Ewan McGregor

When Ewan McGregor originally signed up for American Pastoral, it was only to star in the adaptation of Philip Roth‘s novel. At the time, The Quiet American and The Giver director Phillip Noyce was attached to helm the drama. But for whatever reason, McGregor ended up in the director’s chair. The actor had been interested in directing for a while, and he finally took his chance with this adaptation, which had been in the works for over a decade.

Below, watch the American Pastoral trailer.

Over four years ago, McGregor was developing what he thought would be his debut film, a movie about a 1968 yacht race. After spending a good deal of time on the project, he found out someone else was already working on telling that story–which left him “gutted.” Following that experience, he wanted to wait for the right story to make, which, it turned out, was American Pastoral. The period drama stars McGregor, Dakota FanningDavid Strathairn, and an actress that was involved with the project years before McGregor, Jennifer Connelly. John Romano (The Lincoln Lawyer) wrote the script.

Here’s the American Pastoral trailer (source: Vanity Fair):

In recent years, there have been a few Philip Roth adaptations, including Barry Levinson’s The HumblingElegy, and The Human Stain. This year we’re getting two adaptations of Roth’s novels, one of which, Indignation, was met with rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. American Pastoral has an awards-friendly release date, so a premiere at one of the major festivals sometime this fall seems possible.

The trailer’s opening alone makes American Pastoral not look like an actor’s typical debut film. They’re gorgeous, chilling images that set the tone for the rest of the trailer. Martin Ruhe — the exceptional cinematographer behind The AmericanControlHarry Brown, and The Keeping Room — shot the film. Another major talent involved with American Pastoral is composer Alexandre Desplat (The Tree of LifeThe Grand Budapest Hotel).

Here’s the official synopsis:

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Phillip Roth novel, AMERICAN PASTORAL follows a family whose seemingly idyllic existence is shattered by the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Beginners) makes his directorial debut and stars as Seymour “Swede” Levov, a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn, a former beauty queen. But turmoil brews beneath the polished veneer of Swede’s life. When his beloved teenage daughter, Merry, disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family. What he discovers shakes him to the core, forcing him to look beneath the surface and confront the chaos that is shaping the world around him. AMERICAN PASTORAL also stars Academy Award® winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) as Dawn, Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, The Twilight Saga) as Merry, Emmy® winner Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black), and Academy Award® nominee David Strathairn (Lincoln, Good Night, and Good Luck).

American Pastoral opens in theaters October 21st.

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