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Brian Helgeland M.A. ’87

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Falling in love with movies

Brian Helgeland M.A. '87
Screenwriter, Producer, Director

Director and screenwriter Brian Helgeland has been called a master at writing period films. He won an Academy Award for the screenplay for the crime noir “L.A. Confidential,” set in the 1950s, and enjoyed box-office success with two other period films he wrote and directed: the 14th-century jousting comedy, “A Knight’s Tale,” and, more recently, “42,” the Jackie Robinson story set in 1946-47.

What the scripts for those films have in common is Brian’s underlying view of human nature.

“I always approach period films from the point of view that people don’t change,” he says. “The times change, and technology changes, and world events come and go as far as their impact, but people don’t change; human emotion doesn’t change.”

Like many filmmakers, Brian has loved movies since he was a child. “I’ve loved movies since I can remember,” he once said. “They made me realize there was a great big world out there, but it wasn’t the one I was living in. Every time I saw a movie, my life seemed to get a little bit bigger. ...Unfortunately, I stopped loving movies once I started working on them. The magic was gone, and I never got it back. However, and maybe better, I fell in love with making them. So that was great. I traded one love for another.”