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‘We’d Like You to Play Hemingway’

May 27, 2011

Actor Corey Stoll says he prepared for the role of Ernest Hemingway in the new Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris by taking his own magical trip into the past.

He fired up A Farewell to Arms on his iPod, he told the Washington Post’s Express Night Out, and started walking.

“I’d read it a few of times,” he says, “but I took this epic eight-hour walk by myself through Paris, straining the batteries of my iPod, listening to that audio book from beginning to end, through several little rain showers and 10 arrondissements. It was just magical, an incredible journey.”

He recalled the letter he got from Allen telling him about the part.”It says something like, “We’d like you to play Hemingway. If you like the part, it’s yours; if you hate the very idea of it, perhaps we can find another project to work on in the future.”

He didn’t hate it.

“It was a complete joy,” he tells NPR’s Robert Siegel. “And I had a couple months to prepare for the role. So I just gorged myself on pretty much everything I could get. I just read his whole oeuvre.”

And, he says, he read it aloud to his girlfriend, too.

“I recommend to all the men out there to read Hemingway to their girlfriends,” he says. “It’s quite attractive. She loved it.”

Stoll, who played Detective TJ Jaruszalski on Law & Order: Los Angeles, says Allen wanted his character to be the Hemingway we read in his books, not the Hemingway of real life.

“He told me not to listen to recordings of him or even read biographies,” Stoll says. “He really wanted me to be the Hemingway that you get when you read him. You know, he wanted me to be the writerly voice of Hemingway. And so I just stuck to, you know, his words.”

How did he do? Listen to the interview, and a clip of him from the film, here.