BPS 122: Oscar-Winner Eric Roth: From Forrest Gump to Dune

Alex Ferrari • June 17, 2021

This week, I sat down with one of the most legendary and successful screenwriters/producers in Hollywood, Oscar® Winner Eric Roth. Over a 50+ years career, he’s well-known for writing or producing films like Forrest Gump, A Star is Born, Mank, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Munich, Ali, and the list goes on.

The critically and commercially acclaimed American drama, Forrest Gump is an adaptation of Winston Groom‘s 1986 novel of the same title, adapted by Eric Roth in 1994.

The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, played by the incomparable, Tom Hanks, a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century the United States. 

The $55 million budget film grossed $683.1 million at the Box Office and won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and three Golden Globes awards. 

With a dream to pursue writing, he got his start working crew on a bunch of independent movies being made by some experimental filmmakers at a local studio (the Millennium will film workshop) while studying at Columbia University and later transferred to UCLA Film School.

While on the climb up, Roth got the opportunity through his good friend Stuart Rosenberg, to rewrite the script for the Paul Newman movie, The Drowning Pool, at the tender age of 20 years old.

Last year, Roth co-produced the multi-award nomination biographical drama, Mank. mank earned ten Oscar® nominations and six Golden Globe Awards nominations.

1940. Film studio RKO hires 24-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles under a contract that gives him full creative control of his movies. For his first film, he calls in washed-up alcoholic Herman J Mankiewicz to write the screenplay. That film is “Citizen Kane,” and this is the story of how it was written.

A Star is Born, co-written by Roth became a 2018 phenomenon. Director, co-writer and lead actor, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga brought steaming chemistry to our screens in a way that had been lacking. The film grossed twelve times its $36 million budget which is more than any of the other three versions of the musical romantic drama film.

Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers, and falls in love with struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer – until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

A must mention amongst Roth’s screenplays is the 2008 screenplay adaptation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Academy winner Mahershala Ali and Taraji P. Henson.

The film tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backward with consequences.

I could go on and on, through the extensive list of incredible writing Eric Roth has given the world, but you can listen to our conversation to hear all about them. Even his Television writing and producing on shows like House of Cards, The Alienist, and the upcoming remake of the science fiction classic Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve.

I’ve been a fan of Eric’s work since my days working at a video store. It was truly an honor to sit down and talk shop with a master of the craft. Enjoy my conversation with Eric Roth.