Exclusive: Screenwriter Eric Roth is Writing a Sci-fi Film for Warner Brothers!

     December 10, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

“Forrest Gump”

“The Insider”



“The Good Shepherd”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

These are some of the films that Eric Roth has written, and they’re some of the reasons why I’m a really big fan of his work.

So when I was offered the opportunity to speak with him for an exclusive interview late Sunday afternoon about his new movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I jumped at the chance. Also, I haven’t read too many interviews with Eric and I thought this might be one of my only chances to sit down with the great screenwriter.

Thankfully, the interview came out better than I could’ve hoped and sometime next week I’ll have the entire transcript online. If you’re a fan of Eric’s or you just want to hear how an A-list screenwriter works, I promise you it’s an interview not to be missed.

But…I did manage to get some news that’s not yet on the internet, and I figured you’d like to hear those highlights now.

The biggest thing that Eric told me was near the end of our interview. I asked if he’d ever want to do sci-fi and he gave me an answer I was not expecting, “The big project I’d like to do, I mean I think these other projects were big in some sense, but I’m going to do a big space…I don’t want to say odyssey…that’s been done, but a space movie for Warner Brothers and I want to start like in…I don’t know…sometime next year.”

Needless to say, I pressed for more info.

Collider: Is it based on original material?

Eric Roth: It’s an original idea I have, yeah.

Is it like an action film? Is it a drama?

Eric: No, I want it to be—and I don’t know 100%–but I mean this is such a wide range, but I think it’s somewhere between the intelligence of “2001” and the mythology of “Star Wars”, so I don’t know where that leads you. But I don’t want to make it so intellectual that it’s confounding, but on the other hand I’m not so sure I can write the kind of wonderful fantasy that Lucas does, so maybe it would have…I don’t know…I don’t know. I can’t answer that because they’re going let me just sort of say fade in and see where I go.

I will say, as a fan, I’m tremendously looking forward to this.

Eric: I think it will be great. I have an idea. It’s a terrific idea, I know that. Whether I’m able to be able to do it, I don’t know.

Well, if Warner Brothers is down with it…

Eric: Yeah, they’re down with it.

Of course this news alone made my day. But we also talked about a few of the other things he’s working on and he said he’s just finished a script for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, he’s going to work on a rewrite of a script he did for Brad Pitt and his production company called “Hatfield/McCoy’s” (it’s a western, in case the names didn’t clue you in), and he’s supposed to do a script for the book “Devil and the White City” – which is about the World’s Fair in 1880 and a guy who’s a serial killer.

While the sci-fi project is clearly the one I’m most interested in, a movie taking place at the World’s Fair in 1880 also sounds great.

Here’s part of the transcript where he talks future projects, again look for the entire conversation next week.

Collider: My other question is…what are you thinking about tackling in the future. Are you working on anything?

Eric Roth: I am. I just finished a script for a book that was a best-seller called “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. It was briefly a best-seller. It’s about a…it’s a complicated story but the simplicity of it is a little boy who’s 10 years old. He has Asperger’s affliction. His father died in 9/11 and it’s the boy kind of coming to grips with this but I think he’s one of the most amazing characters I’ve ever read. He has Asperger’s and he’s sort of a tough minded kid and confused about all sorts of things like he gets his sexuality off the Internet and it’s a pretty brazen kind of piece and the kid’s voice is like Holden Caulfield to me or something. And it’s a Scott Rudin project so I think it’s something that might see the light of day.

I was going to say is it moving forward?

Eric: Yeah, right now everybody’s very happy and I think we might have a director who’s going to do it. So we’ll see. And then I’m doing “Hatfield/McCoy’s”. I finished that. I’m doing a re-write. It’s for Brad and Brad’s company, which I think is pretty interesting. It’s a western of a kind.

I would love to see that.

Eric: Okay and me too. Then I was supposed to do a book called “Devil and the White City” which is a pretty interesting book about the World’s Fair in 1880 and a guy who’s a serial killer at the same time. It’s a true story; I mean it was a pretty amazing story.

I was going to say with the iconic films that you’ve done in the past, I would imagine there is a tremendous amount of demand for your time, so how do you pick the project that you want to spend…as you said you spent a year, a year and a half of your life on it. How do you, you know, decide this is what I want to do?

Eric: Well, I think you said it. In other words, how do I want to spend my time for the next year? And you feel it’s worth value to your time, in other words, what would be the end result? I’m also sometimes pragmatic to some extent about I don’t like to be foolish about what I’m going to do. I want things to get made because they don’t serve much purpose if it’s just an exercise for a year and a half of my life. I mean, I had a movie for instance that the strike kind of affected called “Shantaram” that Johnny Depp was going to do and it ended up that was the end of it. I spent like 2 years on it, so you know that’s a disappointment, you know? I don’t think it probably be done now, or maybe it could but it covers not the same storytelling but it’s about Bombay and a guy who lives in the slums so there’s some Slumdog Millionaire equivalence, I guess.

And while you’re waiting for my full interview to get posted, Peter over at Slashfilm has a nice scoop about another Eric Roth project that might have him working with Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese….

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