Noah Baumbach will adapt DeLillo’s “White Noise”; Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig to star

Actor Adam Driver dressed in black, sitting on a table
Adam Driver will play a professor of Hitler studies in Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

It took long enough, but there might be no better year to embark on the project than apocalyptic 2021: Don DeLillo‘s cool, tragicomic and catastrophic novel “White Noise” will become a movie. And Noah Baumbach, master of domestic catastrophe, will direct it, with Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig to star, as first reported in the latest issue of Production Weekly.

The National Book Award-winning satire, first published in 1985, tells the story of Hitler studies professor Jack Gladney and his fourth (or fifth?) wife, Babette. Their tidy Midwestern lives are upended after a train accident unleashes an “airborne toxic event.” The novel is considered one of the best by DeLillo, a leading author of heady, sweeping (and rarely adapted) fiction who went on to write “Underworld.” “White Noise” had a major influence on contemporary literature, up to Rumaan Alam’s eerie ‘Leave the World Behind,’ also slated to become a film.

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Baumbach has been nominated twice for the Academy Award for original screenplay — for “The Squid and the Whale” (2005) and “Marriage Story” (2019), both of which explore the intricacies of divorce and both of which he also directed. Gerwig, Baumbach’s partner, has been nominated for screenplays of “Little Women” and “Lady Bird” — with the latter also earning her an Academy nod for director. Driver was nominated for best actor in “Marriage Story.”

The new film would be Baumbach’s first adaptation of a novel; DeLillo has seen two novels adapted — “Cosmopolis” and “The Body Artist” — but neither had much impact.

This would represent a reunion of sorts for the three talents, who last worked together on Baumbach’s “Frances Ha.”

Per the Production Weekly listing, shooting is slated to begin in June.

If you want to reach Don DeLillo, don’t try to email him; he doesn’t email.

April 29, 2016