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Danny Rubin is a screenwriter whose credits include "Hear No Evil," "S.F.W.," and the cult classic "Groundhog Day," for which he received the British Academy Award for Best Screenplay and[…]

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

Question: How did you come up with the idea for “Groundhog rnDay?"

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

So, I was just thinking through if a person rncould live long enough, how would they change and that seemed like a rncumbersome experiment because of having to deal with changing history.  rnSo, I was trying to solve the problem how you can have a person be rnimmortal without having history change from underneath him so that the rnmovie would not - the story of the movie would not have to deal with thern French Revolution and with the future and things like that. 

Andrn then, to solve that, I remembered an idea I had had about a year or tworn before that about a guy repeating the same day and I realized that rnhaving a person repeat the same day turns an eternity into a circle and rnthat’s when all the dramatic possibilities came and the comedic rnpossibilities and all the resonances with repetition.  So, that was the rnidea like that. 

I was actually getting ready to read one of rnAnne Rice’s novels about vampires and I was sort of thinking about why Irn thought that was interesting and the most interesting thing to me was rnthat it was a different class of people.  They were just like people rnexcept some of the rules were different and the most interesting one rnbeing that they were immoral and that’s what got me thinking about rnimmortality.  There, that’s all of it.

Question: Did rnyou always conceive of it as a comedy?

Danny Rubin: rnYeah, well I thought of the funny things first.  The very first thing I rnthought of was the date scene, being able to use your superior knowledgern to pick up women.  As soon as I thought of that I knew I had a movie.  rnThat just seemed to me so extraordinarily interest and fun and funny.  rnSo, I guess I was approaching it in a comedic way, but it wasn’t a genrern comedy.  I was thinking of it more as just a whimsical entertainment.

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

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

Recorded on May 12, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman