It's rare in Hollywood to get the chance to work on something that you actually care about. The tragedy of the place is all these talented people trying to get excited about stuff they themselves would only view at gunpoint.
At the beginning, everything's possible and everybody gets equal time, all the characters, all the ideas. You don't know who's going to be the main characters; they're all fighting it out. It's like kind of the best time in a way.
Life serves up satire. Unfortunately. Or fortunately. I don't know. You have to reel it in to drama.
I came to Hollywood originally writing comedy and writing satire.
Starting in '98 when I was researching 'Traffic,' I got to meet really serious people in Washington, which for a screenwriter was kind of a great gift. And I really valued these guys; I stayed in touch with them, and I find their point-of-view quite interesting.
I think the War on Terror has succeeded in creating more terror, more terrorists, a less safe America, and a less safe world.
I know Charlie Kaufman really well, for instance. Charlie Kaufman starts a story, and he has no freaking idea where he's going. None. Zero. And he doesn't want to know, because there's a little bit of death in that.
As I got into my teens, I started reading better books, beginning with the Beats and then the hippie writers, people like Wallace Stegner up in Northern California, and all the political New Journalism stuff, the Boys on the Bus dudes and Ken Kesey.