Every week, EW will imagine a sequel to a movie that we wish would happen — no matter how unlikely the idea really is.
Fifteen years ago, The Truman Show felt like science fiction. In 1998, the conceit — that a man who, unbeknownst to him, has been living in a giant Hollywood set so that his entire existence could provide easy entertainment for the masses — read like a paranoid fantasy. Bold and imaginative, with just the right balance of the far-fetched and the familiar, it felt like it would’ve been a good fit for The Twilight Zone. Today, it’d be a good fit for Discovery Channel: the idea that millions of Americans would raptly devour a nonstop broadcast of an unexceptional person’s daily life is a given in this post-Snookie age.
Which is why I demand there be a sequel. The universe brought to life by director Peter Weir and writer Andrew Niccol satirized reality TV and social media before most people had even thought of such word combinations. The Truman Show can even claim its very own mental disorder. Imagine where the story could take us now. Besides, Jim Carrey’s already revisiting another of his ’90s masterpieces — why not add this one to the mix?
Very few movies of this caliber lend themselves to sequels so easily. The question “How’s it going to end?” served as a slogan for protesters of the “Truman Show”-within-the-Truman Show, but it doubles as a delicious prompt for the actual movie. By design, the film’s structure and open-ended final scene (Truman walks out of “Seahaven” and into the real world, away from the cameras) teases the imagination. There are so many angles for a follow-up that trying to settle on one can be maddening.
How did Truman Burbank relate to the world after leaving
Plato’s Christof’s cave? Did he become bitter and broken, or litigious and rich? Whether or not he wants to be one, Truman would spend the rest of his days as the ultimate global celebrity. I imagine that after his initial Oprah interview and personal sojourn to Fiji, the best analogy for his existence would be the life of a British royal: born into a made-up world that’ll mark him forever. You can already see the poor man’s future, the Us Weekly covers, the paparazzi altercations, the SEO-friendly TMZ headlines: The Truman Wedding! The Truman Meltdown! The Truman Sex Tape! (That is if he even knows what sex is; the movie explained that sexytime between Truman and his “wife” always happened off-camera, leaving open the possibility that he was doing something else entirely.)
Of course, besides the social satire, there are more immediate questions to play with. Where will he, like, go? When the original ended, Sylvia — the activist who gate-crashed the show in an attempt to tell Truman the truth but ended up falling in love with him instead — was seen racing towards Truman. Would they unite, romantically or otherwise? One would imagine he’d take an interest in her, and she could serve as his guide to the real world. But wasn’t her interest in him kind of creepy and stalkerish in the first place? Truman, though a humble insurance salesman, was a smart fellow, and surely he’d sense that there’s something amiss about her sooner or later. He’s going to have some serious trust issues, after all.
Truman’s personal life isn’t the only thread to pull here either. The movie’s alarmingly solid supporting cast — Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Paul friggin’ Giamatti — offers all sorts of juicy entry points. What happens to “Truman” showrunner Christof (Harris) now? It’s tempting to think he’d become a pariah, but in Hollywood, he’s more likely to be celebrated. Perhaps he’ll embark on new projects, maybe direct a gritty Batman movie or invent LiveJournal. And what becomes of Truman’s fake wife Meryl, played by actress Hannah Gill, played by Linney? She certainly committed to her role (especially if she was indeed having sex with Truman). Will her career recover, perhaps blossom into a fruitful Linney-esque late renaissance?
Probably the most obvious element for a sequel would involve a second “Show,” with a new “Truman.” You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube — the audience will certainly want another one, especially since the original effectively got canceled early. Plus, this would let the sequel squeeze in a fresher-faced costar to appeal to kids too young for Truman Show nostalgia. Best case: Ryan Gosling; worst case: Shia LaBoeuf; strong case: Zooey Deschanel.
And then there’s the nuclear option: “Truman — hoping for anonymity — changes his name to Jim Carrey, moves to Canada, and decides to become a stand-up comedian.” That plot was offered up to EW by none other than the director Peter Weir, back in 1998. He was joking, obviously. But hey, it’s a start.