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04/17/2003 - William Goldman at the Egyptian

Brian A. Wilson


One of the things I love about this crazy little town is the access one gets to the greats. Such was the case when William "Nobody Knows Anything" Goldman spoke at the Egyptian recently.

I could blather on and interpret what he said...but I won't. I'll let his words represent him, since that's how the guy makes his career. And I'll let his pearls of wisdom mean what they mean to you. I got a lot out of what he said; I hope you do, too.

According to William Goldman:

You want to be a writer because of these greats who thrilled you. Like Chekov.
Every morning I t go to my art and I'm met with my sense of failure. I'm not as good as the greatest.

Directing is a brutally hard job. Doesn't require a great deal of thought, but you have to get up early and work your ass off.

Every time I get a job in the movie biz, I think, "Wow, I escaped again."

I don't think it's a terrible thing to be insecure if you want to write for a living.

I never saw a screenplay until I was 33. Now some writers are done at 33.

As a child, I had a dentist who didn't believe in Novocain. When I got to the Nazi scene in Marathon Man, I thought, "shit, he's a dentist!" And I had all that.

To adapt a novel, I read the book six times.
I put a mark by each scene I like.
I go back one more time. If a scene has six marks, it's in. No marks, it's out.

Working on Maverick for Dick Donner. Went into a room, two studio executives were in the room. They said, "We feel the movie would be better if it were funnier and more exciting." I said, "Fuck you, I think it'd be better if it were funnier and more exciting, too. Tell me how to do that!"

I hate it when actors hype their movies, saying they wrote their lines. I want to say, "Show me your draft!"

I don't know what's going to happen in a day. Once I get to a point where I can get the toys over the mountain [as in "The Little Engine That Could], I can get started.

Keep writing.


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