Robert Towne Poster


Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (16)  | Personal Quotes (6)  | Salary (1)

Overview (2)

Born in Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameRobert Bertram Schwartz

Mini Bio (1)

Writer, director, producer, actor. Born in Los Angeles, California, USA, and raised in the seaport town of San Pedro. Got his start acting and writing for legendary exploitation director/producer Roger Corman. Came into his own during the 1970s when he was regarded as one of the finest screenwriters in Hollywood. Began directing with mixed success in 1982. One of the best script doctors in Hollywood, he contributed crucial scenes to such films as Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Godfather (1972).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: David Montgomery <djmont@aol.com>

Spouse (2)

Luisa Towne (17 October 1984 - present) ( 1 child)
Julie Payne (November 1977 - 1982?) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Reputation as Script Doctor Extraordinaire

Trivia (16)

Had his name replaced in the final credits of Greystoke (1984) after he saw the film. The name he substituted, "P.H. Vazak", was that of his sheepdog. Wrote the garden scene between Marlon Brando and Al Pacino for The Godfather (1972). A long-time friend of Jack Nicholson whom he met while attending Jeff Corey's acting classes in the late 1950s.
Attended Pomona College.
Father of Katharine Towne (with his 1st wife Julie Payne) and Chiara Towne (with his 2nd wife Luisa Towne).
Ex-son-in-law of actors John Payne and Anne Shirley.
Is good friends with Tom Cruise.
Ex-father-in-law of Charlie Hunnam.
According to one book ("Easy Riders and Raging Bulls" by Peter Biskind), Towne is a bit of a hypochondriac who visits his doctors constantly.
Sydney Pollack was his Los Angeles next door neighbor.
Towne's very first writing assignment was on a Roger Corman vehicle titled, "Fraternity Hell Week." The B-movie never did make to the screen as the script was ultimately lost.
Originally planned to write three films about detective Jake Gittes, each of which would deal with government corruption in setting up certain utilities to develop the city of Los Angeles. The first, Chinatown (1974), dealt with stealing water from nearby areas. The second The Two Jakes (1990), dealt with the oil industry. The third, Cloverleaf, was to be about the gutting of public transportation in favor of freeways. Though this was never filmed as a Jake Gittes vehicle, this same premise became the basis for Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), complete with Cloverleaf being the name of the holding company. Like Chinatown and The Two Jakes, it also begins with an adultery case.
Though born in blue-collar San Pedro, CA, he spent most of his childhood growing up in the very upscale, gated community of Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes, CA as well as in LA's Brentwood section. Attended Chadwick prep school,.
His father Lou owned a women's clothing store called Towne Smart Shop, and eventually he changed the family surname from Schwartz to Towne.
Approached to write/direct a remake of The 39 Steps (1935). [January 2004]
According to an interview Towne gave he said his relationship, in the fifties, with dancer Barrie Chase led to one of his greatest successes. Barrie had been married to a hairdresser named Gene Shacove who had become the hottest stylist in Beverly Hills by the late fifties, as well as one of the most notorious womanizers. Towne was intrigued that a hairdresser was straight and asked to meet him. Barrie arranged for Towne to pick her up when she was getting her hair done, and when he walked into the salon he was stunned. It was full of the most beautiful women in LA, and Shacove was moving from woman to woman running his hands through their hair, whispering in their ear, and generally behaving like a "rooster in the hen house". It took almost twenty years but Towne finally crafted his impressions of that day into a successful script- Shampoo.
His niece is actress and filmmaker Jocelyn Towne, who is married to actor Simon Helberg.
According to George Stevens, Jr.'s book "Conversations at the American Film Institute," Towne did an uncredited rewrite for The Godfather (1972) which ended up being the "Have you taken care of everything?" scene between Al Pacino and Marlon Brando's characters Michael and Vito Corleone.

Personal Quotes (6)

Because the one thing you know when you're shooting a script, and I've been on a lot of sets, is space is in a script, and the distance between the page and the stage is so enormous that it is unbelievable how even the brightest people can misread your intent or not see it altogether. Scripts have air in them. Scripts are supposed to leave things up to interpretation, but people can misread things enormously, so sometimes it's just a matter of wanting to put on the screen what you had in mind.
The [American] dream was more "If you can be similar in that way, you can be American and have equal opportunities." Whereas today it's, how can I put it? It's kind of Balkanized: Black pride. Gay pride. White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant pride. All of these things, you know, they're more polarized, aren't they? The red and blue states. Christians, that's the most insidious aspect of it, giving into this great Christian image of America. That's the most frightening thing of all. Whereas [in the past] they're trying to find things that unite us, to minimize the differences. Whereas today there's this belief in empowerment and entitlement by maximizing differences. I'm not so sure that that's healthy. I don't mean that it's not healthy to want to hang onto your culture. But I think it's unhealthy to set it up against somebody else's and say "ours is better." Then there's the Christian Right saying that this is a Christian country when it's not.
"There are the big tent-pole movies and the struggling independents. All these movies that we've spoken about, like Chinatown (1974) and The Last Detail (1973), would probably be independent movies today, and would not be financed in the normal course of things. And that's unhealthy. The amount of ancillary effort unrelated to what goes up on-screen by filmmakers, all of us, having to beg, borrow, and steal to finance, to go out there with hat in hand, the struggle we have to do in preparation just for the movies to happen, is a drain. It's like I was saying to George Clooney at a film festival recently, it's a drain on you, it's time-consuming, it's energy-consuming. You get to the point where you're so fucking tired you feel like you've already done the movie, just trying to get enough money to make it. In the old days, the amount of time it took to make Ask the Dust (2006), I could have made three movies and not been so tired and thought, "God, I never want to do this again"." [on today's Hollywood (March 2006)].
"Money problems are what led me to projects like Days of Thunder (1990). I needed to pay my bills".
Until the screenwriter does his job, nobody else has a job. In other words, he is the asshole who keeps everyone else from going to work.
What was once said of the British aristocracy, that they did nothing and did it very well - is a definition that could be applied to movie actors. For gifted movie actors affect us most, I believe, not by talking, fighting, fucking, killing, cursing, or cross-dressing. They do it by being photographed. The point is that a fine actor onscreen conveys a staggering amount of information before he ever opens his mouth.

Salary (1)

Chinatown (1974) $25,000

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