Behind every Hollywood story is a story that most people — outside of diehard fans — know nothing about. We might see a successful actor, director, screenwriter or cinematographer, and see only the glamorous good life. You know, the one paved with streets of gold, spacious mansions, a life wanting for nothing. Except … that’s just what we see on the surface. There’s always more, and it’s usually darker, with lots of dramatic tension.
This week, I received an email from Loren Kantor, a Los Angeles-based woodcut artist who recently carved an original woodcut print inspired by writer/director Shane Black, whose film “Iron Man 3” hits theaters this Friday, May 3. He also lived with Shane for a year while attending UCLA.
As Loren tells us, the writer/director had an auspicious start in the film industry. At age 22, he wrote “Lethal Weapon,” and went on to pen “The Last Boy Scout” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” and then sort of disappeared.
In 2003, after a period of partying and substance abuse, Shane wrote “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” and cast Robert Downey, Jr., who at the time was nearly unemployable due to his own troubles with drugs and prison. The film was a modest success when it was released in 2005.
By 2008, Shane stopped drinking and got serious about writing again. Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. were working on the first “Iron Man” screenplay, and turned to Shane for help. He wrote the press conference scene after Tony Stark returns from captivity.
When Favreau declined to direct “Iron Man 3,” Robert Downey, Jr. lobbied for Shane to direct. Shane helped Downey, Jr. get his career back on track with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Now it was time to return that favor.
It’s a great story and shows how important those connections are — the true connections who remember you and will circle back around to give you a hand up or, in this case, a shot at directing the third film in a wildly popular superhero franchise.
Read more of Shane’s story, as told by Loren, over at his Web site.