How 'Planet of the Apes' Writer Mark Bomback Got His Improbable Hollywood Start

Before writing tentpoles like 'The Wolverine' and 'Live Free or Die,' Mark Bomback worked as Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey's assistant.
Courtesy of Mark Bomback
Andy Serkis, Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback on the 'Apes' set

He might be one of the most in-demand tentpole writers in Hollywood, but Mark Bomback began his showbiz career literally hauling piss.

On his first day on the job as Glenn Frey's assistant back in 1994, the War for the Planet of the Apes writer exchanged a quick hello with the late Eagles guitarist before being tossed a small black film canister. "It's hot and liquid inside. And he said, 'I need you to bring my daughter's urine sample to her pediatrician.’ It was that kind of job," Bomback recalls. "I was like, 'My pediatrician dad would completely cringe at the idea that he's put in all this work to give me a Wesleyan education, and here I am doing a urine delivery for a rock star's child.'"

During his one-year stint with Frey, Bomback, now 45, started writing screenplays and decided to pursue the profession full time. Over the years, he has penned such high-profile pics as The Wolverine and Live Free or Die Hard and done uncredited work on Fifty Shades of Grey, Logan and The Mummy.

"I had never been on a project with that much secrecy around it," he says of being on the high-tension, hyper-scrutinized Fifty Shades set. "The set was on lockdown, and it was just really fascinating. I was able to watch something that everybody was speculating about sort of unfold in front of me."

With Apes, which has earned $228 million worldwide since its July 14 opening, Bomback closes out the bloodthirsty primates trilogy that started with a production polish on Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver's 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes (he returned as a credited screenwriter on the 2014 sequel alongside Jaffa and Silver).

Despite the success, he sometimes misses the perks of working for a rock legend — like courtside Lakers tickets and an up-close peek at The Eagles' 1994 reunion. "Glenn was the most generous person. I had an engagement party and he attended with his wife and regaled all my friends with Eagles stories, and he was really lovely to me," says Bomback, who lives in Chappaqua, New York (Hillary Clinton is a neighbor) with his wife and four children. "I spend a lot of time around people who are famous. And in some ways he was the model as to how you conduct yourself when you're famous."

comments powered by Disqus