Oscar-winning producer Irwin Winkler reveals Fisher never finished a remarkably prescient 1990s political thriller called Pandora.
By any measure, Irwin Winkler has enjoyed a successful Hollywood career, one that spans five decades and more than 60 films as a producer and/or director. The Oscar winner’s name appears in the credits of all six Rocky movies — plus the first two entires in the fledgling Creed franchise — as well as Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Point Blank and The Right Stuff. But like every veteran producer in the business, the list of films the Coney Island-born Winkler didn’t make is almost as long as the ones he did.
Winkler’s hugely enjoyable new memoir, A Life in Movies closes with a roll call of all the scripts he commissioned or acquired that never made it before the camera. Reading over the list — which includes a Daniel Boone biopic penned by John Milius and a version of The Tempest conceived by Ray Bradbury — one that jumped out to us right away was written by a dearly departed space general and screenwriter, Carrie Fisher. (Watch our video interview with Winkler above.)
It’s no secret that Fisher emerged as one of Hollywood’s most sought after screenwriters and script doctors after the original Star Wars trilogy wrapped up in the early 1980s. But this particular script, titled Pandora, remained a secret until Winkler printed a teasing logline for it in his book. “It was a political story,” Winkler recalls, likening it to Elia Kazan’s 1957 classic A Face in the Crowd. “It was about a political figure ... who has a great, great aura about him and becomes a political opportunist.” Written in the early ’90s, Pandora also contains a lot of trenchant commentary about the media’s involvement in our elections. And if that puts you in mind of the current political climate, you’re not the only one. “Now that I think about it,” Winkler notes, ”it was more about Donald Trump.”
So why wasn’t Pandora ever made? Mainly because Fisher never finished the script, even with Winkler’s gentle prodding. “Carrie was an incredibly funny, endearing, brilliant woman,” he says of his collaborator, who died in 2016. “For me she could do no wrong. She’d always criticize herself as doing wrong, but if you were her friend, you never saw that part of it.”
Speaking about Pandora again made Winkler eager to revisit it. “I’m going to dig it out again and re-read it,” he vows. We can’t be the only ones who want to read it as well.
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