Monday, March 16, 2009


A nice profile of screenwriter Tony Gilroy in The New Yorker. Gilroy's credits include The Devil's Advocate, the Bourne movies, Michael Clayton, and the new thriller Duplicity. The article describes a writer who enjoys complex, character-driven stories with lots of twists and turns, and yet someone with the ability to step back and not overcomplicate the premise.

Here's a snippet:
Gilroy bounces between two ideas of what it is to be a screenwriter: technician and artist. On one level, he is a regular guy, a union man with a job to do, just like the cops and firemen whose kids he grew up with in Washingtonville. “I hate that Paddy Chayefsky idea of a script—that it is cut in granite,” he says. “Someone who directs a movie word for word—they’re an idiot.” And: “The most makeable screenplay idea is to write a hero part for a guy between thirty and fifty”—a pause for effect—“with a gun.” He has long worked as a script doctor, and he speaks of such projects bluntly. He says, “If I come in and, say, you’re going to give me the weekly”—he gets as much as two hundred and fifty thousand dollars—“I’m basically promising you that I’m going to be able to get it done. I have made a temple out of that.”

Now that he's a director, I'd say Gilroy is leaning much more to the side of a technician. His style suggests that the screenplay is just the means to an end.