What Cormac McCarthy Insisted On Keeping In The Road Movie

Translating a book into film is hard, especially when it's Cormac McCarthy's simply-worded but powerful novel The Road. Director John Hillcoat told us what McCarthy refused to let him leave out of the movie version.

We sat down with Hillcoat and talked about the end of the world, and translating a film into a movie. The director shared with us the only issue McCarthy had with his film, which Hillcoat promptly changed...

io9: How did you deal with what to cut and what to leave in The Road?

JH: Cormac himself, he really understands how film works as a medium, how different it is. He didn't miss anything from the book other than four lines of dialogue. And this is where it's very telling as to what the real story is. Because those four lines of dialogue, which we did shoot and put back in, is when the boy says, "What would you do if I died?" And the father says, '"I'd want to die too, so you could be with me - so I could be with you."

Which is a beautiful thing to say, and that's in the movie. But that's what his interest was always - the focus of these central characters going through this journey. And the more cannibal stuff, it just becomes a different movie.

So that was what he wanted put back into the movie?

Just those four lines. Nothing else. He didn't miss any of it... It's been great, because he could see the more you focus on that other stuff [post apocalyptic doom, explosions and cannibalism] the more unbalanced it becomes, and it becomes something else.