Steve Golin Remembered: "The Most No-Bulls—t Person You've Ever Met"

Steve Golin GETTY -  H 2016
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton, Tom McCarthy, Joy Gorman Wettels, Michel Gondry, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Josh Singer pay tribute to the Oscar-winning 'Spotlight' producer and founder of Anonymous Content and Propaganda Films, who died April 21 of cancer at 64.

I just talked to him on Friday. We were putting together my next movie. He was like, "OK, we're going to set it up this week, and here's a checklist of things we need to get into place." The timing is just crazy to me. I've been talking to him so much lately, I keep expecting for him to call me.

The first time we met was about Spotlight. I wasn't sure I wanted to do the movie. I couldn't see it. But I met Steve for coffee in Beverly Hills, and you could just get a sense talking with him that he had this ability to break things down and get them done. And he was incredibly likable. He had so many levels, he could connect with just about anyone. He had this innocent charm to him. My wife just reminded me this morning about when Golin had The Revenant and Spotlight down the stretch during awards season. They were both his movies, competing against each other. And Steve would say to us, "How can Spotlight possibly beat The Revenant? The Revenant is so big, and it's such a marvel!" And my wife was like, "Steve!" But he just kept saying it. That was Steve. Honest charm.

About four or five months ago, we had dinner at Mozza. We spent about four hours together. He'd just come out of treatment, so he was feeling strong. He was not a guy who would talk about himself very much — he was very understated — but I got him going. I was curious about the early days at Propaganda and how he started making music videos and movies. I remember at the end, I was like, "Man, I hope you appreciate what an epic life you've had."

Tom McCarthy is the director of Spotlight.

Read on for more tributes.

He was hilarious. He was the most salt-of-the-earth, no-bullshit person you've ever met. A lot of people said they were disarmed by how un-Hollywood he was for somebody so powerful. But he was extremely modest. He didn't realize what a visionary he was. He just loved what he did.

We went to the same high school in Yonkers, New York — I went 25 years later — and we used to laugh a lot about it. He always called me "Yonkizz." And that's how I'd sign my notes to him, Y-O-N-K-I-Z-Z. I remember there was an article about our high school being torn down. I texted him, "Man, we've come a long way."

He could figure out how to make anything work. The sheer mathematics of physical production — it's such a specific and daunting kind of thing to learn and understand. And he was just great at that. He was great at the details and the nitty-gritty of production. He loved every element of it. He found joy in the challenges. And he always reminded you how lucky we were to be doing what we were doing.

Joy Gorman Wettels, producer, 13 Reasons Why

***

Steve Golin was a brilliant producer who cared deeply for the quality of his craft. I will always appreciate his unflinching support of a bunch of wildlings who ran through the streets of New York while filming Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — with and without permits. I will also remember his personal bravery along with his tremendous contribution to the art form that he loved.

Jim Carrey, star of Golin's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

***

I met him years ago, when I was just a beginner director. I did a video for Björk that he really, really liked. That's one of the reasons he wanted to work with me. And when we started together on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I noticed how soft and warm he was. But at the same time he had a very strong determination. Steven was sweet. He was like a friend, a normal guy. But his strength was discreet.

Michel Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

***

When I moved to L.A., Steve Golin was my first American friend. From the day I met him, he opened the doors of his home, his company and his heart to me. He became my brother. We did Babel and The Revenant together and several other short films and commercials. No matter how big the challenge we were facing — and there were tons — Steve was always serene. To hear him pitch a project he was developing was a true joy.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director, Babel and The Revenant

***

Steve always had these little sayings and one of the great ones was, “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.” He always said it with an impish smile but he fought hard for the things he believed in.

— Josh Singer, writer, The Fifth Estate and Spotlight

***

Steve really understood and genuinely loved the movie business and movies themselves. He had terrific taste, and most of all he really cared and did everything he could to make his projects the best they could be.

— Michael Keaton, star of Golin's Birdman and Spotlight

A version of this story appears in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.