Eric Roth is one of the greatest writers in all of Hollywood. Six of the scripts he's written on have been nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards, and his career spans decades, including work for Scorsese, Spielberg, Kurosawa, and many more. He just finished Killers of the Flower Moon, which is set to release in November, and has a plethora of upcoming projects. 

Roth recently sat down to chat with Indiewire about his work on Dune.

His relationship with Villeneuve came from some work he did on Arrival, and when Villeneuve offered him Dune, Roth had to seriously think about it. Science fiction was not his forte. And he wasn't a big fan of the book.

Roth told Indiewire, "I had read the book. I liked other science-fiction books at least equally: Childhood’s End, The Foundation. But Dune was a little populist for me, it was prodigious. I knew it had defined a lot of people, certainly 14-, 15-year-old boys, which I was close to at that point. But I was never a fanboy."

This actually helped Roth take a step back. He wasn't married to anything in the book, but he respected the story at its center. To prepare for the movie, he sat down and wrote a long treatment so he could see the story he wanted to tell. 

Roth said, "I wrote a 50-page treatment of what we thought the first movie might look, sound, and smell like. They wanted to make sure we weren’t in some way violating what the Dune world was and taking some oddball approach. Then I had to write a second treatment for the second movie, another 60 pages. We then had in place the basis of what could be the screenplay for the book. I started breaking it down. Every time I do an adaptation I underline the book or piece of material, and I realized that the whole book was cinematic."

Once all that was agreed upon, he went to write the project. He focused the story on the main character and the idea of prophets, then met with Villeneuve. They agreed to focus more on the feminine aspects of the story, like the prophetic Bene Gesserit.

That gave him some direction, and when all was said and done, he turned in a draft and then left the project. This is how it goes in Hollywood, especially for writers in demand who take on different parts of each project. But eventually, Roth came back to Dune.

He told Indiewire, "[Co-screenwriter] Jon Spaihts was a person I didn’t know from Adam. He and Denis got along great. And he knows the book, chapter, and verse. Then they asked me back because certain things weren’t quite working, so I did some work before they were shooting. Denis showed me the movie and I had a bunch of notes of what was working and not working. They agreed with some, disagreed with others. They brought me back to do some writing for reshoots, and they brought Jon back. So it had an oddball symmetry to it. It was seamless, a weird way for three different people, who I’ve never seen, to work in a collaboration. Everybody’s strength came to the forefront. And Denis, with his wonderful style and vision, brought it all together into the movie he wanted to make."

Roth is 77, and a writer that feels ageless. Still, it's hard not to wonder what Hollywood will be in the next few years and if we'll get stalwarts like him anymore. His wisdom and work will stand the test of time. Knowing he has so many projects coming out soon makes me very happy. 

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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