He’s the craftsman behind plenty of cinema’s masterpieces (“Chinatown,” “The Last Detail”) in addition to the uncredited contributor for many others (Arthur Penn‘s “Bonnie and Clyde”). Robert Towne has collaborated with Hollywood’s top tier of actors and directors throughout his decades of work in the industry, and while some of his recent slate of productions have faltered on their way to completion, a new video interview with the man himself proves he’s as informative as ever.
Talking with the Writers’ Guild Association, Towne sits down for a 55-minute interview that spans his entire career, as well as his upbringing in San Pedro, California. He describes his early days under the tutelage of Roger Corman as a screenwriter (“never something that you would want to write,” he says of his topics), the first realization that Jack Nicholson was an expert improviser, and the trials that he and the actor would later face before they hit it big.
As shown by work with Nicholson, and his admiration here for duos like Scorsese/DeNiro and Coppola/Pacino, Towne prizes collaboration as a key aspect of his work. He also carries the ability to write for a diverse group of actors — after all, he’s written for Warren Beatty, Tom Cruise, and Harrison Ford in various films of their careers. It’s a reflective talk full of advice and anecdotes; check out the clip below for more.