Goldsman, Akiva 1962–
Goldsman, Akiva 1962–
PERSONAL: Born July 7, 1962 in Brooklyn, NY; son of child psychologists. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A., 1983; New York University, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, 7th Floor, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Screenwriter and producer. Formerly worked with autistic and schizophrenic children. Producer of films, including Lost in Space, New Line Cinema, 1998; Deep Blue Sea, Warner Bros., 1999; Starsky & Hutch, Warner Bros., 2004; Mindhunters, Dimension Films, 2004; Constantine, Warner Bros., 2005; and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, New Regency Pictures, 2005.
AWARDS, HONORS: Golden Globe Award for best screenplay, Writers Guild of America award for best adapted screenplay, Scripter Award for best film adaptation of a book or story, Friends of the USC Libraries, and Academy Award for best adapted screenplay, all 2002, all for A Beautiful Mind.
Silent Fall, Warner Bros., 1994.
The Client (adapted from the novel by John Grisham), New Regency Productions, 1994.
(With Lee Batchler and Janet Scott) Batman Forever (adapted from the comic book), Warner Bros., 1995.
A Time to Kill (adapted from the novel by Grisham), Warner Bros., 1996.
Batman and Robin (adapted from the comic book), Warner Bros., 1997.
(Also producer) Lost in Space (adapted from the television series), New Line Cinema, 1998.
(With Robin Swicord and Adam Brooks) Practical Magic (adapted from the novel by Alice Hoffman), Warner Bros., 1998.
A Beautiful Mind (based on the biography by Sylvia Nasar), Universal Pictures, 2001.
(With Jeff Vintar) I, Robot (based on the novel by Isaac Asimov), 20th Century Fox, 2004.
(With Cliff Hollingsworth) Cinderella Man, Miramax, 2005.
The Da Vinci Code (based on the novel by Dan Brown), Columbia Pictures, 2006.
Poseidon, Warner Bros., 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Akiva Goldsman became a screenwriter following an initial career working with severely troubled or autistic children. The son of two well-known child psychologists, Goldsman decided to do graduate work in creative writing in New York University's prestigious program. His first produced screenplay was Silent Fall, appearing in 1994 and directed by the Australian emigré Bruce Beresford. The screenplay deals with an autistic boy who witnesses the murder of his parents. Richard Dreyfuss plays a child psychologist enlisted to help the sheriff's investigation by breaking through the boy's wall of silence.
This project was followed in the same year by the very successful The Client, based on the bestseller by John Grisham. Susan Sarandon plays lawyer Reggie Love, a character who finds herself protecting a boy (the title character) who is in danger after learning the truth behind the murder of a U.S. senator. Brad Renfro, in a much-noticed performance, plays the boy. Several reviewers asserted that the relationship between these two characters was at the center of the movie, and that it worked, despite a lack of high suspense. Sarandon was nominated for an Oscar Award for her performance.
The Client was the first of four feature films on which Goldsman collaborated with director Joel Schumacher, and all four were major summer movies, appearing in successive years. This creative duo's entry for 1995 was Batman Forever, a movie about another famous duo, Batman and Robin. Val Kilmer plays the Caped Crusader and Chris O'Donnell is his young partner; Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, and Jim Carrey fill out the colorful cast. Schumacher's approach to Batman was noticeably less dark than his predecessor Tim Burton's approach, according to critics. A tvgen reviewer called the new packaging "irresistible" and assessed the movie as "brainless fun." Cosmopolitan reviewer Guy Flatley, in a similar vein, applauded the film as a "gleefully grotesque lark" and "a whizzing, screeching, exploding bundle of sound and fury" whose "boyish" quality was true to its comic-book origins.
Goldsman and Schumacher returned to the Batman saga in 1997 with Batman and Robin, in which O'Donnell reappears as Robin, this time with television idol George Clooney as Batman. They are supported by such stars as Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Newsweek reviewer David Ansen observed that the tone of the series had completely absorbed the "boom-kaboom videogame esthetic" Eddie Cockrell, writing on the Nitrate Online Review Web site, commented that the script "distills word balloon bon mots to their essential form." Roger Ebert, reviewing the film for the Chicago Sun-Times, commented that this installment of the Batman series "is irresistibly creeping toward the tone of the 1960s TV show."
Between their two Batman ventures, Goldsman and Schumacher paired for a second film based on a Grisham novel: A Time to Kill, based on the lawyer-novelist's first bestseller. Here, Matthew McConaughey, in a star-making role, plays a young Southern defense lawyer working on behalf of a black man (Samuel L. Jackson) who has killed the racist men who have violently raped his young daughter. Time reviewer Richard Schickel found this "a likable—maybe even lovable—movie" for its evocation of 1960s liberalism, The defense lawyer's closing argument, "Goldsman's most visible addition to the book," would "tear your heart out." Flatley, in another Cosmopolitan review, was not as enthusiastic, finding that the film's array of entertaining elements would "make you feel manipulated, but not sorry you dropped by." Entertainment Weekly reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum found the screen adaptation "more cautious, prettied up, and time warped than the original." Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, recommended the movie: "I was moved by McConaughey's speech to the jury, and even more moved by an earlier speech by Jackson to McConaughey." He added: "I cared about the characters."
Goldsman's next Hollywood venture was Lost in Space, a 1998 summer blockbuster for which he served as both writer and producer. The movie is based on the 1960s television series, which in turn was loosely based on the children's novel The Swiss Family Robinson. In the movie, William Hurt plays the father of the Robinson family and Mimi Rogers is his wife. Goldsman, in an interview with Bridget Byrne of Boxoffice Online, expressed the hope that this movie version of a popular old series would be "edgy and real. Not fantasy, not silly sci-fi stuff." Goldsman, regretting the lost romance of the early space program, told Byrne he hoped to develop the "psychological underpinnings and real conflict" in this tale of a decent, loving family hurled into horrifying adventures.
Goldsman's more recent film projects include A Beautiful Mind, adapted from Sylvia Nasar's biography of the same title. The film features Russell Crowe as genius mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr. The real Nash possessed a powerful mathematical intellect, and while a young man doing graduate study at Princeton University devised a revolutionary theory that later earned him a Nobel Prize in economics. Nash, however, also suffered from schizophrenia. The film explores his early life and accomplishments, his gradual slide into debilitating mental illness, and Nash's triumphant, iron-willed ascent (with the assistance of his loyal wife) to become a functioning adult again. Goldsman and director Ron Howard "have produced a polished and carefully crafted piece of Hollywood glitter that seems intent on celebrating (to borrow from Faulkner) humanity's ability 'not merely to endure, but to prevail,'" commented John Petrakis in the Christian Century. George F. Will, writing in Newsweek, described the film as "a breathtaking movie about a beautiful mystery." Reviewer Shirley Sealy, writing in Film Journal International, stated that "screenwriter Goldsman has done a masterful job of letting us experience Nash's delusions while, like Nash himself, not knowing they're delusions." For his scriptwriting efforts, Goldsman won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. For Goldsman, the Oscar nomination was "the culmination of an intensely personal journey" that began in his childhood in the 1950s when his parents founded one of the country's first group homes for childhood schizophrenics, noted Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. Goldsman went on to explain: "I've probably been writing this story my whole life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Chicago Sun-Times, July 20, 1994, Roger Ebert, review of The Client; October 28, 1994, Roger Ebert, review of Silent Fall; June 16, 1995, Roger Ebert, review of Batman Forever.
Christian Century, February 13, 2002, John Petrakis, "Troubled Mind," review of A Beautiful Mind, p. 45.
Cosmopolitan, August, 1995, Guy Flatley, review of Batman Forever, p. 32; September, 1996, Guy Flatley, review of A Time to Kill, p. 36.
Entertainment Weekly, August 2, 1996, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of A Time to Kill, p. 40; January 10, 1997, Ty Burr, review of A Time to Kill, p. 64.
Film Journal International, January, 2002, Shirley Sealy, review of A Beautiful Mind, p. 35.
Hollywood Reporter, March 18, 2002, Borys Kit, "Scripters Honor Writers behind Beautiful Mind, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2001, Kenneth Turan, review of A Beautiful Mind, p. F1; February 13, 2002, Patrick Goldstein, "The 74th Annual Academy Awards; The Big Picture: Beautiful Mind Script Was a Torturous Journey for Its Screenwriter," profile of Akiva Goldsman, p. F1; March 10, 2002, Bettijane Levine, "A Beautiful Journey to Professional Nirvana," profile of Akiva Goldsman, p. E1; March 24, 2002, review of A Beautiful Mind, p. 2.
New Republic, January 28, 2002, Stanley Kauffman, "On Films—A Couple of Geniuses," review of A Beautiful Mind, p. 22; June 27, 2005, Stanley Kauffman, "On Films—Fights and Rights," review of Cinderella Man, p. 22.
Newsweek, June 30, 1997, David Ansen, review of Batman and Robin, p. 77; January 14, 2002, George F. Will, "John Nash's Renunciation: A Beautiful Mind—the Book and the Movie—Will Increase Empathy for the Mentally Ill," p. 68.
New York Times, December 21, 2001, A.O. Scott, "From Math to Madness, and Back," review of A Beautiful Mind, p. E1; March 21, 2002, A.O. Scott, "A 'Mind' Is a Hazardous Thing to Distort: When Films Juggle the Facts," review of A Beautiful Mind, p. E1.
Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), April 5, 1998, Bill Thompson, review of Lost in Space.
Time, July 29, 1996, Richard Schickel, review of A Time to Kill, p. 76.
About.com, http://movies.about.com/ (January 9, 2006), interview with Akiva Goldsman.
Boxoffice Online, http://www.boxoff.com/ (April 29, 1998), review of Lost in Space.
CNN Showbiz News, http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/ (June 16, 1995), "Bad Guys Win in Batman Forever."
IGN Filmforce Web site, http://filmforce.ign.com/ (October 31, 2000), "The Stax Report: Script Review of A Beautiful Mind."
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (February 6, 2006), biography of Akiva Goldsman.
Nitrate Online Review, http://www.nitrateonline.com/ (June 10, 1997), Eddie Cockrell, review of Batman & Robin.
tvgen, http://www.tvgen.com/ (April 29, 1998), review of Silent Fall.