The first way I met him was through his movies, the same way as all of us, growing up watching Marathon Man and All the President’s Men. My first experience as a writer was on Madame Sousatzka for John Schlesinger, who had directed Marathon Man, and I remember quizzing him all about Bill Goldman, and him saying how lovely he was.
By that point I had read Adventures in the Screen Trade. It was utterly riveting and I don’t know if it’s ever been equalled: both a guide to how to write and a guide to how to navigate the experience of being a professional in the industry. Even though he existed at the most exalted level, it never felt like that. It felt democratic and egalitarian in the way he wrote. Before his book, people never really gave thought to screenwriters, their craft, or their place in the ecosystem of movie-making. Bill not only shone a light on that and inspired a whole new generation of writers, but also made movie-making and showbusiness understandable to a vast general audience.
Frost/Nixon - Movie - Ron - Howard - Bill
In 2006, I was writing Frost/Nixon as a movie, and Ron Howard asked me if I was happy to meet Bill for lunch. And I said: “Wow! Of course. Are you kidding?” He turned out to be tall and well-mannered and elegant in his deportment, with an aristocratic bearing. He felt far too well-mannered for someone from the movie industry.
He told me he’d been commissioned to write a book that was to be a forensic and intricate account of three very different types of film; you would get a fantastic snapshot of the film industry at the time. Frost/Nixon was one of those films.
Course - Ron - Howard - Frank - Langella
I agreed of course, and Ron Howard agreed, and Frank Langella agreed. And so we had a number of...
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