Christopher Nolan Says the Script for Scrapped Howard Hughes Film Reached ‘Satisfaction’

Christopher Nolan is revisiting his best unmade movie, a Howard Hughes biopic.

The “Oppenheimer” writer-director revealed to The New York Times that he reached “satisfaction” with his shelved script that was overshadowed by Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett. “The Aviator” was released in 2004, with Nolan’s follow-up to 2002’s “Insomnia” instead being “Batman Begins” in 2005.

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Now, Nolan is detailing how the scrapped Hughes film inspired the writing process for his other biopic, “Oppenheimer.”

“I wrote the [‘Oppenheimer] script relatively quickly once I started writing, but I had a lot worked out beforehand. Many years ago, I had written a script about the life of Howard Hughes that never got made because I wrote it right as Scorsese was making his own film,” Nolan said. “But I cracked the script to my satisfaction, and that gave me a lot of insight on how to distill a person’s life and how to view a person’s life in a thematic way, so that the film is more than the sum of its parts. So in some ways, the script, yes, it took me a few months, but it was really a culmination of 20 years of thinking.”

Nolan added, “As I do interviews and the film’s coming out, I’m always asked, do you know what you’re doing next? And the answer is always the same. For me, I do one thing at a time and I put everything into it obsessively, and the film is not finished. Well, the way I like to put it is, the audience finishes the film.”

The “Interstellar” director previously told The Daily Beast that Jim Carrey was tied to the early 2000s film as Hughes, a role the comedian was “born to play.”

As for Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated “The Aviator,” the auteur admitted the big-budget Warner Bros. film almost made him quit Hollywood.

“The last two weeks of editing and mixing ‘The Aviator,’ I had left the business from the stress. I said if this is the way you have to make films then I’m not going to do it anymore,” Scorsese told The New York Times in 2020. “It’s like being in a bunker and you’re firing out in all directions. You begin to realize you’re not speaking the same language anymore, so you can’t make pictures anymore.”

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