Taylor Sheridan Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

One of the best screenwriters working today is Taylor Sheridan. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Hell or High Water (2016), which was nominated for four Oscars®, including Best Picture. Credited with redefining the modern Western, Sheridan also wrote and directed the 2017 crime film Wind River and wrote Sicario’s 2018 sequel.

He’s also responsible for creating the epic modern day western Yellowstone.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guests like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Sicario (2015)

Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan – Read the screenplay!

Hell or High Water (2016)

Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan – Read the screenplay!

Yellowstone (2016)

Teleplays by Taylor Sheridan

Wind River (2017)

Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan – Read the screenplay!

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan – Read the screenplay!

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)

Screenplay by Michael Koryta, Charles Leavitt, and Taylor Sheridan – Read the transcript!

Mayor of Kingstown (2021)

Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan – Read the pilot!


Lily and Lana Wachowski Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Lily and Lana Wachowski (aka The Wachowski Siblings & The Wachowski Brothers before transitioning) are best known for writing the masterpiece that is The Matrix, but if that is where you stop reading you’d be cheating yourself out some amazing screenplays. We’ve put together the definitive collection of screenplays written by The Wachowskis.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings (UNPRODUCED) – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!

BOUND (1996)

Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings (UNPRODUCED) – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Treatment by The Wachowski’s Siblings (UNPRODUCED) – Read the treatment!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the transcripts!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings – Read the abridged screenplay!

SENSE8 EP. 1 (2016)

Screenplay by The Wachowski’s Siblings & J Michael Straczynski – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell & Aleksander Hemon – COMING SOON

The Matrix: Breaking The Rules

The Matrix is an absolute classic film. It did quite a lot in its way to revolutionize the use of quality visual effects and bring some of the most remarkable fighting scenes ever filmed to the big screen. It also formed and established one of the most real environments in science fiction. But while imagination fuels the world of tThe Matrix or The Matrix environment, it also has an abundance of rules. Most movies in other genres have rules that defined how the characters respond or interact, by limitations and motifs that drive the narrative’s conflict.

In some other movies, the rules may make cause the conflict to escalate to give it the desired feel and effect. However, in The Matrix, the rules are the battle of the narrative. Where the hero of the story is a sentient program. To destroy The Matrix, the protagonist and the other heroes must break the rules of The Matrix.

In The Matrix, the rules are always at the core of the narrative. It is what holds the heroes back and what they are consistently and always opposing. Perhaps the top rule that most characters face is the rule in the narrative. For example, how Neo gets to establish himself as The One is a classic example of the hero’s journey. What makes this work and blend into the film’s primary attempt to breaking the rules is how it challenges the character at every turn and questions legitimacy.

The heroes are only as powerful as they opposing forces they face. For a character like Neo, he fights so many. And although most of the action takes place in a computer simulation, it is not as light as in games. There are consequences for certain things that happen in The Matrix. Failure in The Matrix will instantly lead to death outside of The Matrix. It adds and raises the stakes for the action and thrill throughout. And it is also used to create significant setbacks for the film’s narrative (Ciphers betrayal). Inevitable death awaits any of the heroes that confront an Agent. This affects Neo when he must choose to confront an agent or run away.

The rules aren’t always about death but significantly revolve around the life or death of the protagonist. The Oracle doesn’t give Neo a confirmation that he is the One but instead gives him another prophecy that he will have to choose between his life and that of Morpheus. This put a lot of things in motion in his journey. When he comes to save Morpheus, he is aware that he might die. He saves everyone but gets left behind, and manages to run away until Agent Smith seals his fate. All the rules come crashing down on Neo pointing that he must die. But then, a new rule is introduced – Love. It is through this that all others are broken. Much like a computer program given contradictory data, the rules crashed, and Neo becomes the One.

Aaron Sorkin Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin is a giant in the screenwriting world. You know you are reading a Sorkin script just by how the characters are speaking. His dialog is legendary. He created or perfected the “walk and talk.” Sorkin doesn’t just write screenplays, he has created some of the best-written shows in television history.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

Aaron Sorkin also teaches an amazing Screenwriting Masterclass. To learn more about this game-changing course click here.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

SPORTS NIGHT (Television)(1998-2000)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin –TV Pilot and Episode

THE WEST WING (Television)(1999-2006)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the TV Pilot!

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (Television)(2006-2007)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the TV Pilot!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!


**Won the Oscar** Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin –  Read the screenplay!

NEWSROOM (Television)(2012-2014)

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the TV Pilot!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

Steven Spielberg Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Steven Spielberg, WEST SIDE STORY screenplay, WEST SIDE STORY screenplay pdf, WEST SIDE STORY screenplay download, WEST SIDE STORY screenplay free

Take a listen to the legendary Steven Spielberg as he discusses his screenwriting and filmmaking process. The screenplays below are the only ones that are available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guests like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

Watch Steven Spielberg’s micro-budget short film Amblin.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

DUEL (1971)

Screenplay by Richard Matheson – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins  – Read the transcript!

JAWS (1975)

Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Steven Spielberg – Read the screenplay!

1941 (1979)

Screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale – Read the transcript!


Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, and Mark Victor – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Melissa Mathison – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz  – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz  – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by David Koepp and Michael Crichton – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by David Koepp – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Robert Rodat – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Steven Spielberg – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Scott Frank, Jon Cohen, and Philip K. Dick – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Jeff Nathanson – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Tony Kushner – NOT RELEASED YET

Top 12 Unconventional Christmas Movie Screenplays: Screenplays Download

There has been a lot of controversy about certain films being “real” Christmas movies. One such film is Die Hard. Now I don’t want to get into a debate here since this has already been settle by the data. You see why Die Hard is a Christmas movie here: Is Die Hard The Greatest Christmas Movie Ever – Yippee ki-yay!

Now there are a bunch of other films that are also unconventional Christmas movies. I compiled a list of those films here, as well as their screenplays so you can see for yourself. Here are the Top 12 Unconventional Christmas Screenplays in no particular order.  Do you think we’re missing a script?  Let us know by providing the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


Screenplay by Steven E. de Souza – Read the script!


Screenplay by Shane Black – Read the script!


Screenplay by Shane Black – Read the script!


Screenplay by Chris Columbus – Read the script!


Screenplay by Charles Haas – Read the script!


Screenplay by Daniel Waters – Read the script!


Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael – Read the script!


Story by Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson; screenplay by Caroline Thompson – Read the transcript!


Screenplay by Shane Black- Read the script!


Screenplay by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa – Read the script!


Screenplay by Roy Moore- Read the script!


Screenplay by Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shield- Read the script!

Top 10 Christmas Movie Screenplays: Screenplays Download

Every year I look forward to sitting down and watching a good Christmas movie. From the classics to the new classics, I love them all. Here are the Top Ten Christmas Screenplays in no particular order.  Do you think we’re missing a script?  Let us know by providing the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guests like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling- Read the script!


Screenplay by Steven E. de Souza – Read the script!


Screenplay by John Hughes – Read the script!


Screenplay by John Hughes – Read the script!


Screenplay by John Hughes – Read the script!


Screenplay by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa – Read the script!


Screenplay by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark – Read the script!


Screenplay by David Berenbaum – Read the script!


Screenplay by Caroline Thompson – Read the script!


Screenplay by Nancy MeyersRead the script!



Screenplay by David Diamond, David WeissmanRead the script!


Screenplay by Rod Warren, Bruce Vilanch, Pat Proft, Leonard Ripps, and Mitzie Welch – Read the script!

Top 10 Best Unproduced Screenplays of All-Time

best unproduced screenplays, best unproduced scripts

There are things that happen in Hollywood that are insane. Things that make no sense. Well the below list of screenplays fall under the why hasn’t this been made into a movie category.

We have compile ten of the best screenplays that have yet to be produced. These screenplays are remarkable and amazing reads. From writers like Joe Carnahan, Stanley Kubrick, David Koepp, The Coen Brothers and Guillermo del Toro just to name a few. Enjoy.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guests like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Gladiator 2

This screenplay is one of the most insane we have ever read. I don’t  know if it works as a sequel to Gladiator but it definitely works as a stand alone.

As a Roman god in the afterlife, Crowe’s Maximus meddles with Roman gods, is reincarnated, defends early Christians, and ultimately lives forever, leading tanks in the second world war and mucking around in the modern world. 

Screenplay by Nick Cave – Read the screenplay!

Mr. Hughes or An Honest to God American Sh*t

According to David Koepp’s website here is what he had to say about this script.

“Oh, how I love this Howard Hughes / Clifford Irving story DePalma and I came up with. Inches away from making this with Nic Cage, but then Snake Eyes came out and wasn’t a hit, and we were dead. It be’s like that sometimes.”

Screenplay by David Koepp and Brian De Palma – Read the screenplay!

White Jazz

This mythical screenplay is based on the novel “White Jazz: by James Ellroy. White Jazz is a 1992 crime fiction novel by James Ellroy. It is the fourth in his L.A. Quartet, preceded by The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, and L.A. Confidential.

Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan & Joe Carnahan – Read the screenplay!


Stanley Kubrick’s legendary script for Napoleon is a thing of myth. He spends years developing the story. He literally knew what Napoleon did everyday of his life and had it cataloged. If you saw the Kubrick exhibit at the LACMA you had a chance to see it. Apparently, this script is being developed into a min series so lets see what happens but until then get ready for one hell of a read,

Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick – Read the screenplay!

Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately

Vivien tracks a married couple struggling to survive against a supernatural entity.

Screenplay by Brian Duffield – Read the screenplay!


This was a personal project that obsessed Sylvester Stallone about the infamous poet and writer EDGAR ALLEN POE since the time he wrote the original ROCKY screenplay. He toiled for years to get the funding for this project but it never came to fruition. An extremely interesting read. You can watch a live reading of the script or purchase it below.

Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone – Read the screenplay!

To The White Sea

Joel and Ethan Coen adapted the novel over a decade ago. Considered one of the best screenplays never producer. Why it hasn’t been produced yet is anyone’s guess.

An American gunner for a B-29 bomber squad crash lands in Tokyo during World 2 and must find a way to escape alive.

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen – Read the screenplay!

At the Mountains of Madness

The story details the events of a disastrous expedition to Antarctica in September 1930, and what is found there by a group of explorers led by the narrator, Dr. William Dyer of Miskatonic University.

Based on H. P. Lovecraft’s masterwork of the same name. Guillermo del Toro has been trying to get this script produced for years. He’s been close a bunch of time but no bites yet.

Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins – Read the screenplay!


Written by the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Reversal of Fortune Nicholas Kazan, Cortes paints a a searing portrait of the 16th-century conquistador who vanquished Eden-like Mexico and its exotic inhabitants.

The historical catastrophe of Spain’s clash with American Indian civilizations is played out with comedy, tragedy, valor and barbarism on both sides.

Screenplay by Nicholas Kazan – Read the screenplay!

Edward Ford

One of the best Hollywood-satires ever written. It makes The Player look optimistic.

Moving to LA to pursue his film obsession, an oddball film fan bounces around the dregs of Hollywood trying to get work as an actor. His best friend is a young man whose interest in Edward Ford is a way to seek understanding of his own past.

Screenplay by Lem Dobbs – Read the screenplay!

William Goldman Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

William Goldman is a legend in the film industry. He’s a screenwriter but also the best selling novelist. He has written some of the best films of the ’60s and ’70s. Screenwriters should read and take notes on how he structures his screenplays. The screenplays below are the only ones available for free online.

If you are a screenwriter you also should take a look at his definitive work on the screenwriting craft, Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the transcript!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Goldman – Read the screenplay!

“William Goldman is, by far, one of the most popular storytellers of our generation,” says Sean Edgar, an author.

Stated above is one the millions of great testimonies people around the world have to say about the iconic writer, William Goldman. Though his name may not ring a bell with people who are not the within the entertainment industry, but it is definitely a household name anybody who works within the industry.

William Goldman, one of the most successful and prolific novelists, playwright and screenwriter ever, was born on August 12,1931. His fiction novels became popular in the 1950s and after then he ventured into the into the world of writing screenplays, for which he won so many prestigious awards including two Academy Awards(firstly, for the western Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid in 1969, and then for All the President’s Men in 1976)

His books on the craft of screenwriting are legendary and a must-read for any screenwriter.

  • Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting – Amazon
  • Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade – Amazon
  • Four Screenplays with Essays – Amazon
  • The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays – Amazon

William Goldman was born into a Jewish family in Chicago. His father, Maurice Goldman, was a businessman whose successful business eventually went south due to his alcoholism. Maurice later committed suicide when William was still in high school. Consequently, William and James, his brother, were left alone to cater for their mother, Marion Goldman, who had a hearing impairment.

William Goldman obtained his BA degree from Oberlin College in 1952. Afterward, he joined the army as a typist and was sent to the Pentagon as a clerical officer in 1954. After he was discharged as a corporal from the army, he went to Columbia University for his master degree. Meanwhile, in his spare time, he resorted to doing what he loved the most – writing short stories – and strove to get them published.

According to William Goldman himself, he said he began writing after he took a creative writing course at his alma mater. It should be noted that, initially, William did set out to be a poet and novelist but not a screenwriter, which he was later well-known for across the globe today.

Before he started his career as a screenwriter, William Goldman had had five novels in prints and three plays produced on Broadway. His debut novel was TheTemple of Gold, which was a success. Marathon Manwas the thriller he wrote after the death of his first agent, prior to which he focused on serious literary works.

His writing career to a sharp turn in 1964 when an actor, Cliff Robertson commissioned him to adapt the screenplays for Flower for Algernon, which was renamed Charleyand for which Cliff won the Academy Awards for the Best Actor. Having seen the job well-done by Goldman, Cliff had him rewrite Masquerade, which was Goldman’s very first screen credit.

William Goldman spent eight years researching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, his first original screenplay and sold it for a record $400,000 in the late 1960s. Afterward, he used several of his works as the basis for his screenplays such as the Princess Bride, All President’s Men and so on, except his novel No Way to Treat a Lady which was translated by somebody else. One of William’s most popular un-produced works is a pirate adventure, The Sea Kings but it was scrapped because the budget was way too high.

One of the greatest creative confessional ever written about the entertainment industry is was Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, which opening sentence

“Nobody knows anything”

was the most famous personal quote line ever written by Goldman. The idea of the title actually came from Dylan Thomas’ collection of stories titled Adventure in the Skin. The book was an interesting exposition on how the Hollywood entertainment industry works and contains virtually everything an intending writer needs to know about the industry. The book explained how the success of a film is affected by the stars, the producers, the writers and other professional players associated with.

It also tells the story of each film in the life of the great screenwriter, William Goldman and then finally, the book went on to give a step-by-step, comprehensive exposition on how one of William Goldman’s masterpieces, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was made with a full presentation of the screenplays. The book was actually about Goldman’s feelings about his business. He wrote the screenplay of the Butch and Cassidy and the Sundance Kid while he was teaching creative writing in the Christmas vacation of 1965-1966. All studios he showed it to rejected it except one, the 20thCentury Fox, which finally accepted it.

Then the 20thCentury Fox embarked on the project of the filmmaking. The filmmaking was directed by the George Roy Hill whom William Goldman considered to be the greatest and most prolific director he has ever worked with. The movie stands out as Goldman’s biggest success commercially ever. After the production of the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid film, he began – perhaps motivated by the success – to more novels and screenplays.

Often, he would tell his daughters, Jenny and Susanna, bedtime stories and on one fateful night, he asked them what the title of the stories they wanted him to tell them, and then one said “Princess” while the other said “Bride”. And that was how he got the title for his superb novel, the Princess Bride in 1973 and shortly after then, he wrote the screenplay for the novel. According to him, that is the only novel really likes. Perhaps the likeness was a kind of emotional attachment to the work which would be, most likely, as a result of the anguish of mind he experienced because the work took an unusually long time.

William Goldman disappeared from the limelight in the entertainment industry for almost a decade after writing to Mr. Horn in 1979. This was, definitely, not because the stream of Goldman’s creativity has dried up but because the self-financed producer, Joseph E. Levine, he was in a screenplay writing a contractual agreement with, could not finance the budgets of the filmmaking, so none of these works was produced during those years.

On the other hand, Goldman too made a lot of efforts personally to get other studios and producers to help him produce some of them, but that too was to no avail. Meanwhile, he continued to write several other books, one of which was Adventure in the Screen Trade which finally became a best seller.

Fortunately, he was able to secure a job with Creative Artists Agency (CAA)in 1986 and within a month he was offered the rights to adapt An Invisible Man, memoir authored by H. F. Saint and, luckily for him, the film was produced.

However, his first real comeback movie was in 1987 when one of his novels, the Princess Bride was produced. In 1990, he was also commissioned by Rob Reiner, director/producer, to write the screenplay for Misery which was adapted from a novel authored by Stephen King. He continued to write popular screenplays in the 1990s, namely Maverick in 1994, The Chamber in 1996, the Ghost and the Darkness in 1996, and Absolute Power in 1997. He also co-authored the screenplay for the General’s Daughter with Chris Bertiloni in 1999.

At the dawn of the new millennium, another of Goldman’s memoirs was released titled Which Lie did I Tell? It reflects the usual honest, down-to-earth style characteristic of Goldman’s literary works. In the book, he explained all a writer need to know about the screenwriting business and how to thrive in the business.

Goldman is prolific not only in the art and craft of screenwriting but also in novel writing. The following are some of his many works:

Theatre: Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole (with his brother James Goldman), Misery, A Family Affair.

Screenplays: Masquerade, Harper, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hot Rock, the Stepford Wives , All the President’s men, A Bridge Too Far, Misery, Year of Comet, Chaplin, Indecent Proposal, Last Action Hero, Maverick, Malice, The Chamber, Dreamcatcher, Wild Card, Absolute Powers, The General’ Daughter, Wild Cat, Dolores Clairborne, Heart in Atlantis, Twins, The Ghost and The Darkness etc.

Novels: the Temple of Gold, Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow, Soldier in the Rain, Boys and Girls Together, No way to Treat a Lady, The Thing of It Is…, The Princess Bride, Magic, Marathon, Tinsel, Control, The Color of Light, the Silent Gondoliers, Heat, Brothers, Father’s Day, Control

Non-fiction and memoirs: the Season: Candid Look at the Broadway, Adventures in the Screen Trade, Hype and Glory, Which Lie Did I Tell? Wait Till Next Year, the Picture: Who Killed the Hollywood etc.

Short stories: Something Blue, Rogue, the Ice Cream Eat, Till the Right Girl Comes Along, Da Vinci, the Simple Pleasures of the Rich etc.

Almost 50 years career as a professional writer, Goldman has won awards to his name including two Academy Awards(both for Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men), two Edgar Awards, he also won the Laurel Award for screenwriting Achievement in 1985.

William Goldman is indeed one of the greatest American screenwriters of all time.

Bill I think in the books that you've written about screenwriting that you've become famous for to two averages, one of which is that nobody knows anything. And the other is that screenplays are structure, that nobody knows anything. It's funny, it's caught on. And what I is I remember what I meant by it was that nobody has the least idea What movie is gonna work. I mean, the big movie that's opening this weekend is Sex in the City, too. And nobody has the least the first one was a free kit. And people loved it. And now they've done the sequel. And sequels or horror movies, as I've written, the only reason you do a sequel is to make money. And nobody has the least idea. Is it going to be a phenomenal success? Or is it going to be? Is it going to take, I was talking with a studio guy, recently, and he said, we'll make movies that cost under 25 million and movies that cost over 75. And I thought, total horseshit, what he meant was, they would make quote, unquote, an art film.

And they would make special effects movies. But that leaves out a gigantic percentage of what most of us fell in love with movies for I mean, it wasn't because of the special effects stuff that they're doing. They'll understand that Avatar was terrific, etc, etc. But there were other things besides Avatar was the movies I liked. I started my first screenplay, I think in 1964. I mean, I don't know that Tom Cruise was alive in 1964. If he was he wasn't like, and it was such a different world then because now, the numbers are so terrifying. The studios, I think, from what I'm told are scared shitless because the amount of money that they're spending in movies, I mean, the first movie really, that I did was Harper and had pulled him and bless him who was, I guess, the biggest star in the world in? And I think it cost $3 million? Well, you figure that was a long time ago monies. But it's still you can't you can't get a major stars gym teacher for $3 million. today. It's just the prices are I think the big change that's happened right now is the money. And, and I don't know if it'll ever go back to being where it was a little bit more sane. I think if you're a kid, and you want to start out in movies, you used to be able when I began in the 60s, you could pretty much write anything you wanted to write and pray. Because they weren't you know, they wanted romantic comedies, which they really thank you. I guess they do now I thought date night was terrific. But they don't really, you know, they wanted westerns. They don't want Westerns anymore. I mean, it's very limited as to what they're making because they're panic, as I would be to if I were running a studio, because they have no idea what's going to work.

And they have they've got to keep making their stuff. And they just don't know. I mean, every it always was a crapshoot. But now the numbers are so I think the numbers are the biggest difference. And if I were young screenwriter now you can only write, this is a sound. So we're binnacle. But you can only write what you give a shit about. And you've got to keep doing that. If, for example. You don't like special effects movies. Don't try and write one because it'll suck. And for example, I don't like special effects movies. I mean, I love jaws. But for the most part, I don't like you know, all the things coming down from the planet to kill us and all that stuff. And it would be ridiculous for me to try and write one you've got to try and write something you care about. That sounds really corny, but it's true. When I started.

There weren't film schools I never saw in my life. Not even for a second. I never saw a screenplay until I was 33 years old. And a lot of kids are finished with their careers when they're 33 because they've been to film school. They got their first movie done when they were 23 or 25. And then the now that they're 33, there's something there directors or whatever else. And it was a different world. And when I first heard of film schools, I thought it was the stupidest fucking idea I've ever heard of. Why would anybody you know because we fell in love with movies by going to the LCN theater in my little town in Illinois and You went to the movies, and they were wonderful. And then now movies are important, which they never were when I was a kid. I was born in Chicago and 31 live there for six years, then we moved to HetLand Park.

And I have childhood amnesia. So I have no memories, whatever, are the first six years of my life, I have very few memories of the early years at all, but the Chicago years and I wish I knew what it was like then were totally blocked. My father was in the clothing business. And my mother was his wife. And he, he worked for a company of Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, where the two biggest and my father worked for the third, which was not a giant company, and he was always coming in New York and, and clothing, business, etc, etc. And then it was a family business. And my mother who was much more powerful, and my father became convinced that my father would never be made ahead of the company, because it would be a family business, and they would screw him. So she made him retire, which I don't think he wanted to do, and start his own business. And he did. And his alcoholism got out of control. And his partner in the new business which he started, which was doing well close the business because my father was a hopeless drunk. And then he came home to live. The last four years of his life, he lived upstairs in the house, as I was growing up, and then he killed himself when I was 15. And I found his body and No, I've never written about it. But it was a very fucked up child.

And yet, there was something in that childhood, there was something in your upbringing that inculcated but I mean, but you and your brother both became writers? Yes. Unusual, very unusual. And you went to the theater as a kid, I know not to mention the Alcyone you just

know, but also legitimately did a lot of theater going my parents like to theater. And we would go to see road companies or whatever hit musical was in town. And I would see and then we came to New York twice, and saw a lot of theater and I love theater. I still do. It's just very when it's wonderful. It's better than anything, but it's not wonderful, so much. And you'll have to basically, for a when you go ahead, it's going to be something that you'll have memories. And, and like that. So my upbringing was very fucked up. And I guess I might as well talk about my writing. I showed no signs of talent. I showed no signs of talent. And the fact I've been a writer for half a century and more now is insane to me. Still, you were at Oberlin. I was at Oberlin. But I was when I went to Oberlin, we had a literary magazine, and I was the fiction editor.

And it was a poetry editor and an overall editor. And everything was submitted anonymously. And these two girls were just brilliant. And when my I would submit my short stories to be published, in which I was the fiction editor, and they wouldn't, you know, and it was all anonymous, and they would look at it. And I was so nervous, my story was coming up. And they would say, what, we can't publish this shit. And I would say no, that we can't publish this shit. And I never got anything published. I think I must have somewhere in my life 100 rejection slips from magazines. And no one had the least interest. I never got a little thing back saying, show us your next story. I remember once. This can't be true, but I think it is. I submitted something in the New Yorker, a short story and I got it back the same day. Now the males are not that good. But I remember as I opened my mailbox, that was a fucking story that I just sent out to the New Yorker. And I took a I took a writing course at Northwestern and got the worst grade I took a short story course at Oberlin and got the worst grade. And my dearest old friend is a fabulous figure in my life. John Kander, who has had amazing success in Broadway. Catherine M, they wrote Chicago and cabaret in New York, New York and, and Johnny was there. And I remember, Candace saying, One day we were having coffee, and we had to submit a story the next day, and I'd written mind weeks and working on it. And he said, Well, I got to go back to my room now and write the story and I said, you haven't started it yet. And he did. And then Johnny got B's and A's and I got C's. And I was a very bad student.

That'll Rowland, and I went in the Army in 52, everybody was drafted. And in those years, the army was 16 weeks of basic training, eight weeks of learning to throw a hand grenade and marching and how to use your rifle, and eight weeks of something else. And because I knew how to type, I was sent to clerical school. And there were seven of us that day, who arrived in clerical school the same day, and we were all college kids. And the head of the clerical school was a captain, who was a golf net. And he realized having just come, because he would have the seven of us run the clerical School where he played golf every day. And she will he wrote a letter to the Pentagon, requesting we be taken out of pipeline, and be given to the clerical School for the next two years, because we were fabulous. And he wrote this bullshit letter. And the Pentagon got the letter, there was a famous story in World War Two, about the five Salomon Brothers who were sent overseas after basic training, and this ship sunk, and they were all five killed. And the government felt that was unfair pain. So they passed a rule, which I think is still in effect, that everybody after basic training in the military gets two weeks to go. And so we all went home, the seven of us for two weeks, and then met at the Pentagon. And we had discovered the Pentagon had gotten the letter and thought, if we were so fabulous, they wanted us at the Pentagon said we were sent to the Pentagon. And in those two weeks, the jobs they had for us were filled. So they were gonna keep us there until the next levy to Korea happened. And it never happened because the Korean war was ending. So the seven of us had nothing to do for essentially 22 months.

And I mean, it was amazing. The people who rent the civilians who were in our offices loved us, because the more people they could have working for them, the higher their ranking wouldn't be in the civilian world. So we had nothing and I remember I was given jobs, I was given one job to do to make a deviation up for every job title in the army. And I remember, I made the Washington Post on that by name, because some of my abbreviations were longer than the job titles. And they thought What kind of an asshole thisand years later the Washington Post would pick up very important anyway. I would write shorts I would we were in Fort Myer, Virginia, across a little thing from the Pentagon. And every night I would go to the Pentagon and write my short stories. And I never got anything published. It was just horrible. And then, after military, I came to New York, and I was going to Columbia. But my grades at Oberlin were so shitty. I couldn't get into Columbia. So I got in and pull ahead of the music department and wonderful man named Douglas more, got me in. And I got a Master's at Columbia. And I didn't know what I was going to do in my life. And then I felt I know what I'll do, I'll get a PhD. But then I realized I have no language skills. And that would have been an extra two years to learn two languages. And I desperately I was living with my brother, who was at this point of failed play, right? We're all in our 20s and Kander, who was not successful yet he was giving voice lessons.

And I realized I'd gotten a masters. And I wanted to be a writer, I'd show no signs of talent. No one ever had the least notion that I wouldn't succeed as a writer. And I went back to Highland Park. And in a frenzy of three weeks, I wrote my first novel. And I remember so clearly. I was on page 50. And I'd never been on page 20 before because the short story is worlds short. And I wrote the novel. I had met a guy in the army who hadn't met an agent. So I called up the agent who was just starting wonderful man named Joe McCrindle. And I said, Can I send you my novel? And he said, Sure. And he knew an editor at Club and he sent the novel to the editor, and they had a very odd reaction to it. They said, we'll publish it if you'll double in in length, which was very strange. So I went frantic and I doubled it in length, and send it back and was waiting to hear. Now I never had anything published, ever, ever, ever hired showed no signs of talent. And I got a phone call that morning. I was alone in the apartment in New York that they hadn't accepted the book in candor, came home about two hours later.

And he said, Have you heard about the book? And he said, Yes. And he said, and I said, they're going to publish it. And he said, Oh, Billy, which he's the only one who calls me Billy. Isn't that wonderful? Is everyone thrilled? And I said, I haven't told anybody. And he realized I've been walking around having a catatonic fit, because I didn't know how to deal with this news. And Candace said, Would you like me to help? And I said, how would we do it? And he'd say, well, we'll sit at the desk. And I'll call people and dial him and tell him your book was taken, and that you don't want to talk about it. And you can say, Isn't it wonderful? And they would say, yes. And then we dial it next purse. And that's what we did. We tell everybody we knew, and said Billy's book has been taken. And that was how I started. And I still am staggered. No one remotely thought I could ever succeed as a writer. And what I, when I got my master's, the only the only job offer I got, I think was from a high school in Duluth, Minnesota that said, I could come and teach English. And I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to go to Duluth and teach English. And probably what would have happened to me was I had an uncle in who was in advertising in Chicago. And I think probably, he could have gotten me some kind of menial job in an ad agency. If I, and then I wrote the novel, and that changed everything. But it's still

freakish to me that any of this happened. They felt they'll find me out. And what I had to do was write a novel every year. So the next year, you know, what I did was I was living in New York. And I go to the movies every day. Because it was possible. It was wonderful. 42nd Street at that time, had 17 I think movie theaters that showed double features, and you could go down, it hadn't become dirty yet. And I'd go down there and didn't know what there was a double feature has been played westerns, in one played comedies, you know, you can go see anything foreign film double feature. And that's really those years. I where I got my movie education seriously. I mean, I went to movies all the time when I was a kid. But I just went to shitload of movies those years. And I wrote an album that was temple ago came out in 57. And I had a novel came out in 58. And I went to Broadway, which is a disastrous thing for anybody to do, and novel in 1960. And then I wrote a very, I wanted to write a long novel. Don't ever write along, though. And it took me a long, long time. It was, it was a book for boys and girls together, eventually changed a lot of things in my life. And I'd gotten about it was 1000 pages, typed as long fucker. And I had gotten halfway through, I stopped for a year and a half to do theater. And when I came back, I was blocked, which is everybody's nightmare. And I didn't even know I had 600 pages typed. And I didn't know what to do.

And one day, I read an article, I think, in the Daily News, the big crime at this time was the boston strangler. And the new theory in Boston, was it there might be to Boston Strangler. And as I was walking up to my office, a notion never happened before, maybe once again, an idea dropped into my head, which never happens, which was what if there were two Stranglers and one of one of them got jealous of the other. And I called up some friends and said, I've got this idea for a novel. But I want to write my long novel and they said, Well, if you can write this strangler book quickly, why don't you do that? Maybe we'll get you juiced up to finish up the lawn but and so I wrote the strangler book in 10 days, and it was became a novel and it became a movie was called no way to treat a lady. And the reason I'm going on about this is I wanted to make it seem longer. then it was. So I had a ton of chapters, because each new chapter, I could start on the top of the next page. And I think there were probably 50 or 60 chapters in 150 page book was a weird looking book.

And the reason I go into this was because that's what got me in the movie business. Lovely actor named Cliff Robertson. Somehow got ahold of no entry lady. And he came to my apartment, and he said, I read your screen treatment. And I remember thinking shit, that wasn't a screen treatment. That was a novel, but because of all the chapters, and sometimes it'd be a one sentence chapter and then the next page. And he said that his career, his great successes went on television, but that when the movies happened, he didn't get the parts. So we had optioned a marvelous short story called flowers for Elgin, by Daniel Keyes. And when I write a screenplay, and I had never seen a screenplay, and so he left, and I was talking to my wonderful wife, Eileen. And I said, I've got a good time to turn down the Time Square was midnight, or one in the morning, and see if I can find what a screenplay looks like. So there were bookstores that were open late in Times Square in those years. And there was one, I don't know what it was that was published at that time. And when talking 64 and I bought it, and I brought it home, and I looked at the screenplay. And I realized I could never write in that form, because the screenplay is all double space, faded and double space, build double space, he is sitting in a chair, but all in motion. And I realized I could never write in that form. And, and I didn't, and then

for some reason, Robertson, I was writing the screenplay for him. But I hadn't done remotely anything on it yet. And he asked me to come over and Dr. Movie, which I did when he was shooting a movie, I think Sean Connery was supposed to play the lead. And then he couldn't do it. So it was they had a real change the the dialogue. And I did that for a couple of weeks, and I came back, finished Flowers for Algernon, sent it off to Robertson who fired me immediately. I'd never been fired. It was a horrifying experience. And he got sterling silver had to write him in the movie was Charlie, right? He won the Oscar. Not a sentence of mine was in the screenplay. But that's how I got in the movie, because it's all a fluke. I mean, if Cliff Robertson doesn't miss read my, my novel and think it's a screen treatment, he never asked me interesting. And I never and I said I was 33 years old. And I'd never ever seen a screenplay. Nobody. This has any interest in our business now can say that. There's a screenwriting convention that happens every year in California, and used to be before the crash. 1000s of kids came from all over the world, and they would listen to agents would come and people would, you know, talk about how to make the movie but

so how do you feel about that whole sort of orthodoxy of screenwriting? That the books and the Robert McKee and theMickey I remember, I listened to him, but he's very good. I mean, he really is a good speaker. I heard him once I went to a lecture he gave he's a very skillful fellow. There were no rules on this things happen. I mean, when I think of, there's no way if I wrote which Cassie today, which is the most successful movie I've ever had been or will be connected with. They don't make that movie. They don't make a Western. The only way they might make it is if Mr. Eastwood felt an urge to make a Western and he got together with George Clooney.

And he directed it and whatever. I don't know. But otherwise, they don't make westerns. Westerns flop. I mean, John Wayne was the biggest star, John Wayne couldn't get arrested. The greatest dancer that ever lived, Fred Astaire couldn't get arrested. Now. What part? I mean, what part Have you seen in a movie that Fred Astaire could have played? They don't make Fred and Ginger movies anymore. They don't do it. It's all different. And when you think about those giant stars of my childhood, Gary Cooper, what is Gary Cooper gonna do? What is Jimmy Stewart going to do? Are any of them going to get?

I think they'd be on television. They'd all have TV shows. That would be how they are in delivered But I don't think. And when you think of the big stuff, we live in a time right now. 2010 I don't think this has ever happened in the history of sound. There was one movie star. And that's Will Smith. And yes, Johnny Depp put them in a pirate movie. Sure. But Will Smith in anything, the way they the way they look at movies out in Hollywood? is does the movie open? Which means the first weekend, does it new business. And the reason they pay stars, these obscene amounts of money or you used to was because they felt the stars would open the picture. Tom Cruise will open a picture. Well, he doesn't anymore. He has a movie coming out this summer. If it's a big hit, maybe they'll love Tom Cruise again. But it goes very fast. And one of the reasons actors are the way they are, is because it's not gonna last and they know it. And they know it and it's scary for

you net, you never moved out there. You know, I

don't like California. I have no sense of direction. I hate to drive. I had a wonderful summer in the boot camps and each summer. But that was a different world. You know, we, George Hill and I met every day at his office on the Fox lot for the day. And we talked about this and talking about that and this line in that line. And they wouldn't do that. Now. It was like the summer, we spent working on the script that we had. Redford and Ross and Newman in for 10 days that three of them just heal in myself and the three actors. And they were also gorgeous.

And I remember I was walking back to his office one day. And he said in a quiet rage. I feel like a mutt because they were here were these three gorgeous. They are and they were and I think the three Ross was the best horseback ride. I've always thought I've been told it. But and then we had the crew in for like two weeks we had everybody in the editor and the camera man and bla bla bla, talking what problems do you have with this? What do you have, we're gonna have trouble making that work well, so that when the shoot actually happened, the movie went like a dream because we had had an amazing amount of, of work on the script. And on location. Before the movie shot, they wouldn't do that. The novel I mentioned, no way to treat a lady, which was published I think, in 64 was published under a pseudonym Harry longbow, which was the real name of the Sundance Kids.

So this is five years before the movie came out. So I'd obviously been trying to, there was not a lot about them at this point. We know anything. We still don't know really anything about long, but we think he was from we think he was born and brought up in New Jersey. And he was clearly as good with a gun as anybody at that time. And he was, and he went to South America, which Cassie Cassidy was a fabulous figure. There are only two figures in the history of the West, who were famous at that time when they were alive. One of them was Jesse James, and one of them was Cassidy. Cassidy was so well liked. This happened. If he was being followed by someone, he would go up to your house and say, Hi, I'm Butch Cassidy. The sheriff is after me. Can you hide me in the basement?

And they say sure, come on in. But everybody loved it. He was this marvelous, strange figure who had no violence and we never shot anybody really went to South America. And he was he in the Sundance Kid, we're friends. Why in the world, it was wonderful material. And one of the great stories about this is true. As a young man, he's in jail. And the governor of the state and I'm going to say it was Colorado says I'll make you a deal. If you promise me you'll go straight. I'll let you out. I mean, he was not in murder. He was whatever. I'll release you from prison. All you have to do is tell me that you'll never commit crimes again. And Cassidy said, I can't do it. He said, but I'll make you a deal. If you'll let me out. I promise I'll never do anything in college. Again, and the governor took the deal, and he never did anything in Colorado again. It may have been I don't know what state it was. But he was may have been one.

But he was an amazingly likable figure Cassidy was and that he had arguably the biggest gaming and he ran it. I mean, it's ridiculous. Why would why did they all follow Butch Cassidy but they did. Until Harriman they robbed railway them. It's like the movie. It didn't make much of that up. They robbed rail and eh, Herrmann. It was a billionaire at that time, whatever the equivalent would have been. went nuts. That Butch Cassidy kept robbing history. So he formed the greatest law outfit.

And your super posse, the super posse, and he had six guys from around the country who were the top law men in America. And he got them all together. And he said, All you got to do is capture Butch Cassidy. And when Cassidy heard about it, he realized they would kill him. So that's why he went to South America. I mean, the idea of going into South America was insane. But you know, he was, it's a wonderful, he was a wonderful figure. Not like really anybody else.

So he wrote it on spec, basically, I tended to do that a lot. I wrote my novels on spec, etc, etc. That means not having a contract by roadbook Jones back and I had a very great agent named ever Ziggler. And he decided to have an auction. And everybody turned it in, except one studio. And they wanted to change, which was the studio guys said, they can't go to South America will buy this if you don't have them go to South America. And I said, but they went there. In the studio guy said to me, I don't give a shit. All I know is one thing.

And then this great line, John Wayne don't run away. And of course, John Wayne didn't run away. It was a very unusual thing. For Western heroes. It's one of the other things that made the story so wonderful. And so I rewrote it. Changing almost nothing. And Ziggler auction did again. In every studio wanted it you set one. And there was this insane auction. And I have to mention the number. It was sold to Fox Richard Zanuck, David bro, bless them. For $40,000 Which now we're talking about what 1967 Whatever it was, it was a shitload of money then. But it was really a freakish amount of money now. And it got in all the papers. Because nobody at this time knew anything about screenwriters because all they knew is an actor's made up all the lines and directors and all the visual concepts. And the idea of this obscene amount of money going to this asshole who lives in New York who wrote a Western drove him nuts. That was the most vicious stuff. And when the movie opened, the reviewers were pissy because they hated me. And the movie, basically caught on and became what it became. But it was the writing of the screenplay and the amount of money that it went for. That basically changed everything in my life. I think I'd written a couple of things that hadn't gotten made. And then Harper, and then there was something else. And then I wrote Butch I mean, I wrote, but my second daughter was born in I think, 65. And we moved to Princeton, because I'd spend a little time I didn't go to school, everyone. I spent a little time in Princeton, you're teaching. Now I was just basically out there. I became a teacher later, and we decided to move to Princeton. We were gonna have a second kid. It's a great town, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'll tell the story. It's it's a huge change in my life. We move to Princeton. I am planning to be a writer.

A guy who I admit who was the writing professor, came up to me and said, I have a chance suddenly for sabbatical. Would you take over and be the writing professor next year? You know, I've always thought I'd like to teach teaching writing at Princeton, there weren't that many kids that take writing. I'll do it. So I taught writing. At Princeton at that, that was the over I wrote Butch over Christmas vacation in Princeton, New Jersey. I mean, I've been working on it for I don't know how many years. And I tend, once I have the confidence that I know what I'm doing to write quickly in movies. In other words, I don't know what it took me three weeks, whatever it was, but I've been working on it for x years, so you don't know. And I had done apparently a quality job in my teaching there that year. And I got the same guy who was cutting back said, would you take over and be the other writing teacher here at Princeton? And I thought, well, we'd like, for instance, so and so and so and so yeah. So I was gonna be a professor of writing at Princeton University. And I didn't hear from the guy and I didn't hear from the guy.

And finally, I ran into him, and he said, Oh, God, I've been avoiding you. And I said, What do you mean? And he said, There was a revolving head of the English department in that time, I have no idea if they still have it. And the guy who was the head of the English department that year, I had mentioned a book, I wrote a long book called boys and girls together, it became a gigantic hit in paperback. And it was about a bunch of people, young people who come to New York and fuck up their lives, boys and girls, gays and straights, all kinds of stuff. The guy who was the head of the English department that year, said, I will not have our students this direct quote. I will not have our students worshipping at the Shrine of a pornographer. I mean, the son of a bitch call me a pornographer. And I'm such a nice Jewish boy. It's so ridiculous. And this was, I went back to Eileen, the kids were then born, I called Mr. Ziggler. And I said, I am leaving Princeton. I don't know that I'll ever come back. You must give me something to do somewhere this summer. I don't care what it is. I want a doctor something this summer somewhere.

Get me out of here. So we moved back to New York that week. I think in the 40. Some years, I've been back to Princeton once. And I have no intention of ever going back. And it's a swell school and all that shit. Lindsay got me a job, I think in London, and we were off that week, where I spent this summer and I've lived in New York ever since. But it was if either I think of the other two English heads had been running the department that year and never would have happened. This one guy hated the book so much. Wow. And like that. That was a big. And that was a big deal. Because I was 3334 Maybe 35. And I had planned to be a professor. I really thought I was going to be that. And then that all changed. So I came to New York and I've been a writer reversals. Interesting. Yeah, fascinating for me. Well,

yeah, but luck. I mean, you know, the, the role of chance and oh, yeah, Chance favors the prepared mind, though, at the same time. You said about this. One other question about Butch Cassidy wishes that you said that everything you could from your Hollywood career came as a result of the cliff scene?

Well, it's, it's from Gunga Din. I think, for me, the greatest movie ever made is a movie directed by George Stevens called Ganga Dune, with Cary Grant. Victor McLaughlin and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Santa Fe, Sam Jaffe in the title. And I went to see it at the LCS. And I remember I was so rocked by that. I went back the next day. And I remember when Grammar School everybody was stunned that I'd gone back to see a movie again. And I remember some kids said to me, how could you go again, when you knew when you knew who won something like that? And, and I did, and Gaga then I've seen it 16 times. My best younger than story for me, is the day I got out of the Army in 1954. I was back in my small town in LA Really. And there's an Army post fort Sheridan about two miles away. And a friend of mine was getting out.

And I called him. And I said, you know, I'm back when you're getting my mama. And he said, You'll never guess what's playing on the post tonight, Ganga did. And I said, Because I saw it every chance I ever got. And I knew it by heart. I said, I'll be there. And he said, there's a problem. You have to be in uniform. So the day I got out of the fucking service, I got back in uniform and snuck out into Fort Sheridan. So I could see Ganga did that so much. I loved it. I am moved. I written this and I believe it's still true. I am moved for reasons I do understand more than anything, but what I call stupid courage. And the two best examples I know where I don't want to spoil the plot and bring it in. But at the end of young at the end, there was a real shot to shit.

And The Waterboy Sam Jaffe is also wounded. And there's a tower and the British troops are going to get massacred by the evil, the evil criminals. In Cary Grant says the Colonel's gotten to know and indicate use him as a trumpet and go get in crops crawls up to tempo to go, which is what my first demo was called, and blows his bugle and gets killed, but the British are safe. And that was so moving for me. And the other thing that moved me out of control was one of the great musicals ever written this Porgy and Bess by the Gershwins, and Porgy is a cripple, and he's got a goat cart, and it's down south. And he's in love with a town beauty.

His name is Bess. And there is an evil person in the thing called sporting life was a drug pusher. And he gets us down south. And he convinces Beth to come to New York with him and he gives her drugs and they go off to New York, and Portuguese in jail because he has killed a town bully. And then he gets out of jail. And he comes back, and he's crippled. And he's on a cart. And you just sit there in the audience thinking, Oh, God, mess is gone. What's he gonna do? He's got no lives and crippled mama. And he says, Where's Bess? And there's a embarrassment from the people. And then they say, she's going for you.

She's going to New York. And there's a pause. And he says, three words. He says, Bring my goat. And when I heard that, I got so hysterical, because I realized, fucking Porgy was gonna go in his goat, his goat cart, having his goat pull him from the deep south to New York City. And I thought, Oh, my God, and I started to sob hysterically. And it's at the end of the show, and there's curtain calls and chairs. I'm still hysterical. And I can still remember when we left the theater, people would touch me pat my head and say to my parents, Is he all right? Is there something wrong with your son, because I couldn't stop hysterically crying. So that, you know, stupid courage moves.

So I mean, the cliff scene of Butch Cassidy really is a Ganga, Dean. Oh, it's totally, totally. I knew the Sundance Kid couldn't swim. I knew that because all those years I was doing research, I found out that most cowboys couldn't swim was not a thing that was part of their life. And I remember thinking shit, that, you know, like, clock that way. And so when you come to the thing, in which case that you were at the cliff, and they're about to get killed by the super posse, and voice says, We'll jump and the Sundance Kid says, I can't swim. That was a big fucking moment at the movies that people just shrieked and then they jump off the cliff unsavoury. She did

it. For me, it was like and then when Newman says, Well, it's the fall that'll kill you.

But that moment was one of the moments that and the other moment I think that I think they did die that way. There's a lot of dispute as to whether they were killed by but I think the militia got and that last scene where that they have when they're gonna, when Bush says let's go to Australia And then they go out and get shot that word because they never talk about the fact that there's a fucking militia out there and that they're bleeding to death as they speak. And they're going to die. They just talk about can we go to Australia, it's got nice beaches, whatever the dialogue is. And you could learn to swim and the kids that swimming is not important. But here they are talking about going to fucking Australia.

And they know they're going to die. And that's, again for me stupid courage that worked. That worked. And it was, Oh, I got to tell a wonderful story. Halfway through shooting, he'll has me out to look at like the first hours of dailies that he's done in the woods. Wonderful. And we're going to set after I'd seen hours and hours and hours and stuff. And it was just when they were going to Mexico for this up American secrets. This is a directing story. We're walking to the set. And a guy walks past.

And he's carrying a hat and he says hat, okay. And he'll nuts. And then we go on the rest of our walk, and suddenly Hill almost drops to his knees because he realized what the guy was saying is this hat that I am showing you. Okay for South America, because if he hadn't got it was the wrong hat. And if they had gone to Mexico, and the Sundance Kid and didn't have a hat, that was the same hat that he was wearing in New York, or wherever it was, they're fucked. They have to stop shooting. Someone has to fly from Mexico that loss and whenever whenever, and I'll never forget that because directors have that kind of problem.

Because if there's a thing if you need something, and you're a director, and you need this for a shot, you need that kind of crowd that kind of hat. You better have it or your fuck. I had Harper and Butch in the 60s. And there was other stuff. But I mean, those were the two and then I'm trying to think there was a long period. Oh, God, when was I a leper I wrote about it was when I wrote the season. No, it was when I wrote adventures in the screen tree. And I hadn't realized that I had basically, I had written some movies that hadn't gotten made. Right. And suddenly I was a leper. And the phone didn't ring.

Well, you wrote a great movie that I love, which is the great Waldo pepper.

Yeah, that was neat. That was for George Hill. That was only because George loved old airplanes, right? And whatever. No, but there was stuff. It's just the interesting thing about Waldo pepper. It was Redford and hill again. And the advance height was terrific. And we had a sneak in Boston. And I think it was Susan Sarandon, his first big part. And she was wonderful. And there's a scene where she's trapped on an airplane so that you know, old old older planes, and she's frozen on this airplane. And and Waldo makes a plane to plane transfer, and goes over and rescues it. But she loses her grip and she falls to where do the audience went fucking nuts.

They felt so betrayed. I never felt more panic in and I thought they might attack us, because there were people getting up and in a rage because we had done this. And the reason I mentioned this is today, if we had seen that it's a half a day's reshoot. All you have to do is put some footage in the same dress, bobbing up out of the lake and waving or fist and anger up at Waldo. And there's and she's fine. But we didn't do that. Then we didn't do the reshooting which happens now which is a big part of moviemaking. We didn't do that. And what are we talking about 40 years ago? It was we never thought part of it was hell. But we never thought of reshoot it. It was never mentioned by anybody. No, we can do this. Because it's an easy reshoot.

I've ever seen that the old Rivoli Right, yeah. So how did you learn? If you had not seen the screenplay before and the ones that you saw were fake to be around by again, I've been very lucky in that I've only written movies. I want to write.

In other words, when I got offered a special offer Facts movie. I know I couldn't do it.

And you can only do what you can do. I think that sounds. But you know the other thing that I wrote that caught on other screenplays are structure, you're telling a story. And you've got to basically, you've got to believe in the story and sounds really corny, but you do. You can only write what you think you can make play. And I think for anybody who's starting out, if you try and do something that you don't give a shit about, you're not going to get it made. And I was very lucky, in that the movies that I wanted to do got made in there for a long period, at least for the first 20 years of my career. They were all movies I wanted to write.

And you were never one for pitching.

You know, I only pitched once in my whole life. And I pitched her friends at Castle Rock. And it was so awful. I quit after a few minutes. I couldn't, you know, it's, it's my problem. I just couldn't do it. And you know, I got very, I was very, I was very in demand for a long time out there because Harper was a hit. Great line, the producer of Harper. We went up to him, Newman's house in Connecticut. And I remember walking, talking about the script. And we walked around the streets, the back streets of I think Westport.

And he was the two best stars I've ever worked with are Eastwood and Newman, they're just they were fabulous. And I remember with Newman, he had pebbles. And every time a car would come by, throw a pebble in the woods. So it was back was to the car. So no one stopped and said, Oh, my God, that fall moment. And he said he would do it. And we drove back into the city. And the producer said, you don't know what has happened to you? And I said, No, my first movie. And he said, You just jumped past all this shit. And that was true, because Paul Newman said he do it. So the movie good movie. He was that biggest star in those days? And, and had a fabulous career.

Can you tell the story of the opening credit sequence for Harper, how that came to be and what it was, I got a call from the director saying, I don't like being on the set. First of all, I have a tendency to fuck up the shot. I tend to stand in an area where the kid was going to move. And, and it's boring. For me, I don't want to I never wanted to direct. I don't understand actor. I never remotely except when I was in my, you know, hot streak, whatever. And people will want me to direct I would never want to do it. You know, it was ridiculous. And the director said, We need a credit sequence. And I thought what the fuck was my, you know, I didn't know about movies. But I knew what I knew what the credits were there, those things that come up to start and I thought, well, he's got to wake up in the morning or write about him waking up. So I did. And I got the notion that he was out of coffee. And he was living alone.

He was a detective. And he was living alone. He was divorced, whatever, had a miserable life. And he's not a coffee. So he has to make his coffee, with coffee grounds in the garbage. And then he made his coffee. And there's a moment where he sips it. A look of sheer horror comes over his face. And when I went to see the movie, they were having a screening of it in New York and I went to see it. There was this huge laugh, which I had not known who was going to be there. And one of the reasons I think when he when Newman's face when he sips his coffee was a huge laugh. And that's what people were talking about the movie was a big success, a good success. And one of the reasons it worked, I think was that moment in the beginning, when he makes that face the audience just liked him from the other story, which is true when I went to see the this sneak the screening. I walked in, it was a guy at the door.

And he didn't have my name. And he said, Who are you? And I said I'm a screenwriter. And he said, I don't know if I can let you in and I'm Eileen said he's the screenwriter for Christ. He wrote it. So the guy let us in. But I mean, that was also a good example of the power of the screenwriter. Nobody wanted to tell us that you said that screenwriters rank somewhere between the the man who guards the studio gate and the man who runs in the men who run the studio.

I think that's you know, they It's it's an odd most screenwriters I think, are only doing it because they want to get on to other things. They want to direct. I think most screenwriters really want to direct and I understand that because a director a makes more money but be as power. And you can if you're lucky as a director, and you have talent as a director, I mean, I think it's a terrible life. But it's better in many ways than being a screenwriter. I mean, it's not movies or an on movies are very, very odd way to make a living. They really are. Because for everybody, it's not just stars that lose it. Directors, nobody wants this director anymore. Nobody wants that writer.

Nobody wants that editor. A lot of technicians have long careers. I was a great, great editor just died DDL. And she had been around. I mean, she didn't start too young because she was a woman and there was prejudice in those years. But, I mean, she ran a lot and a wonderful run. But a lot of technicians if they're really skillful cameramen and editors can have long careers. There's a documentary out now about screenwriters. And what's interesting is, screenwriters tend to tell the same story? Because most of us have the same experience. These are people who have had careers, but you have the same things that didn't work.

It's interesting, you're talking about Director's Cut, because you you talk about the perplexing what you call the perplexing relationship between the writer and director, you say that the writer needs to be as supportive of the director as possible. You've also called them insecure lying assholes.

Well, I think basically, that's true. I mean, a lot of directors are wonderful people, Ron Howard. The two nicest people I've ever met in the movie business. Richard Attenborough in England and Ron Howard here in terms of just plain nice, decent professionals. But most directors are, it's weird, because it's hard doing it. Because you don't Oh, my God, you can't get you can't get this room. I thought we had this room sewn up. No, we don't have it, we have to go here, or it's raining out.

Or there's a million things that can go up that can screw up a director and most directors. It's hard. I mean, George Hill is the best director I've ever worked with. George didn't work that much. George would basically not work for like a couple of years, and then would do two movies back to back. And why he worked that way. I don't know. I don't know it was his rhythm. But it wasn't that he wasn't wanted, because it was offered everything. But I'm in a lot. It's a strange. And if you have a movie, that's a flop and you're the director, they remember that. I mean, you got to look up people's careers. A lot of guys have a long time of years between work. It's because the studio the last movie flopped, they don't want you.

So it's never been a desire on your part. You'd never had any desires direct,

I would have died rather than do it. I wouldn't know what I wouldn't know what the fuck to say to an actor. You know, they're I mean, actors. wonderings about actors. It's true, like everybody else, even though they're cuter than we are. They're very insecure. And when an actor wants the lines changed, you don't know. Is he really saying I don't like this line? Is he really saying, I want more lines? Is he really saying? I want everything in this scene to be about me? What did they really say? I don't know. I mean, they're, they're very peculiar. You know why? I don't know. I? I don't know why actors say yes, I'll do this part. I don't understand them. And they are what they are.

But in the case of Paul Newman, and Butch Cassidy, you had a great example of an actor saying not not worried about his co star not worried about the co star getting more attention or getting more lines or no,

but that was Newman Newman was. I mean, he was remarkable figure I think one says such bullshit about actors Oh, so and so was, but Newman really was.

But I remember this is an awful story. I wrote a movie in the 90s. It was a very successful Western Maverick. And James Garner played Gibson's in turns out his father, and I thought Shit, Paul Newman would have been great for the park because he looks like. And I went to Mr. Newman and showed him the script. And he had some suggestions. And then he said, Let's do it. And I remember he hit his dead, what the hell? Let's do it. And then there was a pause on this is Paul Newman. And he said, I hope they don't lowball me, meaning I hope the studio doesn't try and Chin's me out, or whatever my salary shouldn't be. And I said, that's not going to happen. It did happen. It did happen. They low balled, Paul Newman. And the big female star that time was Meg Ryan. And they low balled her.

And suddenly, Mel Gibson, I was told this, who was a giant star at this point. Got in a rage, because he didn't want to be the only star in the movie. So they went to James Garner that day? And he said, Yes. And Gardner had been in the you know, and it was a very, very, and they went to Jodie Foster and offered her more money than she'd ever been offered. And she said, Yes. So they suddenly over a weekend had their cast. But it was, you know, why would they? I still don't know. How anybody would Lobo? How can you basically take one of the great figures in film history and offer him enough money? Less than he felt? He wasn't a greedy man. And I don't know. It's a strange thing. But that's, that was a horrible story. Because Paul was probably Newman was probably 70. Wonderful looking always.

Yeah, the eyes, everything, just everything. He said that he had it all to do over again, you'd have written everything you've written except for All the President's Men.

Yeah, it was a terrible experience was an swell movie. It is. But it was a it was just a complicated film. It was you know, I wrote about it once. In a book it was, it was just that's another movie they don't make today. I mean, even if a big star wanted to make it which Redford was then a big star. It was just a very unpleasant experience. And the movie, it doesn't matter. The movie had some wonderful things. And I think the actors were swell, and we got through it. But it was a very, here's the deal. It doesn't matter. If you have a shitty experience on a movie, maybe eight people on earth? No, that is shitty experience and that movie, because I wrote about it in a book. But other than you don't, doesn't matter. It doesn't matter, the movie itself, whatever is up there on the screen or on your TV shed or on your little whatever those things are. That's what matters. Do you like that experience of being around that movie for that period of time? And it doesn't matter if you have a good experience or have a bad experience, except to the particular person. You know, did the director have a shitty time, you know, whatever, I don't know,

it was such a complicated story and so many different characters and names. And oh, God, the names were so terrible, I'm terrible. But it was Bob Woodward, who was one of the writers of it was a huge help to me. And the movie doesn't work as well as it does if he wasn't as helpful as, as he was, and then has gone on to having a fabulous career. But it's like, just in general, whether I have a good experience or a bad experience, making a movie writing a movie. I mean, let's talk about the writing of a movie, writing for me, my work habits are, I can't do anything until I think I know what I'm doing. And I only know what I'm doing, when I know the story from beginning to end. And then what I do is, I'll put on my wall, I'll tape to the wall, a yellow thing maybe with 15 or 25 numbers. It'll say interview, rain, whatever it is. And the rain means that when I'm going home today, there's a storm and some people are hurt because there's lightning, whatever it is, right? So I'll just put a few words down. But that's really the story of the movie. So and once I have those words up on the wall, I can write the movie and as I said, I mean one of my favorite writers ever Graham Greene, very, very great writer used to count the words.

And I think he wrote 300 words a day. And when he got to his 300 word, he stopped middle of his sentence screaming which you know what? Got me well That's crazy. But that worked for him. There's no, but once I know what I'm doing, once I have the notes up on the wall, I tend to be able to write fairly quickly. And that's, that's what that's me telling the story of the movie that I want to tell, or that I think I can tell. And that's the way it works for me, everybody else is different. I know right at home, but I had an office for years, don't go up there and whatever, whatever. But the main thing is, it's someplace quiet. And I think that basically, what we do, there is no, there are no rules for writing. You know, as I said, at the start of all is the fact that we're talking about my writing career. The fact that this happened is just inconceivable, as Xeni would say. You know why I decided to write a novel, when I had never written one. When I you know, why did I want to? It's crazy. It's just, it was a bizarre experience, and makes no sense. But here we are.

How do you tell the difference between what seems like a great idea, and something that's Oh,

I just think it's something I can make play. I remember I was talking about stupid courage. I read a book when I was a little boy, called Scarface the score story of a grizzly, I have no idea if it's in print. It was about a huge bear. And his adventures and bla bla bla bla bla. And at the end of the book, Scarface is old, walking along a cliff edge, an avalanche starts. And he doesn't try and run to the end of the ends. He turns, gets up on it and fights the rocks as they carry him to his death. Well, I couldn't stop crying for hours. And I didn't know why. I mean, basically, it was that same thing that moves me. So basically. I mean, there were three famous movies that I've turned the Godfather, which I loved as a novel, and God, I loved it. But I had just done something to do with crime. Maybe it was Bush. And I didn't want to write another crime story, not ontologically. That feels right. Yeah. And the second one was the graduate, which I didn't get. The movie I think is wonderful, blah, blah, blah, but I didn't get it.

And the third one was Superman, which I desperately wanted to do. Because I was I am a comic book nut. But I remember them saying we need to star and I knew enough to know that no movie star was going to play Superman. I met Warren Beatty, once we were he was a very smart and fellow. And they wanted him to be Superman. And they gave him the costume. And I think this is true. I think he told me, he went and he put it on, walk outside of his house, looked at himself and thought what the fuck am I doing and what took it off. But I knew that know when they were going to get eastward you know, but Sonny's was not going to. This is a long time ago, but you're not going to get a movie started getting that stupid costume. And I knew that. But they said, No, we're going to get a star. And of course they didn't they get the lovely Christopher Reeve no longer with us. It was wonderful in the movie. But those are three movies that I look back on. And it would have been wrong. I mean, the graduate was not a big deal. It was a small novel. But I didn't know how to make away. I didn't get it. The novel is different than mean it's forgotten who wrote the scripts a hell of a script.

But they made change. I mean, like, Godfather, I just can't remember turning down Godfather, loving it. I mean, usually when you love something you can, but I think it's I didn't want to do a crime thing. I think I don't know what I can't remember there was Was there another gangster movie that night? Or something? I can't remember what but those are. I don't regret them. I mean, the only one I wish I'd written them. The three that I wanted to write was the Superman and I was too smart for the room because they insisted on having a star now you wouldn't. I think if you were doing a special effects movie now, you would know enough. You're not going to get Will Smith to play. Maybe you will if you're lucky, but you're probably not going to get him you're gonna get somebody or somebody who's not famous yet.

Well, what about adapting I mean, you're talking about adapting novels and adapting someone else's work as opposed to adapting your own. I mean, you've, you've done both you've adapted. So

you know, I'm basically when you, when you do an ad, it's all the same thing. You've got to, you've got to like the story, you've got to think I can make this play. I can make this play. And if you have that confidence, I mean, I don't think any of us are ever confident about anything we right. God knows I never was. And I remember I'll talk about Princess Bride. I don't like my writing. I should say that I never have liked it. I don't like it. I've only liked two things I've ever written like Butch Cassidy and I like the princess. And the Princess Bride. I was going to California. My kids were little. I said, I'm going to be gone. I'll write you a story. What do you want it to be about?

One of them said for instances one of them said brides nice. And that'll be the title. Blob, I wrote a couple of pages that I don't think exists anymore in Los Angeles. Then I came back. And I had a lot of scenes, I had the fencing scene, I had a lot of stuff. But I didn't know how to do it. And I remember walking around the city. Because I really wanted to write this for my children. And I couldn't make it work. I couldn't figure it out. And I was gonna never write it. And then one day I got the notion that I didn't write it, it was written by this other finger in a Morgan stir it all of a sudden, that meant I could build from one good part to another to another. And all of a sudden it opened up for me if that doesn't happen. Marathon Man only exists. Because one day I was walking I think it's 47th Street. We're talking about 40 years ago, the diamond is sure. And in those years, it was filled with Jews who had concentration camp marks on their arms and stuff. And I remember walking on the street and thinking Jesus Christ What if the world's most wanted Nazi was walking on the street?

Suddenly the rest of it happened. But if I don't walk that street that day, or if it's winter and I can't see anybody's marks. I never wrote marathon if I hadn't thought of the fact that somebody else wrote Princess Bride. It never is written. It's all fluky how it happens. God knows. But it's always for me a crapshoot. It's stuff you know if I don't read that paper of what's there were two Stranglers I never write no way to treat a lady, which is what got me in the movie business. I mean, a lot of this stuff.

Is it safe is one of the great lines to me, and worked, because there's an ambiguity there that you don't know for a long time at work.

And well, that was a great thing working for Mr. Great Olivier story, who was the greatest actor that ever lived arguably.

He had been ill. I was working with John Schlesinger no longer with us.

Marathon meme was a thriller. John was not known for doing it, but he had done a movie that he thought was going to tank and he thought this could save his career on here.

He doesn't need a locust maybe.

Maybe it was I don't know, but he thought it was going to take. So we're in London. And we try and get Olivia Olivia has been. He was very ill with a bunch of diseases. And Slazenger. What am I thinking? Nobody knew if he live. And then I remembered this marvelous thing. Richard Widmark a wonderful actor, was in London and called up Slazenger is and I know you want Larry, can I read for you and Woodward got very famous in his first movie kiss of death, playing an evil figure named Tommy Yuda, who pushed the woman down the stairs. And he came, and he was fabulous as the evil Nazi as you can, if you think of it, even kiss of death. And then Olivier got strong enough to do it.

And he's bald in the movie wall in the book, blah, blah, blah. And we were terrified that Olivia, who was a very ill man, and had been gorgeous, as a young star might not want to have all his hair taken away. And I wouldn't have blamed him. So we had a barber. And we hit him in the basement of the place where we were doing rehearsal. And so Lawrence walked in and said this lesson. First words, elements. We shouldn't really do something about Getting rid of my hair. And so that only went to the barber and he came back bald and he was just fine with extraordinary. Yeah, he was he was the fabulous figure.

We'll talk a little bit about agents Have you have you had a number of them? I mean, who have been your?

Well, look, I live in New York, I basically think of myself still as a novelist who happens to write screenplays, even though I haven't written the novel in 25 years, 20 years. And I've written a bunch of nonfiction over the last decade or so. But I haven't written a novel. I remember the first agent I had I mentioned Joe McCrindle, who was the agent for Tableau goal. And I think Joe, Joe became I don't know if I have this right. We're going back a long time. Joe had been an editor. And he didn't like it, because he was dealing with agents all the time. So he became an agent, to deal with writers. And he went around the country. When he was just starting, and he went to all these schools that had writing programs. And he picked up I think, Philip Roth, he picked up who was a kid, and you know, but he picked up a bunch of writers. And then Joe was my agent for several years. And then he got bored with it. And he went out and lived in Princeton. And there was a wonderful woman named Monica McCall.

There were at this time, all the big agents in New York. For books were women. There was Monica McCall and Obi Wan, and I can't think of the third right now. And they had everybody and Monica became a agent. But I didn't need a movie agent in the beginning. And then what, eight years later, after I'd been a novel, whatever. Mr. Ziggler was a wonderful figure graduate of Princeton. Really a bright, bright man. And he then he died. So do you have? Do agents really do anything? Yeah, zig did. I mean, the auction was a huge thing. But he liked it was an odd thing that misters he had a he liked it doing auctions. When he got a script that he thought he could sell for a lot of money, he would call up all the studio heads that he knew. And say, I've got this terrific script. I'm sending it to you Friday. You have to have an offer in by Monday. Boom. And that was what he didn't.

Any he liked doing that. And, and he was very successful. But agents, I don't know what to say you need one. You desperately need one. But it's a strange life they have. Because people are always leaving. I mean, it sounds like the world we live in. Everybody's always leaving everybody. But it's fucking true. I mean, almost nobody is that Oh, yes.

Oh, so it has been waiting for 40 years. You always hear that someone says it to him, whatever it is. All I can say is you hustle. You have to not mind rejection. You have to send stuff off to an agent with a letter and pray that somebody in the office will read it. And pray that whoever reads it likes it, and gives it to somebody else in the office and somebody says, Wait a minute, I think we can sell is in which case you have an agent, but they're not your friends. That's not what they do. And like that, but you have to have,

I should say we're changing cars. We were just talking about that you have this extraordinary year where you were a judge both at con and a judge at the museum,

my wife? Absolutely. It was just a marvelous experience, because everybody on the jury has a different job. And when we talk, you know, we see, we'd see each other like every six movies. And we talk about did we like this? Do we like that? What about whatever, whatever. And it was so interesting, not just being around a director or an actor, but a photographer and an editor. And we all were, it was fascinating. It was a marvelous experience.

But you were that you judge Khan that was the was probably the conqueror.

Yeah, it was really it was such a great, yeah, incredible move. It was a wonderful. It was a wonderful experience.

That was that during this period, there was that you said in the eight years prior to 78. You had seven pictures. And then there was an eight year desert was a period of eight years nothing happened.

Nothing got made. It was amazing. One of the things was I got involved with a marvelous figure not dead named Joel Levine. And he wanted to work with me because a bridge too far brought him back. And he had been in the wilderness.

He was We did an original screenplay deal and none of the screenplays got made it was. I mean, God, it's one of these things you think about it. I wrote a screenplay. This is like Butch. I wrote a screenplay about two pirates, which happened. One of them was a man named Stede Bonnet, who lived in this is hundreds of years lived in Barbados, and was the richest man in the island, was married to a monstrous, very lovely woman, but evil.

And he'd been in the service but he'd never seen action. And he got very ill one winter. And he thought, shit, I might die. And he always wanted adventure. This is true. So we did something totally, totally never done before since he built a pirate ship pirate ships were always stolen. Bonnet built his own fucking pirate ship, got his butler to find a crew and he went off sailing to be a pirate. And he didn't give a shit. If he died.

He just wanted action. And through a wild fluke, he attacked the greatest pirate that ever lived black. And they sailed together for a while. And I wrote a movie called The sea kings. And I still think it's a fabulous fucking idea for a movie, because they had adventures. And, you know, they were they were just totally all Blackbeard wanted to do was get enough money to retire.

He was so sick of action. He was so sick of adventure. All he wanted to do was just get out of it. And all Monat wanted to do was see some adventure before he died. And I had these two guys as my heroes and it was I still think it's a great story. And it killed me that never got me, but it never would have higher it's became prominent in Princess Bride.

Yeah, yeah. But I think the reason the pirates there was a big pirate movie that tanked shit, I can't remember what it was cut through an island. And if someone were and they aren't, you know, oh my god pirate movies. Nobody wants to see. And then you know, Jerry Bruckheimer did the pirate movies and everything. But it was it's still, I think, a marvelous story. I think what we do is right, what we hope will move us and we hope that you can translate that emotion to the reader, whether it's a poem, or whether it's a novel, or an essay, or a movie or a play. You want to move people and you want to help people say,

Well, I didn't know that. Whatever, whatever. And it's, it's tricky. It's just tricky. Princess Bride though. And you said that was your favorite?

That's my one. That's what I really love. It really can look at it with it. When I said I don't like my writing, I really don't like my writing. And that doesn't quite track into my nonfiction because nonfiction that's not you know, it's not the writing style. It's so important. It's what do you, you know, whatever. But when I write fiction, I really don't like it. I when I when I look at it, I almost never, I almost ever reread anything I've written.

Because it's so horrible for me. I just don't like it. I wish it was better. But Princess Bride, I really, really like. And in bridge too far with something that you said you really was terrific. Well, that was a great experience, because Attenborough's such a fabulous figure, and we got I mean, it was an amazing story. And a really good book and it didn't work. It's funny. It didn't work commercially, as well as it should have. Everybody loved it until the audience came.

And it was long. Yeah, it was. It was not filled with heroic stuff that you could say, Oh, John Wayne wouldn't been great in this. And sort of the anti longest day. Yeah, it really was. And it was but you know, you as I said, You never fucking know. Nobody knows anything. Nobody has the least idea. What's going to work? And screenwriters are the basis I think of everything.

Because if you have a shitty script, even if you had Bergman or Fellini, or David Lean is not going to work as a movie. It's just is it and everything. I think everything begins with the script. And I think when you see a movie that that's not very good. One of the reasons is just the script and more. It's not the elegance of the prose is not the language for me in terms of moving.

He's only talking movies. It's all fucking story. That's really all it is. If the story works, if the audience, if you're moved by whatever the goddamn story is, you have a chance to have a movie that works. And if it doesn't, if the story isn't well told, or nobody cares about the story, you know, it's not going to work. It just isn't, it's going to be you'll say, You know what I was? You know, I'm sorry, I saw that. I don't know a lot of people that walk out of movies, I tend not to. But you know, half an hour in usually, if you're bored, or you really do when you sit there now, you've always said you have to get them in the first 15.

I think so. And get the beginning is really what it's, it's a weird if there was any logic to it. We wouldn't be here. The fact is, it's not logical. And most. Most, it's very hard. I don't mean for me, it's hard for anybody to tell a quality story, to have a good beginning and a middle and an end that works and all that stuff. It's just difficult. And you look at even the greatest writer directors did turds. And you say why? Well, because the story that we're telling didn't we're not all really well, it was wonderful. Right? Some of it was not even burden, my hero, that all of it was wonderful.

Was it because of Attenborough that you worked on the chaplain felt?

Yes. That was because he needed work at my doctor did for him. But then I got billing, I guess. But it was funny, you know, Downey, we live in a world where one could argue the two biggest actions are not John Wayne and Gary Cooper. They're Robert Downey and Matt Damon. And that's not possible. It's not possible at Robert Downey isn't Julia Anakin. But he is, you know, and he's a terrific guy, and a wonderful actor. But when we did Chaplain If you'd said, Well, who's really going to be an actor? You'd say, what are you smoking? But that's the world we live in. A lot of it is, you know, in Matt Damon in the Bourne movies, they're marvelous scripts by Tony Gilroy. But you know, Matt Damon's Wonderful.

Well, speaking of Tony Gilroy, you had an experience with with Tony on absolute power.

Absolutely. You say my I was. The movie works, it's okay. But I was having terrible trouble. There were too many characters, trying to figure out the story. Eastwood is just as fabulous figure. I remember when he said he would do absolute power. I fly out for a meeting on the script. And this is what it's like, you'll go through the thing and they'll say, this scene here. Could it be shorter? And I'd say that would be good. And then it goes in? Could this be funnier? I can try and good. All of a sudden, half an hour later, I'd say.

That's what he does. And it took anybody who's worked with him. He's the fastest guy, you know, he's still I mean, he's gonna be 80 years old, and he's still directing to movies. I don't know how he does it. But he has a crew that he's all worked with before. And it's like lightning. It's a marvelous experience when you work with him. And I mean, I don't know how he does. It's amazing. My theory on why Newman and Eastwood are the two fabulous figures that they are. And we're is because they did not make it when they were young. They were close to 30. East wind was digging swimming pools in California.

Newman was desperate to try and find any kind of work he got. And they both got lucky. They both got lucky. Eastwood told me he was walking in a movie studio to see a friend who had a job not as an actor, but as a in a guy stopped him and said, Excuse me, sir, are you an actor? And Eastwood said, Yes, sir. And the guy said, we're trying to cast a television show. Would you come read for us? And it was this what was in western that he did that was so raw. And the reason that they wanted him was because the other guy they'd already cast was really tall. So they needed a tall guy to play rowdy and Eastwood was tall, most actors are short. One of the things you must know when you're a screenwriter is they're not

the same experience you had with Sylvester Stallone. Oh, yes, I was. I was staggered by seven

I believe this is Caribbean This is a story I think Eastwood told me. It's his first year and the thing and Ryan, he comes home to his wife, whatever the wife was, and he said, I was offered a piece of shit Western. But I turned it and she said, What was? It takes place in Italy? And she says, We are in Italy when they pay you. And he says, oh, yeah, $25,000. She said, Well, wow, we can use six. Okay. So it goes over shoots this Western and Italy comes back to raw who never hears the Western Union. There's another movie. That's a gigantic phenomenon all over Europe. Nothing is ever heard of. months later, he gets a call from the producers as cleaned. Cleaned. Can we do it? You come while we do our sequel, Eastwood says to what? And they changed the title from A Fistful of Dollars, and no one had told him. So he said, let me see it, certainly send them home. And He's creeping, you know. And I think he rented a little movie theater in his town and had some friends. He says, I don't know what this is. And he liked it. So we did the sequel, then the third one and the end of that he was the biggest star in the world. But I mean, if he doesn't walk down that hall at that moment, and then the consistency of his stardom. Oh, it's amazing. There's ordinary over nothing,

Oh, nothing. I think he's the greatest star in Hollywood history. I really do. But then the director is so freaky, that he's become this man. I mean, arguably, this fabulous director has a just incredible. And Newman was fabulous. He didn't direct as much as he might have. But I remember Newman did our town a few years, he was wondering, but they were they were both late 20s, I think when they broke through, so they had years of suffering and whatever. And I think that's why they were the decent figures they turned out to be.

The reason I asked you about absolute power was because you said that you'd had screenwriters mess around with your novels that you had never really? He never said to somebody else. It's true.

It was hard. I don't know. Sometimes you just can't do it. I don't know. Anything. Finally, you want to say is there? No, it's just basically it's it's just what we started out with screenplays, their structure. The story I think is everything. And you've got to really try and do stuff you think you can make play. It's hard. You know, it just is you've got to do your job and don't fuck it up and don't screw around. Just do what you're trying and tell your story or whatever they want you to do, as skillfully as you can and and hope and hope

Eric Roth Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Eric Roth is one of the most sought-after and successful screenwriters in Hollywood today. His multiple awards winning screenplays are amongst some of the all-time exceptional films written and recognized by the American Film Institute. He’s well-known for writing or producing films like Forrest Gump, A Star is Born, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Munich, Ali, and many more

Alex had the pleasure of sitting down with Eric and discussed his career, the craft, and much more. The screenplays below are the only ones that are available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Dune (2021)

Screenplay by Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve – Read the screenplay!

Mank (2020)

Screenplay by Jack Fincher and Eric Roth (script consultant) – Read the screenplay!

A Star Is Born (2018)

Screenplay by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters – Read the screenplay!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Screenplay by Eric Roth – Read the screenplay!

The Good Shepherd (2006)

Screenplay by Eric Roth – Read the screenplay!

Munich (2005)

Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth – Read the screenplay!

Ali (2001)

Screenplay by Christopher Wilkinson, Eric Roth, Michael Mann, and Stephen J. Rivele – Read the screenplay!

The Insider (1999)

Screenplay by Eric Roth and Michael Mann – Read the Screenplay!

The Postman (1997)

Screenplay by Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland – Read the screenplay!

Forrest Gump (1994)

Screenplay by Eric Roth and Winston Groom – Read the screenplay!


Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Eric Roth. How you doing, Eric?

Eric Roth 0:14
Good. I'm doing good. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for coming on the show, as we were saying earlier, before we got on, I am a huge fan of your work over the years. And, and during my formative years in the video store. Some of your early works. I've watched, like suspect and wolfen in a couple of those things. And I just had Whitley on on a on another show that I another podcast. A wonderful writer. Yeah. Oh my god. Wonderful, wonderful. Humans.

Eric Roth 0:46
That was a special job for me. I mean, I came on to rewrite it. And Michael Wadley directed it and have a quick story. And stop me when I tell too many stories that relate to my age. I think more than anything, I'm Michael. I remember. I was remember watching a movie called The man who skied down Everest. And when he got a captain as a true as a Japanese guy who went to climb Mount Everest and ski down. It wasn't really so much skiing down he, after a bit, he opened a parachute and the parachute. But I said wait a minute. Somebody had to be the cinematographer on this who filmed this. Michael Wadley. And Michael went on to do Woodstock. And and then I met I met Michael on this, which Alan King was a producer was really an interesting movie. The whole movie was kind of interesting. Albert Finney and everything.

Alex Ferrari 1:42
Oh, yeah, it was you know, it's it was a remarkable good movie. Yeah. Going back to going back through some of the older films they do. At the beginning of your career. I started seeing the cast. I'm like, Oh, my God, is that said James Earl Jones. Is that is that that's it? It's like, it's like they're young. They're their kids. It was amazing to watch. Um, so how did you get into the business?

Eric Roth 2:04
Um, well, I, I think a few routes one. I went to let me see which way I could tell the step tale. I went to Columbia University as in graduate school as an English major. And I, I started to find myself gravitating towards kind of making short films. And so I switched over to the film department. And still, I still took a lot of English classes, because writing was what I wanted to always do. And I got to be crew on a bunch of very independent movies like literally with like Bob Downey senior movie called Baboo 16. They were very busy. A lot of movies being made from a place called the Millennium will film workshop, a guy named Adam schwaller. And a lot of experimental filmmakers, real New York, guys, you know, and we everybody sort of switched off crews and things on those and I was busy. I was making some shorts and I thought I wanted to be a director. And I actually had an opportunity to do a kind of compete for something that I had thing that was going on at USC with a little short I made and it got me a little bit of a cachet in that sense. But the thing that was a big difference in my life was that I was at UCLA and I entered the Samuel Goldwyn writing award. And I'd written a script that I actually tied was Collin Hagen's, who wrote Harold and Maude and then went on to write that was his that was his script. And he went on to write nine to five. And I think he died of AIDS, I'm afraid to say but he was a wonderful writer, and literally was the day after my first child was born. I was quite young, and the $500 paid for the baby. So I wanted a COBOL award. But more importantly, it got me an agent. Got me an agent, and I must say, that was 1970. Basically, I've been working ever since you know,

Alex Ferrari 4:20
the business has changed a bit over the years.

Eric Roth 4:24
Yeah, I mean, some some of it I've been either I can't say for good or for real, but like House of Cards was mined with David Fincher. And that's certainly changed the business, you know,

Alex Ferrari 4:35
right. And we're gonna get into into house of cards in a bit.

Eric Roth 4:39
But uh, yeah, for a while I was kind of treading water. I got a couple of little movies made and did some rewrites. I mean, I went to I always tell the story, which is a lovely story that I was friendly with Stuart Rosenberg, who directed Koolhaas Lu can, it worked together on later on? We worked on the onion field, but it's like my work as a young writer, and he brought me on to rewrite the Drowning Pool, which was a Paul Newman movie. And I was literally I think 19 or 20, maybe 20 years old. And I had on No, I mean it so amazing out this for good, you know, 50 odd years.

Alex Ferrari 5:25
So let me ask you a question when you're 19 working on Paul Newman film because I mean, at that time, Paul Newman was Paul Goodman. He was falling so when

Eric Roth 5:36
he called my house people against quit fucking around Alan a friend. I went down there and I bought a new HP I always tell the story the same way. So I've told this before, but I bought a new pair corduroys and I had a new briefcase. And I walked on the SAT and Newman said there was him. Joanna Woodward, Tony Franti, OSA, a couple other people that were mean no known actors, and he said our saviors he felt that there was a was a wonderful experience. I got to know Paul quite well, we remained friends for the rest of his life in a certain way. And Stewart had a kind of up down kind of career, but was was a nice man. And when he hit he was really a good director. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 6:26
So So what would So would you consider that your first big break?

Eric Roth 6:32
I think I think winning that award and getting me the agent was a huge thing. I was on a tiny little movie that was only released in America for like two weeks. But it was an original piece that I wrote with an oddball interesting man who was a director for Billy Graham, religious leader. Sure, he made his religious films and he wanted to do a les film set in Israel. And we I wrote a little love story for him. And we went to Israel that was then that was shot in 1970, I guess. Yeah. 69. And that was one and the other break I had was after the gold one where I'd written a script called the dead time. 5050 which was a oddball kind of, in keeping with the times the kind of they make a lot of and kind of, say anarchistic kind of movies or movies that were, you know, they were in keeping with that on this not anywhere as good as mean streets or something or easy, right, you know, these movies that were like, abstract, I guess better words. And I wrote a movie called 5050. That Bob Mulligan signed on to do and Bob Mulligan was famous for Kill a Mockingbird, and fear strikes out and he made some wonderful movies. He's a real kind of old timey director, and George C. Scott was going to do it and the premise was about a guy who is in a dangerous profession is turning 50. So I'm looking at that point, at whatever age I was, I thought 50 was so old is beyond. petrified and it was an odd little movie. And we Scott decided eventually not to do it with the star who was a guy named Jason Miller, who is in Exorcist as the young priest and also happened to win the the Pulitzer Prize for a play he wrote called the champ that championship season. He also was, he's married to Jackie Gleason's daughter. He was an interesting man, he had some drug issues. He was a father too. I'm trying to think of the actor's name now who doesn't have the same name as him but he was married to the father the son was married to try and think Anyway, my name is old man's memory. He's a pretty well known actor and the father died young from some drug problems I think but he's an interesting guy a wonderful actor kind of look like Garfield, I guess, you know, a little bit and the movie was movie was briefly. Tarantino loves a movie thought was one of the most interesting war movies and, and it opened a can and, you know, lasted very small time in America. But yeah, that one, I think got me a little more on the map in that sense.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
And then used and then you were off and running now. Yeah.

Eric Roth 9:32
Then No, I mean, yeah, I mean, I would get I was I was a good bargain for people for the price that I was charging and, you know, things that didn't get made and things are disappointing. You know, one of the one of the decisions I made that was not a good decision, I went back and did work on it as rewriting but I was asked to do the onion feel. I mean, I'm sorry, I was asked to Cuckoo's Nest. And my agent as also at the same time asked to do the onion field, which is A huge book at the time. And my agent said to me, they'll never make the Cuckoo's Nest movie. And I said, Oh, really? Okay. And so I decide I chose the other one. I was friendly with Michael Douglas. And I actually came back and did some work on it, but it's one of the great movies ever made. And it sure, yeah, I'd say probably, even though the guy who wrote it, I think is probably one of the greatest screen writers, whoever is Bo Goldman, won an Oscar for it. And he also won an Oscar for Howard Melvin. But he, he was a wonderful man, we he and our close friends from both like the race track, so we used to go to the racetrack. But anyway, he that was a movie I wish I had started from scratch.

Alex Ferrari 10:45
Now, you, you obviously, you know, had a successful career as a writer. And you know, as writers listening know, writing is not easy. It is a it's a it's a tough thing to have to come up every day and go in, what is your writing routine? What has kept you going for all these years at such a high level?

Eric Roth 11:04
Well, I mean, I the high level, I guess he had to thank God for something, you know, I don't know. Whatever, whatever alchemy makes up. What makes you may be good and not believe me not so good in many places. I've had real failures where I thought they were good. And, and most I think I could blame me in most respects. One, I think I blame a director on but I but I always tried to pick things that would have some lasting quality. I mean, I may have been wrong, you know, but I thought these things I can that will kind of attribute to me. Well, when I'm getting to the end of things, you know, when you look at the credits I have so I've been lucky that way. I've worked with everybody from Kurosawa through Marty through Spielberg, you know, so I've been lucky with incredibly talented filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 11:50
What did you work on with corsola

Eric Roth 11:52
I did a little movie called Rhapsody in August that I just I wrote, you wanted to, and I think is one of my bigger claims to fame quite honest with you not because it's, he want there's a part in it for Richard Gere, who was friendly with and, and criticized wanna meet, it's a guy who is supposed to be an American who's marrying the main characters, a Japanese man's granddaughter, and, and there she lives in Hawaii. And Richard, he wanted me to write his part, which would be an American, and he felt uncomfortable quite getting that written through translations. And so I wrote all the scenes between the daughter and the Son and

Alex Ferrari 12:35
I have to ask you, what is it like working with course,

Eric Roth 12:38
was like, you know, really fascinating, mostly was, you know, we had many conversations, he spoke, I don't think he spoke much English and so translated. And then when he sent me the script, I just was so taken with it. If it was, it was written like a haiku. It was just, you know, he'd he'd write the answer the anteil. I mean, you just do two or three words. And it always gave me gave you the sense of what he wanted. And then you had me when I wrote my prose, which is very sort of Jewish, intellectual, psychoanalytic garbage, maybe, but, you know, it just was so different, you know? And, but it was like, a wonderful, yeah, it was like, we never matched, you know, they didn't have zoom or anything, then, you know, so we just talked on the phone, and he invited me over, and there's some reason I couldn't I think I just had a baby or something. And so I could go and, you know, but it's a great honor to have even been in the same breath of him with him. And he gave me a lovely, thank you on the movie and all that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 13:39
that's, that's remarkable. So So as a writer, what is your daily writing routine?

Eric Roth 13:45
My I sort of looked at writing as a job in a good way. I mean, I'm always thrilled to be able to sit down if I can create and I look at as a great adventure journey, you know, all those things, all those kind of cliche things, but it's always true. And I get to be alone and you know, sort of dream and try to make those dreams come true. I I do it like, I mean, I'd read once and I don't know if I this is what I didn't copy this, but I read this about john Cheever. And I've told this story many times he would get up at like, let's say eight o'clock and take a commuter train in from New York, Long Island. And he would go to a basement, little tiny basement room that he had it he rented his his office and quotes with the boiler and everything and he take off his pants, and he take off his dress shirt, and he'd sit in his underwear and work. Okay, so he worked till 12 o'clock. This is a story whether true but I like his pocket

Alex Ferrari 14:47
visuals are fantastic. Yeah,

Eric Roth 14:49
he'd get a 12 o'clock he put his pants back on his shirt ties tight but his jacket on go out and have a one Martini lunch. He'd come back at one you work till five, with his clothes off, he can put his stuff back on, you know, neatly fold and put it back on, go and take the commuter train home. That was his as if he went to work came in for a job, you know. And that's how he looked at it, I think you'll find most writers, not all. But most writers have some schedule, you know that whatever it is, could be goofy, they might write in the middle of night, they can write things in a month, they can write things in a year. But there is some kind of if somebody scheduled, I started about eight o'clock, and I'm done by noon or one and I dig around the afternoon, then I go back to work in the evening, not for very often, unless I'm really feeling it. And sometimes I don't sleep much I get up in the middle of the night and do it, you know, so, but I find it I find it mostly a joy in a way. In other words, I love that. And then and obviously, if you're successful, it makes everything so much easier. You know, you actually can not have to judge yourself against everybody else and start feeling the pressure. What's the next job and all those things? You know, so it's easier for me to say, you know, but that's my schedule. I mean, I've talked about this a lot. Also, I work on a, an old, an old movie, I don't have final draft, I have an old old program that requires me to have a das base per computer. So it's that's how old it is. It's called movie magic. Movie master. I mean, it's it went out of business. Like when it couldn't it couldn't figure out how to the people who made it couldn't figure out software, so you could email it. So they went out of business, but it's exactly the same function nasality as final draft is mine uses function keys, and they use tab keys for the exact same process. And but I like it, I mean, for a number of reasons is I'm superstitious. So I don't need to change. It's a pain in the ass. But it's good. In some ways. It runs out of memory after 40 pages, he had to open a new file. But that's a good way for me to sync Are you done with this app yet? Because you very good. And so it's also very safe because it's not on the internet or anything. So because I've had stuff that they've come to take out of here that they were worried with on my hard drive and all right, but it I and I and the other funny thing about it is and I don't know why I did this as this because I'm such a Luddite, you should have a white piece of paper that you're typing with black type on right like a typewriter on to look like against. And I for some reason have a black background with white. And I'd like thought I'm now I'm used to it now. So you know and so at some point, the thing goes over to the production company and they're gonna make the movie. And they they turn it into their final draft and and then I really don't even have the script anymore. I any changes I make they have to go retype them or I have somebody retype them into final draft you know,

Alex Ferrari 18:05
very cool now, do you when you start beginning when you begin to write? Do you start with character or plot when it's something original?

Eric Roth 18:16
Even was not original? I start with actually what I call theme. Okay. What What is this really about? You know, I'm saying don't not the story, but what is what's going on here? You know, what is this? What is this? And then after that, I'll think I'll lock up the story. And then I'd say character and story would be the same to me an incredible importance and I'm very I'm very diligent with character because I think they all should sound different. I always tell a story about how I rewrote a little movie from Michael Cimino called. Was it with Mickey Rourke? You're the drag. And I got to be friendly with Michael and, and I saw that he had given Mickey Rourke a wallet, which had everything that was, you know, the character would have in a wallet like photograph of a daughter, he supposedly had his draft card, whatever it was, and even down to like the detail of like a fortune he got from a fortune cookie, you know, that he kept like some people do. And I bet I'll bet you that probably Mickey Rourke never looked at it, but he had it in his back pocket and he knew it was there. And that that's how I look at character so that you have to have every understanding of the psyche, a psycho psychological portrait of the guy what does he sound like? What does his background I mean, you know, even down to smaller characters in the piece, so that each everybody's voices different. So any that's Yeah, so character, character, I don't know which is a B and C but character, gods in the details of all the reasons To do so you're using the stuff that's right. And then then the most important facility to be a really great writer and very few reach this, and I don't think I've reached it, some great novelists do is to be able to write sub textually. And that's to be able to write not about what's going on in the scene, which most people find themselves doing. Because it's just, it's, it's what we know how to do. But it's, you know, sort of earning the explainer. And you're telling things that people already know. And if you can avoid that and do it metaphorically, in a way, it's very hard writing, but it's a, it's what really good writing is. And there's and when you see a good movie, normally, you'll see a lot of really good metaphorically metaphorical writing, or the subtext of it. And some directors, I think, Marty Scorsese is a subtextual. Director. He doesn't need to have use, sometimes it's obvious what he's doing. Other times, it's not. And so it's, it's a real gift. And when the great playwrights can do it, you know, Shakespeare, I'm putting myself in company, but he didn't need to write about you know, that on the third, three weeks from now we're going to go do X, Y, and Z when people all know, I know, we'd have some other big concept. And that's what steam is, right? What is the concept of this movie? I was told once by Elvis Mitchell, the ex, who's who does the NPR show on film, and he's really, I used to be a New York Times film critic. He thought my movies were about loneliness. And I when I thought about, I thought he might be right, because I mean, if I started thinking of all the films, I wrote that, that might be the most pervasive theme, and main, and maybe sort of underlying all sorts of things about my own life, you know, so so I have that. And I also, I've never written a novel. And I keep thinking I should have and I want to, and I think I'm a frustrated novelist, because I write very, I think, pretty good prose. And I'll tell you a quick, sweet story. I tell. Brad Pitt was doing we were doing a read through of Benjamin Button. And I had what I think is pretty good prose. And Brad says, after someone read the pros, the narrow, you know, what the stage directions and you know, what people are supposedly feeling and what's going on? Brad says, look, Eric's got a pros Boehner.

Alex Ferrari 22:28
And I can imagine him saying that, actually. And I can imagine him saying that that's,

Eric Roth 22:35
it would be free. I was like, 30 people in a room doing a retreat with Fincher and everybody, Cate Blanchett, and whoever else?

Alex Ferrari 22:44
It's funny. Now you you have adopted some amazing novels over the years, how do you approach adapting someone else's work?

Eric Roth 22:53
Well, I mean, I think some things you have to try to be a little bit sacrosanct with because the work is great. And if the work seems like it's not, maybe not, it's not about great or bad or good for the thing, what what lends itself to be dramatize, you know, so, you know, I've done just recently, this killers of the flower moon, which is, was it you know, it's a really herculean kind of task not because, but to tell the story in this head, give it the size it deserves. Plus do it with some grace and elegance, that I didn't have to really change very much the dramas, basically all there, that's more the thematic of it about sort of, Marty and I agreed to about this the disappearance of sort of making the Native American invisible and that we're all culpable in a way, but also, the characters were all laid out, and, you know, how do we have shadings with each of them? And then, and then I but I didn't have to invent protect. I mean, I had to dramatize certain things. But other other books are more problems were problematic and different, like Doom was kind of

Alex Ferrari 24:01
how it's almost unadaptable

Eric Roth 24:04
Yeah, it's voluminous, you know, but you start eventually coming down to what the size of the thing hopefully should be. I mean, my scripts are usually too long. And a lot of it has to do with me, as I say, writing all this prose about what's going on, but if it's not, if it's not a book, that's particular, I mean, I've done a number i a lot has been, but I consider a lot original writing. So Benjamin buttons a good case, because that was a short does the art magazine article of Scotsman sherald of Genesis art wrote, and it was an article really wasn't very good. He did it for Colliers, and he, he just did it for the money, you need the money and but he had the idea of a guy going, you know, aging backwards. It's great. Yeah, which is a wonderful concept. And what does that mean? And then you can get into the theme of the piece, which I think is for me, it was like, well, who are the people you meet along the way of this journey? You know, either way, you're going forwards or backwards, but he But that I started just from scratch and inventing what the story was, you know, because the story he had was nothing that worked for me, you know, I'm saying and it really anybody who reads it, no matter how much you love us, because shall will say maybe my story is not any better. But his story was not something you write home about really was just a job for him. as best I can tell, Forrest Gump the book was kind of farcical to me in certain respects. And so I, I made it and it failed a couple times other people tried it and had no luck. So I had sort of free rein to do what I want it with it. And so I just took my imagination where it went and came up with a bunch of things that he said that seemed people seem to latch on to, you know, and and I looked at that as like doing candy, you know, it's, it's a journey of this guy through life. I'm trying to think what else in the main, though, is like, being a dramatist? In other words, you have to and I think we said this, I don't know, David said, his father said, or I said that which is relevant on manque that when they're talking about, you know, about Citizen Kane, because you can't, with the line we have is, to the extent of you can't show somebody's whole life in two hours, all you can do is give an impression of their life. Right? That's, you know, another part of it. So no matter what the book was, if I adapted it was to try to do the best to tell the best story you know, and, and yeah, summer dad stars born I think is adapted. But we started from scratch on that one. You know, we'd have to go roll whatever movies Munich music, Munich was pretty close to book, I don't think it would step for adding some more, kind of some ingredients that weren't really dramatic, per se will be more dramatic in the sense of the way Steven can do things with stucks trucks being stuck by little girls on the phone and stuff, which is not wrong. But it's so you have to count that that stuff was event invented a lot of that.

Alex Ferrari 27:11
Now, you mentioned Forrest Gump because I mean, obviously, you know, Forrest Gump by the time you started writing for his computer already been 20 years in 20 odd years in already. So you weren't, you know, you're you weren't a kid anymore. So you were a very seasoned writer at this point. But I think that Forrest Gump, at least at that point in your career, was a hurricane. I mean, it is it is a cultural milestone, it is in the Zeitgeist. I mean, people still constantly say all those lies you know, you never know what it like, you know, all the chocolate like, life's like a box of chocolate and everything, all those wonderful catchphrases and for people who weren't around to experience it and 94 year younger screenwriters in 94 I mean 94 was an amazing year Pulp Fiction, and yeah, it for us. I mean, it was a thing.

Eric Roth 28:02
Yeah. I mean, like, you know, talk apples and oranges. But if you want to talk great art, I would I would go with Pulp Fiction, you know. I mean, I love Forrest Gump beans obviously the world to me and world to a lot of people and has sentiment and heart and you know goofiness and but fiction was a pretty, pretty lasting movie that of its kind and, and ours is lasting in a different way.

Alex Ferrari 28:27
Right? They're very so different in so many ways, and both you and quit and both won the Oscar that year for original and, and adapted, but they couldn't be more different films and so different. But yet both of them are everlasting, and completely timeless. But what was it like even at that stage in your career to be in the middle of that hurricane? Because, I mean, it's

Eric Roth 28:51
obviously you can't expect that you don't know. Right? I have no clue I had met. I had met Tom Hanks. pretty early. And we were gonna do something else together. And then I was offered that book and I said, What do you think he said, Let's go for it, you know,

Alex Ferrari 29:09
and that was Tom woods. It's not that was before Robert Zemeckis jumped on board or was wrong? Oh, yeah.

Eric Roth 29:14
Yeah, it was actually there are two or three other directors that looked like they were going to do it. One was Barry sonnenfeld. One was a penny Marshall. And and Steven Steven was very interested in doing it at one point. And but I had the advantage of knowing Tom was going to do it if he was a music star, but not anywhere. He's not he wasn't quite Tom Hanks. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 29:37
it wasn't posted post Forrest Gump. I post Forrest Gump columns.

Eric Roth 29:41
This is pre Forrest Gump and he was actually I think when I met him. I think he was filming.

Alex Ferrari 29:49
Didn't you do Philadelphia wasn't doing Philadelphia?

Eric Roth 29:51
No, he's done that but even before when I met him, he was doing the Ron Howard movie with You know about the mermaid?

Alex Ferrari 30:02
Oh, yeah. Oh god splash splash. Splash. Yeah,

Eric Roth 30:06
I think that was his. I think that may have been his first break from television Bosom Buddies or something,

Alex Ferrari 30:12
I think was it close to but that was his big break, then splash, splash blow. But,

Eric Roth 30:18
but as big as he was he was I mean, Forrest Gump was hard to get made. Because if we wrote a script, I wrote a script that Warner Brothers wasn't keen on didn't quite get it. And fortunately for us, the producer, when do you find them a very good producer, she was like 24 years old. She was married to mark Canton who ran the studio, and was able to get it in turnaround, otherwise, I don't think they'd ever put it in turnaround. And we took it to paramount. And Brandon tartikoff, who's one point the president of MVC, really nice man and really smart. He was in the head of paramount, and he, he agreed to do it, I mean, develop it. And Tom came in and pitched the whole thing. You know, so it's easy for me having to sell it with Tom sitting there saying, because I'd say and he's sitting on a bench and whatever we had envisioned at that point, we hadn't written, right. And he Tom acted out what we'd talked about. And Brandon said, Great, you got to deal and, you know, I did whatever work I had to do. And then we went out looking for directors and and then Zemeckis came along, you know, he read it and said, this is for me, you know, and he was a big, obviously, wonderful, big director. And that was amazing. You know, so

Alex Ferrari 31:37
yeah. And then and then it was off and running. And, I mean, obviously, it was, it was just such a cultural cut that you were such raising, you

Eric Roth 31:44
know, you know, no, of course not. No, but and also, because there's a lot of fights about the money about what we could film and not I mean, because there's, you know, there's fights with the studio, I remember Bob saying, there's a lot of blood under the bridge, he said on movies. And he did everything known to man cleverly, to get around some of the budgetary restraints, he would take a crew on Sundays, just literally four or five people, which would be Tom cinematographer on making up himself and, you know, a couple of production people and they'd fly off to go to that whole run was done on Sundays. They fly to Maine from we were in South Carolina, they fly to Maine, shoot him running to the lighthouse, get back on the plane and come on back.

Alex Ferrari 32:33
I was wondering how they did that. Because I mean,

Eric Roth 32:36
we didn't really have the money for it, it was more about the money for it. And we we thought this was pretty special. But we also thought we could just be drunk, you know?

Alex Ferrari 32:47
It's tough. It's tough. Yeah. When you're in the middle of

Eric Roth 32:50
all this movie, I mean, another one. I've done substantial movies where you can kind of get a sense of, you know, what's, what's solid about it. And you couldn't tell on this one. So when we got done, we started, you know, when Bob was finished, and he started preview it. And we had, he always did previews for his movies in a very small theater, Paramount, and then a little bit larger theater somewhere, I think, in the valley, and then a big big theater in San Jose. And we had incredible reaction in a little theater, and with whatever, got, you know, a test screening and they were like humongous numbers. We went to the one in the valley, I think it was as my memory serves me, well. It got to incredible numbers. And everybody started getting a little nervous now this week, and there was really almost no criticisms of the movie. And everybody just was delighted with it. And, you know, had 18 million favorite moments, all kinds of things, you know about feeling good about Forrest Gump. And then we showed it up in San Jose to a huge theater that had like a balcony, and I don't know, it must have seemed like hell, 3000 people probably didn't. But I remember sitting on the balcony, and you can see down It was one of those theaters that didn't have a middle row. So anybody getting up to a bathroom at a walk across, like 30 people, you know, 50 people. Anyway, we were flying home, we were on a paramount plane. And either Sherry Lansing, or who is president then in the studio, a wonderful woman, or john Goldwyn, who is her second in command was looking at the cards, you know, and he did percentages and all I said, you just went into Raiders of the Lost Ark land. Because there was like, 98% 99 Yes, favorable. And we they knew how that we had something that was a monster, you know, they know but they, they did a magnificent marketing job with that poster. You know, things like that. And then I knew I knew I was in business. When I went in the race. I was in a race track, like getting in line to bet. And I heard someone say like, you know, starting to do the accent. I won't you know, he's doing Forrest Gump. Right.

Alex Ferrari 35:04
Now, I've heard I mean, over the years, I mean, I've talked to every screenwriting guru, so many different screenwriters, and one constant thing that it's always talked about is in order to have a story, you need conflict. That's what gets the story across. And I remember one day in film school, my screenwriting instructor said, you always need conflict, except for one movie that pulled it off. And it's Forrest Gump force doesn't have any conflict. And I want to ask you the question what it because force just seems to be the world around them is conflict. But he himself, and you start analyzing towards the end, there is a little bit more conflict, but I just want you to kind of analyze

Eric Roth 35:45
your pay, if you want to. Yeah, I think that's true. I mean, it's a it is Candide, I mean, there's been a number of other things that are like candy, where people take a journey in the conflicts within the journey. But it's also a sort of the conflict is he going to get from point A to point path. And also, I mean, the other thing, I always felt there was a conflict was about the fact that he wanted this girl to love him. So he right loves. So the love story would be the center of the peace, I guess. And then these other things, he believes in his mother and God, you know, and where's God betraying him? And, you know, I mean, it's, it's like, I would say, a more sophisticated version, I'm not saying better or worse, but was like, being there was conflict and being there, once he steps what you know, there's a potential conflict of a guy who, you know, is having, you know, certain issues, you know, so he has mental issues, you know, intellectual issues, and he steps into a world that he's just fine with, where, you know, he says things that everybody thinks what he's saying is, you know, the most genius thing ever said, and they all run out, but, so being there was like that. No, we didn't have the normal things, you're gonna get thrown out of your apartment, and that his mother, you know, was gonna, you know, lock them up, or we didn't have any things, you know, so that, and that those were mostly from the book. I mean, nothing was different netway from the book. I mean, that was his his story. And, and I think there's, I mean, I think that's, I mean, the other thing I you know, the other rule was never use voiceover. I've been one of those guys who keep those things. Well, all the great filmmakers ever, including, if you like Forrest Gump, he uses voice over Marty, his voice over and every movie,

Alex Ferrari 37:33
Shawshank Redemption, not so bad.

Eric Roth 37:35
Not so bad. I'm saying that I always found that funny. There was a guy that famous, co wrote the whole screen. The books got,

Alex Ferrari 37:43
I think it was Robert McKee, Robert McKee. And he said, Never use voiceover. If you ever use voiceover in your script, it's all relative. I mean, because voiceover is a crutch sometimes,

Eric Roth 37:53
but conflict is I mean, I remember saying I won't mention who it is who's always a pretty well known actor who wrote a script and sent it to me. And I said, it's really well written. And I think you've, you know, you've got work to do some of the characters in this, but you're missing the one I agree, the big C, you have no conflict in this. So I mean, I think you do need to know what the conflict is how you show it, how you do it. I think there's probably varying degrees. And I probably have to, you know, probably ask somebody else who's smarter about these things to me about what would be the conflict in Forrest Gump? I don't know. Well, good now. Well, maybe it's him versus a universe in a way the irony is in the universe. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 38:38
I would agree. I would agree with you. In other words, look, I

Eric Roth 38:40
mean, all these ridiculous things, you know, which we always we always were taken by, you know, how ironic or sort of ludicrous the absurdity of rah Reagan getting shot or, you know, john, I mean, of john or Bobby Kennedy, I mean, all these things, all the assassinations, and, you know, wars we entered into, and I mean, in other words, it's all slightly insane, you know?

Alex Ferrari 39:04
Well, the whole story is, is the whole story is slightly insane. In many ways. It is, but one of my favorite lines in the entire movie, and it's not one of the famous lines is when he opened up the letter and he goes, I invested in a fruit company. That's right. And I didn't need to learn I didn't need to worry about money anymore. One less thing.

Eric Roth 39:26
Yeah, well, I don't know why I don't know why I came to me I said it'd be kind of funny if he owned Apple

Alex Ferrari 39:32
because we all say that they

Eric Roth 39:33
actually say if he you know, he would have to cap the stock but that by whatever the price was, then they figured out that next to like Tim Cook he would he would be the second largest stockholder of Apple if he didn't sell it you know, he just kept it

Alex Ferrari 39:48
yeah him and jobs were like they're neck and neck. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, cuz everyone always jokes like I should have bought Tesla. I should have bought apple at eight bucks. You know?

Eric Roth 39:57
Why the same thing with when we did house a car For Netflix, not one of my genius, financial people want Netflix. She said buy Netflix stock. It was at like eight. I didn't buy a nickel. I mean, I would have done. I'm not. I don't invest much in anything, but I would have probably, I don't know, a couple

Alex Ferrari 40:17
bucks. bucks in there. Exactly. Now 900 hours, something ridiculous like that. Now you have you have collaborated with some of the most amazing filmmakers in history. We were just talking about Kurosawa, obviously Fincher Spielberg, Michael Mann, like, how do you collaborate with such established and then sometimes even legendary, like a Kurosawa or Spielberg? Or

Eric Roth 40:45
was it was less of a collaboration in the sense that he trusted me to write this character? And he, he didn't like he told me just could we not have him say this? Or was Yeah, sure. That was a little easier. It's very long distance, you know, Michael Mann or Spielberg.

So it each was different, because as some of them were writer directors, right. So Michael Mann was a writer also. So we had a shorthand together. And he's a tough guy, and we fought like cats and dogs about stuff, but I can't hold my own. And I always I also believe, to just be honest, that it's not capitulating, but I think you'll find a say you have my way, and you'll have Fincher his way. And it doesn't have to be the highway, then, you know, I'm saying you there might be a third path that that makes you feel you've created what you felt was accurate, and right for the material. And so does David Davis is a little tougher. Dave is very, Dave is very logical about what he wants and wants. Nothing wrong with it. Whatever one line is said that whatever comes back has some logic to it. It's a response. I'm a little more fanciful in the stuff I've done. So I've never looked at things that way. Michael Mann is wonderful writer and very analytical. And he came up with a great thing for the insider, which turned out to I think needed, and I would have never thought of it. He there's a scene early on. And we were talking earlier about, you know, trying to write some text the as, as opposed to expositionally, which is as bad writing mostly. But we Michael felt we needed to lay out for the audience quite early. What were the pet impediments to this guy? And what was what would what would needed to be accomplished. So we have a scene setting was supposed to be the CBS kind of kitchen where they're having like a lunch, and it's all exposition, which is not something I'm all about. But he said, we need to get this guy lawyer, we need to get this guy that we need to go talk to this guy, we need to get him out of his contract. In other words, and those were the kind of Michael's analytic about these were the kind of points we had dramatic points we were gonna have to overcome to become, you know, where the drop the dramatics worked for the movie succeeding. And it was a wonderful moment.

Alex Ferrari 43:06
Yeah. And I mean, I've had so many people on the show that have has worked with Steven. And I've just found so amazing how many careers he's touched. And early on, you know, Kevin Reynolds and john Lee Hancock, and like, he's the one that opened doors for people. He did. He's to me,

Eric Roth 43:26
I never had that relationship with him. I actually knew him when he was very young, he roomed with somebody I wrote a TV movie for okay. He was probably 18. And, and he was mean even that a wonderful entertainer, wonderful, a&r, dramatic director, he's, he has his own way of working. I mean, it's quite different than a lot of the people we're talking about. And he wants things in certain ways he had, one thing I liked about working with him was the Kathy Kennedy, who I adore is his producer. And she always send the pages to Stephen. And Kathy would then call me and say, here's what he likes and what he doesn't like. And I like that. So so when you went in, and I went to meet with them about this the work, you don't get your backup right away, you know, they've been getting a beef or you get insulted or your feelings hurt, or whatever it is, you know, about the work, you already know what's in you've thought about it, why is this not working? Why is it? How can we make this work for him and all that? So yeah, he was an interesting guy to work with. And it didn't come out. I mean, it wasn't holy. He felt at some point that we he wanted to have a little bit of a different voice. And he brought in Tony Kushner, who I adore, and a friend who was one of the great writers and in our lease in theater of Angels in America, he wants something a little more intellectual than some of the things I was writing. So, you know, I was wounded by it to some extent, but it all worked out in the end that we ended up having a movie that we're all very proud of, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:56
yeah. And now you're working with Marty

Eric Roth 44:58
on Marty, Marty and I are supposed to work on two or three other things. And this was Marty's a dream. I mean, it's like to me, Fincher and him are very different in their approach to eating or char. So then Steven is too, but I mean, there's just these two guys, I know better, I've done thing to thing that Dave and I know, Marty over the years. And Marty, completely said, feels like you're a thoroughbred, and you should have your hand and just try to invent and imagine anything you want, he'll figure out a way to try to do it. And if he doesn't think it works, he just tells you in the nicest way. So he said, Let's, let's try it this way, you know, and, and he'll take you off, whatever you might get stuck on, you know,

Alex Ferrari 45:40
yeah. And he has that art, he has the ability to the almost the political aspect of being a filmmaker, it's like, as opposed to some other directors who are a little bit more hard, hard handed about it. Marty softer. And he's just knows how to play the game so well, that by the time you're over here, you're like, how did I get over here? I'm like Marty's like, this morning.

Eric Roth 46:00
I mean, it's also, you also know he, at least going in that he probably will get the money to be able to do anything he wants. It'll have the backing of a big differentiate on words. Somebody says, like, we can't do that, because it's too expensive, or something. And he'll say to you, I'll try it. You know, let's see what it looks like. If you want to, if you decide you want to run, do the whole movie backwards, or people walking backwards, they'll try it. You know, I'm saying might not work, but he'll try.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
And it's amazing how now Marty is working with Netflix. Because Netflix is basically I mean, please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm gonna say that giving them a blank check, but they're giving them

Eric Roth 46:39
a lot of leeway. He's actually moved on for the moment to go back to Netflix. But I think he he's an app. This is Apple, sorry, who's paying for this? Credit Apple,

Alex Ferrari 46:51
really, but it's going to the streamers though. He's going to streamers now now.

Eric Roth 46:55
I mean, that's where you're going to get the money from. But he does. I know that he wanted this on this that he wanted a certain amount of a theatrical release. It's not just a few days or a week. So he's gonna get that with Paramount's gonna release it theatrically. And then Apple have it part of the service and streaming service. And, you know, it's a wonderful thing for both for, you know, for Apple, I think, the idea of having Marty and Leonardo DiCaprio and Bob De Niro on this kind of big subject matter that will be wonderful fruit subscriptions and all that. And, and I think it's great when those when that when it works out that way? I mean, David has a blank check to a certain extent. I mean, I can't speak to that. But no, but in other words, anything creatively he wants to do Netflix is his home. And they they embrace David the way they should. So they're giving in a way an artist a chance to always express himself. How great is that? I think I think he's earned it.

Alex Ferrari 47:50
So without question. So you were there at the beginning with House of Cards, which it is a one of those moments in time where the business changed. The entire industry changed from the moment that Netflix says we're going to do original programming. And we're going to do and we're going to spend obscene amounts of money on an original IP. We have great people working on it. But it was when that came out. People were like, Wait, what? That was no. I mean, the story goes, which is true.

Eric Roth 48:23
I was sent in so as David the ARIA manual was, I think, trying to sign David more than me, but he wanted me as a client also at the time, and he said, I said, you know this, this is silly, Ari, I'm all for it. I've been the same agent for 32 years, but she and he said, What if I sent you a really great piece of material? He said, I'm always up for material. So he sent me house of cards on video, you know, which was the English show. And I said by Quint, I said to him, this is spectacular. I happen to know it because Michael Mann and alpa Chino, I had thought about doing it as a movie, because it's just Richard the third, you know, that's what it is. Right? So, um, within that, for whatever reason, we never, we never worked it out doing it, but it would have been great. So I said to David, if this is something you want to do, I mean, I think there's a there's a way to do this and not very difficult. Obviously, the work will be difficult, but that this would translate beautifully into an about America is politics. And so we hired a writer of Belleville men who had written a play about I think state of America, I forget the title of but it was a movie that actually George Clooney made, which understood politics quite well and, and Dave was agreed to direct the first couple of three and we got them. You know, that point Kevin Spacey was a great fine and David had worked with him and I and I helped get Robin right because she had been in Forrest Gump and all we were friends in So we've had a great package, I think, and there was an auction then and all the play all the players were there at that point, they came to David's office HBO, and I guess, Showtime, whoever it was, you know, they were We were in business and, and, and Netflix. And Netflix made an incredible offer. And I gotta be honest, I was, I didn't I understood that I thought there would be a place for this in time. But I said to David, I don't think there's enough eyeballs yet for this. And I think I would like to have the water cooler conversation like on the sopranos, they add, you know, at HBO, you know, and I thought there was, you know, the class of the field. And he said, You're wrong. He said, Those people are gonna know he did. And they said, You're a Luddite. You don't know what you're talking about. And this is going to be you know, people are going to watch this if we can make it, you know, attractive enough and interesting enough and dramatic all that. And we were, we were the second the first show is a shows TV Van Zandt did or something about called Oslo or something, a small little thing in Norway, and then then it was us. And obviously, you know, what happened that people start bingeing it and going crazy and, and all of a sudden, they got giant amount of subscriptions, which gave them money to go do other shows. And, you know, I it's a mixed blessing to me, because I'm such a movie lover and love going to movies and a 40 foot screen and everything, but I watch things on my phone, like anybody else, you know, and some things translate some things don't I liked it. It's available to everybody. I mean, one of the things I learned early on was, was not early, but we had like a 23 union of Forrest Gump at USC, and everybody was Bob and you know, Gary Sinise, the Hulk, everybody. And Bob asked the audience, how many people we showed the film first on a screening there. And Bob said, how many how many people have is this the first time ever seeing it on a movie? on a screen? Everybody?

Alex Ferrari 51:58
Of course, there's children there.

Eric Roth 52:00
Can't tell yet. though. I said on TV. So, you know, there's, you know, it's like, Alright, I understand when there's so many more people watching something how beneficial that is, you know,

Alex Ferrari 52:12
I mean, it started with cable and VHS. I mean, that's where movies now. Yeah, big Terminator was made on on cable, you know? And that's where it became.

Eric Roth 52:23
Yeah, yeah. So I was I was behind the curve on that one. And, and so but, you know, now we, I don't know, if we've reaped the wind, you'll sell the Whirlwind or if this is I think it's a mixed blessing. I mean, in the main is probably good. I mean, it was a little little disillusioning to me that they, they, particularly the way they handled it about Doom going right to, you know, day in date with being on the streaming on the streaming service, the same time was being released. But I think they're going to rectify some of that.

Alex Ferrari 52:57
I just read the article this morning, that it's going to be a 45 day window. So they are they are going to do a 45 day window. And Dude, I just literally read it this morning on. I'll call my agent when we hang up, see if I can get some money out of it. Yes, it is gonna be from what I read on on the trends. It Dune is going to be released 45 days, and then I'll end up on max. Yeah,

Eric Roth 53:18
it deserves to be seen. I've seen it as he deserves to CCI a great big screen and have the sound insight and it was so pretty amazing.

Alex Ferrari 53:26
I mean, to be honest, like how do you approach that that subject matter? It's such a,

Eric Roth 53:31
it was pretty daunting. But I mean, honestly, I'm a old hippie, done my fair share of I'm not advocating anybody do this my fair share of hallucinogenics even though I had some issues with the book, but the book is transcendent in some respects, and certainly for when I read a 15 year old boy. And I felt there's a spirit to it that I could probably capture and take you to places you haven't really thought about or seen. And I wrote a big full fat draft and it needed cutting down and Denise Villeneuve did that wonderfully. And, and then I think they brought in another writer because I was I've moved on by then to kind of even more grounded a guy named john speights is really terrific. And so three of us I think ended up creating something pretty amazing. And then Didn't he obviously, I think realized for what I saw, you know, as a piece of real work of art, and really a wonderful adventure and everything else is pretty special. I mean, I would tell you if it wasn't

Alex Ferrari 54:32
Yeah, and I have a feeling that you would have I don't think they know it wasn't when you were gonna tackle star is born. I mean, that movie has been remade with three times before you. This was before. And every time it was a hit from what I understand. And it was always like this kind of cultural touchstone when it came out. Yeah. And then you've got Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper and Bradley. Bradley is the director. as well, so first time director. So you've got this, how do you approach telling that story again?

Eric Roth 55:09
Well, I mean, it was an interesting that was that was kind of a challenge. Not the work was very, really challenging. But I don't know, I hadn't had a movie made. And I was so used to getting movies made like every two, three years. And I hadn't had a movie, maybe maybe three years, maybe a little more. And that movie, even though it was nominated for an Oscar, extremely loud, incredibly slow, was not that well received either critically, or box office. And it was a disappointment to me. And there are many reasons why I think I have some things up. And I think that there were some decisions that maybe should have made differently. But, you know, that's, that's what happened. And they offered me the stars born, I said, Is this a good idea for me to want to my Am I too old for this? I mean, not just didn't understand the culture and music and, you know, and be as contemporary as it should be. And I in and they sent me a script, which I thought needed work. And I said, I kind of feel like I've got to, you know, start from scratch. To some extent. There was many some things there, that was certainly good. And I said, I'll, I'll tell you what if they said, you got to do it quickly. And I said, in six weeks, I'll have for you something new. And I think you'll hopefully you'll like it and, and I went to work and Bradley was there every day. And we would text each other in the middle of the night. He was wonderful to work with and had his own ideas about things. And we'd fight like cats and dogs, which I do with everybody. And in the end, we had something I think which was had the humanity that I think I can bring to things and he understood and and i think was a great contemporary story. One of the really wonderful moments for me on that one was Bradley and I and Lady Gaga working her house out in Malibu and it was the first time I had met her actually and Bradley pedigo. And I was going to leave when he did and she said to me mind staying, I said no, she's just like to talk about the character. And we did that and I gave her some I said take a look at Moonstruck how Cher played and was brought you know certain things. And I said I'll do everything I can to make this easy for you because she wasn't she's acted but she wasn't wasn't her, you know profession necessarily. And so, I promised her I'd make things as conversational as possible in the scripted that didn't have to be big monologues and all that and, and now, let's get to Lisa, do you mind if I play something for you? Like, yeah, okay. So she sat down pianist, he played Somewhere over the rainbow and sang it. He was like, Are you kidding me? It's like, Oh, my God. God just walked in, you know, really? He was like, yeah, I'm maybe it was, maybe it was not so accidental. But it was like unbelievable. I mean, it's like one of those moments you'll never forget.

Alex Ferrari 57:55
I saw a private concert by Lady Gaga at her house in Malibu

Eric Roth 57:58
kind of clip some of the songs are thinking about and yeah, and it's it was when I went and watch it with an audience. I was just so thrilled that people just really loved it. And they laughed and they cried, and, you know, the kind of thing that a good love story does. And you know, and I think Brad the Met, you know, added immensely to it. He had some great ideas for storytelling, and he certainly made it feel real and yeah, I think we were we did well together, you know.

Alex Ferrari 58:26
Now, what are three screenplays you think every screenwriter should read? Hmm.

Eric Roth 58:34
Well, I guess you'd have to start I don't know. But it's one of those you know, what's your what's the best movie ever made you as probably 20 you know? Sure.

Alex Ferrari 58:41
That's gonna come to mind.

Eric Roth 58:47
Wow, this is so hard. I mean, I guess you'd have to say Citizen Kane, because it has multiple points of view of one person is probably the first time that was ever done. And that is fresh with me because a mank I would say Chinatown. Because that's a movie that is all subtextual you're saying three is so impossible. I'll give you another I mean, to me, my favorite movie ever is 2000 either godfather 2001. So I don't know how to differentiate between sort of two fairly

Alex Ferrari 59:19
different they're fairly different. But so different, but godfather two's perfect. I always come anytime anyone says godfather I'm like, I will grant you godfather one and two as a warner because it's just as a as a whole that it's perfection

Eric Roth 59:33
to me is you know, even more perfect and in 2001 changed my life in some way. You know, so as I move experience, you know, so absolutely. are there so many I mean,

Alex Ferrari 59:44
oh, no, there's hundreds there's I mean, there's exactly, but three they just kind of like to start guiding people. Chinatown always shows up godfather always shows up. 2001 doesn't show up as much because

Eric Roth 59:56
it's not a script, you would say but look at the sparseness of it and then oh, No movie it said that the use of the by now but but those things have to still be written he had to write down that there's something as to black monolith even though it's from a book I know but especially the whole light of that says the use of ideas. Yeah, I don't know. It's like you know where it is where the things leave off between what the writing is and that's where you get into a whole thing. I mean, one of the famous I'll give you a funny little thing about US Citizen Kane, which is used as a thing about Writers Guild and the whole credit to speak credit. So they say they say what if I gave you a scrip which was about a famous man you know, magnet who owned newspapers and actually helped start a war and was one of the richest men in the world. They lived all alone, you know, sort of cloistered with his girlfriend up in this place. Zana do basically and and you know, at attract his life, you know, from beginning to end and you say it sounds like a pretty great story. Yeah, that'd be great. So you get credit for that, right, Eric Roth, and then someone comes along they, they read it, they sent it to another writer. So is there anything you'd add to it? And the writer writes on page one rosebud, on the last page wrote his book? And I said they get credit to that design. So you know, I don't know. screenplays are a tricky thing. I mean, I think they're, they're a they're a great craft. I'm not sure they're a great art form. You can be artful at it. But their craft, they're you because you can get away without finishing sentences. There's dots and dashes. You're not a player. You're not a novelist. It's a bastardized form a writing of a way. And it's also something that you that you need, it doesn't really exist unless you get amazing movie, you know, I mean, it could be something to read, it might be interesting. And there are many scripts who probably hold their own. There's a famous one called heroine alley that everybody always loved about the plague that a guy named Walter Newman wrote He also wrote cat in a bunch of movies and that but that always holds up I guess, is a great piece of you know, could have been a short story or something but uh, but it's of no value whatever scripts I don't have made, you know, the bid on the floor here.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:09
They're not best selling screenplays like you could still get not

Eric Roth 1:02:11
know you, wouldn't you and you wouldn't even feel they were if you bought them and read them. They might be really interesting visually and interesting. But they're they're such as I say, bastardized form of things.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:22
I always I always, I always tell

Eric Roth 1:02:24
other people would add probably in American screenplays probably add Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid because it created a whole way of looking at, you know, it's so meta in its way. You know, it was very postmodern. So I mean, I could give you all the all the screenplays that matter, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:40
right, of course. But I always I always tell people that screenwriting is arguably one of the most difficult forms of writing because of the condensed amount and like the, the you can't go like a novelist and just

Eric Roth 1:02:54
try to do I mean, good writers do less is more I unfortunately, haven't quite got there. I mean, it I really do. I mean, okay, Eric, you've done okay. Oh, but the director, I've done okay. But the directors appreciate the fact there's a lot more because they can make choices,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:09
and they can cut down. Yeah, I think it's better to have too much cut down, which

Eric Roth 1:03:14
is their job. I think good directors a great editor. Absolutely. Thank you work, we've crafted refashion. I mean, I always say that it's like kind of building as the writer gets to do and then director gets to take on this journey, you know, now,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:29
what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Eric Roth 1:03:37
I would first of all, ask them to please watch every movie they could watch and also read every book they can read. So they have knowledge both forms. I think literature is as important as film literature. Get to know what characterizations are get to know what dramatizing something isn't. Even in comedy. In other words, everything's going to come back to three acts maybe four. I don't care if you stand on your head if you do Pulp Fiction when starts to end and ends up in the being it makes no difference you're still going to have a beginning you're going to start complicating the problem in the second act and the third act you're going to come to either a conclusion by God coming in and a machine DSS Mac and or you can find a catharsis for people that they find organically amongst themselves and the movie is going to end with some conclusion or left left left inconclusive. So these rules will always apply. So I think I don't know I think I'd have everybody try to read and get a sense of what drama is what how does how to describe do this and then also to I don't know some some people and it's like anybody, anything else, some people just better than you at saying so just right to your own level. So I mean that in other words, everybody tries to, you know, say I want to be Aaron Sorkin I want to be, you're not going to be Aaron Sorkin you're going to be whoever you are. And maybe you'll end up being, you know, more valuable and Aaron Sorkin some way, but you'll, but you also may also write for the great comedies or for the most popular movies, and there's no, there's no criteria for any of this. And I think the things that I think people, if you can't write it, I think put it right into talking to a tape recorder. I tell people that all the time, so I want you to do my life story. And I said, you do your life story. You know, and, and talking to a tape recorder, have it transcribed and all of a sudden, you'll have yourself basically a basis for a screenplay, you know, and everybody has something interesting to say about themselves and about their lives. So I think it's true when they say write about what you know, but I would say don't write necessarily what you know, I think write would out what you know, but not specifically necessarily. It'll come in, in any you can't stop from whatever, you know, coming into a screenplay.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:59
And now and what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Eric Roth 1:06:09
I would say in life that I don't need to always be validated. I mean, it's like a whole world of that wanting these trophies and wanting people, you maybe don't critics or whatever you think, you know, starts sort of telling telling you who you are, that you can, you can be yourself without that, and I still haven't really quite learned it, I manage to have anxiety about things, you know, that I, why I do, I don't know, part of who I am about needing somebody love who I may not have gotten the way I wanted it all that thing was a question as either

Alex Ferrari 1:06:45
the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business, right,

Eric Roth 1:06:49
guys still think I'm learning this subtextual thing? The I mean, and you'll find that a great books have it I mean, no as you get it, right. You know, and it's not, it's not something you can quite, I just don't think I quite, I get up to the line. And in many cases, I can do it, and I can't quite always do it. I think also, I think I probably took too much time to write things before I'm a little quicker now. I was a little too, I was a little too precious with stuff, maybe, you know, I just I always wanted it to be the best version of what this was when I turned it in. Even though the next day you just start looking at and go, Oh my god, you know, this isn't so good. But I bet but the other thing is, if you can look at it, you look, it's very simple for me to say things, I get paid a lot of money, I get to live a great life, I get to be with all sorts of interesting people, not only actors and directors, but get to do research on things that are worlds I don't know anything about get to be a journalist of a kind and, and it's a struggle for luck. I have people in my family were struggling to want to be writers, you know, and it's like, and they just got to keep knocking that their heads against it, if that's what they want to be you know, and I know people who have one movie made in four years, and they still writing you know, and yet, that getting up and saying there's that blank page can be either incredibly frightening or incredibly liberating. And I think there's some, somewhere in between, and I don't think it has to do Prohm necessarily with being rewarded. But at least that you can finish it and then then see if you can get a reward out of it may just say, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:35
I mean, I get I get it. But look, a lot of these lead these core things that you're talking about No matter if you've won an Oscar or you've just written your first screenplay apply.

Eric Roth 1:08:44
Yeah, I can tell you this, that after I wrote for won the Oscar Forrest Gump, I was up for a job called the horse whisperer. That there Bob Redford directed and I remember, very, I mean, he didn't say it this way. But we met the first time and he basically said, What have you done for me lately? So I knew, okay, you got to start all over. You know, I'm saying you put yourself all over again. And every time I go up to the bat, you know, it's a little, it's a little less daunting now. Because you have, I don't feel the same quite pressure. But you know, it just but you still want to get these things made. And it's like, then you have to go, I have three things I'm basically working on and starting, and I have the same excitement and a little bit of anxiety about Will I be able to make this different, what is it going to make this stand out whether these voices is going to be unique and but it's like I say I'm lucky to be able to do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:42
And there it has been an absolute pleasure and honor to speak to you it has been great and I hope our conversation helps a few screenwriters out there. So thank you so much, my friend.

Jason Reitman Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Take a listen to Jason Reitman as he discusses his screenwriting and filmmaking process. The screenplays below are the only ones that are available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link int he comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

Screenplay by Jason Reitman & Gil Kenan – WILL POST AS SOON AS IT’S AVAILABLE

Men, Women & Children (2014)

Screenplay by Jason Reitman – Read the treatment!

Labor Day (2013)

Screenplay by Jason Reitman – Read the screenplay!

Up in the Air (2009)

Screenplay by Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner – Read the screenplay!

Juno (2007)

Screenplay by Diablo Cody. Directed by Jason Reitman – Read the screenplay!

Thank You for  Smoking (2005)

Screenplay by Jason Reitman – Read the screenplay!