Paul Haggis spent two decades in the trenches writing for sit-coms like Diff’rent Strokes, One Day at a Time, Who’s the Boss, and Facts of Life and TV dramas such as LA Law, thirtysomething, and Walker Texas Ranger.
But ten years ago, Haggis broke out big as a film writer, with back-to-back Best Original Screenplay Oscars for Million Dollar Baby and Crash (which he also directed).
Since then, he’s written more scripts for Clint Eastwood (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima) and the rebooted James Bond franchise (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) as well as written and directed In the Valley of Elah and The Next Three Days.
Haggis’ latest film, Third Person, returns to the multiple plot-line structure of the Oscar-winning Crash, with three seemingly separate stories unfolding in three cities:
- In Paris, an author (Liam Neeson) tries to write while juggling the emotional needs (and tragedies) of his ex-wife (Kim Basinger) and current lover (Olivia Wilde).
- In Rome, a shady businessman (Adrien Brody) is drawn to a gypsy woman (Moran Atias) and her dark (and sometimes darkly comic) quest to ransom her daughter back from a crime lord.
- And in New York, a once-popular actress (Mila Kunis) struggles to find even menial employment and regain custody of her son from his artist father James Franco.
I spoke with Haggis a few weeks ago in Chicago about writing about the writing process in Third Person; his own approaches as a writer and director; and writing about broken, “impossible” people struggling with love, forgiveness, and redemption.
Third Person opens today at select theaters. Read more »