JoJo Whilden
Erin Strecker
February 06, 2013 AT 10:00 PM EST

The Silver Linings Playbook author Matthew Quick has had quite a turnaround from just a few short years ago, when he was writing The Silver Linings Playbook in his in-laws basement. He was unemployed, had sold his house, quit a tenured teaching position and was unsure what the next step of his life would be. “It was a dark time in my life, classic struggling artist on my last dollar,” Quick explained on the phone with EW. Now, the author  — who estimates he’s seen the film version of his first book seven times – is taking on Hollywood. He’s been to various SLP screenings, joined the cast at a taping of Katie, and is likely attending the Oscars himself Feb. 24. And he’s only just getting started in movies. His upcoming book, The Good Luck of Right Now, was just optioned by DreamWorks, and he’ll be an executive producer on the project.

Read on for an edited chat with Quick and get his thoughts on Bradley Cooper, mental illness and the changes between the book and film.

EW: How involved were you in the process of turning The Silver Linings Playbook into a movie (which has an adapted screenplay by director David O. Russell)?

MATTHEW QUICK: I wasn’t involved at all. We did a movie deal before I did a deal for the book….and then DOR [David O. Russell] got involved. I didn’t really have much contact with David initially through the writing process and the casting. I met him on the movie set for the first time. He was very nervous when the film was done. He arranged a screening for me. It was very evident to me [he was nervous], because he called me the night before [and] we talked for an hour. He seemed very nervous about my reaction and it was at that time that I realized even Oscar-nominated directors in Hollywood have all the same types of emotions that all storytellers have. …And so when I embraced the film it was a happy day and DOR and I became pretty close after that, through the promoting and everything else.

[In the book, the character of Tiffany is much older than Lawrence; the characterization of Pat’s father is different, and the ending – while thematically the same – has a few more speed bumps.] Did David talk to you about changes before you saw the movie?

He did. I think he was really nervous that I was going to completely freak out, for lack of a better term. But for me, I think the thing that helped was I’ve always been pretty grounded about [staying] professional. The book is my story. It’s how I wanted to tell the story. David’s version is his version, and he told a slightly different tale inspired by my work and I think he did a really good job with his adaptation. David’s limitation as a filmmaker is he has to cast all the characters with real people. So when he cast Jennifer Lawrence, who is a lot younger than Bradley Cooper, [as well as a lot younger than] Tiffany in the book, he had to do a little rewriting. There’s that scene where Bradley asks, “How old are you?” and she says, ‘Old enough to be widowed and not end up in a mental institution,’ or something like that. You can clearly see that David is addressing those things through the casting. That being said, I think Jennifer Lawrence did an amazing job and ironically, her depiction of Tiffany is pretty close to what I was thinking writing the book.

In addition to Lawrence’s performance, I was really struck by how Bradley Cooper spoke in the film, and how similar it felt to the novel. Many character traits – like unique speech patterns — definitely came across.

Yeah, I think  [the fact] that Bradley is from the Philly area, as am I, I think that helped as well. He understands. I know he did a lot of research into mental health and DOR did too, but Bradley also understands the Philly mentality and the relationship to the Philadelphia Eagles, which, for most people in Philly, is pretty manic.

Was that part autobiographical?

Absolutely. I’m a huge fan. I live in Massachusetts now and I drive 10 hours round trip to go to every home game. I’m pretty obsessed. It’s one of the few rituals that I have in my life. I’m a huge football fan, and a huge sports fan, but going to the Eagles games is more than about sport. It’s one of the few times I see my best friend from high school, who goes to every game. It’s the only thing I do together with my brother and sister. Before my grandfather died last year, I would call him every Sunday night. He’s a banker, he doesn’t know anything about story or what I do but what did we talk about? We talked about the Eagles. That’s the thing we had in common, that was the language that we used to tell each other that we loved each other. Growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood, the Dads weren’t warm and fuzzy…. They didn’t give you hugs. They took you to the Eagles game. That was how your dad told you that he loved you. So Eagles was –it’s very important to me.

NEXT: Quick discusses his favorite scenes and mental health issues.

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