Just back from the premiere of his new film "The Age of Adaline," screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe speaks in this in depth and exclusive interview about his journey to becoming a filmmaker, how movie fans are seeking out more stories about women and how he is hoping that "The Age of Adaline," will be one of them.
When J. Mills Goodloe was growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida he never dreamed of becoming a filmmaker. The idea for creating stories to eventually become movies came a lot later, "I didn't have the experience where I saw Star Wars and I knew it changed my life."
He graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with a degree in business and political science. It was by chance that a friend got him a job as the third assistant to one of the hottest directors in Hollywood - Richard Donner. Donner directed some of the biggest hits of the 1980's including the "Lethal Weapon" franchise of films.
Donner brought new people into the fold of his movie empire by first hiring them as assistants. He told Goodloe, "If you can produce my private life, then you can produce my movies."
But at first, Goodloe had to pay his dues. And boy did he! Donner had him help restore homes, build homes, restore cars and learn about some of the strangest things - such as the time he was given the task to fix the air conditioning unit in one the motorhomes used during the filming of the movie "Maverick." And keep in mind this was in the day before cell phone technology and the internet.
Goodloe rose in the ranks and as Donner got to know and trust Goodloe, the more he was given to do. Eventually he became a producer for Donner, "As a producer you are expected to solve problems, and he was always throwing curve balls at me. I learned to think on my feet and anticipate things that could happen, a lot of these lessons went on when producing his films. I became his first lieutenant and that went on for eight years. He trusted me because I understood him. I knew what he liked and what he wanted."
As Goodloe became more comfortable with producing he started to think about becoming a director, "I thought directing would be the greatest job. I saw Richard Donner's job and thought it that was what I wanted to do. And I thought the only way to really to become a director would be to start writing films.
"Wanting to make the transition from producing to directing led me towards writing. I adapted a book that I fell in love with, which led me to leaving Donner to write and direct the movie, "The Gentleman's Game."'
Goodloe has had his sights on creating a career like Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton") and Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential"), "My career is going really good right now and I really don't want to take a year off to direct a small, independent film and not be able to support my family. Eventually, I would like to transition to directing studio films."
"The Age of Adaline" is a film that Goodloe has been working on for a good amount of time. "It came about 11 to 12 years ago. I had a writing partner at the time and I really liked the film Amélie. It has a little bit of magical realism. but not too much. It had a really interesting character and I was influenced by that.
"The first initial script wasn't as good as it should have been and then my writing partner and I stopped working together in 2004. The project never went anywhere until 2009. I was then hired as a solo writer to go back and rewrite it and I made some significant changes to it."
The movie features the story of a young woman that after an accident no longer ages. As life progresses she remains the age of 29. Many women dream of remaining 29, but would it really that wonderful? This is what "The Age of Adaline" explores.
"Many different actresses got attached to the project including Katherine Heigl, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley. Fortunately, looking back, none of them came to fruition. As it is now is the best version it could ever be. I would not change anything at all."
Goodloe is very happy that his script was shot almost entirely as written, "I was very lucky as the film was shot about 95% the way I wrote it. Quite shockingly they kept quite faithful to it. Unless I write and direct myself, I don't know if I will ever have an experience like this again. The producers also kept their passion for the project throughout all the versions as well, which is rare in Hollywood today."
Even Goodloe is an in awe of the film he help to create, "It is beautifully shot, edited and acted. It feels very rich and is a little bit old fashion. It's a beautiful film."
With more women at the center of film, it is a time that filmmakers are taking advantage of and the perfect time for a film like "The Age of Adaline," "It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend. Blake Lively as Adaline is in every frame of the picture. Five to seven years ago it would have been much more difficult to get this film made. So many women are the front and center in film right now, such as Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley.
But Goodloe knows his film is a bit different than the current faire, "This isn't an YA film or a comedy. We will have to see if audiences have an appetite for it."
What is next for this creative filmmaker? He is hopeful to begin work on a film called "Christian the Lion," which is a real story about two Australian men that bought a lion cub at Harrod's department store in London, and their struggled to give this lion his freedom. Their story was featured in a Youtube video that went viral about five years ago.
Thankfully for us moviegoers, J. Mills Goodloe has many stories in his mind that he is ready to tell, and one of those stories is of a young assistant and the mentor that made everything seem possible.