the wheel. Forget it. C'mere. naked photo of Orlean. oh yeah. which speeds and swerves through traffic. Kaufman and Donald drive by.A BIT LATER Donald drives.DAY
Kaufman and Donald are parked in the loading area at the Miami Airport. Told ya. Hey. and watches as Laroche lugs Orlean's suitcase into the house. You wait here.pg. the van speeds off. no. baby. 206 EXT. Donald parks up the street. guess what? We're going to Miami. No. Kaufman is sweaty. 100
203 CONTINUED: DONALD I don't mean mom. CAR . SUBURBAN STREET .
I just -LAROCHE Who the fuck are you? KAUFMAN Um. it should be me. Kaufman makes a mad dash around the side of the house. undressing each other. I dunno what's come over you! Kaufman crawls to the window. The chair slides across the floor. snorts some lines of green powder. it's my... You the man. Johnny? KAUFMAN I just. Laroche cuts him off. I mean. crawls to the coffee table. kissing.. ORLEAN Who's that. tips over. ORLEAN You know what? It's that screenwriter. looks in. Laroche's new beautiful set of white teeth. oblivious. Orlean and Laroche are laughing. There's movement in a window in ducks.S. Orlean pulls away giggling. I should go. Wrong house. he discovers a greenhouse filled with row orchids. drags him into the house.. DONALD Go for it.pg. in. HOUSE . continues to rub herself. right? I mean. Laroche glances at the window. locks eyes with Kaufman. Orlean studies Kaufman. Laroche waits patiently. 101
206 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (momentously) No. peruses house.CONTINUOUS 207 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Laroche throws Kaufman down into a chair. have slipped. I'm just. How did he find me. trying to His eyes widen as upon row of ghost the house. Kaufman is heartbroken and transfixed. Donald gets Kaufman's script. He adjusts them.. Kaufman walks past the peer in windows. He slinks around back. He jumps up and runs naked to the back door.. Kaufman gets out of the car. Kaufman 206
* * *
LAROCHE (O. nobody. 207 INT. Johnny? (CONTINUED)
* * * *
. Orlean.) Darlin'. She drags herself back to him and continues where they left off. bro.
LAROCHE Okay. it was nice to meet you. LAROCHE Have a seat for a moment. Orlean tries to focus. then kind of stands in Kaufman's way. Laroche looks at Susan. who's gonna play me? KAUFMAN I'm not -. Kaufman rises. * * * * * * * *
ORLEAN You going to put this in your screenplay? KAUFMAN I really don't know what this is. Let me give you my number. ORLEAN Did he follow me? KAUFMAN No. of course not. Orlean rises. I should -* * * * 207
LAROCHE I thought I should play me. don't let him leave. 102
207 CONTINUED: LAROCHE The guy adapting our book? Wild! (to Kaufman) Hey. ORLEAN I'm freaking. Orlean sees Kaufman glance at the drugs on the coffee table.pg. Well. Laroche begins to write his phone number. ORLEAN Shit.I don't know that. Did you follow me? I should go. (CONTINUED)
. LAROCHE He did see the greenhouse. dude. John. What does he know? Why is he here?
KAUFMAN I don't know anything about anything. 'kay? Kaufman does.
Why are you here? KAUFMAN I'm not sure. gestures to herself. What? KAUFMAN AND LAROCHE
ORLEAN (mumbling) I don't know. Well. then? LAROCHE 207
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
ORLEAN I don't know. Suze. LAROCHE Oh. (screaming) I don't know!
207 CONTINUED: (2) ORLEAN He's lying! I mean. I'm pretty clear on the structure. he's researching his script. Maybe in a week or -ORLEAN That's not why he's here! Why. KAUFMAN I'm pretty much going to stick with the book.I'm just down here to see the swamp. right? LAROCHE Good point. Kaufman rises. I don't know. I don't know if I'm available to take you in. She looks up. She talks to herself for a while. I'm almost done. ORLEAN (cont'd) We have to kill him. anyway. I was just -. ORLEAN * *
Laroche does. LAROCHE I believe him. Orlean massages her temples.pg. Hold him.
He listens. I have to think. Kaufman gets in. deliberate) Susie.) Susie. Thank you. Charlie.
. LAROCHE (O. You're getting a little emotional and you -ORLEAN Don't talk to me like I'm a mental patient! I hate when you do that! I'm not. okay. you need to calm down.pg.
* * * * * * * * 208 *
Sorry. 208 Laroche closes the door. I understand. CLOSET . LAROCHE I'm sorry.
INT. LAROCHE (cont'd) (quietly) Just for a little while.S. 104
207 CONTINUED: (3) LAROCHE 207
ORLEAN What are we supposed to do?
You tell me!
KAUFMAN (trying to keep a friend here) It's okay. Laroche escorts Kaufman to the closet as Susan paces.all those people -watching my -KAUFMAN Can I please speak? ORLEAN Lock him in the closet. we can't kill anyone.
* * * * * * * * * *
ORLEAN I can't have him writing aobut me. I can't have people -.CONTINUOUS
Kaufman stands in the dark as the door is locked. LAROCHE Yeah.
LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM . his pants fall down. in close-up.) Protect me. 208A INT. occasionally pass between Donald and the camera.) I thought maybe we'd take him to the Fakahatchee.CONTINUOUS 208B
Orlean. He sifts through a cardboard box. finds a batteryoperated bartender doll.) I think you just stick them in. his face lights up red. The bartender shakes a drink. It will ruin our thing! Us! It will? LAROCHE (O.pg.S.) Then what? Everyone will find out. 209 INT.S. in close-up. turns it on. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
. Laroche turns it off. BASEMENT . She glances down at his off-screen hand. He reaches into the box and pulls out a gun. descends the basement stairs. He passes behind her. pulls out a stack of ancient TV guides. Laroche can be heard ascending the creaky basement stairs. blurry. LAROCHE (O.S. In these
* * * 209 * * * * * * *
Orlean nods her head.) There are a couple guns with my dad's stuff in the basement.S.S. He pulls a cord lighting a bare bulb.S. ORLEAN (O. LIVING ROOM WINDOW .) 208
* * * * * * *
ORLEAN (O. Johnny. a little hysterically.CONTINUOUS
Unnoticed. ORLEAN Do you know how to put the bullets in? LAROCHE (O. Kaufman inhales sharply. pacing foreground figures. holes here. Please. 105
208 CONTINUED: ORLEAN (O. Donald watches the goings-on. chews her fingernail and cries. Laroche and Orlean.CONTINUOUS 208A
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Laroche. My mom! It'll be in a damn movie! I'll be humiliated. large. in close-up. There's a long sweaty silence. 208B INT.
I didn't really do it. there's an image I could do without. ORLEAN (O.S. Orlean sits next to him.) (cont'd) He could be found drowned. that's sort of creepy. KAUFMAN It's a story.NIGHT 210 * * 209 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Kaufman drives through a nice.S. LAROCHE (O. That sounds like a real thing that could happen.S. Orlean reads more of the screenplay.) I don't have a car! Donald disappears from the window. 210 INT.S.) I. KAUFMAN (O. here's me again! (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. God.) Okay.) Of course he does. um. screenwriter? KAUFMAN (O. 106
209 CONTINUED: ORLEAN (O.) You have a car. I don't care what you're doing. KAUFMAN Look. holding a gun. RENTAL CAR . They drive in silence. She skims Kaufman's screenplay. ORLEAN Jerking off to my photograph.S.pg. like he slipped and hit his head on a rock. ORLEAN Hey. I -ORLEAN (O. (CONTINUED)
* * *
* * * * * *
. His headlights shine on Laroche's van ahead. like he was doing research. suburban Miami neighborhood. We'll drive his car and leave it on the side of the swamp. I'm really just interested in orchids." Jesus.S. KAUFMAN I was just trying to do something. no.
we're on the way out of the swamp -* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 210 * *
. ORLEAN Listen. Charlie-boy. you don't have to kill me. From a weirdo with no teeth. ORLEAN Yeah. I know. this isn't easy for me either. KAUFMAN You can laugh. ORLEAN (considers) No. Chill. I do. It was orchids." Orlean laughs derisively. It's sad. KAUFMAN Look. ORLEAN You can't learn about passion! You can be passion. but I didn't make that up. 107
210 CONTINUED: ORLEAN Here's a good one! (mocking) "I wanted to know what it's like to care about something passionately. ORLEAN I lied about what happened at the end of the book. We can forget I ever came here. KAUFMAN You never even cared about orchids. Get a cup of coffee. We can do whatever you want. KAUFMAN We can turn around. Can we do that? We can talk this out.pg. Kaufman stares straight ahead at Laroche's van. ORLEAN (cont'd) So. I'll sign anything. I'm laughing at who I used to be. I'll tell you the truth now. if you don't tell me. KAUFMAN So now you learned about passion. Bully for you. And it wasn't Johnny who made me passion. That's a quote from your book.
I want you to know this. I think this might help you. my porn site is gonna be big. I'd always wanted the ghost for the reasons I told you.DAY Laroche drives.. can't. Orlean tries to feel some passion for it. They drive in silence. LAROCHE (V..O. VAN . but some of the Indians.DAY
Laroche leads Orlean through the swamp.. 108
EXT. 211A INT. Laroche pulls a hacksaw from his bag.) I'd just started up the nursery.pg. No reaction. LAROCHE Might as well grab it. 211A * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 211B * * * * *
LAROCHE Boy... Orlean doesn't even acknowledge he's talking. It wasn't my thing. I went back one night to pick up something. okay? I know you're going through some shit. 211B EXT. stands there awestruck. circles it. Orlean comes around to see a beautiful ghost orchid hanging from the tree. I want to tell you. It's just a flower. ORLEAN It's a flower. He spots something on a tree. LAROCHE (CONT'D) Susan.NIGHT Laroche heads up the steps and enters. long as I'm here. SWAMP .. LAROCHE The jewel of the Fakahatchee. SEMINOLE NURSERY TRAILER . About the ghost. something I didn't tell you.
. Orlean stares out the window. Then:
LAROCHE (cont'd) Look.
Susie. It seems to help people be. stoned Indian men. but -Vinson. LAROCHE It does that. they liked to get stoned. One of the men is slicing up a ghost orchid and pulverizing it.
ORLEAN There was this day he was fascinated by me. Vinson lived on that shit. One of the men looks up and sees Laroche. VAN ..DAY Orlean seems interested now. too. My hair. your sadness is fascinating to me.. I'm probably the only white guy who knows. That's what I wanted to tell you. Fuck Vinson!
LAROCHE I can extract it for you. Y'know. ORLEAN I'm done with orchids. It had been a ceremonial thing. Jesus. Some stare off.
. 211D INT.) 211D
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
LAROCHE Sure. TRAILER BACK ROOM . Oh. 109
211C INT. I want to do this. One sings to himself.pg. My sadness. I always wanted to clone it only to sell to collectors. I watched. fuck! ORLEAN Fuck it. A bunch of young. but the young guys. they ran out. like I told you. As I said. fascinated. Two of the men make out. ORLEAN Was he one of the -Till ORLEAN (V.NIGHT
* * * * * * *
Laroche peeks in the room. LAROCHE They wanted the ghost just to extract their drug. I think you'd like it.O. I know how. Laroche.
Please. Okay. if you're not going to let me go. KAUFMAN I can't even really hear you. emerges from the elevator and heads with some uncertainty down the generic hall. pours some onto the glass-topped desk. HOTEL ROOM . You too. ORLEAN I was so sad that night. ORLEAN (bored) That sounds good. 211I INT. He's pasty white with fear.NIGHT Kaufman drives. Maybe I could get laid. you should. 211F INT. Something.NIGHT 211I
Orlean sits on her bed. HOTEL BAR . She pulls a dollar bill from her purse. The place is empty. sniffs inside.) I went down to the bar.NIGHT 211H
Orlean. There's a small package outside one door. a little tipsy. I didn't know. Friday. RENTAL CAR .O. trying to remember her room number.NIGHT So drained. picks up the baggie. reviews some notes. rolls it up. picks it up. HOTEL HALLWAY .pg. hovers over the green powder. ORLEAN (V. Orlean tears her cocktail napkin into tiny pieces. He's barely listening.NIGHT Orlean sits blankly on her bed.
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Orlean sits at the bar sipping a glass of champagne. stares at it. you should. Her name is written on it. puts it down. He needs to hear how you feel. Orlean stares out the window as they follow Laroche down a strip-malled highway. talks on the phone. A female bartender chats and giggles on the phone.
. All right then. and stares at a little plastic baggie with green powder in it. Yeah. This must be her room. 211H INT. paces. HOTEL ROOM . So you think you'll speak to him about it tomorrow? No. let me be. 211G INT. hon. 110
211E INT. Orlean hangs up.
doesn't. Her frustration quickly turns to fascination with the glass. rolls it around in her fingers. HOTEL ROOM . 211K INT. She sighs.pg. holding the phone to her ear. tries to feel something.A FEW MOMENTS LATER 211J 211I * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 211L * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED)
Orlean brushes her teeth. HOTEL BATHROOM ." Hello? ORLEAN Is this the operator? 211M
OPERATOR Maybe I help you.A LITTLE LATER Orlean lies on the floor studying the carpet weave: the texture. but not like any other crying she's done: now it's at the beauty of the universe. sucks it. 211L INT. A smile lights her face and toothpaste dribbles down her chin. She alters the rhythm of her brushing. dully watches herself in the mirror. stands again. on the scrubbing sound. listening to the dial tone. sniffs it. How exquisite! She cries. 211J INT. Suddenly she becomes fixated on the white suds in her mouth. She tries to open the window for a better look. She watches her grinning face with love. She feels nothing. She's never seen anything more beautiful. She tugs at a strand. I figured. stands. Ms.) (CONT'D) I figured. She tries to sing along with it. 111
211I CONTINUED: ORLEAN (V. HOTEL ROOM . She bends in to the mirror for a better look. She giggles. She notices the oily imprint her forehead left on it. Orlean? ORLEAN How do you know my name?
. Suddenly she hangs up and dials "0. It's so beautiful. the colors. what the fuck. what the hell. tries to determine if it's going to kill her. 211M INT.A LITTLE LATER Orlean lies sprawled on her back on the bed. Orlean leans her forehead against the window and stares with awe out the window at the star-filled sky.O. I figured.A LITTLE LATER 211K
The lights are off. HOTEL ROOM . She makes various shapes with her mouth to change the tone. on the wonderful sensation of bristles against gum. who really cares about anything anymore. She snorts a small amount. discovers it does not open. She snorts the rest. She makes many forehead prints on the glass.
SECOND OPERATOR The notes in my. ORLEAN Good night. It's so pretty. ORLEAN You have been very helpful! Say. ma'am. ORLEAN I'm so embarrassed! Can you tell me. too! (hangs up) She was so nice.pg. 112
211M CONTINUED: OPERATOR This is the hotel operator. to you. eight to five-thirty. Okay.. But I don't think anyone here is going to know that. ORLEAN Well. I am trying to determine the notes in your dial tone. Operator. how I get a hold of the operator operator? OPERATOR Dial nine and then zero.
ORLEAN Hi! I was just wondering if you could help me..
SECOND OPERATOR I don't have any idea. would it be possible to speak with your supervisor? SECOND OPERATOR You'd have to call during business hours. ORLEAN Thank you so much! 211M * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * SECOND OPERATOR * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
OPERATOR Good night. ma'am. ma'am. would you like to come over? After your shift? (CONTINUED)
.? ORLEAN In your dial tone. Orlean dials again.
ORLEAN John. that would be so helpful. ORLEAN Don't go yet! Okay. I'm very happy now. She listens to it. did you ever wish you could use your toes just like fingers? LAROCHE Sure. LAROCHE Orlean fingers the phone cord. all the time. Finally she remembers. do you know what notes are in a dial tone? LAROCHE I could figure it out.
ORLEAN Johnny. LAROCHE
She studies her feet. John. Hello? Hi. I'm glad. I have perfect
ORLEAN Oh. There's a pause. LAROCHE I'll get right on it. forgets to pick up the phone. Did you get my package?
ORLEAN John! John! John John John! Hey. ORLEAN
LAROCHE It's John. stares at the ceiling. The phone rings. She imitates a dial tone. 113
211M CONTINUED: (2) SECOND OPERATOR I can't really do that.pg. pitch. There's a pause. Okay! ORLEAN You have a wonderful night! 211M * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED)
Orlean hangs up.
too? Yes. My guess is they were probably introduced in several cultures simultaneously. LAROCHE
ORLEAN I like socks. Okay.pg. (starts to cry) I want my toes to be happy. LAROCHE They will be. Do you like socks. let alone several times simultaneously! LAROCHE I'll find out exactly who and when. I think toes should be with their fellows. ORLEAN They're my friends and I ignore them! That's not right! I will walk on the beach tomorrow.
. ORLEAN Did you ever see those ones with separate toes? I feel they are very wrong. 114
211M CONTINUED: (3) ORLEAN Really?! Me too! (beat) I love my toes! I never let them do anything fun! I wish they could do activities. Then I will buy a pair of beautiful ocean blue socks! A souvenir of the day for my toes. (pause) Do you sleep in yours? Socks? LAROCHE No. I do. Who invented socks? LAROCHE I have a book. Isn't it amazing to think that socks were invented at all. LAROCHE 211M * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED)
ORLEAN You're so nice. ORLEAN Huh.
212 OMITTED 212 212A 211M * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 212B * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
212A INT. understand me. She stares out the window at the early morning light. (beat) Are you lonely sometimes. someone would come around and just. RENTAL CAR . Kaufman stares straight ahead. Finally: ORLEAN (whisper) Johnny? Hi. But I had this idea if I waited long enough.MUCH LATER
Orlean is on the floor. I'm a person. Nobody liked me. Please think about what you're doing. LAROCHE
ORLEAN Really? There you go. Johnny. Like my mom. 212B INT. on the phone.NIGHT ORLEAN Oh. KAUFMAN I don't want to die. HOTEL ROOM .pg. Johnny? LAROCHE I was a weird kid. y'know. 115
211M CONTINUED: (4) ORLEAN (excited) Me neither! Me neither! Orlean grins. except someone else. too. We're twins. LAROCHE
ORLEAN It's beginning to get light here. but not talking. Here. just like you. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
. ORLEAN We spoke all night.
but Orlean is enraptured: every touch sends her further into the experience. She remains silent. RENTAL CAR . John. KAUFMAN I don't want anything from you. Orlean smiles. Orlean looks with love at these items. Alive. pale and sweaty. VAN . And I wouldn't be alone anymore. You will not take this away. I was just there.pg. Orlean and Laroche make love inside on a sleeping bag. who stares straight ahead. then: 212B * * * * * * * * 212C * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 212D * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ORLEAN I once had the very same belief. I won't go back. some lines of the green powder spread on a trowel. ORLEAN (in a whisper)
Yes. I couldn't care. 116
212B CONTINUED: LAROCHE (cont'd) I knew the universe wouldn't let me go my whole life alone like that. Everything glows with unearthly beauty: a coke can. lost in her story. Orlean looks hard at Kaufman. Orlean is flabbergasted. The back doors are open.NIGHT
The van is parked on the beach. They pass very few cars now. 212D INT. and quietly say. Not like that. The junk is pushed to the sides.
. a bag of soil. Adapting. She glances past Laroche at the moon. I couldn't focus. It'd send someone. ORLEAN I'd never had sex before. "yes".NIGHT Kaufman drives.
Laroche starts to cry. She pulls him to her and kisses him. Back. anyway. She sees the moonlight reflecting off the junk in the van. she'd look at me. Laroche seems clumsy. Or fantasizing about someone else. then at Laroche's straining face. back on the book. just like that. I wasn't guilty about my marriage. ORLEAN Back in New York. 212C INT.
LAROCHE Milking the Seminoles is cool. ORLEAN That's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me.pg. transfixed by a colony of ants. There are no other cars. all the way to the road. hi... LAROCHE'S BACKYARD . Boy! LAROCHE You're shinier than any ant. if the gov doesn't know the drug exists. ORLEAN So. is why... Our product is a small hit on the Miami club scene. 213 OMITTED 213 213A
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
213A EXT. Orlean lies on the grass outside. but we should introduce this to the general public. ORLEAN I can quit writing! (new thought) I wish I were an ant. 214 INT. The passing landscape is dark and wooded and swampy. I need a ticket to Miami. The sun is warm on her skin. (MORE) (CONTINUED)
212E INT. darlin'.
* * * * * * * *
ORLEAN (plowing through) Um. (back to business) The cool part is.. I like you. The only thing clearly visible is the lit-up rear of Laroche's van.DAY
Laroche is inside a make-shift greenhouse tending to several immature ghost orchids. LAROCHE Well. it ain't controlled... She types at the computer standing up. A Laroche kind of plan. (dials phone) Yeah. ORLEAN'S OFFICE . like a beacon. RENTAL CAR . They're very shiny. and we followed it. Make a shitload of change. Done..NIGHT Orlean paces. Suze. if I do say.NIGHT 214
* * * * * * *
Kaufman and Orlean drive.
getting some equipment." The kids call it Pash or P or Flower. (giggles) Isn't that sweet? Up ahead.CONTINUOUS Kaufman gets out of the car. he sees Donald. ORLEAN (cont'd) Follow Johnny. keeping the 216 217
Orlean pulls herself up and drags herself over to the van as Laroche is throwing things around in the messy back. LAROCHE Who was that?! ORLEAN I don't know! I didn't see! Fuck! LAROCHE Help me find the flashlights! Orlean does also.A LITTLE WHILE LATER 215 * * * * * * 214 *
Laroche's van stops in the middle of the road. We see the lovely Coke can. please. blocking him in. 118
214 CONTINUED: ORLEAN (cont'd) We're going to make a fortune. Kaufman does. JANES SCENIC DRIVE . trip over unseen vines.pg. As Orlean goes to meet Kaufman. Laroche and Orlean banging around in his van can be heard in the distance. gun on him. Laroche turns off the road at the Fakahatchee sign. 218 EXT. on the floor in the back. Laroche parks behind. 216 217 OMITTED EXT. wild-eyed. Donald swings open the back right passenger door. We call it "Passion. (CONTINUED) 218
. LOGGING ROAD . 215 EXT. His hand out the window indicates that Kaufman should pull off to the right onto a logging road. Laroche pokes his head out of the back of his van in time to see Donald grabbing Kaufman and dragging him into the swamp. As Kaufman comes around the car to join Orlean. Laroche is in the rear of his van.CONTINUOUS Kaufman and Donald slog through the black swamp. pulls up to a matal barrier and parks. searching for flashlights. hitting her and sending her flying. SWAMP . ORLEAN Come around.
They sit and wait in silence. God. * * * 218
Laroche and Orlean have found the flashlights and entered the swamp.C.
KAUFMAN They're going to find us.) That's all I could tell.C.) We need to split up. Donald pulls Kaufman behind a stand of trees. John. I get that. I've wasted it.) It was a guy? Fat. Their voices get far away.pg. Orlean and Laroche are heard slogging and talking in the distance. *
Laroche and Orlean move off. LAROCHE But we've gotta hustle. Orlean and Laroche can be seen behind Kaufman and Donald now. And you're not gonna die. All right. breathing hard. LAROCHE (O. LAROCHE (O. I've wasted my life. 119
218 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN For Christ's sake.) This really complicates things. ORLEAN I'm not going to be by myself out here. DONALD You did not. (CONTINUED)
.C. * * * Thanks. The beams search the darkness near the brothers.) I know. why didn't you do something while we were in the car? DONALD My back had seized. ORLEAN (O.
LAROCHE (O. Donald.C. DONALD I don't think so. Orlean and Laroche are very close now. KAUFMAN I don't want to die.C. ORLEAN (O. I couldn't move.
218 CONTINUED: (2) KAUFMAN it. I admire you, Donald, I spend my whole life paralyzed what people think of me and you just oblivious. 218
I wasted y'know? worrying - you're
DONALD I'm not oblivious. KAUFMAN No, you don't understand. I say that as a compliment. I really do. (beat) There was this time in high school. I was watching you out the library window. You were talking to Sarah Marsh. DONALD Oh, God. I was so in love with her. KAUFMAN I know. And you were flirting with her. And she was really sweet to you. DONALD I remember that. KAUFMAN Then when you walked away, she started making fun of you with Kim Canetti. It was like they were laughing at me. You didn't know at all. You seemed so happy. I knew. DONALD I heard them. * * *
KAUFMAN How come you looked so happy? DONALD I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn't have the right to take it away. can love whoever I want. KAUFMAN She thought you were pathetic. DONALD That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That's what I decided a long time ago. (CONTINUED)
218 CONTINUED: (3) Kaufman and Donald sit there for a long while in silence. Kaufman starts to cry softly. What's up? Thank you. For what? DONALD (cont'd) KAUFMAN DONALD 218
Slogging sounds. Orlean and Laroche are getting close again. Flashlight beams miss Kaufman and Donald by inches. ORLEAN (O.C.) We looked here already. No. LAROCHE (O.C.)
ORLEAN (O.C.) I recognize this tree. LAROCHE (O.C.) Suzy, I know every tree in here. ORLEAN (O.C.) I'm thinking this is a bad idea, John. On Orlean and Laroche. LAROCHE What do you mean? ORLEAN It was the Pash. My head is clearing now and suddenly this whole idea seems completely fucked up. LAROCHE Well, y'know, I said that. I said this was crazy. I tried to reason with -I know. ORLEAN I'm sorry. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (CONTINUED)
LAROCHE Yeah, anyway, what do we do now? ORLEAN Maybe we talk to the guy. killing people. We can't go
218 CONTINUED: (4) LAROCHE If you recall, that's what I said before. ORLEAN I made a mistake. want from me? Jesus. What do you 218 * * * * * * * * * * Donald * * * * *
Laroche shakes his head, mutters, then: LAROCHE (calling) Charlie! We're not going to hurt you. We just want to talk! On Kaufman and Donald. shakes his head "no." They look at each other.
ORLEAN We're really sorry!
It's just that...
The flashlights shine elsewhere and the voices go far away. DISSOLVE TO: 219 EXT. SWAMP - EARLY MORNING 219
The light is gray, pre-dawn, murky. Donald and Kaufman are asleep. Donald awakens, looks around. The rental car is still there, but there's no van. Donald nudges Kaufman. He wakes, looks at Donald, who indicates the missing van. They gone? KAUFMAN
DONALD I don't know. Maybe. They quietly slog toward the road. There's no sign of Laroche or Orlean. Donald looks back and smiles at Kaufman. They're getting out of here. Kaufman feels a new, profound affection for his brother. He pats Donald on the back. It's an awkward tap, something never attempted before. Donald gives a cheerful thumbs-up without looking back. They arrive at the car. Donald is heading around to the passenger side and stops dead in his tracks. Kaufman looks over to see what's caught Donald's eye: there, sitting propped against a tree, sleeps Laroche, his rifle on the ground next to him. Kaufman and Donald are momentarily frozen. Then: ORLEAN (O.S.) (in the distance) John! (CONTINUED)
Kaufman regains his bearings and sees his brother halfway out the car. Donald is hit in the arm. Kaufman gets in behind him. The driver's side airbag deploys. Then. a ranger truck comes barreling.S. The vehicles collide and spin violently around.pg. 220
Donald in the midst of an adrenaline rush. Give me some of that shit. Laroche approaches the car. Kaufman grabs Donald and shoves him in the driver's side door. Yeah! DONALD It's cool!
Are you okay?
I'm shot! * * *
KAUFMAN We gotta get you to a hospital. Kaufman finds the keys. closes the door and searches his pockets for keys. backs wildly onto Janes Scenic Drive. They pass Orlean next to the van. She follows them with eyes
DONALD Jesus. the front of his body a bloody mess. (CONTINUED)
. RENTAL CAR . looks nice.
DONALD (laughing) I can't believe I got shot! fucked up? KAUFMAN (laughing too) Shut up! Stop laughing. 123
219 CONTINUED: 219
Kaufman and Donald whirl around to see Orlean eyeing them as she emerges from the van parked up the road. Donald yelps. doesn't know what to do. spaced on pash. To everyone's surprise it fires. With a groggy start he sees the identical brothers standing before him.) (CONT'D)
Laroche opens his eyes. Jesus! KAUFMAN * * *
Laroche is wide-eyed. John! ORLEAN (O. 220 INT. from around a curve. Donald flies through the windshield.CONTINUOUS Kaufman driving. Let's party!
Kaufman and Donald both crane their necks to watch her recede as they drive the swamp road. He instinctively grabs for the rifle. starts the car.
B. who is conscious. She follows. Laroche walks toward Kaufman. SWAMP . sees the two Kaufmans. it's obvious to both that this has gone beyond the point of no return. Kaufman starts to sing. 221 EXT. at the same time watching out for Orlean and Laroche. 220 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
KAUFMAN (cont'd) Imagine me and you. 124
220 CONTINUED: Kaufman hurries around the car to Donald. Orlean approaches Mike Owen from behind. It's only right. I do. Her mouth is open. He slumps to the ground. running from two different directions. Just don't go to sleep. To think about the one you love. Orlean and Laroche arrive. Kaufman stares at the body.CONTINUOUS 221 * * *
Laroche and Orlean. Orlean's eyes well with tears.
. A battered-looking. stop. He bolts into the swamp. fascinated. DONALD AND KAUFMAN I think about you day and night.pg. Kaufman tries to keep him awake. Johnny! ORLEAN
* * * * * * * *
Laroche. KAUFMAN Donald. Donald is dead. Logging road twelve. MIKE OWEN We need help here. at the body of Donald. He angles in to cut him off. There's nowhere to go. You're gonna be okay. is confused. but fading fast. The three stare at each other.. Bad car accident. Alligators swim in it. gain on Kaufman and limit his options. leaving Orlean and Kaufman staring at each other. Kaufman must be next. dazed Mike Owen emerges from the ranger truck. it's gonna be okay. She can't look down at Owen. Donald's eyes close. Is anyone there? Terry? Terry. sees Kaufman running into the woods. Kaufman finds himself up against a lake. heave. she looks horrified.. approaching from down the road. wake the hell up and -Orlean shoots Mike Owen in the back of the head. As Kaufman and Orlean stare at each other. Mike Owen reaches into his truck and grabs the C.
An alligator: it awakens. Everything is a lie. you psychotic bitch! Your book ruined my life! You're just a lonely. His rifle fires at nothing. Orlean collapses into a heap. Kaufman watches. The sun is rising. Laroche is dead. shooting crazily until it's dead. dude. I'm not a killer. Let me be a baby again.pg. hack! You hear me? What do you want?! What do you want from -KAUFMAN Shut up! Shut up! My brother's dead. drops her gun. old. 221 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
. The alligator pulls Laroche to the ground and tears him apart. startled and angry. I think it can touch people. But put yourself in our -Laroche steps on something . I want my life back. Okay? ORLEAN Writing's a lie. It helped me. pathetic drug addict! ORLEAN (suddenly weeping) Oh my God. Kaufman watches. that helps other people feel not so lonely. Orlean looks at his body. KAUFMAN No. this concept turned flesh before his eyes. I want to be new. I did everything wrong. I want to be new. Everything's over. maybe. stunned. Your book didn't ruin my life at all. Orlean screams. you hack! You ruined my life! You loser! You're a goddamn fat. ORLEAN (screaming) You fat piece of shit! He's dead. then looks to Kaufman. KAUFMAN Your writing. Like if it expresses how it is to be lonely. Orlean turns her gun on the creature. desperate. and reflexively grabs Laroche's leg. I want it back before it got all fucked up. 125
221 CONTINUED: LAROCHE I'm sorry I have to do this. sobbing. She glows. suddenly feeling so much for this person.
. mom. ORLEAN
Orlean picks up Laroche's rifle and shoots herself.pg. 126
221 CONTINUED: (2) ORLEAN I just wanted. I just didn't want to die living the life I was living. That's all. Charles. 222-223 OMITTED 224 INT. KAUFMAN You tried to find something better for yourself. Susan. There's a silence.
MOTHER I worry about you. Make it really comfortable in here. I'm going to get a couch. You followed your heart and you loved and -Johnny. EMPTY LIVING ROOM . I just wanted. Wordlessly.. I just wanted. They look at each other from across the room. a coffee table. KAUFMAN You found somebody you loved. I think. That's a good thing. KAUFMAN I know. some overstuffed chairs. Then: 221 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 222-223 224 *
KAUFMAN What did you want? ORLEAN I just wanted. ORLEAN Thank you for saying that. Yeah. KAUFMAN I'm going to do that.DAY Kaufman and his mother are putting Donald's belongings in boxes. MOTHER You should get some furniture. both crying. they meet in the middle and hug.
KAUFMAN Knock knock. sweetie? KAUFMAN Hey. Margaret looks up. I'm almost done! Great! ready. quickly) (MORE)
.DAY Kaufman knocks on the open door.
* * * *
KAUFMAN Listen.pg. KAUFMAN Thank you. They sit. Margaret. He meets her gaze. Thanks. KAUFMAN No. (deep breath. *
She look compassionately into his face. I'm just stupid. MARGARET You able to work at all. She closes the door and brings him to the couch. 225 INT. I understand. KAUFMAN That sounds good. Then it got to be too long and then I couldn't. really. MARGARET (cont'd) I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. I came by for a reason. hugs him. MARGARET'S OFFICE. 127
224 CONTINUED: MOTHER Then you could entertain. MARGARET Please let me read it when you're That's all I ask in this life. MARGARET I was going to call when I heard. but -I don't know. Char-lay! MARGARET * 225 224
She jumps up from her desk and runs to him.
Margaret. Kaufman pauses and tries to read Margaret's reaction. so he plows on. y'know. * 226 * * * * * * * *
She approaches. I'm glad I know you is all. Kaufman rolls down his window. anyway. thanks for telling me. MARGARET Wow. Charlie. and I've never been able to say it because I was afraid to find out you didn't feel the same. Okay then. That's really great. looking a little pale. say. KAUFMAN What's up? He looks at her. KAUFMAN (cont'd) But I guess I realize now . Hey. Margaret appears in front of his car.
MARGARET I kinda thought maybe I could play hooky today. I'll send you the script when it's done. I'm glad you're in the world. 128
225 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN (cont'd) I wanted to tell you I think you're lovely and wonderful. MARGARET That sounds good. being honest. The attendant takes it and Kaufman pulls onto the street. I don't have to get anything back. I'm not saying that at all. CAR . nervously kisses him. Wow. Stupid job. Kaufman smiles. I mean. I'm not saying you don't give me anything back. What do you think?
.A FEW MINUTES LATER Kaufman. Hey. I'm just saying. 226 INT. thanks for being in the world.pg. (laughing. MARGARET (cont'd) You're a great guy.um. waits in line with his validated ticket. can't. I don't know what to He 225
* * * * * * * * * * *
KAUFMAN It's okay. in the parking garage. I can love you. embarrassed) So. gets up.
How silly is that? A heart cell hating a lung cell. 129
226 CONTINUED: KAUFMAN Um. that sounds good. That's what I've come to realize.pg. Like cells in a body." . 226 * * * *
I've never played
Margaret smiles. both staring ahead. FADE TO BLACK. hooky before. The way fish can't see the ocean. Hate each other. And so we envy each other. 'Cept we can't see the body. both sweetly anxious on this new adventure. Hurt each other.Cassie from The Three 227
In Loving Memory of Donald Kaufman
. runs around the front of the car. 227 WHITE TEXT ON BLACK SCREEN: "We're all one thing. Lieutenant. They drive off. and hops in the passenger side.