×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Owen Roizman Followed Family Footsteps for Legendary Hollywood Career

If Owen Roizman had lived his childhood dream, he would have played baseball. Rather than keeping his eye on the literal ball, he focused on camera work instead — a decision that paid off with five Academy Award nominations for cinematography on “The French Connection,” “The Exorcist,” “Network,” “Tootsie” and “Wyatt Earp.” On Nov. 11, he’ll receive a Governors Award in recognition of his accomplishments.

Roizman’s father, Sol, had been a cameraman for Fox MovieTone News, but Owen hadn’t initially planned to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“When I went to school, I was best in math and physics, but when I went to job interviews my senior year and asked how much money I could make [in those fields], it wasn’t very exciting,” he says. “So I asked my father how much I could make as an assistant cameraman, and it was a lot more than a physicist or a mathematician, so I figured, ‘I’m going for the money!’”

Once in Hollywood, however, it quickly became evident that Roizman wasn’t in it just for the money: he was in it to deliver the best possible work.

“Not only do I applaud Owen’s expertise, but I think he’s an artist,” says Dustin Hoffman, who worked with Roizman on “Straight Time” and “Tootsie.”

Prior to starting “Tootsie,” Hoffman had been unhappy that they hadn’t conquered the makeup problem that left his beard shadow still slightly visible when he was in the guise of his female alter ego, soap opera actress Dorothy Michaels. Early in filming, director Sydney Pollack assured him that the problem would be solved when the film was color-corrected.

“I asked Owen, ‘What do you think? Is it because of color correction?’” says Hoffman. “And he said, ‘No. I think it’s a problem.’ This was in front of Sydney. And I don’t think Sydney liked hearing that. But that was Owen’s feeling, and I believed him, so I said, ‘I’m gonna stop shooting. Tell Columbia that we cannot resume until we’ve solved this problem.’ It was a tough moment, but Owen told the truth as he saw it. I think without him I probably would’ve shelved the picture.”

There were clearly no hard feelings on Pollack’s part: he secured Roizman to serve as his cinematographer on the 1990 film “Havana.”

“If you end up doing more than one picture with a director, it’s usually a good relationship,” says Roizman. “I made lifelong friends with a lot of those directors. Out of everything, that was the most gratifying.”

More Film

  • Come as You Are review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Come as You Are'

    The rare remake that’s actually a slight improvement on its predecessor, Richard Wong’s “Come as You Are” translates Geoffrey Enthoven’s 2011 Belgian “Hasta la Vista” to middle America. Other changes are less substantial, but this seriocomedy has a less formulaic feel than the original while remaining a crowd-pleasing buddy pic-caper with a soft-pedaled minority empowerment [...]

  • Strange Negotiations review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Strange Negotiations'

    In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction. The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans. Then he ditched that persona (and [...]

  • Bluebird review

    SXSW Film Review: ‘Bluebird’

    As affectionate as a love letter but as substantial as an infomercial, Brian Loschiavo’s “Bluebird” may be of most interest to casual and/or newly converted country music fans who have occasionally wondered about the songwriters behind the songs. There’s a better than even-money chance that anyone who’s a loyal and longtime aficionado of the musical [...]

  • ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending for the Fourth Week in a Row

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the fourth week in row with “Wonder Park.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.18 million through Sunday for 1,718 national [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan Jordan Vogt-Roberts

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan, Jordan Vogt-Roberts Team for Monster Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan is producing a creature feature, billiards champ Cisero Murphy is getting a movie, the sixth Terminator movie gets a title, and Graham King receives an honor. PROJECT UNVEILED New Regency and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society are partnering on an untitled monster movie from “Kong: Skull Island” [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Nicolas Cage to Star in Martial Arts Actioner 'Jiu Jitsu'

    Nicolas Cage will star in the martial arts actioner “Jiu Jitsu,” based on the comic book of the same name. The cast will also include Alain Moussi, who stars in the “Kickboxer” franchise. Dimitri Logothetis is producing with Martin Barab and directing from a script he wrote with Jim McGrath. Highland Film Group is handling [...]

  • Chinese success of Thai film "Bad

    Chinese, Thai Shingles Pact for Co-Production Fund at FilMart

    A deal to establish a 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) co-production fund between China and Thailand was struck at FilMart on Tuesday to help launch TV and film projects that will appeal to Chinese and Southeast Asian audience. The deal that was struck by China’s Poly Film Investment Co., TW Capital from Thailand and Thai [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content