‘Gosford Park’ Screenwriter Julian Fellowes’ Series Of Fortunate Events: Talks About Path To Success In Latest Interview
In a recent interview with entertainment website The Wrap to promote his new novel Past Imperfect, Julian Fellowes, the Brit writer/actor/producer, who’s best known for penning the Oscar-winning screenplay for Robert Altman‘s Gosford Park, talked about how he found success both in and out of Hollywood. After graduating from drama school, Fellowes worked at a repertory theatre company in London before heading to Los Angeles at the age of 30 to pursue his acting career.
His LA experience peaked when he nearly landed the Hervé Villichaize role in the TV show Fantasy Island, which ran on NBC from 1978-84. After that close call, Fellowes says:
I realized I didn’t want to be stuck doing a kind of middlebrow thing, I just didn’t. It generated in me a passionate ambition to get back and make my career do what I wanted.
It was then when he concentrated on writing screenplays.
One of them was for Bob Balaban, the actor/producer –an adaptation of a novel by Trollope called The Eustace Diamonds. It didn’t get made; in fact, they’re trying to get it going now, but it was that script that made Bob think of me when he was trying to set up Gosford Park with Robert Altman.
When Fellowes was asked to write the first draft of the script for the acclaimed British murder mystery, he was skeptical about whether or not he would even be able to keep the job:
I never thought it would really happen. It just seemed too unlikely that I was going on with my life and suddenly I was asked to write a film script for an internationally known director, you know?
He, of course, ended up winning an Oscar for the screenplay that became Gosford Park and went on to write the novel Snobs in 2006 and, most recently, the book for the stage-musical adaptation of Mary Poppins, which is currently touring throughout the US. As for his advice for those trying to make it in Hollywood:
When you do have a possible door opening, you’ve got to act as if it’s going to happen, because if it does happen and you miss out, you have to kill yourself.
If a legendary director offered me the chance to write one of his screenplays, I’m pretty sure I would believe that it’s going to happen. Even shaking hands with somebody like Altman would give me some hope. In the clip below, Fellowes talks more about some of his experiences as a writer in the movie business.