Max Mayer © Fox Searchlight Pictures

The inspiration for Adam came when writer/director Max Mayer was listening to the radio and was riveted by a story about a man living with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism which is highlighted by an inability to read what other people are thinking and feeling. He wondered what it would be like for a person who has Asperger’s Syndrome to carry on a romance with someone who doesn’t.

What was it about the story that captivated you?

Max Mayer © Fox Searchlight Pictures
Max Mayer © Fox Searchlight Pictures

It was how life felt to this person and his sense of isolation from other people. I got really moved and I don’t get moved that often, so I thought I should investigate this a little bit. I was in a relationship at the time, I was married to a wonderful person, we were eventually going to get divorced, although I didn’t know it at the time, and therefore this kind of issue of deep communication or deep trust, about not being able to penetrate or get into another person’s brain and walk around and feel safe [intrigued me]. The more I learned about Asperger’s the better metaphor it was for relationships in general.

How did you come to cast Hugh Dancy in the role of Adam?

Hugh was a great favorite of our casting director, I didn’t really know his work very well outside of Ella Enchanted, because I have a seven-year-old daughter.

So they gave me Elizabeth to look at, and a couple of other things, and I think at the time we were casting Evening came out, and he was in some incredibly fast company, like Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep, and Hugh stood out and I thought that was pretty amazing. He liked the script enough to take a meeting, and he’s incredibly charming, social and British, and I thought he’s exactly the wrong guy for this part. So it took me about an hour to realize that he had the requisite insecurities and problems what we all have.

What is your personal handicap and what have you learned to do to cope with it?

Oh boy, there are a lot of them. I think partly from being an only child I consistently have to learn to share what I’m feeling, and believe that somebody else might be interested. It doesn’t necessarily make total and instinctive sense to me that you might be interested in what I have to say, so it’s not necessarily instinctive to share it, but it’s really helpful, especially in intimate relationships I’ve learned.

But you’re a director, and you gave us an hour and a half of what you have to say, you wrote this.

Yeah, there’s a paradox, which is the same as in the movie, because I have the same kind of desperate desire and interest in sharing my internal landscape as I imagine a lot of other people do. I guess that desire to share, to the extent that it might be stunted a bit in my personal life, is compensated in my directing and writing.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.