LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The makers of the upcoming TV series based on the Italian novel “My Brilliant Friend” said on Wednesday they still had no idea of the real identity of author Elena Ferrante despite more than two years working on the show with her.
Ferrante is the co-screenwriter of the joint HBO and Italian RAI television eight episode series of “My Brilliant Friend,” about the volatile friendship between two girls from Naples in the 1950s.
“My Brilliant Friend” is the first of the four so-called Neapolitan novels that have become best-sellers in the United States and much of Europe, fueling intense speculation about the writer, who uses Ferrante as a pseudonym.
Director Saverio Costanzo said he and the producers had been emailing Ferrante through her publishers for about two and a half years on the TV project.
Costanzo said that in a sense it was like “working with a ghost,” although he added that he was not concerned about knowing Ferrante’s true identity.
“I don’t know who she is... I am not curious to know, actually,” Costanzo said.
Co-executive producer Lorenzo Mieli agreed, calling Ferrante’s identity “one of the most well-kept secrets in Italy history.”
“At the end of the day, nobody cares, because this protection of identity is very important to her,” Mieli added.
The producers said they auditioned about 1,000 young actresses to play the parts of bookish Elena Greco and her enigmatic friend Lila at various ages, choosing four. The task was exacerbated by the need to have young actresses who can speak genuine Neapolitian dialect.
The TV show will be dubbed or subtitled, not just for English-speaking and international audiences but also for Italians.
“This show is going to be subtitled in Italy, too, because we don’t understand the Neapolitan dialect,” Mieli said. “We come from Rome, so we don’t understand at least 70 percent of the dialogue.”
“My Brilliant Friend” will make its debut on HBO and RAI later this year, and the producers said they also plan to adapt the other three novels about the lifelong friendship between Elena and Lila.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Michael Perry