1     



Aaron Sorkin

  • American producer
  • Born June 9, 1961

Aaron Benjamin Sorkin (born June 9, 1961) is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and playwright. His works include the Broadway plays A Few Good Men, The Farnsworth Invention and To Kill a Mockingbird; the television series Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Newsroom; and the films A Few Good Men, The American President, Charlie Wilson's War, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs. For writing The Social Network, he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, among other awards.


Any time you get two people in a room who disagree about anything, the time of day, there is a scene to be written. That's what I look for.




It seems to me that more and more we've come to expect less and less from each other, and I think that should change.




I desperately need the love of complete strangers. That's one reason I overtip. I love when skycaps, waiters, and valets are happy to see me.




But HBO is less interested in how many people are watching than in how much the people who are watching are liking the show. They didn't set up their business model to make writers happy. It's just a nice unintended consequence.




The rules are all in a sixty-four-page pamphlet by Aristotle called 'Poetics.' It was written almost three thousand years ago, but I promise you, if something is wrong with what you're writing, you've probably broken one of Aristotle's rules.




Our responsibility is to captivate you for however long we've asked for your attention. That said, there is tremendous drama to be gotten from the great, what you would say, heavy issues.




I don't have a great instrument. I don't have the kind of ungodly control over my voice and body that great actors have. And I've worked with enough great actors to know that I'm not one.




It's nice that HBO is in business with the audience and not with the advertisers. There's a difference.




We're about to shoot an episode on Air Force One, for instance, and we're going to take liberties, small liberties, with Air Force One, as we take small liberties with our White House set.




I grew up in the theatre. It's where I got my start. Writing a television drama with theatrical dialogue about the theatre is beyond perfection.




My parents took me to see plays, starting from when I was very little. Oftentimes, I was too young to understand. I don't know what my parents were thinking - 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' when I was eight years old, that kind of thing. So lots of times, I didn't understand what was going on, but I just loved the sound of dialogue.




If I am writing a movie and I am stuck, I can call the studio and tell them it's delayed. You can't do that with television - you have air dates to meet.




I get the 'The New York Times' and 'Los Angeles Times' thrown at my door every morning. I'll read the front page of 'The New York Times,' then the op-eds, then scan the arts section and then the sports section. Then I do the same with the 'L.A. Times.'




I am truly at my happiest not when I am writing an aria for an actor or making a grand political or social point. I am at my happiest when I've figured out a fun way for somebody to slip on a banana peel.




I'm very physical. When I'm writing, I'm playing all the parts; I'm saying the lines out loud, and if I get excited about something - which doesn't happen very often when I'm writing, but it's the greatest feeling when it does - I'll be out of the chair and walking around, and if I'm at home, I'll find myself two blocks from my house.




I am uncomfortable talking about the things that I write. It seems unseemly to me. I have no problem at all when I see anybody else talking about the same project, but I feel my work should speak for itself.




Don't try to guess what it is people want and give it to them. Don't ask for a show of hands. Try your best to write what you like, what you think your friends would like and what you think your father would like and then cross your fingers... The most valuable thing you have is your own voice.




Trying to guess what the (mass) audience wants and then trying to satisfy that is usually a bad recipe for getting something good.




I am all for everyone having a voice; I just don't think everyone has earned the microphone. And that's what the Internet has done.




Don't ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world, it's the only thing that ever has.




I think I would have done very well as a writer in the Forties. I think the last time America was a great country was then or not long after. It was before Vietnam, before Watergate.




With 'The Social Network,' I got into it at first because frankly I thought there was a cool courtroom drama to be had with the intellectual properties. And then what further drew me in was that the most extraordinary social networking device ever created was created by the world's most antisocial person. I liked that story.




I'm more comfortable writing traditional protagonists. But 'Steve Jobs' and 'The Social Network' have antiheroes. I like to write antiheroes as if they're making their case to God about why they should be allowed into heaven. I have to find something in that character that is like me and write to that.




The Internet, in general, I find troubling. The anonymity has made us all meaner and dumber. This thing that was supposed to bring us closer together, I see it doing the opposite.




When I wrote 'The West Wing,' the juice behind it was that in popular culture, our leaders in government are generally portrayed as Machiavellian, or as idiots. I thought, well, how about writing about a group of hyper-competent people?




I have a big problem with people who glamorize dumbness and demonize education and intellect. And I'm giving a pretty good description of Sarah Palin right now.




Well, I must tell you I write the scripts very close to the bone. So I'm writing episode seven now and couldn't tell you what happens in episode eight.




It's populated by people who, by and large, have terrific communication skills. Every day is an extraordinary day. For me, it was just a great area for storytelling.




I've got plenty of quirks. I go to an office early in the morning. Early in the morning is really good writing time. I take anywhere between six to eight showers a day. I'm not exaggerating. I'm not a germaphobe: it's all about a fresh start.




The properties of people and the properties of character have almost nothing to do with each other. They really don't. I know it seems like they do because we look alike, but people don't speak in dialogue. Their lives don't unfold in a series of scenes that form a narrative arc.




My way of getting the best from people on a set is to notice their work, to make every prop master, every seamstress, part of 'The Newsroom' or 'The West Wing' or 'Steve Jobs.'




I have a lot of respect for people who are great at ad-libbing and for writers and directors who are able to create a scene in which that works. Judd Apatow is fantastic at it. But as an audience member, I like the sound of something that's been written - I like it to sound written.




I consider plot a necessary intrusion on what I really want to do, which is write snappy dialogue.




I had a lot of survival jobs. One was for the Witty Ditty singing-telegram company. I was in the red-and-white stripes with the straw boater hat and kazoo. Balloons. Even when you're sleeping on a friend's couch, you have to pay some kind of rent.




When I write something, I want the best director to direct it. And that's not going to be me. So when David Fincher comes along and wants to direct 'The Social Network,' when Bennett Miller comes along and wants to direct 'Moneyball,' or when Danny Boyle wants to direct 'Jobs'? Hallelujah. I want them directing it.




There are some screw-ups headed your way. I wish I could tell you that there was a trick to avoiding the screw-ups... but they're coming for ya. It's a combination of life being unpredictable, and you being super dumb.



1