Paul Haggis Has His Crash Moment

Posted on March 6, 2006

Screenwriter and director Paul Haggis said he was quite surprised that his film Crash pulled off the upset of the year and won the Oscar for Best Picture last night. He talked about Crash and the difficulty of getting the film made.

Of his film's critical and popular success, Mr. Haggis said the current political climate � particularly in the United States � played a part in its finding an audience. "We're in a time of war here, and you either go one or two directions,: he said. "You head off and escape, or you start talking about questions, and all of the terrific films this year asked important questions about who we are, and I guess that's what we were trying to do, as well."

Still, he said, at the start of the process, he was doubtful that Crash, given its difficult subject matter, would get made at all. The same went for last year's boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, for which he also received a screenwriting nomination. "Who would want to see that?" he said of Crash, with its themes of racial strife, fear and intolerance. "I thought that my grandchildren would read the scripts, and go 'Look, grandpa tried to get in the movies, isn't that cute,' and that's the end of it."


Mr. Haggis studied cinematography at Fanshawe College in London, Ont. He moved, at age 22, to Los Angeles with his first wife in the late 1970s, and wrote for U.S. shows, including The Love Boat, Who's the Boss?, Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. His trophy shelf includes Emmys for his work on thirtysomething and Geminis for the Alliance Atlantis/CBS Mountie drama Due South. Mr. Haggis has said in previous interviews that he got the idea for the screenplay after he and his wife were carjacked in the early 1990s.

Haggis has been hired as a script doctor for the upcoming James Bond film, Casino Royale -- the film that has been bedeviled by the mishaps of its new star, Daniel Craig. Let's hope he can fix what is looking to be a disaster of a project.

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