Ed Solomon – Writer on Bill and Ted! Men in Black! Now you See me!
Guys, this is amazing. Ed Solon, co-writer on the Bill and Ted movies, the writer of Men in Black stopped by and had an amazing conversation with us! You do NOT want to miss this one!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Good Co Music:
Ed Solomon – Interview
Casey: . [00:00:00] All right, everybody. Welcome again, to another episode of spoiler country today on the show, we have a big treat for you. We have the writer of bill and Ted face the music.
Oh, right. Co-writer sorry, sorry. I want to get into that because you’ve been co-writing with with this guy for, for quite a while, Chris Mattheson.
Ed Solomon: Yeah, we’ve written on and off together and apart, but I didn’t mean to cut off. You were just saying credits. Oh no,
Casey: no, it’s all gravy. The, the, now you see me franchise
Ed Solomon: co-writer of the first one and writer of the second one, which.
Casey: Yeah, men and black also co-written Nope, Nope, Nope. And super Mario brothers, which
Ed Solomon: hardly had anything to do with that. I worked for a few, no, seriously. I was seventh of nine writers on that one and I worked for, I did a two week rewrite and then I went down to set for two weeks. So, but I didn’t, I didn’t really, there’s not very much in my stuff, I will say.
Casey: one [00:01:00] thing that interests me. Is that you, you started off writing fairly young and on probably one of the biggest series on television at that time. And working for some like pretty heavy hitters in regards to like comedy writing. How was that experience? And did you realize just the gravity of the situation you were in, in that you were, you were in the big leagues, right?
Like right away.
Ed Solomon: Well, that’s a great question. So the show was Laverne and Shirley and I was a senior in college and I had been writing jokes and plays. You know, I was writing jokes for comedians and doing some standup and writing theater at UCLA. And one of the comedians I wrote for was Gary Shandling.
And Gary introduced me to a television production named Mark Sadkin to whom I owe a great, great, great deal. Because Mark came to a play that I had written and he hired me as a staff writer on the show. And suddenly I [00:02:00] went from Friday being a guy writing plays and putting them up with friends on campus to Monday when I was.
Driving. Well, actually I wasn’t driving to work on, we didn’t start just on that Monday, but on Monday I had gotten this job, right. And then about a week later, I was driving the paramount and that my senior year, and it was exceedingly intimidating. And I was in fact probably overly aware of what a big deal it was because I was very daunted and nervous and I don’t think I had the capability.
To crank out the kind of comedy at the level that is expected of a professional television comedy writer when I was that young. And with that, with that little experience. So, you know, a lot of ways I, I didn’t succeed. I, I did. Okay. Like I was okay. I wrote a few episodes. I got [00:03:00] jokes into various episodes.
You know, most of the episodes I’d have a few jokes in, but I wasn’t. Accomplished. And I didn’t have a set of skills that I could really transfer to really add to the room in the way that I needed to. And because of that, I didn’t get hired back to do the show was done, but hired back to do another show with anyone else on that show.
And I went into a kind of tailspin of self doubt as one might imagine, because I was worried I was my worst nightmare, which was a flash in the pan. And in a way, it’s what saved my life. You know, in a way, in a big way, because it took me about two years to figure out what to do because I was trying screen, you know, pitch TV shows, scrambling to write jokes for comedians.
I was doing standup again and tr I wrote a spec screenplay, but not a very good one. And I was down to my last penny. In fact has. [00:04:00] I had to borrow like $5,000 from my parents to pay back some bills and pay rent and various things. And I thought, and I was applying to graduate schools and looking for, you know, other kinds of things to do when Chris and I wrote.
On spec, the bill and Ted script. And initially my agents didn’t even like it and didn’t want to send it out. And in fact, they fired us or fired me. But, and Chris was sort of along with me on that. They fired me and. We were without an agent, but there was an agent that I had met when I had gotten the liver and Shirley job who I stayed in touch with, but I hadn’t signed with, cause I made the mistake of signing with like a kind of famous agent, kind of famous big agent, as opposed to an agent who was younger and passionate about me.
I kind of went for the name instead of the passion. And I went back to that agent and I said, Hey, would you [00:05:00] read the script? And he did. And he liked it. His name is David Greenblatt, and that was a key inflection point in our careers because he liked it and he got it out to people. And that weirdly, that script caught on in a way that got suddenly got Chris and me a whole lot of jobs.
And so per your first question, We suddenly were like the flavor of the month and we were too young again to handle it. So there I was again, in over my head at now 24. Four. Yeah, 24 from, from 24 to 25 to 26, it was this kind of heady success in the film business with, I’m not saying big hits or anything, no hits, nothing made yet.
Cause it was new, but, but big job offers and a lot of meetings and all sorts of stuff thrown at us. And it was really weird. And again, I wasn’t prepared for that. And my friendship with Chris couldn’t really [00:06:00] sustain a lot of the. Stresses we were both under. And so by the time bill and Ted, which we had worked on for a few years, by then, by the time it was starting to shoot Chris and I had already kind of divided off.
And we were, we were working on bill and Ted stuff together, but I was working on Gary Shandling show, his first TV show. And Chris was writing Fox, right? It was on Fox and Showtime actually. Yeah, it was on two networks at the same time and still nobody saw it. It was just a weird show, but, and, and I loved working on it and I met some really funny people and I mean, some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with, I met on that show.
It was a really remarkable experience in that regard, but yeah. Then in the middle of the second season of that show of bill and Ted got made. So I left the show to go do bill and Ted. And then I came back to the show and then bill and Ted sat on a shelf for like a year. They ran [00:07:00] the studio that financed it.
Well, we had set it up at Warner brothers, Warner brothers, put it in turnaround dealer rent, picked it up. They went bankrupt. The thing sat on the shelf. Then another entity picked it up. Nelson entertainment. They finally finished it and then it got released by Orion. And so that didn’t come out until 89.
So that trajectory was a lot of my twenties was this kind of sense of up and down and up and down in the sense that I had super high highs and then devastating lows, like. You know, Chris and I, we split up as partners. We, we didn’t think bill and Ted was ever going to even come out. Cause it was just sitting on a shelf suddenly.
I was wondering what I’m going to do again. Then bill and Ted came out, then they wanted to do a sequel and Chris and I came back together to write it together as you know, as partners. It [00:08:00] did. Okay. And then, you know, there were a couple of years of trying to figure out what kind of work am I really gonna do am my, you know and that’s what led to actually super Mario brothers, because I remember I got a call from my agent saying, Hey, are you a fan of Roland Joffey?
And I was like, are you kidding? He had just made the mission and killing fields. And, you know, I was desperate to be taken seriously as a writer. Even though I probably didn’t have the chops to be at that point. And I met with them and they said, we have the rights to this comic book. I mean, to this game show, I mean, I’m sorry.
They came to me. I’m sorry. So I went in to meet with them and they said we have the rights to this video game, super Mario brothers. Have you ever played it? And I actually hadn’t. They gave me a copy of it. And then, you know, and I took it home to go play it. I didn’t really see how it would be a a movie, but they said they’d already had a script written.
In fact, they had several [00:09:00] scripts written, but they didn’t have any financing. And could I just do a two week rewrite to kind of punch it up and maybe add to the characters a bit? And so I did. But that’s how that came about. But in hindsight, I. You know, I probably shouldn’t have, I dunno, maybe kept my name on it.
I didn’t it’s I was away on vacation when the arbitration came and I honestly don’t think people want to credit for it. So I think somehow I ended up with credit, but I don’t think I deserved it to be totally honest. I mean, I know I didn’t deserve credit on that movie, but, and then, and then that’s when the offer for men in black came in right around that time.
And it was funny, cause it was pitched to me by the producer as here’s something you can knock out in six weeks and then just do your other serious stuff after it took me four years to get men in
Casey: black. Yeah. But to say that was, that was quite a stretch of time between Mario and imminent.
Ed Solomon: Yeah.
Yeah. Well, men and black, I started in 93. And it was just like a series of rewrites. Then I [00:10:00] got fired. Then I got hired back and then I got fired again and then hired back. And then the movie went into production and I got fired and then hired back, like I think four or five times I got fired and then brought back.
But it was a big learning experience as well for me. And when men and black came out and was hugely successful. And then I had another kind of spike in my career in terms of people coming at me. And yet again, I don’t think I was prepared for that both emotionally, as well as creatively,
Casey: even with all the up and downs.
Ed Solomon: Yeah. Exceeding it. Yeah. And it’s a good, that’s a great question. I wasn’t mature enough yet and I don’t think I, I even hit a stride creatively until. Quite a long time after that. And in fact, I’m not sure I have quite hit the stride, although I feel like I’m doing the best work that I’ve done. I think, I think I’m doing the best CRI on a quality level of my work isn’t been in has been improving.
[00:11:00] And that gives me some hope because I’m feeling like the next 10 to 15 years I might, you know, I can really look forward to that way, but I’ve never quite felt. Like I’m anything other than if, somewhere between slightly and completely in over my head. And to me the most, the best place to be is somewhere between slightly and a little more than slightly over your head, completely over your head is not good.
And sort of just like in that zone where it’s like, Oh, I can totally do this. That’s not good. I think both of those are opposite ways to fall off the path and equally dangerous. I think
Casey: so. So it’s one of those graphs with like a, like a bell you want to be I get it that I don’t know too many creative types that are ever 100% in the, I’ve got this [00:12:00] zone that.
That put out interesting stuff.
Ed Solomon: I have also watched very closely because I’ve, you know, both friends of mine that have fallen off for not being able to keep making stuff or you know, even my own brushes with career death, which are. Terrifying and you know, I’m 66 years old. And my first paycheck as a writer, I was 19 and that was 1979.
And this is 2021. Wait. Yeah. That’s what it is, isn’t it? Yeah,
it’s a long time, but you know, I have hit bottom many times you know, emotionally as well as creatively and professionally. And I’ve had to very consciously rebuild. And I think even when I haven’t, [00:13:00] I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had big periods of my career where I haven’t been able to work, but I have had periods of my career where I’ve known that I have to absolutely stop the direction I’m going in and reassess and retool.
And I feel like about every decade for me. And I don’t know if it’s true for others, but for me about every decade, I have to take serious stock of where I am and where I’m headed. I’m not talking about professional, I’m talking about sort of creatively, how am I managing my own process? Where am I in terms of my relationship with the outside world?
How am I dealing with just my own inner world? And you know, and what do I need to do to. To rebuild, because if you don’t enter each phase without sort of a healthy combination of, I guess I’d call it, I wouldn’t call it [00:14:00] confidence. I’d call it faith. And, and beginner’s mind like that sense that this is all new.
And I do find when I start a new project, which is once or twice a year, or sometimes more. I have to ask myself the question, how sometimes I’m asking myself the question, not just, how does this thing want to get written, but how do I write even. Like, how do I approach something? How does anyone right. You know, and I, and I try to stay in that place as much as possible.
And having been doing this a long time, there’s healthy versions of that for me. And very unhealthy versions of that. For me, there are self-indulgent versions of that. There are self-destructive versions of that. There are myopic versions of that, and. There are versions of that, where where you’re [00:15:00] taking a a good and responsible look at yourself and sort of reorganizing.
So to me, the struggle is one of managing oneself and one’s own process in one’s own mind. In a healthy way to, how do you go about doing that? Figuring it out. I mean, I’m always learning new that, what, what do I need to do now, or, and it’s never a perfect process and you’re always kind of averaging it out.
Like I’m overdoing it here. I’m under doing it here. I’m overdoing it here. I’m undoing it here. But in general, as long as the trendline. Is positive. Like that’s all that I can really hope for. And, you know, there are some techniques, strategies just day-to-day practices. Like I try to meditate every day if I can, and I don’t always get to, but if I do that, it helps me to just get a little calm or get a little more centered, get rid of a lot of the noise.
Understand on a slightly different [00:16:00] level. What I’m trying to do, try to exercise. If not every day, every other day, I used to do it every day. It’s been a little harder during the pandemic, as you might imagine. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s this bizarre pandemic going right. Having you should look it up.
It’s called COVID I believe I’m not sure. Yeah. Yeah, but and then I try to
Always improve and learn from the people I’m working with. And I try to never rest on my laurels, you know, it’s it’s it’s I think I’ve said this one somewhere else before, but it’s like, it’s like trying to figure out, like we were talking, you were talking about wheelhouse. No, you were talking about comfort zone or I can’t remember, but it’s like staying.
Outside your comfort zone, but in your wheelhouse, like where is that perfect spot? Where,
Casey: where everything is medium.
Ed Solomon: Yeah. We’re where it’s pulling you. Cause it’s challenging you, but it’s not destroying you. You know, it’s like just, who knows. My, my suspicion is I’m never going to figure it out and I’m [00:17:00] never going to give my permit myself permission to say, Hey dude, you got this until the day.
That I retire or the day that I die, which may even be the same day. I don’t know. Then I think it will be okay to go. All right. Not bad. You did the best you I don’t know. Hang on. I’ll put a note
Ed Solomon: Okay, cool.
Just going to grab it.
[00:18:00] Hey, I’m back. Awesome. Awesome. To hear that last thing, or did the buzzer come over my last
Casey: word? No, no, it’s good. It works. It came out good. So you’re always just by virtue of, of your process going to be kind of fighting that good fight, fighting that uphill battle, but it’s not like a Sisyphean task or anything.
It’s just. How you do it?
Ed Solomon: Well, it feels like it’s just a fee and sometimes, but it doesn’t always feel that way, but it, it does. To me, it’s about
finding as much joy in the moment, a moment of it as possible and being as. Unattached as possible to the final result, meaning that doesn’t mean you don’t care [00:19:00] because you care deeply about what you’re doing and everything I do. I try to do the best of my ability and when, when I teach and I am I’m teaching at NYU right now, a class, and whenever I teach or talk to people.
You know, in conference somewhere or do a workshop or something I’m always astounded because to a T I’ve never had a student or someone’s where I’m speaking at a conference to, or doing a workshop for or anything. I’ve never had anyone that I don’t work way harder than. Like, I’m working harder than like, and I say this to my students, I’m like, I’ve been doing this 40 years.
Why am I working five times as hard as you are? Are you five times better than me? Maybe you are, in which case I should, I would really sincerely prefer you to teach. Cause I’m the guy that needs the growth. You know, if that’s the
Casey: case, is that a learned behavior or is [00:20:00] that, did you start out that way?
Ed Solomon: Just very much a learned behavior. That’s a great question because. I started thinking, ah, this is going to last forever. Oh, I know what I’m doing because you don’t know what you don’t know when you start, you know, there’s, there’s this I forget what it’s called. I’ve seen it in various different forms is sort of this, this chart of I’ve seen it for, in terms of learning.
I’ve seen it in terms of con you know Competence there, there at the bottom is unconscious incompetent above that as conscious and competent above that conscious, competent above that unconscious competent. You know, unconscious competent is like, you’re in the zone and it’s fluid and it’s coming and you don’t know why it’s coming or how it’s coming, but it’s just coming, you know, conscious, competent to me, this is my interpretation of it is you’re in the zone and, you know, Y you’re aware of it and you know, what’s working, what’s not [00:21:00] conscious incompetent is where, you know, you don’t know what you’re doing, but, you know, That you don’t know.
And in fact, sometimes you even know what you don’t know. Like you’re good enough to know that you don’t know this and don’t know that, and don’t know this and don’t know that. And you kind of know this and kind of know that unconscious incompetent is where I started. And it’s where I find most of my students start.
And when you’re unconscious and competent, you don’t know enough to know what you don’t know. And so your tendency, especially as the new writer, Because you feel that anxiety and you put, you’ve invested a lot into this burgeoning hopeful career. You tend to want to solve that anxiety by feeling like, you know what you’re doing, but the problem there is you actually don’t and you just start training yourself with bad habits and you never [00:22:00] understand why you never grow.
And what I always say to my students on first day is. If I can get you from unconscious incompetence to conscious and competent, I will have done a great job if I’ll get you to going, Oh, now I start to see what I don’t know. Now. I know how to teach myself. That’s when I believe someone might have a career when they are able to.
Stand on the shoulders of others and know why they’re standing on them and know what they’re improving on, and then knowing where they are being able to look at their flaws, honestly, which involves being able to take notes on your material, which involves being able to. Not have your own emotional self or your own ego or whatever you want to call it.
Your whole life’s work wrapped up in people’s opinions of what you do so that you can hear clearly what their impressions are of it so that you can without emotion [00:23:00] assess honestly what you need to do to fix it. So you can upgrade it. That happens on a script level, like getting notes. And then making the script better as opposed to different, but it also happens on a bigger professional metal level, which is like, okay, what am I not good at right now?
And what can I keep learning? Like, you know, or Whoa, this guy just taught me a whole new way to structure a sequence or, Oh, I see the way she cuts that. I don’t need to do that. I’m just, you know, and every time you learn something new about the craft that you didn’t know, it sort of inspires you creatively as well.
Cause it opens new windows for you creatively too. So, so to me, it’s about figuring out how to place yourself in a current. That’s just going to take you very far down the river, as opposed to, I don’t even know what the alternative, I don’t know if that metaphor is a. Can sustain, but [00:24:00] it’s about, it’s about being, seeing yourself as on a path.
As opposed to having ever arrived somewhere.
Casey: Yeah. How, how far along were you in, in the job before you were able to separate your emotional feelings toward a script and be able to receive criticism or notes on it and gladly receive them?
Ed Solomon: Well, We’re all humans, you know, I’m going to assume everyone listening is a human and I’m gonna assume you are.
And I’m, I’m gonna, you haven’t seen me. So I might not be, you might not be doing a great job. You’re one of the better AIS I’ve ever interacted with. And I’m going to assume I’m a human it hard. It’s hard to have people, not like your stuff. You never don’t have emotion. The key is not to not have.
Emotion the key is to utilize the emotion to be [00:25:00] in your, in your favor. So. First of all it’s to manage the emotional response immediately and not react out of emotion immediately, but re but rather understand that you’re going to feel a lot of things. When you get criticism, let’s say, let’s say, you’re talking about specifically criticism, say you’re getting you’ve finished something and you didn’t get the response you expect on it.
Let’s just say it’s a script, not a finished film because there’s nothing you can do about a finished film except go. Where was I wrong and what could I have done better? And where is it wrong for other reasons? And what could I have done better to mitigate against those? And what did they do, right. And what can I learn from, how did they enhance it?
What can I learn from where did they blow it? And how can I learn from that? You know, and where did I, et cetera? That’s what the finished film, but with a script, which is the majority, what are our time is, is writing. And when I was talking about the moment to moment experience, that’s what I mean is you only finished a script a few times, Your day to day process is what [00:26:00] you really have.
And that is tough because it’s a lot of failure, meaning it’s not working yet. I don’t have the scene yet. The sequence isn’t working, but I cannot, God dang it. This character isn’t right. You know, et cetera. It’s, it’s always that. So you’ve got to keep yourself moving forward somehow. Every day facing that failure and understand that that failure is a part of it.
That’s a big, big, big, big part of it. But then in, in in terms of what you asked about emotion and what for me it’s about is when you’re first getting notes, let those notes. Wash over you. I mean, on a purely technical level, don’t write them down, record them because when you write notes down, several things happen.
One, you only hear about 15% about what, of what the person’s saying to you. Project your interpretation. As you’re writing the notes down onto what they’re saying, three-year, you’re subconsciously [00:27:00] selecting already selecting what you want to write down and not. Without actually having processed the feedback.
There are so many reasons not to take notes and forth. You can’t really communicate with the person and ask questions and interact. It’s you’re taking notes and then waiting for the next one and taking notes. What I do instead is I record them because that way I can interact that way. If a note feels bad to me, I can ask questions more often than not.
If it’s legitimately not a good note. If you just talk about it, the note disappears and becomes a different note. People will talk themselves out of a bad quote, unquote, bad note. But the other thing is that you don’t really know what a good note and a bad note is right away, because your emotions are in the way.
So when you record it, you can transcribe it or you can listen to it later, but most importantly, you. Have the ability to when your emotions have died down again. And sometimes it’s a day, sometimes it’s a few hours, sometimes it’s a [00:28:00] week to then go. So this goes to your thing about being glad, you know, or grateful that you’re getting this, but the two to then go, well, the script is what it is.
It is apparently not what I had hoped. It would be. Or it’s different than what I intended it to be, but it’s cause it’s conveying these things to people and not those things. So it is what it is. So how do I just look at it as what it is, and by truly listening to the feedback and then letting the feedback kind of sit with you, it gives you an opportunity to actually.
Make it better because you start to hear new things. If you don’t reject, if you don’t let your ego get in the way and go that guy’s an idiot, she’s, you know, she’s a jerk, she’s stupid. He’s a dumb shit. You know, whatever, he’s an asshole, whatever you might be saying, they don’t get me. They don’t understand it.
It was not supposed to be that way. Or that’s the [00:29:00] whole point. You know, all the things that you say, if you can not say that, but go, Oh, this is how people are perceiving it. You can start to ask yourself questions like, well, why are they perceiving it that way? What what’s what does that mean? This really is trying to, you know, to tell me it is and
and then you, you can start to make it more of what it seems like it’s turning into. You can actually assess what it. It’s trying to be on it’s it, you start to have a collaboration with piece of material itself. In other words, where it’s like, you begin, it’s like parenting, you know, if you, if you’ve had a kid, you know, this, which is when I found out I was going to have, I had two, I have two children.
When I found out I was going to have the first kid, I was like, well, this is what parenting is going to be. And this is what it’s going to be like. And. And this is what my kid’s going to be like. And then my son was [00:30:00] born and, you know, I mean to have kids,
Casey: I have two kids and you’re
Ed Solomon: right. You reel. And then you realize your job is not to try to mold that child into what you think it should be. Your job is to see what is this child becoming and how do I help this child? To the best of my ability with all my foibles and flaws, how do I help this child be the best iteration of this child?
How can I help this child or be the best manifestation of himself or herself and guide them until they’re no longer. Wanting my guidance or need my guidance. And I feel that way with the script. It’s like, it’s both of me for sure. And I’m obviously writing it so I’m creating it, but there’s a certain moment.
And I love this moment where it’s starting to come alive and the characters are coming alive enough that they can start to surprise you. And you need to be [00:31:00] very open to those changes that are occurring. Between when you first imagine and what it ultimately becomes and a lot starts to change. And so you need to be very fluid with the outline you made for yourself, even with your intentions.
And you need to keep asking yourself, you need to keep questioning your assumptions at all times and go, well, my initial assumption was that this story was this and this character was, that is the assumption. Correct? Yes it is, but the execution is wrong. Okay. Or the assumption is no longer valid. So what is the script now telling me it is, well, if it’s this, then that means I need to do that instead, which means getting rid of that, which I love, but do I love it enough to forsake what the script is turning into?
If the answer is [00:32:00] yes, then go back and reassess what with that scene in it it’s this. But if I take that scene out, it becomes something maybe better without it. You know, it’s a constant series of questions. You’re asking questions and answers. It’s a constant diagnosis. That’s going on the execution. So to speak.
Or let’s say that what is the diagnosis and cure the cure, the writing, especially in the rewriting process, the, the diagnosis is 99.99% of it. What is really this trying to be in? Am I asking the right questions to assess what it is not. You get it back to the notes, then you get a note and it’s like, let me solve it.
Let me solve it as fast as possible so that I don’t feel anxious. No, it’s let me hear all the notes from all the different people. Let me sit on them. Let me not think about them for a while. Let me just feel them. And when I was talking about that, I realized I’m going on a long monologue. I’ll try to [00:33:00] meet me.
Oh no. Cause you’re, you’re
Casey: kind of answering questions that I had on like. They kind of fall into that.
Ed Solomon: Okay. Including why the hell did I have this guy on this podcast? I don’t know. I’m loving every second of this. This is awesome. But when you were, when I was talking about you utilizing your own emotions, the key is not to be unemotional or emotionless or unfeeling.
There’s. The key is to be sort of compassionately, dispassionate, where you care about this, but you’re not. Not overly sort of fixated or overly attached to it, or you’re a tat you care deeply though. And, and when I say utilize your emotions in your, to work for you, I mean, it’s really, really depressing to get negative feedback.
And if you fight that negative feedback, you, you don’t avail yourself of possible ways to. You know, well, you’re not looking at the real issues, but the other thing [00:34:00] that negative feedback does, and that feeling of let’s even say shame and sadness that comes is if you really allow it in at a certain point, and I’m not talking about in the meeting, I’m talking about.
You know, on your own, if you allow that shame, let’s call it in. It didn’t work. I didn’t get this thing where I wanted to be, where I wanted it to be. That shame can actually open you up to a kind of vulnerability and humility where you go, maybe they were right. And maybe I, you know, and maybe, I don’t know, all these answers, anxiety that you feel can sometimes motivate you to get back in the chair.
Anger I find can be incredibly useful. And you just channel that anger into the original script and, you know, can I swear on your podcast? Am I to say, you know, like, fuck you, fuck you original structure. No fuck you outline. And [00:35:00] you can, you know, fuck you women, or break you the fuck apart. I’m going to just tear you up.
And you know, you always can put it back together, but it allows you, the anger allows you to separate in a certain way. And that separation allows you to look at the, the script as you have it. Rebreak it down and, you know, change the, not just change the order of the events, but sometimes go now the spine of this is slightly different.
And as the spine moves through the story, what are the parts of the scenes that support that spine and what are the parts of the scene that fall away and fall off that spine? And you can let go with things easier when you’re angry. So in other words, you can take your emotions and use them for you. And I think that’s a better path.
And you asked when, probably in, around my, my biggest change happened probably around 40 and that was men in black had come out and [00:36:00] it was very successful. I had taken this job to write X-Men from which I had gotten ultimately fired because I, at the time. The idea was to write a comic book movie, but use the superheros powers as manifestations of their inner, psychological, emotional issues and treat them as real people.
Which I mean, obviously is what it ended up being. But at the time there were some people at the studio who were not happy with that. And they were like, I remember the producer telling me that. She got yelled at, by someone from the studio who was saying, we hired him to write a comic book movie, and nobody goes to comic book movies to watch real people.
Casey: they were still stuck on Adam West Batman.
Ed Solomon: Yeah. Or, or some of the early, like early, early, you know, comic book movies that were being made that were good. Great. You know, like the Tim Burton ones I thought were, were great. And there were some other really good ones, but they weren’t that. And then I got fired, but I ended up getting credit, but [00:37:00] because.
I had had that experience actually with super Mario brothers. I actually was like, if other people have come on and written after me, I don’t want credit. So I took my name off it, which was really full of hubris and, and self and self righteousness and self-indulgence. And. When that movie was successful, both creatively and at the box office, I went, you know, I really messed myself up didn’t I, I was not a smart move.
And, and I had another friend of mine who had an office near me at this little place in Santa Monica, where I lived at the time, who said a very blunt thing to me because they used to always come into his office and ask him. Creative questions. And at one point you said, dude, you’re, everything is just always about you right now.
And it’s gotten really obnoxious. And I was like that combined with where I was [00:38:00] with the X-Men thing and you know, like a variety of other kind of personal things. I went that my head is up my own ass. Isn’t it. And I got to really retool and that’s when I started meditation. That’s when I was like, okay, I have had these ups and downs and ups and downs, but I’ve never really looked at my process.
I’ve kind of flown by the seats of my seat of my pants. I’ve gotten in my way. And I’ve gotten scripts done despite my being in my own way, as opposed to, because of it. And so I started to really work hard things like, you know, therapy obviously, and, you know, just trying to break down the process and take more time off and like really try to write more things that were challenging to me.
And then in my later forties, I w I sat down with my agents and I said, Hey guys, you’re not going to want to hear this. I was 47. I remember I said, but I’m going to be 50. And this is business that hates old people and loves young people. And I don’t want to pretend I’m young. [00:39:00] I want my age to be an asset and I realize that’s a smaller target, but I, I want to get into the room on stuff that you know, I’m going to, I I’m willing to cut my fee in half.
I’ll cut it by three quarters. I don’t care. I want to work on more interesting things because I believe for me to be in this for the long game. I have to really improve. I have to, and I have to write things that really, it takes adults to write. And that was hard, but I will say one of the agents in particular and sky Jay Baker, who had been my agent all the way up until the writers Guild and the agents, you know, had their separation.
But Jay. Heard me. And he got me in the room on something and it was a job I ended up getting and it was real. I took very little money for it, but it really helped turn my career around again. And then in my fifties, same thing with mosaic, the Soderbergh project, which was this branching narrative, seven hour long [00:40:00] thing.
Talk about outside your comfort zone. My God. Yeah. Massive.
Casey: I can’t even imagine having that many. Storylines to coalesce and viewpoints,
Ed Solomon: but it, me again, to go through a kind of muscle training system that I would never have been able to have done without it. And because of that, again, just really upped my game.
And now, as I’m getting older and older, I find I have to be more conscious and more conscious and more conscious about. Whatever habits I might be getting myself into and how, in a ways I can keep retraining myself and not falling into old patterns or get cynical or get bitter, or any of the things that make you less open to to your, your creative process or to input from the outside world or to just growing as a person.
Casey: It sounds like constant work in constant re-evaluation.
Ed Solomon: Yeah, but that’s part of the process. [00:41:00] And so it’s about finding the ways to be fascinated with that in the same way that you’re fascinated with the material you’re working on. As well and
Casey: It’s all good. I understand. And I think we only have a few more minutes left if I don’t want to keep you away from your food too much longer.
Ed Solomon: No, I have a, I have an important thing. I was, I just was searching to send you a chat. That was what I was looking to do because I have an appointment that I have to get to at, in a second here.
Casey: that’s completely fine. I’ve I’ve been a real big fan of. How you do your, your character work and stuff. And it seems like that’s kind of grows organically from on the page as you write it. And I I’ve just really blown away by fully realized characters, which seems to be kind of a constant in your
Ed Solomon: in your [00:42:00] scripts.
Casey: How much involvement do you have once it goes from here’s my script to we’re filming this script.
Ed Solomon: Lately a lot lately, I’m there every day in the last 20 years I’ve been there for everything. I missed a little bit of no sudden move, which is this new movie coming out sometime this year at the beginning, just cause some personal stuff going on in New York that I had to be here for. But for the most part, I like to be there from like every day at rehearsal.
Be a part of the discovery process, be there for the cast, if they needed anything or the director or whomever, you know, you obviously learn your role there. And depending on the director, you either have a very active or a not so active involvement on set, but you know, it depends on who you’re there with, but I love that
That’s awesome. Hey, I don’t want to keep you too much longer, so [00:43:00] I’m going to go ahead and wrap it up now. Even I could talk to you forever, not talk your ear off.
Ed Solomon: Thank you. Let’s do another one another day. I’d love to
Casey: thank you so much and enjoy your sandwich.
Ed Solomon: Thank you very much. Thanks man. Have a great night and whoever was listening to this, thank you for listening.
Be well. All right. Take care.