I just listened to an NPR interview with Tony Kushner talking about how he wrote the screenplay for Lincoln. Finally I have a little more insight into Shelley’s favorite screenwriter/playwright!
To start, I don’t often think about how screenwriters have to keep in mind someone who will play the parts that they’re writing. Tony talks about this and how he played a role in selecting the man who played the main character. With screenplays, suddenly words on paper become spoken and there is the real possibility that how your writing sounds in your head may not be how it literally plays out on stage/on film. Tony’s role in selecting the actor was probably crucial to the success of the film.
Because Lincoln is a historical film on the President Lincoln’s final moments in office, Tony had to consult a lot of sources to gain historical background. Tony also talks about how he had to check every single word he used to make sure that they weren’t too modern. This type of writing seems so tedious – it would take so much time and precision to make sure every word is from the right time period!
Another interesting point from the interview is when Tony actually discusses “how he writes”. He admits that he is probably one of the last to use pens and notebooks to begin writing. He specifies that he only uses fountain pens because he likes the expressiveness of them (i.e. “if you’re angry, the pen’s lines will be dark and thick; if you’re tentative, the pen’s lines will be light and thin”) and the ability to leave a paper trail in case he wants to go back and use something that he’s written during the drafting process. I can totally relate to this. I love to draft my writing with pen and paper and keep all of my notes. Even if I do type the beginning of my writing process, I save multiple documents with all of my notes so that nothing gets deleted!
Having not had much exposure to the writing process of screenwriters, this interview was very interesting. I’d recommend listening!