JW: Three terrific movies have been made based on your work: Get Shorty in 1995, which I read made 200 million dollars; Jackie Brown in 1996 and Out of Sight with George Clooney in 1998. What was your role — did you write the screenplays?See--Ten top Elmore Leonard film adaptations; Ten top Elmore Leonard film adaptations; Elmore Leonard's ten favorite books.
EL: No. They would ask me what actors I saw in the roles. I would tell them, and they’d say “Oh that’s interesting.” And that would be the end of it. Writing screenplays is not my business. I’ve written half a dozen, and maybe half of those were made. But it was never a satisfying experience. It was just work. You’re an employee. You would be told what to do. Studio execs would cross out my dialogue and put in their dialogue.
JW: And you didn’t like this? They were just trying to help.
EL: Those movies were terrible. They put in the obvious things you had thrown out right away when you were writing.
JW: Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed Jackie Brown, based on Rum Punch.
EL: That’s the one that’s closest to my work, because the first half is all development of the characters. The action of the plot gets going only at that point. Robert Forster worked. I loved Pam Greer. And Samuel L. Jackson...[read on]