Joe Eszterhas is one of the most financially successful screenwriters of all time. After a bidding war, his script for Basic Instinct sold for $3 million, a record at the time — not to mention, a record he had already set and broken a few times already. He comes from the hay day of spec script sales, and he made a whole lot of dough off of his scripts for Flashdance, Music Box, and Showgirls, to name a few.
I’ve always had a great deal of confidence in the stories I tell. And I always can think of a lot of new stories to tell. I’m not frightened. But a lot of people in this town are frightened.
I have only one loyalty – to my writing. I never wanted to be the head of a studio or a producer, I just wanted to make sure that what I write is what appears on screen, to not have some idiot change it on its way to the screen. There sure as hell are some idiots in Hollywood. I think we would see better movies – and God, we see a lot of shitty movies these days – if writers would stand up for what they believe in with studio heads and the Michael Eisners of the world.
When I first started doing screenplays I was so frightened. I didn’t know what I was doing when I began F.I.S.T (1978). Norman Jewison took me under his wing and taught me what he knew. But every morning for a year and a half, while I was writing that script, I’d get up and throw up. That’s how the day began.