Interview: Benjamin Button Writer Eric Roth

On Fincher, Oscars and Forrest Gump similarities

Eric Roth is best known for his award-winning Forrest Gump screenplay, but he's also spent the last two decades mixing it up with some of Hollywood's hardest players.

From Steven Speilberg to Michael Mann, Roth is used to demanding directors. His latest project, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, was no different...

How does it feel now that Benjamin Button is out there and getting attention from the Academy?

It feels great. We’re obviously in a competition with Slumdog, but it’s great that people have seen and appreciated the movie, and we’re getting some notices about our work.

D oes it measure up to how you saw the picture as you were developing it?

There’s been a lot of debate online about the similarities between Forrest Gump and Benjamin Button...

I think people are reading a little more into that. I know they've made some things out of certain things that have unconsciously gone in, but they’re quite different movies.

The biggest thing that is similar is probably the picturesque, incidental things. In its own way, Benjamin is a much more mature movie. It deals with a man’s life. Forrest Gump deals with his times.

One of the obvious comparisons is the way the movie's framed - with Cate Blanchett in the hospital, telling the story just as Gump does on the bench…

That was just a way of telling the story. My mother was dying at the time, and I had a personal involvement in that and a passion about that, but I thought it might be interesting to see how a woman looks at her life in her last days.[page-break]

Fincher is renowned for putting his own stamp on his movies. Were you concerned when he first signed on board?

When I first met him I didn’t know where he wanted to take this, because it was unlikely material if you just judge the other movies he’s made.

But you quickly realise that he has all sorts of varied interests and is a well-rounded human being, and this was not far from the thoughts and feelings he had about his father’s passing.

Do you think this is Fincher’s ‘Oscar’ movie?

I told him that he’s gotta’ grab hold of my coat-tails! In fact, I just called him up the other day and told him, ‘Look at the ride I’ve given you here, buddy!’

So it’s all down to you then, if he wins?

Basically, yeah! It’s not about him!

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