The scribe is the key; a talk with Tim Robbins

“Writing is the worst,” sighs Tim Robbins, as he discusses and doesn’t discuss his latest film project.

“You know, everyone down the line of a movie that stinks can lay it off on someone else. The producer can blame the script or the director, the actors can blame the script or the director, the director can blame the script. But everybody can blame the script. The writer has nowhere to hide. It can be a great position to be in, and it can be really terrible, too.”

Robbins readily acknowledges that he sweats bullets when he’s in the writing phase, and habitually writes and rewrites draft after draft. (“Bob Roberts” and “Dead Man Walking” both consumed several drafts over many years, squeezed in between acting assignments.)

So, what is he sweating over right now?

“I can’t really talk about it. It’s in that tender phase when I’m just done with a draft, and I’m ready to show it to people whom I trust for notes and criticism. And of course my attitude now goes, ‘This is a work of art! Don’t change a word!’ Of course, that’s unrealistic, but I still can’t help feeling that.”

Sources close to Robbins refer to not one, but two different projects he has been laboring over. The first, which Robbins was writing before “Dead Man Walking,” is termed a large, epic project based on a well-known historical episode. “Because of that,” says a source, “Tim is probably wary of talking about it, out of concern that someone will come along and do a quickie ripoff, and then he’d have to deal with the whole comparison thing, which nobody likes.”

The other, more recent project is based on a book about gangsters (“Tim just flipped over it right away,” says a source). Filming may or may not happen this year on either project all of it depending, of course, on when Robbins ceases sweating over that last draft and decides it’s ready for the camera.

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