“There is a brilliant writer called Hugo Hiriart and he oversaw the eight of us in this program (the National Institute of Fine Arts in Spain). I wrote a novel and he took it and said, ‘Who the hell told you that you were a writer? This is shit?’ He threw the manuscript into the air and the pages went flying everywhere. ‘This is the worst thing I have ever read in my life,’ he said. In order not to kill him, I made myself count to ten, and then I had to count again. Then someone else in my group said, ‘Yeah, it’s a very lousy novel.’ I said, ‘Shut up or I’ll beat you.’ So I picked up my novel and said to Hugo, ‘You don’t have a fucking idea what literature is about! ‘[laughs] Years later I asked him, ‘Why did you do that?’ And he said, ‘Because I wanted to see if you had the guts to be a writer. If you can’t stand rejection it means that you don’t have the personality to be a writer.”
That novel thrown in the air was published four years later and he went on to write the screenplays Amores Perros, The Three Burials of Meiquiades Estrada, and 21 Grams. In 2007 his script for Babel was nominated for an Oscar.
Interview with Kevin Conroy Scott