Exploring Immortality Through "Groundhog Day"

Question: How did you come up with the idea for “Groundhog \r\nDay?"

Danny Rubin:
There's so many parts to answering \r\nthat question.  I think the big idea, if there is a—the big think or \r\nthe accidental happenstance was when I was trying to solve a story \r\nproblem.  If a person could live forever, if a person was immortal, how \r\nwould they change over time?  I was curious about whether one lifetime \r\nwas enough for somebody.  There are some people, those arrested \r\ndevelopment type men who can’t really outlive their - out grow their \r\nadolescence and I thought, well, maybe one lifetime isn’t enough.  Maybe\r\n you need more.  

So, I was just thinking through if a person \r\ncould live long enough, how would they change and that seemed like a \r\ncumbersome experiment because of having to deal with changing history.  \r\nSo, I was trying to solve the problem how you can have a person be \r\nimmortal without having history change from underneath him so that the \r\nmovie would not - the story of the movie would not have to deal with the\r\n French Revolution and with the future and things like that. 

And\r\n then, to solve that, I remembered an idea I had had about a year or two\r\n before that about a guy repeating the same day and I realized that \r\nhaving a person repeat the same day turns an eternity into a circle and \r\nthat’s when all the dramatic possibilities came and the comedic \r\npossibilities and all the resonances with repetition.  So, that was the \r\nidea like that. 

I was actually getting ready to read one of \r\nAnne Rice’s novels about vampires and I was sort of thinking about why I\r\n thought that was interesting and the most interesting thing to me was \r\nthat it was a different class of people.  They were just like people \r\nexcept some of the rules were different and the most interesting one \r\nbeing that they were immoral and that’s what got me thinking about \r\nimmortality.  There, that’s all of it.

Question: Did \r\nyou always conceive of it as a comedy?

Danny Rubin: \r\nYeah, well I thought of the funny things first.  The very first thing I \r\nthought of was the date scene, being able to use your superior knowledge\r\n to pick up women.  As soon as I thought of that I knew I had a movie.  \r\nThat just seemed to me so extraordinarily interest and fun and funny.  \r\nSo, I guess I was approaching it in a comedic way, but it wasn’t a genre\r\n comedy.  I was thinking of it more as just a whimsical entertainment.

Question:\r\n Did it have to be Groundhog Day, or could it have been another holiday?

Danny\r\n Rubin: This is one of those things that just kind of fell \r\ntogether.  When I got the idea of a man repeating the same day over and \r\nover again, it was January 30th or 31st and so the first thing I thought\r\n of is, I’ve got to think of which day he repeats.  Which day is it?  \r\nAnd so, I just opened up the calendar and the first holiday day I came \r\nto was two days later, Groundhog Day and I was thinking about that \r\nsaying, “Well, this is perfect.  It’s a completely unexploited holiday. \r\n We can play it on TV every year like the Charlie Brown specials.”  But,\r\n other things started to make sense immediately too, like I wanted him \r\nto be a character who went somewhere and was in unfamiliar territory.  \r\nIf he was on his home turf with his family and friends, it would be a \r\ncompletely different story.  And, by making it Groundhog Day, I thought,\r\n “Okay, so maybe he’s a weather man and he comes from Pittsburgh and he \r\ndrove to Punxutawney for the ceremony and the groundhog’s name is Phil, \r\nso I named him Phil and a bunch of things just started falling together \r\nin that way.

Recorded on May 12, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman

Rubin's 1993 comedic cult classic is actually an examination of whether one lifetime is enough for some men to fully outgrow adolescence

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