Breakthrough director Ryan Murphy

Hollywood Awards honoree

It was 1997 when Murphy hit Daily Variety’s front page with the news that Steven Spielberg had optioned his script, “Why Can’t I Be Audrey Hepburn.” “All you need is one yes,” says the writer-turned-helmer. “There can be lots of no’s, but then the one yes.”

Four years ago, right after his series “Popular” ended and he shot the “Nip/Tuck” pilot, Murphy read reviews of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir, “Running with Scissors,” only to find, “They didn’t want me to meet with him because Oscar-winning directors were circling it. I demanded a meeting with Augusten and I guess they thought I was so crazed they said yes.”

Now with Brad Pitt as a producer, “Scissors” stars Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes and Alec Baldwin.

Murphy was intimidated by the talent but not the job. “The thing about being a movie director and showrunner for a series is they’re the same gig: The buck stops with you and you have to have leadership. I’d had a couple of years of rallying the troops mode and this felt similar to me.”

Of Bening, he says, “It is the most difficult role of her career, playing a bipolar manic depressive lesbian bisexual poet. She was incredibly well prepared.”

Next up, the kid who was president of the Meryl Streep Fan Club at Indiana U. will direct Streep — and Bening and Sharon Stone and Paltrow — in the women-of-Watergate drama “Dirty Tricks.”

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