Talented actors and actresses can bring stories to life, giving a face and voice to characters. As they are featured most prominently in television and film productions, they garner the majority of the attention and praise. However, without the hard work of brilliant writers, there would be no story or character to embody. Writers are perhaps the single most overlooked aspect of film and television. They provide a fundamentally important contribution to these productions but rarely receive recognition.
One writer who has received a fair share of attention for his work is Akiva Goldsman. He has worked on several massive productions featuring some of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars. His credits include A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend, and Fringe. Most recently, he has worked on Dark Tower, which is set for release in early 2017.
However, as his role does not include screen time, he is not a household name. Therefore, while some may recognize him as an Oscar-winning writer, most people do not know a great deal about him. Here are ten of the most interesting and lesser-known facts about Akiva Goldsman.
10. He realized he wanted to be a writer as a child
While child actors often succumb to the pressures of fame and fortune, these burdens do not befall writers. Therefore, while child stars rarely see continued success into adulthood, individuals who begin writing as children can steadily improve if they are committed.
Goldsman is one such writer. His passion for writing began at the age of 10, when he first developed the desire to see his name on the cover of his own book. This desire grew from both his natural ability and his desire to escape from the trials of his environment at the time.
9. He has formal training
Although certainly an incredible natural talent, Goldsman has also dedicated a great deal of time and effort into perfecting his craft. After graduating from high school, he received a BA from Wesleyan University. However, one of the most important stages in his career was when he earned a Masters in Creative Writing from New York University.
8. His work has not always been celebrated
Goldsman is clearly an outstanding writer, having won an Oscar for his work on A Beautiful Mind. However, some of his work has not garnered the same acclaim.
For his work on A Time to Kill and Batman and Robin, Goldsman was actually nominated for a Golden Raspberry. Even the critical reaction to his collaboration with Ron Howard in The Da Vinci Code was mixed. Knowing that even esteemed writers like Goldsman have struggled in their careers can provide a great deal of confidence for other struggling artists.
7. He has experienced personal loss
While a life spent working in Hollywood alongside famous and brilliant actors like Will Smith may sound glamorous, Goldsman’s life has not been without its tribulations. Perhaps most notably, he unfortunately lost his wife in 2010. Rebecca Spikings-Goldsman was a producer who sadly passed away far too early because of a heart attack. As inspiring as it may be for Goldsman to continue writing despite some negative reviews of his work, it is even more inspiring when one considers the personal losses he has experienced.
6. His religion has affected his career
Goldsman was raised in a Jewish household, and his religion has had more of an impact on his career than some might assume. For instance, his screenplay for A Beautiful Mind drew a great deal of criticism from the Jewish community. This is because it did not include John Nash’s anti-Semitic comments. Goldsman chose not to feature these remarks because he believed them to be a product of the mathematician’s mental illness.
However, it was not merely the Jewish community that has expressed their displeasure with Goldsman’s work. Christian viewers of The Da Vinci Code felt that the film attacked their beliefs, which caused some stress for the Jewish staff on the production.
5. Akiva Goldsman Net Worth
Although he may not enjoy the fame and recognition of Hollywood stars, Goldsman has been compensated quite handsomely for his work. His long and storied career as one of the most talented writers in the industry has garnered him considerable wealth. The latest estimations have his net worth at approximately $30 million. While many consider the stars of television and movies to be overpaid, the genius of Goldsman’s work is certainly deserving of this kind of compensation.
4. He is more than just a writer
Goldsman’s greatest accomplishments have come from his writing, and this is what has earned him the majority of his wealth. However, his career in film and television is far more diverse. In addition to writing, he is also a successful producer and director.
His first taste of directing came when he took the helm of the Fringe episode “Bad Dreams.” He also wrote this episode. The first feature film that he directed was Winter’s Tale.
3. Grew up in a group home for mentally ill children
Successful writers are able to speak directly to the emotions of viewers through complex and well-rounded characters. Goldsman is a fine example of this, as his writing often features characters who are suffering or outcasts in some way.
His upbringing is largely responsible for this unique perspective on the human experience. His parents were child psychologists who operated a home for mentally ill children in their home. This meant that often, these children received more parental attention than he did, and also gave him an access point into the lives of damaged and suffering individuals.
2. He initially wanted to produce A Beautiful Mind
Naturally, his Oscar-winning screenplay is seen as his greatest accomplishment. What most people do not realize, however, is that Goldsman did not originally intend to be the writer for the film. However, he could not secure the rights to produce the movie. This left Goldsman begging to write the screenplay.
Even when he did get the job, it was incredibly difficult. He labored over the plot outline for almost an entire year, nearly being fired in the process. Clearly, everything worked out in the end, as the final result was a beautiful and moving picture.
1. He did not have a successful start as a writer
One would imagine that an Oscar-winning writer would have had no problem standing out from the crowd as a young writer. However, not only did Goldsman have trouble being recognized for his talents, he consistently failed as a writer.
As a teen, he submitted stories to magazines like the New Yorker but was rejected. Further, his university professors told him to give up on this career because they felt he did not have the talent. Knowing how he struggled in his early writing makes it even more impressive that he won perhaps the most prestigious prize available for screenplay writers.