2014 Newport Beach Film Festival: A Talk With ‘Maleficent’ Screenwriter Linda Woolverton

Moderator Kevin Ott said it best of esteemed screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, during the 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival Screenwriting Seminar: “You’re such a badass.”

Screewriter Linda Woolverton

Known for scribing such works as Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the soon-to-be in theaters, ‘Maleficent’ — Woolverton took matters of her screenwriting career into her own hands when a colleague (she was then working at CBS as a development executive) told her her aspirations of working at Disney as a screenwriter were ludicrous. Linda, who had already written a Young Adult novel, made her way into the management offices of Disney Studios and left her novel on the desk of one of the executives. A few days later, Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg called her and offered her a job.

Her first assignment was Beauty and the Beast, a project beleaguered with ongoing script issues. Woolverton waged a four year battle with her fellow film collaborators to ensure Belle emerged on screen as an independent intellectual. When asked why she took on this fight, Woolverton replied, “I’m a feminist. And I couldn’t believe in this day and age we couldn’t have a strong, female lead.”

Fast forward two decades, after working on ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ amongst other projects, and Linda’s latest Disney feature, Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, is about to hit theaters. Linda described the enterprise of writing a villain as the protagonist irresistible. “With ‘Maleficent,’ I really wanted to show the bitch.

When asked what her writing process/discipline is like, Linda said:

“I don’t have one…I live to write. I write to live. Writing is like air, like breathing for me. I wake up and I can’t wait to write.”

‘Maleficent’ hits theaters May 30th.

About Amy Senger:
Amy Senger is an L.A. transplant by way of Washington, DC, and co-founder of 1X57, named to Washingtonian’s Tech Titans list with her partner Steven Mandzik. Follow her on twitter @sengseng and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email amy@1×57.com.
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