If I Made It, You Surely Can

“Consider the following,” says screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Flashdance, Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge).


  • “English is my second language. Some critics have said I butcher it.
  • “I stole cars and carried a knife when I was a kid: I almost killed another kid with a baseball bat and almost went to jail.
  • “I started drinking when I was 14 and was a functional  alcoholic by the time I was in college… for many years, I preferred having a drink to anything (but I don't drink any more).
  • “I flunked both algebra and biology in high school and had to go to summer school two years in a row.
  • “I was a C student in high school… [and] didn't graduate from college because I was on both academic and disciplinary probation.
  • “I've never believed in chitchatting and networking.. Naomi [my wife] says I'm abrupt, direct, sometimes downright rude… For much of my life I've looked and dressed like a Hell's Angel.
  • “I named my company Barbarian, Ltd.  Hollywood has paid Barbarian many, many millions of dollars through the years.

“Don't let them take your mojo. Keep your mojo kid in deep inside yourself. It's your heart and soul. It's what makes you tick, what makes you write, and what makes it special. Is the source of your work, your work, and your talent.

“And if you fight hard enough, and write enough stories, one of these days You'll see your work or on screen just the way you wanted. And you'll change the lives, and better the lives, and make more enjoyable the lives, of the people who see it.”

 From The Devil's Guide to Hollywood by Joe Esterhas (Duckworth Overlook 2009).

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