Ryan Murphy is having the best year of his career. For one thing, there’s the giddy Fox hit Glee, which he co-created and oversees. And on Aug. 13, the Julia Roberts-starring big-screen adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love, which he directed, hits theaters. We talked to Murphy, 44, about Elizabeth Gilbert’s famous book, getting out of his comfort zone, and why Roberts drives a ”lady Prius.”
EW: Were you nervous adapting such a beloved book?
Ryan Murphy: I didn’t really speak to Elizabeth until I was greenlit. She read the script and loved it. So that was my obligation: to both make it my own but also to make her love it and be happy and proud of it.
Your previous work has been pretty edgy: Running With Scissors, Nip/Tuck. Were you surprised you reacted so strongly to this material?
People say, ”Oh, I didn’t expect that you would want to do this.” And I was like, ”Well, that’s exactly the point of it.” It’s a project that got me out of my comfort zone in many ways. I’ve always been attracted to those big movie-star movies, and to be quite honest, the reason I did it is because I wanted to work with Julia.
What’s your relationship like with her?
We just had an instant rapport. I went to Malibu to meet her. She pulls up in her lady Prius car.
Wait, what’s the difference between a lady Prius and a regular Prius?
Everything about her has the word lady in front of it — I call her Lady Julia. She was as funny and warm as can be. Julia had told me in that first meeting, ”You know why I think this book is a phenomenon? I think it’s because it gave women permission to eat. So let’s do that.” To get to hang out with her is beyond a blessing. There’s something just special about her.