Crime fiction writer Elmore Leonard spoke to Terry Gross in 1999 about films Jackie Brown and Get Shorty based on two of his novels. Leonard passed away this week at the age of 87.
One of our favorite moments of the interview was when he explained why he doesn’t like actors improvising lines:
I was on the set [of Jackie Brown] when they were shooting that scene and they started to improvise and Quentin said, “No, stay with the lines as they’re written. You can improvise later.” And he made sure that the character stayed with his dialogue, then he would let them try things. It was the same thing with Barry Sonnenfeld in “Get Shorty.” The actors had to stay with the words as written. Because what happens is, when actors begin to make up their own lines, they’re usually lines that you thought of and discarded as being trite, or too obvious. It’s funny, in story meetings the studio executive will come up with what he thinks is a great idea, he doesn’t realize in writing a book over a period of 6 or 7 months that you’ve thought of all these ideas and discarded them, and you’ve come up with what you believe is the best idea to make the story work.
image via Harper Collins