Oscar-Nominated Writers Reveal Which Awards-Season Characters Would Make the Best Desert-Island Companions

1:00 PM 2/2/2020

by Tara Bitran

The Hollywood Reporter asked the writers behind 'Just Mercy,' 'Bombshell,' 'Harriet' and 'The Two Popes' who, from any project, they would choose to join them if stranded.

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  • Destin Daniel Cretton

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    As Just Mercy, which Cretton co-wrote and directed, is based on Bryan Stevenson's memoir, it's only natural that Cretton would want to spend more time with the defense attorney, played onscreen by Michael B. Jordan. "I was going to say Bryan Stevenson, not because he is a lawyer, but he happens to be an incredible jazz musician with an incredible voice," Cretton says. "I asked him if he wasn't doing this work, what would he be doing? His whole family is really musical, and he said he'd probably be in a jazz band."

  • Charles Randolph

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    One character screenwriter Randolph would not want to be stranded with is Roger Ailes, the primary subject of his film Bombshell. "If we were on a desert island for a long time and you are thinking of that person as television," Randolph says, he would choose investor "Steve Eisman, for sure." Eisman was fictionalized as Mark Baum and played by Steve Carell in 2015's The Big Short, which Randolph co-wrote. Quips Randolph: "He would probably be pretty fun. He would certainly not stop talking."

  • Kasi Lemmons

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    The director and co-writer of the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo, does not hesitate when selecting her desert-island compatriot. "I would definitely pick Harriet," she tells THR, citing Tubman's practical capabilities. But Lemmons also touts Tubman's reputation as "an awesome person and a great storyteller." She explains that Tubman "did these one-woman shows. People said she was very fun and warm, very humorous in the way she told her own stories."

  • Anthony McCarten

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    McCarten has written his fair share of biopics aside from Netflix's The Two Popes, including The Theory of Everything (2014), Darkest Hour (2017) and Bohemian Rhapsody (2018). Out of all those famous faces, the Oscar nominee for best screenplay says he'd pick vibrant Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. "He'd be way more fun than anyone else," says McCarten. "He'd show me something about living passionately. I mean, that guy burned. And for a quiet writer, that's probably the best life lesson for me."

    This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.