10 Screenwriters to Watch
Drew Goddard made the trek from his native New Mexico to Los Angeles in 1998. Like so many looking to make it in Hollywood, he did what he had to do — he slept on his uncle’s couch and took a P.A. job on a TV show.
He jumped from one canceled show to the next, and, because he was surrounded by writers, took a crack at writing TV specs.
One of Goddard’s samples made its way to Marti Noxon, who was showrunning “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with series creator Joss Whedon. That parlayed into a staff writing job on the seminal teen fantasy skein, and later on “Buffy” spinoff “Angel.”
“When ‘Angel’ was done,” Goddard says, “I moved over to ‘Alias’ — I met (‘Alias’ and ‘Lost’ co-creator) J.J. Abrams through Joss Whedon. Then I went from ‘Alias’ to ‘Lost.’ It’s been a good run. I’ve been very fortunate.”
Goddard’s focus is now film, having just scored a hit with his feature debut “Cloverfield,” which raked in $170 million worldwide earlier this year.
The transition wasn’t a huge one, Goddard says. “The shows that I’ve worked on are run by guys like Joss and J.J., who take a very feature approach to TV. In our minds, there’s not a huge difference. It’s not two crazy different worlds.”
Abrams was the one who came to Goddard with the idea for “Cloverfield.”
Remembers Goddard: “One day, J.J. called me: ‘Hey, you wanna write a movie for me? A big-scale monster movie from handheld p.o.v.’ As soon as he mentioned that, I said, ‘OK.’ ”
“He’s the first person I thought of for the film,” Abrams says, “partially because his work on ‘Alias’ and ‘Lost’ was so wonderful. He’s able to write great romantic, emotional and funny stories in episodes where there were these insane, fantastical things going on. He embraces the humanity and spectacle elements, and those are my favorite kinds of things in a movie any day.”
Goddard and Abrams are currently working on another film project, but they’re keeping most of the details to themselves.
“I’m so excited, I can’t even tell you about it,” says Abrams. “The story couldn’t be more different than ‘Cloverfield.’ It’s an amalgam of genre and characters, but there are no monsters in it. It could be really scary and really funny and incredibly cool.”
Goddard says he simply wants to continue to work with his friends. “I’d like to keep playing in the sandbox as long as they’ll let me.”
Influences: “Los Alamos, where I grew up,” says Goddard, “an odd mixture of picket-fence suburbia and nuclear weapons that can annihilate the world.” Plus, authors Stephen King, Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury and Far Side creator Gary Larson.
Favorite unproduced script: “I’ve been very lucky that everything I’ve written so far has been produced.”
Up next: Another feature film with J.J. Abrams
Reps: Agents: Julian Thuan (film), Rob Kim and Dan Erlij (TV) at UTA; attorney: Jeanne Newman at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman