Strike of the Pen

September 6, 2012

In “The Words,” out Friday, Bradley Cooper plays a struggling writer who swipes another author’s unpublished manuscript. Hey, writing is hard — just ask these movie authors.

Paul Sheldon
There are lots of tricks to bust through writer’s block. In 1990’s “Misery,” Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) discovers that Paul Sheldon (James Caan) responds really well to a sledgehammer.

Truman Capote
Of all the versions of Capote that have cropped up in films, none has been creepier than Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal in 2005’s “Capote.” The story of how “In Cold Blood” came to be is an extreme example of how far a writer will go to finish.

Charlie Kaufman
Charlie Kaufman is a real guy who wrote 2002’s “Adaptation.” In the film, Kaufman (Nicolas Cage, who also plays Kaufman’s fictional twin) is trying to write a movie based on an article about orchids written by another writer and let’s all go lie down now.

Joe Gillis
In 1950’s “Sunset Boulevard,” screenwriter Gillis (William Holden) gets a ticket out of the starving-artist life when he’s hired by silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) to write her comeback. Unfortunately, his last stop is facedown in her pool.

Jack Torrance
All work and no play (and a haunted hotel and alcoholism and having Shelley Duvall as your wife) makes Jack a murderous boy in 1980’s “The Shining.” Writer’s block kills, kids.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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Marc Silver · September 6, 2012