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James Ponsoldt on ‘The End of the Tour’ and the Polarized Reactions to the Film

Director James Ponsoldt speaks to Katey Rich for Vanity Fair about his work on the indie docudrama, The End of the Tour, in which writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) spends time on the road with his idol, the novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). Because of the strong feelings many of Wallace’s readers have for the powerful writer whose unique voice was silenced by depression and suicide, the reactions to his portrayal in the film are also strongly felt, some positively, others quite negatively. 

Ponsoldt says he sought opinions early on from a wide variety of friends and colleagues. “For Ponsoldt it was important for people who’d never heard of David Foster Wallace to connect with the film. ‘Not everyone will have the experience of being a critically acclaimed genius novelist, but everyone, I think, at some point in their life, will get 5 minutes or 15 minutes or an afternoon with someone that they’ve idealized, romanticized, conceptualized, measured themselves against.’ But, then again . . . ‘This movie, for some people, will be totally wrong. There’ll be some people that, for any number of reasons, it’ll just so not work for them. That’s O.K.'”