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Iowa Playwrights Workshop alum talks about adapting 'The Whale' for Hollywood

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

While accepting the best actor award at this year's Critics Choice Awards, actor Brendan Fraser called Samuel D. Hunter "his lighthouse."

Hunter, an Iowa Playwrights Workshop alum, penned the screenplay of the Darren Aronofsky-directed film The Whale, based on his 2012 play.

Released in December, the film has received a great deal of attention and critical acclaim and is nominated for three Academy Awards.

Hunter used some of his personal experience growing up gay and attending a fundamentalist religious school in Idaho as inspiration for The Whale, which tells the story of a reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher who tries to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Hunter about the characters and relationships in this play-turned-film, its response and recognition and his cherished experiences as a student of the University of Iowa's MFA program in playwrighting.

Later in the hour, acclaimed author and speaker Temple Grandin talks about the importance of visual thinkers and the emotional intelligence of dogs and other animals ahead of her lecture, "Let's Talk About Pets," on February 2 at Iowa State University.


  • Samuel D. Hunter, award-winning playwright, screenwriter
  • Temple Grandin, animal science professor, Colorado State University
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.