Screenwriter Profile: Joe Eszterhas

post05-eszterhasThe Writer:

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. 


Children of Glory (screenplay / story) – 2006

Basic Instinct 2 (characters) – 2006

An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (written by) – 1997

Telling Lies in America (written by) – 1997

Jade (written by) – 1995

Showgirls (written by) – 1995

Sliver (screenplay) – 1993

Nowhere to Run (screenplay / story) – 1993

Basic Instinct (written by) – 1992

Music Box (written by) – 1989

Checking Out (written by) – 1989

Betrayed (written by) – 1988

Hearts of Fire (screenplay) – 1987

Big Shots (written by) – 1987

Jagged Edge (written by) – 1985

Flashdance (screenplay) – 1983

F.I.S.T (screenplay / story) – 1978


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.

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