Tony Gilroy is 58 today.
In the early 1990s, while still in graduate school, I got an idea for a little two-minute film about a rumor I had heard that the “generic” beer they sold in the state of Washington was actually Pabst Blue Ribbon. But my nature is not to write anything short and so the screenplay got longer and longer and ended up feature-length, having little to do with the original idea but filled with many of the obsessions that are clear enough to anyone who has read this blog even a little. It was an extremely silly comedy called, “The Pabst Conspiracy.”
As a result of this, I wrote a number of other screenplays, bought a camera, and immersed myself in the craft of filmmaking. Other than being a decent writer, I was totally out of my depth. But I learned a great deal about filmmaking. And I remember going to see a film at that time, Dolores Claiborne, and thinking, “That is a perfect screenplay.” The film itself is really quite good. But you are never likely to see a more finely crafted script.
That script was one of the first of Tony Gilroy who is probably best known for having written the Bourne films. And yes, they are hardly great films, but as action films go, they are some of the best around. He also wrote and directed Michael Clayton. I really like that film, but I haven’t bothered to watch the films he’s made since. I’m sure his directing is as competent as ever.
Gilroy comes from Hollywood family. His brother John Gilroy is a very successful editor. His other brother Dan Gilroy is a successful screenwriter and the husband of Rene Russo. And his father is the great playwright and independent filmmaker Frank Gilroy. He is probably best known for his play (later made into a film) The Subject Was Roses. I know him especially from one of the films he produced, wrote, and directed, The Gig. But of most interest here is that at the time I was learning film craft and enjoying his son’s writing, I read Frank Gilroy’s I Wake Up Screening: Everything You Need to Know about Independent Films Including a Thousand Reasons Not To.
Happy birthday Tony Gilroy!