As of the writing of this blog post, the Oxfordian biopic Anonymous has earned $6.9 million in international box office revenue. The movie also continues to open in staggered release in countries all over the world through the end of February. Later in 2012, of course, its extended life will begin on home video, on television, on airplane flights, in classrooms, etc.
Despite the sometimes astonishingly vein-bulging tantrums of Oxfordian deniers, Anonymous will continue to introduce millions of people to the Shakespeare authorship mystery and to the most likely alternative "Shakespeare" candidate -- Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.
We're grateful for Anonymous screenwriter John Orloff giving this blog an exclusive long-form interview with him about the alpha to omega of his script. (Orloff has also generously provided some of his own personal collection of photographs he took while on set with director Roland Emmerich -- during the movie's principal photography last year.)
In part one of the "Shakespeare" by Another Name Blog's interview with Orloff, we discussed the screenwriter's own discovery of the Shakespeare authorship question courtesy of the 1989 PBS Frontline documentary The Shakespeare Mystery. Orloff ultimately wrote a screenplay about Edward de Vere and "Shakespeare," a script he originally titled Soul of the Age.
Orloff had, he said, shopped it around Hollywood. And on the strength of Soul of the Age, Orloff had had meetings with Tom Hanks -- who ultimately hired Orloff to write two scripts for Hanks' co-production with Steven Spielberg, Band of Brothers.
(SPOILER ALERT: This part of the interview with Orloff (part 2 of 3) begins getting into the thick of the movie's plot.)
MARK ANDERSON: Does Tom Hanks have an opinion on the authorship question?
JOHN ORLOFF: We never discussed it. My guess is he's a Stratfordian. But we never got deep into it. But Soul of the Age led to me getting a writing career and doing other work. A lot for Tom.
MKA: Beyond Band of Brothers?
JO: Only that was produced. But I wrote about three more scripts for Tom over the years. And then meanwhile, I got a phone call from my agent saying Roland Emmerich is looking for writers for this disaster movie he's going to make about global warming. I said, "I don't know if I'm the right guy for that kind of stuff. I don't know the genre that well."
But [my agent] said, 'Yeah, but he's heard a lot about you. He really wants to meet you.'
MKA: So this was when?
JO: This was 2002 or '03. We sat down in his office, and we talked about "Day After Tomorrow." Which sounded totally cool. But it also sounded like a movie I didn't understand as a writer. It's very outside of my wheelhouse, as they say.
The other thing is, as a writer, I have to write things I love. And I don't know that genre as well as I should. And I said that to Roland. I said, "I'm so flattered that you think I can do this. I'm not sure I can. And I think quite frankly you can get a lot of writers who are way better than me for this kind of material."
He said, "Well, what else have you written?" And I do what I always do, which is, I say, "Funny you should ask. Do you know anything about the Shakespeare authorship issue." And as usual there's a blank face. And I start doing my spiel, my 20 minute spiel. And I could see he was really interested. He said he wanted to read it. And about a week or two later, my agent called me up and said, "Hold on to your seat. Roland Emmerich wants to buy your script."
Which was a surprise. As it would be to anybody. Now that I know Roland, it's not a surprise at all. But not knowing Roland it seems like a surprise.