“Remember that the word star spelled backwards is rats.”
I’m sure Joe Eszterhas was sitting home in Chagrin Fall, Ohio last Friday when he came across my blog post Screenwriting Rock Star, and then he thought to himself, “Really?” (Okay, he probably didn’t, but if he had of read it that’s what he would have said.)
So when it comes to screenwriting rock stars I should give the man his due. Eszterhas has not only written films that have brought in over a billion dollars at the box office—and personally had a few multimillion dollar paydays from his scripts, but for several years in the 70s he was a senior editor of Rolling Stone magazine, used to live in Hawaii and Malibu, and once dated actress Sharon Stone. (Well I don’t know if you could really call it dating, but according to Eszterhas’ book Hollywood Animal it involved sex, champagne and cocaine.)
Perhaps Joe Eszterhas is the orignal screenwriting rock star.
And even though he’s 67-years-old now and has stopped chasing women, has been married to the same woman for 20 years, stopped drinking and smoking, and lives (and even goes to church) in small town Ohio— he’s still enough of a screenwriting rock star rebel to go to war recently with Mel Gibson. (See the June 9, 2012 L.A. Times article by Patrick Goldstein, Pulp non Fiction: Joe Eszterhas tells all about Mel Gibson.) His Kindle book Heaven and Mel is currently #9 on the Amazon Best Sellers list.
But if you read Eszterhas’ books you get the feeling he doesn’t admire too many people in Hollywood. Though he does have at least one other screenwriter he looks up to:
“All Hail Billy Bob Thornton! A hard-nosed screenwriter (Sling Blade) who went to the wall with several studios that wanted to change his scripts, he even jumped atop a studio head’s desk once…Billy Bob is the realization of all our dreams: He became a movie star; he became a rock and roll star; he married Angelina Jolie.”
The Devils Guide to Hollywood
Billy Bob Thorton even won an Oscar for his Sling Blade screenplay, but his marriage to Angelina didn’t last as long as Arthur Miller’s five-year marriage to Marilyn Monroe.
It would appear being a screenwriting rock star is not an easy gig, and perhaps one you shouldn’t aspire to be.
P.S. Smoking is bad for you. Joe says so, and has a cancer-ravaged voice to prove it.