Stephen Gaghan, ‘Syriana’

The Nominees: Adapted Screenplay

Gaghan recalls sipping iced espressos at a Parisian cafe with Robert Baer, the CIA operative whose book “See No Evil” was the catalyst for his film, when Jean-Paul Belmondo approached them thinking that Gaghan was Mick Jagger.

“I got really wired and things started making sense,” Gaghan says. “I had enough information that I started to understand the way a bunch of different stories I had been hearing all touched each other. I started typing furiously on my computer. Everything’s perfect. And then suddenly, no, it’s this story, and you don’t know how to fix it, and there’s just problem after problem after problem.

“And so all this is happening in that moment after the touchstone of the French New Wave touched us by thinking I was Mick Jagger. And we’re in Paris, and calling it work!”

But it definitely was work. “You end up writing 100 pages for a section that’s going to be 30 pages. It’s very, very plodding, and confusing and mysterious. There’s no real methodology.”

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