NEW YORK - Author Pat Conroy loved the 1979 film version of his novel, The Great Santini, starring Robert Duvall as an abusive, larger-than-life Marine fighter pilot based on Conroy's father.
Now, Conroy has an audacious movie idea for his memoir, The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, on sale Tuesday).
He's offering "for free" the memoir's film rights to Duvall, 82, and his three co-stars. All they have to do is reprise their roles in a non-fiction sequel about what Conroy calls "this ridiculous family I was born into."
On a visit to New York, Conroy, 67, who lives in Beaufort, S.C., says he has sent his idea and memoir to Duvall, Blythe Danner (who played the character based on Conroy's mom), Michael O'Keefe (who played the son, based on the author himself) and Lisa Jane Persky (who played the boy's sister).
None have responded yet. It's the latest autobiographical twist from Conroy who's "been writing the story of my own life for over 40 years" in novels and non-fiction. If Duvall and the others join him, Conroy says he'll gladly write the screenplay for free or at union scale.
He's best known for his 1986 novel on depression and suicide, The Prince of Tides. (Conroy co-wrote the screenplay with Barbra Streisand, the film's star and director.)
Conroy says his dad, who nicknamed himself after a trapeze star and died in 1998 at 77, would hate his son's new memoir.
"He hated the novel, but loved that Duvall played him in the movie. He took full credit for Duvall's career."