Zoe Kravitz executive produces and stars on Hulu's series adaptation of "High Fidelity." Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The Hulu adaptation of High Fidelity made some changes to Nick Hornby's book and a movie adaptation starring John Cusack. Most notably, the main character, Rob, is a woman played by Zoe Kravitz in the new series.
Co-creators and executive producers Sarah Kucserka and Veronica West felt the essence of High Fidelity was not limited to gender.
"It was a really personal book for both Veronica and I," Kucserka said on a recent Television Critics Association panel. "[We] read it long ago and really identified with the character of Rob and really felt like this isn't just a man's journey, a man's look at love and commitment and romance, but is very universal."
In the High Fidelity movie, record store owner Rob looks back at his past breakups to try to figure out why he can't make a relationship work. West said portraying a woman engaging in the same process gives the story new life.
"We watch a lot of romantic comedies with female leads, and the problem always seems to be you can't find the right man, or you're desperate to get married, or you're self-destructive in some way," West said. "It was interesting for us to let her issues with romance really just be about learning how to figure out herself and not finding Mr. Right."
Changing Rob's gender might have given the creators new story angles, but they kept one stylistic element from the Stephen Frears movie. Cusack speaks directly to the camera as Rob tells his story to the audience.
Kravitz talked with Frears and said the director relayed a helpful tip for speaking directly into the camera: The camera should be close to her when she has to speak to the viewers at home.
"When it's far away, you feel like you have to project and perform like you're onstage," Kravitz said. "That's when it starts to feel performative. When it's really close, it feels like it's your friend, and all of the subtleties can stay. That was helpful for me."
Kravitz's Rob still owns a record store that sells vinyl. But in 2020, a record store is more of an anomaly than when Hornby wrote the book, or when the movie came out in 2000.
The show addresses Rob's struggle to keep a physical space when most people keep all their music on their phones.
"That record store is kind of a hipster thing to do," Kravitz said. "It was a way to connect with people, and you had to physically go get something if you wanted it. You'd have something to physically take home, and you'd read the lyrics, you'd sit in your room. There's a community aspect to it that I really do miss."
Being on the set of High Fidelity allowed Kravitz and her co-stars to relive the days of browsing in record store aisles.
"We're all constantly checking everything out and wanting to take stuff home," Kravitz said. "The detail in everything, the receipts and the papers, everything was real."
Also like Hornby's book and the Frears movie, the show features a soundtrack of Rob's personal playlist for all occasions. That meant shelling out the licensing fees for Dexy's Midnight Runners, Fleetwood Mac and Radio Stars.
As an executive producer herself, Kravitz fought for the authentic music no matter the cost: "Every song that we really wanted, we got."
Talking about music wasn't a stretch for Kravitz. She is the daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet. She appeared in the 2000 High Fidelity film.
Kravitz said she did not discuss High Fidelity with her mother, but that she related to Rob's obsession with music.
"I love music, and I love pop culture," Kravtiz said. "Anyone that's close to me knows that's stuff I like to talk about with my dad and with a lot of my friends."
High Fidelity premieres Friday on Hulu.