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Tony Gilroy’s Top 10 Tips On How To Write A Hollywood Blockbuster

By | Friday October 4, 2013 @ 8:02pm PDT

An American screenwriter in London, the Bourne franchise scribe was taking part in the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series when he unveiled these lessons for success. Among the things Tony Gilroy says aspiring writers need to do, according to BBC News: “Make stuff up, but keep it real,” “Learn to write anywhere, anytime” and “Don’t live in Los Angeles”. Here’s the full list, along with his Gilroy’s comments:

Related: Mike Fleming’s Q&A With Tony Gilroy

1. Go to the movies
I don’t think there is anything you can learn from courses or books. You have been watching movies since you were born. You have filled your life with narrative… and food. It’s already way down deep inside you.
Going to the movies, having something to say, having an imagination and the ambition to do it is really all that is required. You can learn how to do anything.

2. Make stuff up but keep it real
This is imaginative work – screenwriters make things up. Everything I have in my life is a result of making things up. There is one thing that you have to know that is a deal-breaker – human behaviour.
The quality of your writing will be directly related to your understanding of human behaviour. You need to become a journalist for the movie that is in your head. You need to report on it; every scene has to be real.

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Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy Team With Gaumont For 20th Century Paris Drama Series

By | Wednesday September 25, 2013 @ 8:12am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Gaumont International Television, the U.S.-based TV production arm of French film studio Gaumont, is paying homage to its roots with a new drama project from feature duo Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy. Monsieur De Paris, which marks Oscar-nominated fillmmaker Tony Gilroy’s first foray into television, will be shopped at the upcoming MIPCOM TV market. Created and written by the Gilroy brothers and to be directed by Tony Gilroy, Monsieur De Paris is set in the world of Paris 1931. It tells the story of the official executioner of France, keeper of the guillotine and caretaker of a medieval ritual transposed into a modern world. Born into a profession passed down through six generations, he has ceased attempting to run from his chosen calling but still refuses to let it define him. He is a man who lives two lives — husband and family man, and sanctioned killer of the republic. “We’ve waited a long time to find the right moment, the right idea, and the right place to have a long-form adventure,” said Tony Gilroy. “Everyone knows the most imaginative, electric storytelling is happening on the second screen these days and we’re terribly excited about being part of it.” Tony Gilroy has co-written all installments in the Bourne film series and directed The Bourne Legacy, which … Read More »

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Mike Fleming’s Q&A With ‘Bourne Legacy’ Helmer Tony Gilroy

By | Monday August 6, 2012 @ 2:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Bourne Identity is the rare tent pole trilogy. It generated three films that set the high bar for the espionage genre, despite rampant creative clashes that go back to the first film, which was started by Doug Liman (who didn’t return). Key to the construction of Bourne’s complex mythology all along has been Tony Gilroy, who stripped away most of Robert Ludlum dense original book and boiled it down to an amnesiac assassin’s challenge to rediscover his identity and humanity. While that narrative arc propelled the film through three installments, Gilroy along the way stopped talking to director Paul Greengrass. And while Gilroy has screen credit on all three Bourne films, Matt Damon very uncharacteristically went out of his way to diss Gilroy’s script for The Bourne Ultimatum. At present, neither Greengrass nor Damon want anything more to do with Bourne.

This week, Gilroy returns as writer/director of the spinoff The Bourne Legacy. Focusing on an illicit CIA Treadstone offshoot that genetically enhances the killing skills of a small group of operatives, Gilroy introduces Jeremy Renner as new protagonist Aaron Cross. That character’s arc is woven into several plot lines from the last movie, something that expands Bourne’s universe to the point where another Bourne film could certainly be possible. In a wide ranging interview, Gilroy talks about that challenge, why the mid-budget thriller game that built his career is facing extinction, why screenwriters are so slighted, and how all Hollywood processes the Aurora, Colorado massacre, wondering if movies should be less violent.

DEADLINE: The Bourne Ultimatum ended with Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass bowing out, and then Damon disparaged your Bourne Ultimatum script. And here you’ve come back with a spinoff film that expands the universe and makes a Jason Bourne return more plausible. Given all the past acrimony, what drew you back?

GILROY: I didn’t feel that acrimony. I turned in a draft of Ultimatum and it got green lit, and then I went off and directed Michael Clayton. I was really out of it. But the last thing I ever thought I would do would come back and write one, much less ever direct it. It was just so not on my radar at all. When all that other stuff happened, I read about it, probably through you. Long after, the guys from the Ludlum estate came to New York and wanted to have a cup of coffee. My brother was working for them at the time; I didn’t want to be rude. It was pretty much a courtesy meeting. I went in and they expressed all their frustrations with how to go forward. It was like, what do they do? Where could they go? You can imagine all the wacky ideas that everybody had been banging around. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Bourne Legacy’

By | Wednesday February 8, 2012 @ 10:06am PST
Mike Fleming

Universal has just released its first trailer for The Bourne Legacy, the Tony Gilroy-directed spinoff of the studio’s blockbuster Bourne Identity series. This time, Jeremy Renner takes center stage as the protagonist. Coming off The Hurt Locker and Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol, Renner’s growing into action hero mode. Will the film measure up to the original trilogy that starred Matt Damon? Well, Gilroy’s writing in boiling down Robert Ludlum’s novels into such compelling films was as much the backbone of the series as Damon’s performance as Jason Bourne, or the efforts of directors Paul Greengrass and Doug Liman. Here’s the trailer:

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Universal And Captivate Target Next Robert Ludlum Thriller: ‘The Janson Directive’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After getting the spinoff film The Bourne Legacy into production with Tony Gilroy directing his script and Jeremy Renner starring, Universal Pictures, Captivate Entertainment and Ludlum Entertainment are moving forward with another feature adaptation of a Robert Ludlum thriller novel. The studio has hired John Hlavin to script The Janson Directive, one of the last novels Ludlum wrote before he died in 2001. Ben Smith and Jeffrey Weiner are producing through Captivate, which has a first look Universal deal. The production company just signed with UTA.

Published a year after Ludlum’s death, The Janson Directive focuses on Paul Janson, an ex-Navy SEAL and former member of the covert government agency Consular Operations. In the book, he is haunted by memories of the Vietnam War and his mentor and commanding officer, whose sadistic side prompted him to turn Janson over to the enemy to be tortured. Janson escaped and provided the evidence of war crimes that caused his CO’s execution. Years later, Janson is a corporate security consultant who takes a job rescuing an important man, but when the job goes awry, Janson is targeted for a “beyond salvage” termination order. He has no choice but to follow the clues that lead him to a massive scandal. Read More »

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Jeremy Renner Masterminds ‘King Of Heists’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Renner, who received an Oscar nomination for the Ben Affleck-directed heist film The Town, is back in bank robbery mode. Renner is attached to star in King of Heists, an adaptation of the J. North Conway nonfiction book from Lion Press about one of the greatest bank robberies in American history. He’ll play George Leslie, who came to New York appearing to be a mannered gent, but secretly put together a crew and masterminded a heist of nearly $3 million in cash and securities from the Manhattan Savings Institution in 1878. Renner and his The Combine partner Don Handfield will produce with Black Bear Pictures’ Teddy Schwarzman. Black Bear Pictures optioned the book and plans to finance development and production.

Will Staples will write the script. Staples most recently sold the science fiction pitch Myth to Fox with Sam Worthington attached and Lorenzo di Bonaventura and James Cameron producing. Staples, who until recently wrote with partner Sean O’Keefe, is teamed with him on an adaptation of the Lorenzo Carcaterra novel Apaches for Jerry Bruckheimer, the pitch World’s Most Wanted at Universal and Kings of the Trail at Walden Media with Gavin Hood attached to direct. Black Bear Pictures is in production on the untitled Ramin Bahrani-directed pic that stars Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, and begins filming A.C.O.D. with Adam Scott next spring. Read More »

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Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson Re-Upped Through 2014

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.

While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced  stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »

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Oscar Isaac Is ‘Bourne’ Again In Robert Ludlum Thriller Spinoff

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Not long ago, newcomer Oscar Isaac tested for Tony Gilroy and the lead role in Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and made such a strong impression that the director seriously considered giving the actor the lead role that went to Jeremy Renner. Well, Isaac has just landed the role of “Number 3,” another brainwashed assassin in the film, and it’s a major role in the movie that Gilroy will direct. Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton are also expected to star in The Bourne Identity spinoff. Isaac is about to wrap filming on Steel Town, the Walden Media drama that also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. He was most recently seen in Sucker Punch and stars in the Nic Refn-directed Drive opposite Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. He also stars in the Madonna-directed W.E., and stars in Ten Year with Channing Tatum, Anthony Mackie, Justin Long and Rosario Dawson. He’s repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment.

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Universal Chooses Jeremy Renner For ‘The Bourne Legacy’

By | Thursday April 21, 2011 @ 5:47pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The search is over. Universal Pictures has formally offered Jeremy Renner the lead role in the Tony Gilroy-directed The Bourne Legacy. Renner, who has been nominated for Oscars the past two years for his work in The Hurt Locker and The Town, is expected to sign on quickly to play a new character in the spinoff film that begins production in September. Like the Jason Bourne character played by Matt Damon in the first three The Bourne Identity thrillers, Renner will play an operative from a covert government program that is even more dangerous than the Treadstone brainwashing program that hatched Bourne.

Renner was one of the names rumored as the studio went through two cycles of tests over eight weeks to find the right guy. That decision was made today. Even though Renner plays an operative in the upcoming Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, the studio felt clearly that he was in a position similar to where Damon was when his career took off with Bourne. Renner is not a kid, but he is really hitting his stride and poised to become a big star after numerous strong performances.

The studio looked closely at a number of up and coming stars, and tested the likes of Joel Edgerton (The Thing), Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double), Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and Luke Evans (The Amateur American). Other names in the mix included Taylor Kitsch, Anthony Mackie and Oscar Isaac.

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Universal And Jeff Zucker Turn Daniel Silva Novels Into Spy Film Franchise

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While the focus at Universal Pictures is on who’ll play the lead in The Bourne Legacy for writer/director Tony Gilroy, the studio has plugged itself into another espionage novel franchise. And former NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker is at its center. Universal has acquired screen rights to the series of bestselling books by Daniel Silva that focus on Gabriel Allon. A Mossad agent who killed six of the terrorists that murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Allon is semi-retired and makes his living as an art restorer. But he still takes assignments as an Israeli spy. Silva last year moved the book franchise from Putnam to HarperCollins.

Zucker, who left his post in January and has so far been mum on his future plans, became involved as the film’s producer because he and Silva are close friends and the author wanted it that way. Silva will be executive producer and the studio will go out to writers immediately. Universal has been keen on the Silva series for several years. It almost made a deal in 2007 for a a movie adaptation of the 2006 novel The Messenger with Pierre Morel attached to direct, but that deal wasn’t consummated. Studio will get a writer before figuring out which book to focus on. Allon has been in 10 of Silva’s novels. The next, Portrait of a Spy, will be … Read More »

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‘Bourne Legacy’ Update: Who’ll Test?

Mike Fleming

The young male Role To Die For at the moment is the lead in The Bourne Legacy, the Bourne Identity spinoff film that will be directed for Universal by Tony Gilroy. The field is narrowing, and I’m told that the following are set so far to test: Joel Edgerton (The Thing), Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double), Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and Luke Evans (The Amateur American).

There could be another name or two (Logan Marshall-Green comes up as speculation), but that’s who’ll test first week of April. Now the choice could always come from an actor who doesn’t test. Among the established names in the mix has been Shia LaBeouf (will not test, per insiders) and Battleship‘s Taylor Kitsch (has met with Gilroy and is a possibility). I don’t think the studio feels this needs a big star. It’s hard to find a better branded movie, and while it’s not Matt Damon starring, Gilroy’s writing work has provided the spine for the original series. That gives this some franchise cred.

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Tony Gilroy Casts Net For ‘Bourne’ Spinoff

Mike Fleming

The hot role for young actors right now is the lead in The Bourne Identity spinoff that will start production this fall with Tony Gilroy directing his script for Universal. Here are the names I’ve heard have met with Gilroy or are  otherwise in the mix: Joel Edgerton, Josh Hartnett, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Paul Dano, Michael Pitt, Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Luke Evans, Alex Pettyfer, Taylor Kitsch, Benjamin Walker. Gilroy will pare the list quickly. Several of the actors might have availability issues. Stay tuned.

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EXCLUSIVE: Tony Gilroy Helming ‘Bourne 4′

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: This signals that the picture — tentatively titled The Bourne Legacy – is on a clear forward track. Though it doesn’t answer the question of whether Matt Damon will return to reprise his signature character of the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne. I’m told that Universal plans to make the film even if it has to replace Damon, who’d be crazy to give up his franchise character and a huge paycheck. So the studio is making a deal with Bourne franchiser scripter Tony Gilroy ( who helmed both Michael Clayton and Duplicity) to direct the 4th installment. Gilroy was hired to write the fourquel back in June. The picture will be produced by Frank Marshall, along with Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith of Captivate Entertainment. Bourne had originally been earmarked for 2012, but right now a clear timetable hasn’t been locked in. The picture is a giant priority for Universal, and Donna Langley and Peter Cramer have been working hard to make it happen. 

So what about Matt? Damon last indicated that he wouldn’t come back unless director Paul Greengrass helmed. Greengrass made the 2nd and 3rd installments, while Doug Liman directed the first. Greengrass exited the Bourne 4 in a huff when the studio began developing it while he and Damon were making Green Zone for the studio. Gilroy has scripted the first three pictures by deconstructing a dense Robert Ludlum spy thriller down to its essence of … Read More »

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