Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, explores the steep price tag that comes from fame. Fame costs Evelyn Hugo in essentially every area of her life, but at the end of the list, she decides to set the record straight. Hugo’s life story will keep reader’s enthralled at each turn.
The strength of your novel is the insider’s view of Hollywood. What did you do to cultivate the background knowledge?
You know, it’s funny. I did a lot of research before I started writing, including reading a lot of Hollywood biographies. But I really didn’t have a hard time creating the world. And it wasn’t until I was done with the first draft that it hit me that my film degree might have helped. That’s how entrenched in Hollywood lore I’ve always been, that I forgot I have a degree in it.
I was obsessed with Hollywood from the time I was a kid. I always knew I wanted to live in Los Angeles. I worked in feature film casting right out of college and spent a lot of time working with actors, directors, and producers.
And then I realized my true heart was in literature, and I shifted course. But all of that Hollywood love went into this book.
Many readers could draw parallels to Elizabeth Taylor. Did she play a role in this?
You can’t write about an iconic Hollywood star of the sixties without bumping up against Elizabeth Taylor. And, obviously, the many marriages is a very striking thing Evelyn and Liz have in common. I tried to craft a realistic portrayal of a deeply glamorous and scandalous woman. And when you do that, you’re bound to hit some of the same beats as the great Elizabeth Taylor.
Which of the husbands did you enjoy writing about the most and why?
I loved writing Evelyn’s elopement with crooner Mick Riva. It was the most satisfying work maybe of my life this far. It reveals a great deal of Evelyn and her inner life. But that doesn’t mean he’s the one I actually cared for the most. The husband Evelyn loves the most is the one I love the most, too.
What price would you pay for fame?
Oh, geez. I think you’d have to pay me. When I was a kid, all I ever wanted was to be famous. Now, I shudder at the idea of having to always look good in case someone snaps a photo. I much prefer to go to Target in my sweatpants anonymously, thankyouverymuch.
That’s why writing about famous people is so satisfying for me. It allows me to indulge in all of the glamour without having to be glamorous myself.
What message do you hope the reader takes away from this book?
There are so many different things going on in this book that it’s hard for me to choose. But if I have to boil it all down, I think it’s this: Ladies, go on, get yours.
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