Billy Ray has written or co-written the screenplays for Color of Night, Volcano, and Hart's War, and also created the sci-fi series Earth 2. In 2003, Ray wrote and directed Shattered Glass, which was based on the true story of fraudulent journalist Stephen Glass. Most recently, he found himself back in the writer/director role for Breach, a story based on real-life FBI agent-turned-Soviet spy Robert Hanssen.
Paul Attanasio's nuanced screenplays for Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco earned him Oscar nominations, and he recently wrote The Good German for Steven Soderbergh. In this intense dialogue, Attanasio describes how he transformed himself from "snotty" Washington Post film critic to master of adaptations for Oscar-winning directors Robert Redford, Barry Levinson, and Soderbergh.
David S. Goyer has a deliciously twisted mind. (They don't call him "The Prince of Darkness" for nothing.) And he knows how to bring comic-book characters and superheroes to kicking, screaming, vengeful life, as he did in The Crow: City of Angels, the Blade series, and Batman Begins.
Less than 10 years in the business and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are already one of the most successful screenwriting teams in Hollywood. A team who became just that after meeting in high school, they began in television on the writing staffs of Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, and eventually the hit ABC show, Alias, where they collaborated with J.J. Abrams.
Acclaimed writer-director Paul Haggis has been a fixture in television and film for over 25 years. In this wide-ranging interview, the Oscar-winning co-screenwriter, director, and producer of Crash (Best Picture 2005) discusses a three-decade career that led from writing for sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life to his breakthrough screenplay for Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (Best Picture 2004).
While most writers find success in either TV or movies, comedy or drama, original or adapted screenplays, Ed Solomon has managed to do it all. He got his start in television sitcoms and went on to write quirky sci-fi comedies Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Men in Black, the crime drama Levity, which he also directed, and the adaptation of the mystery adventure novel Tokyo Suckerpunch.
Boston-born Scott Rosenberg burst onto the scene in 1995 with his hard-boiled screenplay for Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. His repertoire crosses the film spectrum, including indie films like Beautiful Girls and such big-budget studio pictures as Gone in 60 Seconds and Con Air. His adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel High Fidelity garnered him a WGA Award nomination, and he is frequently called in for his skills as a script doctor.
There's no con more satisfying and lucrative than finding a way to make a living as a screenwriter. And Ted Griffin is a man who knows a good con. Anyone who tried to follow the clever criminal head games he built into his screenplays for Ocean's 11 and Matchstick Men knows not to trust this guy - except when he talks about screenwriting, which he does with great humor and insight in this enlightening interview.
With over 23 years in the business, Bruce Joel Rubin has done it all. From his Oscar-winning screenplay for the romantic-comedy-drama Ghost, to the psychological thriller Jacob's Ladder, the family-friendly adventure Stuart Little 2, and the tearjerker My Life, which he also directed. In this in-depth interview, Rubin delivers some insightful stuff: his carpet-laying theory about writing and the story behind the Jacob's Ladder gut-wrenching opening scene.
John Hamburg is a very funny guy. Hamburg wrote and directed the crime comedy Safe Men, which played at Sundance and spawned a devoted cult following. A sure-thing comedy closer, the New York City native built hilarious set pieces and character work into Meet the Parents, Zoolander, and Meet the Fockers, which not only helped lift them to huge box office but also pushed a few new catchphrases into the American lexicon.
Jose Rivera's pivotal screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries was one of the most celebrated works of 2005. It earned him Writers Guild, BAFTA, and Academy Award nominations, and was his first major screenplay. His foray into movies came after establishing himself as an award-winning playwright and a hugely accomplished writer for television, where his credits include co-creating and producing the critically acclaimed television series Eerie, Indiana.
Nia Vardalos was nominated for the Academy Award and the Writer's Guild Award in 2003 for her breakthrough screenplay My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which was based on her one-woman play. The film became the highest-grossing independent feature and turned her into an overnight success, spawning a follow-up sitcom and a cemented spot among Hollywood's elite writers.
Jim Uhls is not your average screenwriter. For one thing, his nickname is "Professor Peculiar". For another, as this exclusive off-kilter discussion of his craft demonstrates, Uhls is eager to break the first rule of Fight Club: He talks about Fight Club. A lot. That seminal film pushed every boundary possible for a studio movie, and Uhls' darkly funny script is a wickedly subversive example of how to successfully adapt an "unadaptable" book.
"A great thinker on the craft--"
Simon Kinberg recently burst onto the scene with his script for xXx: State of the Union, and has since worked on comic-to-film adaptations for Elektra and Fantastic Four and penned the third film in the X-Men series, X-Men: The Last Stand. Kinberg's breakthrough hit, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, began as a script that he wrote in college and became one of the top grossing movies of 2005.
Susannah Grant received an Oscar nomination for her screenplay for Erin Brockovich, an inspirational story based on the life of a working-class heroine. After her nomination, she went on to adapt In Her Shoes and Charlotte's Web, as well as write and direct Catch and Release. Here, Grant goes into the midwife vs. mother role of novel adaptations, the importance of finding your voice, and why sometimes you just have to be able to really, really suck.
Callie Khouri's seminal, Oscar-winning screenplay for Thelma & Louise, released in 1991, gave voice to a profound cultural moment and became one of the most provocative cinematic landmarks of the '90s. It was the Kentucky native's first attempt at a screenplay. In this enlightening interview, Khouri describes how spending years doing music-video production in the '80s inspired her not only to write, but to write with a purpose.
Sheldon Turner is the prototype for the smart, brash, ambitious young screenwriter - but he's also got a law degree from NYU and has had his fiction published in the New Yorker. Turner recently broke through with his script for the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring Chris Rock and Adam Sandler, and he has half a dozen other scripts in development. He's got insane discipline, writes longhand, and boycotts email.
"Interview with a workhorse"
Australian screenwriter Stuart Beattie is credited with having written the role no one ever thought they'd see Tom Cruise play: Vincent, the riveting homicidal hit man in Beattie's original screenplay, Collateral, directed by Michael Mann (The Insider, Heat). After 15 years in the business, Beattie has learned a thing or two about how to make characters and plots sing (or sting) on the page.
The blockbuster comedy writing team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel has been making film and television audiences laugh for decades. In the early 70s, Ganz was writing for The Odd Couple while Mandel was receiving his first paychecks for work on M*A*S*H and Busting Loose. They both eventually landed on Happy Days, and when they followed actor-turned-director Ron Howard into feature films, the result was a frequent and fruitful creative partnership.
Peter and Bobby Farrelly have single-handedly - or rather, double-handedly - reinvented the comedy. Their films Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary, Shallow Hal and Me, and Myself & Irene, have combined shocking-but-hilarious gross-out humor with sweet love stories, becoming blockbuster hits in the process.