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Playing Against Type / Film Writing

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  • Al Franken, comedian, writer, talk radio host and U.S. senator, made an interesting turn as co-writer of the romantic drama When A Man Loves A Woman, starring Meg Ryan as an alcoholic struggling to keep her marriage together.
    • The film is supposedly based on Franken's real life relationship with his wife, who is a recovering alcoholic.
  • Leslie Dixon, usually a comedic writer for films such as the Hairspray remake, also wrote the sci-fi thriller Limitless, about a man who becomes addicted to a powerful mind drug.
  • Aaron McGruder, creator of the comic strip turned animated series The Boondocks, also co-wrote the non-comedic war film Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.
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  • John Patrick Shanley, the Pulitzer Prize winner playwright of Doubt and Academy Award winning writer of Moonstruck, also wrote the adaptations of We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and Congo, along with the fantasy comedy Joe Versus the Volcano.
  • If this can be extended to television, Stephen J. Cannell was not limited to cop dramas and adventure shows - as one newspaper article pointed out, do The Greatest American Hero and Black Sheep Squadron have any real similarities other than both involving flying?
  • Chris Thompson created the cross-dressing sitcom Bosom Buddies, the acerbic Hollywood satire Action and the tabloid sendup The Naked Truth. He also created Shake it Up...
  • Vince Gilligan's background was in comedy before he joined The X-Files' writing staff, dividing his time between writing comedic and serious episodes. As his own show Breaking Bad gets increasingly dark, it deviates further from his type, if it hasn't redefined it altogether.
    • Gilligan was also one of the (many) writers of Hancock, which combines comedy and science fiction.
  • Jeremy Leven, the writer of romantic films such as Don Juan DeMarco and The Notebook, also co-wrote the Rated M for Manly science fiction film Real Steel.
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  • Tom Schulman more or less made playing against type an art form, writing the inspirational teacher drama Dead Poets Society (based on his life and winning an Oscar in the process), co-writing the sci-fi comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (which also happens to be this for Lovecraftian filmmakers Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna), writing the adventure film Medicine Man and writing and directing the dark comedy 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag.
  • After mostly writing raunchy comedies with lots of dialogue and pop culture references, Kevin Smith went against type with a horror/action/thriller movie Red State. This movie was also atypical for him as a director.
  • Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer, the writers of multiple Seinfeld episodes, also wrote the 2003 film adaptation of The Cat in the Hat.
  • Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, known for subversive, Genre-Busting comedies such as Zombieland and Deadpool, also wrote the sci-fi thriller Life.


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