Working with Alan Horn

Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Colleagues discuss working with the outgoing Warner Bros. chief.

"When I first met Alan, he came in and introduced himself to the creative group. He spoke with pride of the legacy of Warners,  the history and how he felt a tremendous responsibility to uphold and build on the heritage. He talked about quality, pride in work. The importance of honesty. He wanted to know exactly what we thought. And how he valued integrity and truthfulness. He said nobody should ever be afraid of telling him the truth, and he relied on us to do that. We were a team. And we had each other’s backs. He led our group for 11 years with those words and that standard. He’s an amazing man, incredible humanitarian and has been a great boss, mentor and friend. We’ve been very fortunate to work for and with him.”
— Jeff Robinov
President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group

“Alan is the proverbial guy that you want in the foxhole. I love the guy. I’ve known him since, like, 1973. He’s like a big brother to me. He’s a very unusual person to do that job. I’ve never met anybody who’s as honest and as straight a shooter as Alan Horn in that position. He never lies to people, and he never bullshits. He’s 68 now and in the best shape of any 68-year-old I’ve ever met in my life. He gives himself a point every time he works out, and he’s way to the good. He hates working out, too. But he’s an amazingly disciplined guy. I was over at his house one day and his dad was sitting in a corner, and I noticed that he was kind of quiet. So I said, ‘Mr. Horn, how did you meet Mrs. Horn?’ And his face lit up, and he told this story about how he met his wife. If you look at When Harry Met Sally …, the first story is exactly how he met his wife. His father passed away before the film came out, so we dedicated the film to him.”
— Rob Reiner
Castle Rock partner and director of When Harry Met Sally …

"He came to visit the set of The Town. We were shooting in Boston, and I was anxious. To me, it was a pretty fair amount of money that I was asking to spend, so I was concerned that we put on the right face and come across professionally. We were shooting in a very cramped interior space, so the monitors were outside in the street. So someone tells me, ‘Alan Horn is here.’ I finish working and I go outside, and my mom has showed up. And she was talking to him, and she’s like, ‘Let me tell you something about movies.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my God — this is going to get me fired.’ But they hit it off. She didn’t even realize he was the guy. Alan was always really straight with me, told me what he expected, what he liked, what he didn’t like. This was like my second movie that I directed, and the first one was very inexpensive. I found him to be a warm kind of guy. For a while I was thinking, ‘When is the other shoe going to drop?’ Because nobody in this business is as warm and congenial and straightforward and honest as he seemed to be. I was kind of surprised with the amount of attention he paid, sometimes in a very granular way, to developing the script and giving notes. Sometimes he had really insightful notes. That was not something I expected. I thought he would be a distant kind of godfather. And he always did it with such a sense of humility, which is not a trait that you find a lot in Hollywood. The cliche is that filmmakers make movies, and studio heads have obtuse ideas that are about making money and have nothing to do with the integrity of the movie. In this case, if he was anything, he was willing to a fault to consider my ideas.”
— Ben Affleck
Director, co-writer and star of The Town

"People have this image of Alan; I don’t know what it is. The wrong word is ‘square.’ The easiest thing to say about Alan is he’s from another generation, and he doesn’t get it. But you look at the movies these guys have made, and it’s quite astounding. And the best part of Alan is that when he doesn’t get it, he says he doesn’t get it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a no. It’s hard to talk about Alan because I hate that he’s leaving. He really is one of the most special guys that I’ve ever met in this business. It’s a bummer, and I think everyone [at Warners] feels it. What makes Warners the best studio in town — and it comes from the top down — is they have complete and utter respect for filmmakers, whether it’s Chris Nolan or Zack Snyder or me. It’s so easy to make a film for Alan Horn. As long as you make good on your word, you never hear anything. It’s a director-driven studio, as much as a studio can be director-driven. He lets the work speak for itself. It’s done him a disservice because nobody knows what impact he’s had at this studio. He’s really an emotional, loving guy. I remember one time he and his daughter came over to my office — his grown daughter, who was, like, 20, I suppose. We just started talking about life. We started talking about my mom, and we started talking about his mom. And then Alan started crying, and his daughter starts crying, and then I’m crying because it’s such a touching moment between them. He runs this huge, cold corporation — or that’s the way you think of corporations — and he couldn’t be a warmer or more personable guy.”
— Todd Phillips
Director and producer of the Hangover films

“What always impressed me about Alan Horn was that whenever he would come to the set, he interacted with everyone and remembered people’s names — not just the actors and director and producers but members of the crew. He had equal respect and appreciation for every single person working on the film, which is a fantastic quality, especially for someone at his level.”
— Daniel Radcliffe
Star of the Harry Potter movies