The guy who wrote The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and worked on Good Will Hunting and a million other awesome things,
William Goldman, a two time Academy Award winning scriptwriter,
dropped by my creative writing class today and did a Q & A. So, I gripe about going to Penn, because getting good grades is s**t difficult, but there are perks.
He's 82, and rather cynical! I thought I was depressing. But he's funny at the same time.
I'm trying to remember what he said, for posterity.
He likes to punctuate his sentences with "Alas." And he likes to start off by saying, "You kids probably don't know about this but..." Nazis. Wrestling. Etc.
He says nobody knows what they're doing. The mystery about writing, he says, is that no one knows what will be successful and what won't. And writing is a terrible job because you're just sat "in a room all day with your inadequacies." He says he doesn't like anything he writes because it's never good enough. The Princess Bride was the one book that he was okay with.
And Butch Cassidy was alright too. It took him 8 years to write, he said, and it changed his life. They paid him $500,000 for the screenplay or something, the most any script was ever bought for, so when the movie came out, all the critics gave it bad reviews. And it didn't make sense, because he was in New York, and the theater said all the shows for it were sold out and the audiences loved it.
The book he said that changed his life was Irwin Shaw's Mixed Company. Need to read it. He said it changed his life because it made him think, "s**t! I could do this too!"
He's only read the first Harry Potter book and seen the first Harry Potter movie. He likes Daniel Radcliffe.
He says everyone in Hollywood is in it for the money. That actors and actresses are terrible to work with. And he said,
"So I was walking with a producer down in L.A. when I saw coming down the street, Alfred Hitchcock. And the producer taps my arm and says, 'I have to cross the street so we don't have to say hello to Hitchcock.' Because everyone in Hollywood is afraid of failure, and at that time, Hitchcock's most recent movies had flopped. The producer didn't want to be seen as desperate enough to talk to Hitchcock."
Ughh so many things. I wish I could remember everything. I should've recorded it, but I didn't even know he'd be there. I was late for class too haha.
He says he never had any idea he would be a writer. He never showed any signs of talent. He never saw a script until he was thirty-three.
At 24 he didn't want to go into advertising, so he wrote a book, The Temple of Gold, and it got published. The agent said, double it. So he doubled it in length. And then he just kept working at it. He treated writing like a 9 to 5 job.
He doesn't write much anymore.
He used to make up stories for his daughters. The Princess Bride was written for them. In one of the stories he made up for them, he left them, Princess Jenny and Princess Boo, in a bubble of tears.
He's funny to talk to. He talks a lot like his stories. If you ask him a question, he will go on a long, looping tangent.
My professor says as we age, we do not change, we just become more. I wonder.