“A Beautiful Mind” producer Brian Grazer was among many who were shocked by the news that Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash and his wife Alicia were killed Saturday in a car crash in New Jersey.
Grazer, who produced the Oscar-winning 2001 biopic directed by his Imagine Entertainment partner Ron Howard, realized that the end for the couple, while tragic, was in keeping with how they spent virtually every moment of their lives — together. Alicia was the grounding force that helped John overcome mental illness and other obstacles to articulating what proved to be innovative theories on incredibly complex topics.
“Their lives ended together in the same way that they lived,” Grazer told Variety. “Theirs was a such a brilliant collaboration. Alicia was so powerful in enabling him to have his moments of triumph. His life was really hard. The beauty came from the power of their love to create those triumphs.”
Grazer recalled “auditioning” for the couple more than 15 years ago when he first pursued the rights to Sylvia Nasar’s biography of the same name. He faced a lot of competition from other producers. Later, Grazer learned that there was one question he asked of them that tipped the scales in his favor.
“I asked them ‘When the movie is finished and you’re in the theater watching it, what is your fantasy of the experience,’ ” Grazer recalled. “Alicia responded by saying ‘If the story is about love, we’ll feel really comfortable.’ And that idea was such a guiding force of our movie.”
Grazer acknowledged that it was hard to get to know the Nashes as people. But he recalled driving to the Oscar ceremony with them in 2002, where “A Beautiful Mind” would win best picture, director, supporting actress (Jennifer Connelly for her role as Alicia) and adapted screenplay for Akiva Goldsman.
“They weren’t really the type of people to go out celebrating,” Grazer recalled. “That night was the first time I saw them both smile.”