This Friday, The Circle, a film based on the book weirdly also called The Circle, will be released. We caught up with the author of the book, who is vaguely affiliated with this website.
McSWEENEY’S INTERNET TENDENCY: Thanks for making time.
DAVE EGGERS: Thanks for making time.
MIT: So the movie comes out Friday.
MIT: Have you seen it?
DE: I’ve seen it in many forms, but haven’t seen it all put together and finished.
MIT: You co-wrote it with James Ponsoldt, the film’s director.
DE: James did all the hard work. He took the book and distilled it down to screenplay length, which is really the hardest part of an adaptation — making those decisions about what to cut out. But I think he really got to the essence of it. And of course he did the directing part, which film aficionados consider one of the most important roles on set.
MIT: The cast is incredible. Though I was surprised to see they handed the role of Eamon Bailey, the head of The Circle, to a virtual unknown.
DE: This journeyman actor, of Portuguese descent, impressed everyone. He has a certain charisma, and his ability to grow facial hair quickly was exactly what we were looking for.
MIT: Beyond him, there’s Emma Watson, Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt, John Boyega, Ellar Coltrane…
DE: James Ponsoldt is such a sensitive director, and so good with actors, that it didn’t surprise me that so many astounding people signed up.
MIT: There’s also Glenne Headly and Bill Paxton, who play Mae Holland’s parents. Paxton passed away very recently.
DE: They are so, so good in the movie. I never got to meet Mr. Paxton — I was only on set one day — but his fans, I think, will be reminded of how gifted he was.
MIT: In the book, Mae’s parents are pulled into The Circle and find it a bit overwhelming. They end up rejecting the surveillance aspects of The Circle, as does Mercer, Mae’s close friend. Is the message of the book and film a technophobic one?
DE: The Circle is about abuse of power. That’s one of the primary themes, at least. All the President’s Men is also about abuse of power, but that doesn’t make it an anti-government story. So I hope people see The Circle for what it is, which is a cautionary tale for how a monopolistic control over digital information, paired with a wholesale indifference to privacy, could lead to some very bad outcomes.