cover image Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood

Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood

Ed Zwick. Gallery, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-6680-4699-9

Last Samurai director Zwick debuts with a rollicking career retrospective that looks back at temperamental actors, vengeful studio heads, and the mysterious alchemy that governs great filmmaking. He recaps his triumphs, including the 1980s TV drama Thirtysomething; 1989’s Civil War saga, Glory; and 1994’s Legends of the Fall; as well as occasional flops, like the 1992 road odyssey Leaving Normal. Along the way, Zwick folds in plenty of showbiz gossip: Matthew Broderick insisted that the director let his mother revise the script for Glory; “I’ll kill your whole family, you little fuck,” Harvey Weinstein hissed at Zwick during a dispute over the producer credits for Shakespeare in Love. Though Zwick offers rich, funny dissections of Hollywood phoniness (“When an actor does something you don’t like, never say, ‘I have a better idea.‘ Say, ‘You’ve just given me a great idea!’ ”), he’s also alive to the emotional truths that can emerge from artifice, as when Denzel Washington cried during a particularly brutal scene in Glory: “That a single tear appeared and slid down his face, catching the light at the perfect moment, is the magic of movies.” The result is a wildly entertaining portrait of moviemaking that combines wry humor with irrepressible passion. For film buffs, it’s a must-read. Photos. Agents: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency, and John Burnham, Atlas Artists. (Feb.)