Darren Aronofsky returns to alma mater for ‘Monster Club’

It’s not slept until Brooklyn this month for busy filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.

The Oscar-nominated director — who just unveiled his latest film, “The Whale,” at the Venice Film Festival — shared his new children’s novel, “Monster Club,” with students at his former Coney Island high school on Thursday.

To welcome Aronofsky back to his alma mater, the talented kids of Mark Twain IS adapted 239 scenes from “Monster Club” into a stage performance. They also put on an art show inspired by characters from the tome, and welcomed the director and his co-author Ari Handel to the school with a student string quartet playing.

“Monster Club” follows a group of fictional college students whose favorite role-playing games come to life in the Coney Island area.

Darren Aronofsky meets the principal of his old school outside the building
The principal, greeted here by the principal of the school, watched the students act out scenes from his new book.
Darren Aronofsky/Instagram

“I had such a great time when I was a student here with Mark Twain that when I wrote ‘Monster Club’ I wanted Mark Twain [school] to play a starring role in it,” Aronofsky told a group of cheering 8th grade students who enthusiastically packed the school auditorium.

“Mark Twain was a great place for me and such a great school…it’s been a few years since I’ve been here, I’m very happy to be back,” he said.

Aronofsky and Handel had first visited the school together six years ago when they were researching a movie version of “Monster Club.” But their screenplay eventually became the HarperCollins book that comes out this week.

Darren Aronofsky during a Q&A
Aronofsky answered questions during a packed house Q&A of children.
Darren Aronofsky/Instagram

Aronofsky’s latest film, “The Whale,” received a long standing ovation in Venice and gave its star Brendan Fraser — who plays a 600-pound man in the film — buzz as an Oscar front-runner, Variety reported.

Also at the star show were “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, comedian Nick Kroll and Huma Abedin.

The Mark Twain kids may have gone out of their way to ask Aronofsky questions during their school Q&A than the press corps at the Venice Film Festival.

Darren-Aronofsky-book_20 (1)

The director returned to Brooklyn after the debut of his latest film in Venice, Italy.

Darren Aronofsky/Instagram


The director of ‘The Whale’ put his new book ‘Monster Club’ on his alma mater.

Darren Aronofsky/Instagram

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When asked about his inspiration for the book, Aronofsky said, “The inspiration was my time here, when I was your age…Remember how scary it was that first day when you showed up in sixth grade? It was scary going from primary to secondary school… The book is really about the moment you leave primary school, and you suddenly have more responsibility.”

"Monster Club" book
The book was originally supposed to be an Aronofsky film project.

He also told his young fans about following a creative vision: “I’ve made eight films now and there are always a million people who will say no to you. I had a producer who said, ‘The more people say no to you , the more you know you’re doing something right.’ Because when you do something very different and very original, people don’t get it… but the only way you can do something original is if you believe in it more than anyone else.”

The director of edgy epics “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler” also joked, “Has anyone here seen any of my movies? Oh, you shouldn’t be watching them. They’re not for you…. ‘Noah’ was PG- 13, so some of you can check it out… and I think ‘The Fountain’ might be PG-13.”

Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Aronofsky and his writing partner, Ari Handel, signed books for students.
Darren Aronofsky/Instagram

Aronofsky was introduced by the school’s principal, Karen Ditolla, and he and Handel stuck around after the Q&A to sign numerous copies of the children’s book for students.

Aronofsky and his crew were seen after the school’s performance having lunch at the venerable Italian eatery Gargiulo’s in Brooklyn. He also appeared in Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic on Wednesday in support of the new tome, hitting stores later on Thursday, including The Strand and McNally Jackson.

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