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Maggie’s Character: Caroline Cunningham
Release Date: 6 December 2002(USA)
Directed By: Spike Jonze
Screenwriter: Charlie Kaufman & Donald Kaufman based on the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
Genre: Comedy | Crime | Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images.
Runtime: 114 min.
Box Office #’s: here

Cast Highlights:
Nicolas Cage
Tilda Swinton
Meryl Streep

Kaufman is struggling with the arduous task of adapting The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean, which doesn’t have an obvious dramatic line (it is essentially a book about orchids). At the same time he faces a mid-life crisis, which is worsened by the presence of his twin brother Donald, a less talented but more joyous person than Charlie, who dreams of making a lot of money with screenplays. The movie also shows Susan Orlean as she does her research for the book, and John Laroche, a colorful orchid hunter whom Susan interviews and, later, falls in love with. These stories eventually intertwine, with unpredictable results.

From the Gallery



  • Based on writer Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt the best-selling book “The Orchid Thief”.
  • The credits include Donald Kaufman as the co-writer. He is also featured as a character in the movie, and the movie is dedicated “In loving memory” of Donald (at the end of the credits). But Donald is just a fictional character himself.
  • Donald Kaufman was nominated for a Golden Globe with Charlie Kaufman, despite being a fictional character. They were also both nominated for an Academy Award and the Academy made it known that, in the event of a victory, the two brothers would have to share one statue.
  • In one scene, Charlie comes home and checks his mail. He is in front of a mirror, and Donald is talking to him behind him. The reflection of fictitious Donald Kaufman in the mirror is actually the real Charlie Kaufman.
  • The photographer of the back flap of “The Orchid Thief” is Howard Shur, assistant to director Spike Jonze.
  • Susan Orlean was supposed to be in the film as one of two women that Charlie Kaufman thinks are making fun of him in a supermarket, but this scene was cut before the film made it to theaters.
  • The “filmography” link in the DVD includes a page for the fictional Donald Kaufman, listing his works as Adaptation. (2002) and “The Three”. There is a hidden link in the DVD main page. Scroll up from the main set of links and there is a telephone icon which appears, linking to a page with an “Adaptation Answering Machine” phone number, which had an answering machine with a message to leave your comments. Unfortunately, that phone number is no longer active.
  • Nicolas Cage’s brother, New York radio personality Marc Coppola, often stood in for one of the Kaufman brothers during the shooting of the movie.
  • The flower shown during the time-lapse sequence at the end of the movie is called Amelia (an Osteospermum).
  • The character of Robert McKee played by Brian Cox, is a real script guru, Robert McKee, who suggested Cox as his on-screen counterpart.
  • Nicolas Cage has said that during the filming of this movie, he ignored all of his acting instincts and played the part of Charlie Kaufman exactly as director Spike Jonze asked him to. He then received an Academy Award nomination for it.
  • Nicolas Cage was given completely separate credits for Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. The credits were given in order of appearance and each of Nicolas Cage’s credits appeared in the order that Charlie and Donald appeared.
  • The book-on-tape, which is playing in the background of the orchid thief’s van as Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper drive, is shown on the dashboard momentarily. It appears to be “The Writings of Charles Darwin, as read by Brian O’Kelley”. There is no such book, no such audio tape. Brian O’Kelley is the assistant director of this movie.
  • The tropical fish species that John La Roche refers to while riding in the van with Susan Orlean are Anisotremus virginicus, Holacanthus ciliaris, and Chaetadon capistratus or the porkfish, queen angelfish, and foureye butterflyfish respectively.
  • A paragraph from Donald Kaufman’s script “The Three” is shown at the very end of the credits. It reads: “We’re all one thing, Lieutenant. That’s what I’ve come to realize. Like cells in a body. ‘Cept we can’t see the body. The way fish can’t see the ocean. And so we envy each other. Hurt each other. Hate each other. How silly is that? A heart cell hating a lung cell.” – Cassie from THE THREE
  • Weezer recorded an acoustic version of “Happy Together” to be included in the film. However, Spike Jonze felt the original version by The Turtles was a better fit for the film.
  • The church mentioned by Amelia at the end of the film is the Sedlec Ossuary located in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. About 40,000 bones are arranged to form decorations, including chandeliers in the church. This is the same ossuary that Jan Svankmajer filmed for his short film Kostnice (1970).
  • To portray John La Roche, Chris Cooper grew out his hair, shed weight and used a prosthesis to create the illusion of a toothless mouth. Director Spike Jonze granted Cooper’s request for numerous takes so he could find the right tone for the eccentric character.
  • In his renowned screenwriters seminars, Robert McKee now makes note that he is not against the use of narration, “despite what Charlie Kaufman says.” His point is narration must add to the story, not describe what’s already being seen on the screen, otherwise there’s no reason for it.
  • Susan Orlean was at first concerned that some people would think her portrayal in the film was accurate, but was then reminded how Charlie Kaufman portrays himself in the film.

Character Quotes

Caroline Cunningham: It’s like a brain factory in here.

Caroline Cunningham: It’s like a brain factory in here.