×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spaihts: ‘Prometheus’ fires up career trajectory

10 Screenwriters to Watch 2011: Jon Spaihts

In the early 2000s, Jon Spaihts was on another career path entirely as an executive for the New York-based educational technology company Teachscape.

“It was dangerous, because it was challenging, satisfying and intellectually demanding and I could see a good life there from which I would never return to writing,” he says.

So Spaihts took a year off from work to write his first script, and, before the time was up, he had completed “Shadow 19” and sold it to Warner Bros.

That project languished in development with Keanu Reeves attached to star. Then Reeves asked Spaihts if he had another project that might suit him. Spaihts pitched him an idea he had for a sci-fi film noir that prominently featured the image of a man stranded alone in space.

After hashing over the idea for six weeks, Reeves decided it was just too bleak for him, but he loved the idea of the stranded spaceman. So Reeves’ production partner Stephen Hamel called Spaihts and asked him if there was a happier story to be told about the lone figure.

“It was one of those magical fertilizing questions that you haven’t thought to ask yourself, which causes an answer to spring fully formed from your skull,” recalls the Paradigm client, a Princeton grad who planned to become a novelist before turning his attention to screenwriting. “I riffed at him in response, and in 30 minutes had sketched on the phone the spine of what became my screenplay ‘Passengers,’ ” currently in development at Universal.

“Passengers” eventually found its way to the folks at Scott Free Prods., who invited him in for a general meeting, during which company president Michael Costigan mentioned that they were thinking of developing an “Alien” prequel for Ridley Scott to direct.

“Again, I riffed,” Spaihts says, “and in about an hour had spat out what remains the spine of the story of ‘Prometheus,’ ” which Fox is scheduled to release next June.

More recently, he’s scripted New Regency-Summit’s upcoming “The Darkest Hour” and “World War Robot” for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for whom he’s also penning an untitled space adventure.

TEN SCREENWRITERS TO WATCH 2011:
Josh Appelbaum & Andrew Nemec | Jay Baruchel & Jesse Chabot | Justin Britt-Gibson | Neil Cross | Andrew Haigh | Kurt Johnstad | Lauryn Kahn | Paula Pell | Jon Spaihts | Brian Yorkey

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Chrissy TeigenBaby2Baby Gala, Arrivals, 3Labs, Los

    Chrissy Teigen Receives Giving Tree Award at 2019 Baby2Baby Gala

    Chrissy Teigen accepted the “Giving Tree” Award at the 2019 Baby2Baby Gala on Saturday with a speech chockful of her trademark humor and humility. Upon receiving a standing ovation, Teigen laughingly told the star-studded crowd to sit down, joking that she is more accustomed to receiving an accolade for “Best Titties” at the Spike TV [...]

  • Co-host Rita Moreno performs on stage

    Rita Moreno's Role in New 'West Side Story' Is More Than a Cameo: 'It’s a Real Part'

    During her live show, “An Evening with Rita Moreno,” Saturday night, Rita Moreno told the audience she will have a “real” role in next December’s “West Side Story” remake, which recently wrapped shooting, and that she initially had concerns about the film’s production. “At first, it was interesting when I heard there were rumors that [...]

  • Charlize Theron American Cinematheque

    Seth Rogen, Seth MacFarlane Roast Charlize Theron During Bawdy American Cinematheque Ceremony

    As Charlize Theron accepted the 33rd American Cinematheque honor at the Beverly Hilton on Friday night, the atmosphere more resembled a roast than a reverential evening celebrating the cinematic achievements of an Oscar winner. Presenters like Seth Rogen, Kristen Stewart and Seth MacFarlane shared bawdy jokes and reveals about what it’s really like working with [...]

  • Katie Couric

    Katie Couric Says Matt Lauer 'Ultimately Turned Out to Be Two Very Different People'

    Katie Couric discussed Matt Lauer, the Me Too movement and female leadership in business at the Dress for Success annual Women Who Inspire breakfast in New York City on Wednesday. Couric, who spoke during a fireside chat at the nonprofit’s female empowerment event, was asked about Lauer’s ouster from the “Today” show, and the many [...]

  • Tina Turner Musical

    Oprah Winfrey Joins Tina Turner for the Opening Night of 'Tina' Musical on Broadway

    On Thursday night in New York City, Tina Turner joined the ranks of Cher, Donna Summer, the Temptations and the Jersey Boys — Carole King, too — baptized, as it were, in the disco inferno of a high-powered Broadway jukebox. “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” joins a steady stream of bio-musicals bent on squeezing, often [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content