Joe Eszterhas

Screenwriter, Producer, Journalist
As one of the highest-paid and most notorious writers in 1990s Hollywood, Joe Eszterhas became that rare modern screenwriter who was able to lay claim to achieving auteur status. Eszterhas was less important for his ... Read more »
Born: 11/22/1944 in Hungary

Filmography

Writer (20)

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction 2006 (Movie)

(from characters) (Source Material)

Szabadsag, Szerelem 2006 (Movie)

(Story By)

Szabadsag, Szerelem 2006 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Burn, Hollywood, Burn 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Telling Lies in America 1997 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Jade 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Showgirls 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Nowhere to Run 1993 (Movie)

(From Story)

Nowhere to Run 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Sliver 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Basic Instinct 1992 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Hearts of Fire 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Checking Out 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Music Box 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Betrayed 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Big Shots 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Jagged Edge 1985 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Flashdance 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

F.I.S.T. 1978 (Movie)

(From Story)

F.I.S.T. 1978 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Producer (3)

Sliver 1993 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Music Box 1989 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Betrayed 1988 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)
Actor (3)

The First Film 2015 (Movie)

(Himself)

Joe Eszterhas: The E! True Hollywood Story 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Burn, Hollywood, Burn 1998 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Biography

As one of the highest-paid and most notorious writers in 1990s Hollywood, Joe Eszterhas became that rare modern screenwriter who was able to lay claim to achieving auteur status. Eszterhas was less important for his talent - which some reviewers deemed rather dubious - than for his stature as a star writer in an industry that doted on high-profile actors and directors. With plots that tended to focus on love and betrayal, Eszterhas courted controversy almost from the start when he made his debut with "F.I.S.T." (1978) and begrudgingly sharing screenwriting credit with star Sylvester Stallone. He had his first major hit with the paper-thin but memorable "Flashdance" (1983), before tackling more mature fare like "Betrayed" (1988) and "Music Box" (1989). But Eszterhas achieved a great deal of infamy with his most successful movie, the erotic thriller "Basic Instinct" (1992), which he sold for a whopping $3 million and pushed the envelope on sexual content while managing to generate protests for its alleged anti-gay sentiments. He continued to mine the depths of eroticism with "Sliver" (199) and "Jade" (1995), before his career was effectively destroyed by "Showgirls" (1995) and "Burn, Hollywood, Burn" (1998), widely considered to be two of the worst movies ever made. Regardless of his reputation as a purveyor of mediocrity, there was no doubt that Eszterhas became exceedingly rich from his efforts while also helping to bring screenwriters out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Relationships

Naomi Baka

Wife
Met on the set of "Sliver" (1993); Baka was formerly married to "Sliver" producer Bill MacDonald Married July 30, 1994; nicknamed 'Guinea' by Eszterhas, due to her Italian ancestry, she called him 'King'; mother of Joseph Jeremiah and Nicholas Pompeo Eszterhas

Maria Biro

Mother
Schizophrenic; died when Eszterhas was 23

Istvan Eszterhas

Father
Born c. 1907; Catholic Authored more than 30 Hungarian historical novels

Suzanne Eszterhas

Daughter
Born c. 1977; mother Gerri Eszterhas

John Eszterhas

Son
Born Sept. 27, 1997; mother Naomi Baka

Joseph Eszterhas

Son
Born March 11, 1994; mother Naomi Baka; attended his parents' wedding at five-months-old

Nicholas Eszterhas

Son
Born c. September 1995; mother Naomi Baka

Steven Eszterhas

Son
Born c. 1975; mother Gerri Eszterhas

Gerri Javer Eszterhas

Wife
Married in 1972; mother of Steven and Suzanne Eszterhas Divorced in 1994

EDUCATION

Ohio State University

Columbus , Ohio
graduated

Milestones

2006

Credited with creating characters that inspired the sequel "Basic Instinct 2"

2006

Co-wrote Hungarian historical drama "Children of Glory"

1997

Penned the script for "An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn"; director Arthur Hiller clashed with Eszterhas and removed his name from the film

1995

Penned the script for crime drama "Jade," starring David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino and Chazz Palminteri

1995

Wrote the critically panned erotic drama "Showgirls," directed by Paul Verhoeven

1994

Savoy Pictures purchased his screenplay "Foreplay" for $3.5 million plus 2.5 percent of the gross including a percentage of soundtrack sales; such deals were usually reserved for elite movie stars and directors

1993

Agreed to rewrite the ending of "Sliver" after the original conclusion tested baldly; version used was not all his

1992

Initially sided with gay and lesbian protesters over the supposedly homophobic elements in the film of his screenplay for "Basic Instinct"; recanted after seeing the final cut of the film

1990

Paid a then-record $3 million for his screenplay "Basic Instinct"

1989

Left his representative at Mike Ovitz's Creative Artists Agency for agent (and longtime friend) Guy McElwaine at International Creative Management; claimed that he was subsequently threatened by Ovitz

1988

First film as executive producer, "Betrayed"; also wrote screenplay

1985

Clashed with Columbia studio head Frank Price over the ending of "Jagged Edge"

1983

As film's writer, clashed with director Adrian Lyne over the ending of "Flashdance"

1983

Wrote first draft of a semi-autobiographical film based on his childhood in Cleveland; script eventually became "Telling Lies in America" (1997)

1978

Feature debut, received story credit and co-scripted (with Sylvester Stallone) the labor drama "F.I.S.T." under the mentorship of director Norman Jewison

1974

Sued along with The Plain Dealer by the victim of a bridge collapse for implying he had interviewed the victim's mother when he had not; The Plain Dealer ordered to pay $60,000

1974

Published a book entitled Charlie Simpson's Apocalypse, which was nominated for the National Book Award; received a call from an agent at United Artists who found his prose "cinematic"

1970

Fired by Cleveland's The Plain Dealer after he criticized his editors in The Evergreen Review

1970

Became a political correspondent for Rolling Stone; served as senior editor from 1971-75

1944

Emmigrated from Hungary; spent time in refugee camps

Mother died when he was 23

His mother's schizophrenia became serious when he was 13

Began career as reporter for newspapers in Dayton, OH and Cleveland, OH

Bonus Trivia

.

Eszterhas has earned nearly as much notoriety for his personal life as for his screenwriting. He introduced close friend and "Sliver" co-producer Bill MacDonald to star Sharon Stone in February 1993. The pair embarked on a whirlwind affair, which broke up MacDonald's five-month-old marriage to Naomi Baka. MacDonald and Stone were engaged by March. (The relationship did not last however.) Joe and Gerri Eszterhas took the still distraught Baka along on their family vacation to Hawaii. Over the course of the outing, Joe and Naomi fell in love but did not act on their passion until after Joe had made a painful declaration to his wife and children. He then went to Naomi's adjoining room at the Four Seasons, announced his love and informed her that they were leaving. The pair moved across the island to the Ritz Carlton and their romance bloomed. They would eventually marry and have two children of their own.

.

Eszterhas was paid $2.4 million for the screenplay for the murder mystery "Jade" in the fall of 1992. That same season, he received a $1.5 million advance to begin writing "Showgirls."

.

"The quality most writers exhibit toward another is jealousy....I have heard from no writers congratulating me, not one. I have not heard from the Writers Guild...and I make a lot of money for them. They have my address." – Eszterhas quoted in "Man Behind Screenplay Calling Shots" by Tom Green, USA Today, June 1, 1994

.

"I work in the Hollywood mainstream. Almost all of my pictures have been with the studios...It may be a rarity for someone to speak up to protect his work. But I speak up within the confines of doing commercial, accessible work. My defiance is to do my own vision." – Eszterhas quoted in "Man Behind Screenplay Calling Shots" by Tom Green, USA Today, June 1, 1994

.

"I think we would see better movies – and God, we see a lot of sh*tty movies these days – if writers would stand up for what they've written and if directors would stand up for what they believe in with studio heads and the Michael Eisners of the world." – Eszterhas quoted in "Guts," an interview/profile in Entertainment Weekly, Aug. 12, 1994

.

"I like putting women in a situation where they don't take any sh*t, or they try not to. I've always thought the key to writing interesting women on screen is to treat them simply as human beings, make no differentiation in terms of what they want, the respect they want, the fact they fight for things, that they hurt, they cry, they bleed. Calling me a misogynist is not a fair overview of what I've done. I think I've gotten some of the best actresses of my generation into pictures, between Jessie [Jessica Lange] and [Glenn] Close and [Debra] Winger. These women are very attuned to who they are, to what they represent." – Eszterhas quoted in "Guts," an interview/profile in Entertainment Weekly, Aug. 12, 1994

.

After being a smoker for years, Eszterhas began an anti-smoking campaign aimed at stopping depictions in film. Eszterhas was also diagnosed with throat cancer. He had a New York Times op-ed piece on the subject in August of 2002.

.

After collaborating on a failed film project titled "The Maccabees" with Mel Gibson, Eszterhas wrote an explosive letter in April 2012 that accused Gibson of making anti-Semitic comments and violent threats against his ex-girlfriend Oksana Gregorieva during production, and also claimed Gibson was using the film about a Jewish hero to save his tarnished reputation. In a response letter, Gibson denied Eszterhas' allegations and called him out for writing a "substandard first draft."

SIMILAR ARTICLES