Harris Goldberg [Interview]

 

Folks, we are kicking the week off right with an interview subject who is an absolute legend in the world of film and television, especially (but not limited to) the genre of comedy. It’s Harris Goldberg, Everyone! Harris may be best known for penning the screenplays to modern classic comedies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Master of Disguise, and the semi-autobiographical comedy-drama, Numb. He also has a story credit alongside our old friend Mitch Rouse for his work on the hilarious buddy comedy we know and love known as Without A Paddle. He is a damn fine writer and filmmaker, who we are so honored to be able to steal some time from to tell us about his career thus far, and what the future holds for him.

So Folks, without any further babbling on my part, please find some wonderful words from the great Harris Goldberg!

 

What initially inspired you to get into the world of screenwriting? was it something you have had as a passion since your youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

My older brother was/is a very successful screenwriter/producer. I witnessed his journey to Los Angeles and two back to back hit movies at the time (Meatballs & Stripes). That inspired me to follow in his ‘quite large’ and daunting footsteps. I had also been doing some stand-up at a very early age.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? and were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work today?

My first paid gig came very fast. within weeks of being in L.A. It was a writing assignment for National Lampoon and producer Matty Simmons (who had produced Animal House & Vacation).  After I got the job, a more experienced writer friend in town said, “Don’t get too cocky. It’s not usually like this. The dips are so low you’ll need a shovel to dig yourself out.” I didn’t believe him. I thought he was just a bit bitter. Ten movies later, I realized exactly what he meant.

You made your feature film directorial debut in 2007 with the brilliant film Numb, which I heard was quite a cathartic experience for you on a personal level? Can you tell our readers a bit about the making of this film and how the story came to be?

Before Numb I was known as a broad comedy guy. I was branded in the Adam Sandler, SNL camps of comedy. the stress of L.A. was taking a toll. I was dealing with some profound anxiety, depression, etc… as a way to settle myself, I began to write a screenplay about the experience. Before I knew it, I was writing a screenplay – a screenplay I did not intend to show anyone really.  When I completed it, I was almost embarrassed to show it. I slipped it to a producer of note I had worked with before. He called back the next day and wanted to make it. Matthew Perry came on board in a big way and I was suddenly directing this very personal, autobiographical story.

 

 

While you have done so many amazing projects and I would like to ask about them all, but i feel like we would be going on forever. so, i would like to ask about just one more of your films that i truly loved as a kid, and that would be 2002’s The Master of Disguise. i have been a huge fan of dana carvey for as long as i can remember, so i may be biased. but, i am curious to know how this story was developed? what was it that made you want to create this very zany story?

Adam Sandler & Sony asked if I would write a  feature film for/with Dana. I was a fan of his as well. Same producers of Deuce Bigalow, which I had done in ’98 I think it was. I met Dana and we really hit it off. He could go into so many characters so quickly, I thought taking advantage of this skill could make an entertaining picture, as well as tap into his comfort zone for characterization. The first draft was a hilarious, R-rated comedy we were both pretty ecstatic about. The producer called us the next day with, “You have redefined comedy,” so he must have liked it. In any event, the studio executive in charge of the project hated it, wanted a PG version of the story to tap into the massive youth market. I assumed the project was dead. On a flight up to mill valley, where Dana lives, I came up with the idea of this Disguise Master, and a tamer storyline I thought would appeal to the studio executive. Dana slowly got on board and we wrote what is now the movie.

If you were handed an unlimited budget & free range to create the biopic of any famous figure in world history, who would it be?

Actor, Steve McQueen. I was very friendly with his wife of 15 years who told me incredible stories about this mercurial, charismatic icon. I’ve always been a McQueen fan. In particular, I thought I could really show who this man was and why he had such an impact.

What does the future hold for you? anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’m currently doing a Sci-Fi thriller for Miramax.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A dream last night where, for 24 hours, everyone in L.A. were honest, kind and not trying to rip your head off.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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