Novel & Screenwriter
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Princess Bride
Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting
Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade
The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway
Hype and Glory
William Goldman interview (1997)
William Goldman interview (2000)
The Writer Speaks: William Goldman
I've been very lucky in that I've only written movies I want to write, in other words when I got offered a special-effects movie, I know I couldn't do it. And you can only do what you can do. I think that sounds... but you know the other thing that I wrote that caught on out there is screenplays are structure. You're telling a story and you've gotta, basically you've got to believe in the story. That sounds really corny but you do. You can only write what you think you can make play. If you try and do something that you don't give a shit about, you're not going to get it made. And I was very lucky in that the movies that I wanted to do got made in there for a long period at least for the first 20 years of my career.
I don't like my writing. I shouldn't say that. I never have liked it, I don't like it. I've only liked two things I've ever written. I liked Butch Cassidy and I liked The Princess Bride. And the Princess Bride, I was going to California my kids were little and I said I'm going to be gone, I'll write you a story, what do you want it to be about? One of them said princesses, one of them said brides. Nice... and that'll be the title. Well I wrote a couple of pages in Los Angeles, then I came back and I had a lot of scenes. I had the fencing scene, I had a lot of stuff but I didn't know how to do it. And I remember walking around the city because I really wanted to write this for my children and I couldn't make it work, I couldn't figure it out. And I was going to never write it and then one day I got the notion that I didn't write it, it was written by this other figure named Morgenstern and all of a sudden that meant I could go from one good part to another to another and all of a sudden it opened up for me.
If that doesn't happen...
Marathon Man only exists because one day I was walking I think it's 47th Street, we're talking about 40 years ago the diamond district, and in those years it was filled with Jews who had concentration camp marks from under arms and stuff. And I remember walking on the street and thinking Jesus Christ what if one of the world's Most Wanted Nazis was walking on this street? Suddenly the rest of it happened.
But if I don't walk that Street, that day, or if it's winter and I can't see anybody's marks, I never write Marathon Man. If I hadn't thought of the fact that somebody else wrote Princess Bride, it never is written. It's all fluky, how it happens, god knows. But it's always for me a crapshoot. It's stuff... you know if I don't read that paper of there are two stranglers, I never write No Way to Treat a Lady, which is what got me in the movie business... I mean a lot of this stuff is...
It's just basically it's it's just what we started out with, screenplays are structure. The story I think is everything and you've got to really try and do stuff you think you can make play. It's hard you know, it just is. You've got to do your job and don't fuck it up and don't screw around and just do what you... Try and tell your story or whatever they want you to do as skillfully as you can and and hope. I dunno...