even hit the bookstores, the manuscript fell into the hands of Richard Fischoff, a young film executive who had just accepted a job with the producer Stanley Jaffe.Ted and Joanna Kramer, Fischoff thought, were like Benjamin and Elaine in 10 years later, after their impulsive union has collapsed from the inside.On March 12, 1978, the man Meryl Streep had been dating for nearly two years died as she sat at his hospital bed.She had met John Cazale, the crane-like character actor best known for playing Fredo Corleone in the in the summer of 1976.The little boy under the covers was Justin Henry, a sweet-faced seven-year-old from Rye, New York.
The problem is Joanna Kramer, who finds motherhood, by and large, “boring.” She starts taking tennis lessons. About 50 pages in, Joanna informs Ted that she’s “suffocating.” She’s leaving him, and she’s leaving Billy.His protagonist was Ted Kramer, a thirtysomething workaholic New Yorker who sells ad space for men’s magazines.He has a wife, Joanna, and a little boy named Billy.The assumption now was that any woman could do both: the dreaded cliché of “having it all.” But what about the Joanna Kramers, who couldn’t manage either? When he first saw the set, Dustin said, “My character wouldn’t live in this apartment.” The whole thing was quickly redesigned to fit whatever was in his head.Meryl spoke with her mother, who told her, “All my friends at one point or another wanted to throw up their hands and leave and see if there was another way of doing their lives.”She sat in a playground in Central Park and watched the Upper East Side mothers with their perambulators, trying to outdo one another. She thought about Joanna Kramer—who after the movie came out, “the more I felt the sensual reason for Joanna’s leaving, the emotional reasons, the ones that aren’t attached to logic. In contrast to most films, they would shoot the scenes in order, the reason being their seven-year-old co-star.