SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The long-awaited screen adaptation of William Joyce’s book Ollie’s Odyssey made its Netflix premiere Wednesday, and the author shared the real-life story behind this beautiful tale that was 60 years in the making.
Netflix’s “Lost Ollie” is based the true story of a time when author William Joyce lost his favorite toy at the age of five.
The loss inspired Joyce’s novel Ollie’s Odyssey, and now the book is a four-part adaptation for audiences of all ages to experience.
“When you have a favorite toy, and you’re a kid, and that bond is just so powerful. If you lose that toy, and many people do, it’s heartbreaking. It’s like you lost a family member or a best friend,” Joyce said.
“Lost Ollie” is a hybrid of live-action and animation from series creator and executive producer Shannon Tindle, who produced Coraline. Academy Award-winner Peter Ramsey, who produced Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is the film’s director and executive producer.
The cast includes Frozen star Jonathan Groff as the voice of Ollie, Mary J. Blige as Rosy, Tim Blake Nelson as the voice of Zozo the clown, Gina Rodriquez as Momma, Jake Johnson as Daddy, and Kesler Talbot as Billy, Ollie’s best friend.
“This story started 60 years ago,” says Joyce. “I lost my bear on Christmas Day right after I turned five years- old. Twenty years later, I was up in my parent’s attic, and I found him in a box. I haven’t lost him since. He’s made it through a lot.”
Joyce wrote the book Ollie’s Odyssey during a very difficult time in his life. His daughter Mary Katherine died tragically of a brain tumor, and shortly after her death, his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with ALS.
Joyce remembers lying next to Elizabeth, who was in her last year of life and could only communicate with her eyes and read his progress on Ollie’s Odyssey to her. “She would light up. She had this radiant look on her face and I knew I was on the right track,” Joyce explains.
The four-part adaptation can be streamed on Netflix.