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11 Ways "Me Before You" Was Changed From The Book

Writer Jojo Moyes talks BuzzFeed through all the changes that had to be made to adapt the novel to film. Big spoilers ahead!!

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On Friday Me Before You, the highly anticipated book adaptation, hit cinema screens. Fans of Jojo Moyes' novel will be pleased to see how exceptionally close the film version is to the book: Yes, the red dress moment is there, as is the bee tights moment, and the characters couldn't have been closer to how book readers would imagine them.

But, as with all adaptations, not everything could stay exactly the same. Partly "because otherwise it would be a six-hour film", Moyes said, and partly due to some details translating differently on screen. The author talked BuzzFeed through some of the changes that were made and why.

1. The big maze scene/sexual attack subplot doesn't exist in the film.

Warner Bros.

There is a particularly poignant part in the book when Louisa has a panic attack in a maze and confesses to Will that it was actually the scene of an attack on her several years earlier.

In the written version it is never explicitly stated, but it is heavily alluded to, that Louisa was gang raped in the maze when she was younger. It was quite an important subplot in the book as it explained some elements of Louisa's character to us.

But filmgoers will be unaware of the backstory as it ended up being cut from the film. And that wasn’t for the lack of trying. The scene was actually filmed but they just couldn’t get it to work, as Moyes revealed: “The biggest thing [missing], I think, was the main scene where Louisa confesses to Will the details of a kind of assault on her when she was younger."

The author, who also worked as screenwriter on the movie, explained that they originally had it in and they spent six months "rewriting it and rewriting it". But it just didn’t translate on screen.

“I think that was such an interesting example to me of the difference between book and film because in the book she refers to it in almost a throwaway line, she doesn’t spell out what happened, and you can’t do that visually. You can’t throw that away and not be respectful to the issue. So we tried and tried and tried, and in the end we just had to accept that to put that in and give it the weight the subject deserves unbalanced the whole film because it then changes a) the tone of the film and b) it changes her relationship with everything, and so we had to lose that.”

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2. Stephen Traynor's affair is cut out.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

In the book there is another subplot in which Will's dad, Stephen, is having an affair with a red-headed mistress and is even looking to divorce Will's mum. But that whole story is missing from the film, because it detracted too much from the main story.

Although again the filmmakers did attempt to include it at first. Moyes explained: "We did film it but that was just an editing thing. And again what we found is when you know about the affair it actually changes the way the audience feels, when you have those tender moments between the parents towards the end, because you’re not focusing on Louisa and Will, which is the important bit at that point. You’re focusing on the fact he’s touching her shoulder and you go, ‘Oh, perhaps they’re getting back together.’"

3. In fact, Will's parents come across as a pretty strong couple in the movie version.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

Not only is the affair excluded altogether, but the parents seem pretty strong in the final cut. They're very supportive of each other, and although they disagree at first over Will's decision, they put on a united front.

So after trying to include the affair, they stripped it all back and kept them as a happy, solid couple. "You know, it changes your emotional focus," said Moyes. "But all that stuff you only find out once you’re on set. That’s what I found really fascinating to me as a writer."

4. Will doesn't have a sister.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

Will's sister Georgina isn't even referred to in the film, although in the book it's actually his sibling who informs Lou about his plans to kill himself. She's also angry about the situation and yells at him: "Has it ever occurred to you, Will, that, believe it or not, this might not be just about you?" But the film team decided to write the movie without her existing as she wasn't essential to the rest of the storyline.

"You have to pare out anything that’s nonessential and what we worked out over a period of months was that Georgina wasn’t really adding anything to the story, so in the interests of keeping it close she had to go,” Moyes explained.

5. Louisa and Patrick haven't got as serious and they don't move in together in the movie.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

In the novel, Louisa and Patrick's relationship gets pretty serious and they even move in with each other (albeit when Patrick feels threatened by Will). So when they break up it seems like more of a big deal as Louisa has to move out of their shared flat.

In the film, Patrick is seen to get jealous about Will and the key lines are kept in. However when he makes Louisa a make-up dinner it is in her parents' house and there's no big talk about breaking up – it just kind of happens after he learns she's going on holiday with Will.

6. And Louisa doesn't move into the Traynors' house.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

In the book Louisa moves into the Traynors' house full-time after she breaks up with Patrick. But that's cut out of the film version and it soon switches from Louisa and Will going on a romantic holiday to them flying out to Switzerland once Will's confirmed he's made up his mind.

When she discussed small details like this, Moyes told us: "You physically can’t fit all those details in… There’s just not enough time to explore that in the way that doesn’t unbalance everything."

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7. Patrick doesn't tell the press about Will's plans to go through with an assisted suicide.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

In the film Matthew Lewis does an excellent job of bringing Patrick to life. He's still health-obsessed, a bit of a dick, and pretty jealous of all the time Louisa spends with Will – something that isn't helped when Will winds Patrick up on Louisa's birthday, jovially quipping: "Well, you're a lucky man. She certainly gives a good bed bath." This line is included in the book and is perfectly executed in the film by Sam Claflin as Will.

But even though the jealousy and male bravado is included in the movie, Patrick doesn't go as far as to tip off the press about his plans. In the book, Louisa and the Traynors have to deal with a lot of press intrusion and reporters knocking on their doors thanks to Patrick spitefully letting the cat out of the bag. But this detail is kept out of the movie, due to it also not being entirely necessary.

8. The perspectives of other characters aren't given in the film.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

The book isn't just told from Louisa's perspective – whole chapters are told from others' point of view, from Will's other carer Nathan, to Louisa's sister Katrina, and Will's mother, Camilla.

An example excerpt from Camilla Traynor's chapter: "I looked at Will and I saw the baby I held in my arms, dewily besotted, unable to believe that I had created another human being. I saw the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history. That's what he was asking me to extinguish — the small child as well as the man — all that love, all that history."

But the big-screen version is mainly told from Louisa's perspective.

9. Louisa doesn't join a chat room or research the right-to-die issues as much.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

In the novel, Louisa joins a quadriplegia chat room to find out more about Will's life. She uses it to ask for suggestions to help her get to grips with his life, and also for advice about changing his mind about killing himself.

But this detail, along with the news articles she starts reading about the right-to-die controversy, isn't delved into as much.

10. Will and Louisa don't get matching tattoos.

Although Emilia Clarke, who plays Louisa, was so moved by the experience she did get one in real life (see above).

In the book Will encourages Louisa to live a little and the pair both get impromptu inkings. The book reads: "'I always quite fancied a tattoo,’ I said. I should have known afterwards that you couldn’t just say stuff like that in Will’s presence. He didn’t do small talk, or shooting the breeze. He immediately wanted to know why I hadn’t had one."

But this was another small detail cut out of the film due to keeping it as concise as possible.

11. Louisa doesn't say the l-word in the film, like she does in the book.

Alex Bailey/Warner Bros.

In the book Louisa tells Will she loves him: "I know this isn’t a conventional love story. I know there are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t even be saying what I am. But I love you. I do. I knew it when I left Patrick. And I think you might even love me a little bit." 💔

In fact, it's referred to several times throughout the book, for example here: “'I told him I loved him,' she said, her voice dropping to a whisper. 'And he just said it wasn’t enough.' Her eyes were wide and bleak. 'How am I supposed to live with that?'" 💔 💔 💔

But she doesn't actually say the l-word in the movie, although her feelings for him are still very clear.

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