Question: I recently rented Adaptation. and want know whether the story is fictional or based on actual events in Charlie Kaufman's life? Did he truly have a twin brother who died?
Answer: Adaptation. (2002) is based on Susan Orlean's nonfiction book The Orchid Thief, which revolves around the 1994 arrest of 36-year-old John Laroche (played in the film by Chris Cooper) for poaching a rare orchid plant from an Everglades nature preserve called the Fakahatchee Strand, but digresses frequently into considerations that range from Florida land speculation to the peculiar biology of orchids. While the screenplay is credited to Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, all the scenes involving Kaufman and his twin are fiction, a narrative device Kaufman and director Spike Jonze use to grapple with a book that's as much about the writer's attempt to examine her relationship to her material as it is about the facts of Laroche's case. Kaufman made Orlean herself a character, played by Meryl Streep, and divided himself into "Charlie" and "Donald." In addition to being a fiercely inventive writer, Kaufman is a prankster; the press kit for Being John Malkovich (1999) — an audacious piece of metafiction — claims that Donald, then serving in the first Gulf war, was instrumental in getting his brother's Malkovich script to Jonze, who's helped perpetuate the stunt. Adaptation.'s screenplay was even nominated for an Academy Award in both their names, but lost to Ronald Harwood's script for The Pianist.