"I Know This Much Is True," the 1998 novel by Wally Lamb of Mansfield, will be turned into an eight-episode miniseries for HBO, starring and executive produced by Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo, Lamb has announced on his Facebook page.
The novel became a bestseller after it was chosen in 1998 for inclusion in Oprah Winfrey's book club. It tells the story of twin brothers — one with schizophrenia — growing up in a dysfunctional family. The action takes place in the fictional Three Rivers, Conn., which Lamb called "an amalgamation of Norwich, Willimantic and New London."
In a phone interview Friday morning, Lamb said that the film option for "I Know This Much Is True" was purchased by a studio in 1998. However, plans to turn the 912-page volume into a feature film stalled.
"Think of the size of the book, turning that into a 90-minute package," he says. "There were several attempts by screenwriters and directors. They would come to Connecticut and talk to me. But nothing ever really took hold."
Fifteen years later, the option reverted back to him. "Along comes the second golden age of television, limited series on HBO and all that stuff. Suddenly, this book, this grand old novel, had a better format," Lamb said.
Lamb told his agent that he believed Ruffalo would be an ideal collaborator to portray the twin brothers. The agent sent Ruffalo the book and Ruffalo read it. Then he and Lamb met in New York about two years ago and hit it off.
Lamb said Ruffalo related to the book because of his family history. "He had a brother who was troubled and who eventually died an untimely death," Lamb said. "The whole idea of being your brother's keeper, he kind of plugged into it."
Lamb said Ruffalo brought in Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine"), who will write and direct. FilmNation Entertainment, which recently released "The Big Sick," is the production company.
It's too early to say when the show will be broadcast, Lamb said. His current role in the production — officially an executive producer — is essentially a consultant.
"Derek wrote a couple drafts of the first episode and I gave feedback to him. It's important to me to remain at least a second-stringer as far as the project in its development," he said.
He added, however, that he hopes to lobby that the film be shot in Connecticut, "particularly eastern Connecticut, where it takes place."