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Brian Helgeland reflects on writing 'LA Confidential' with Curtis Hanson




Director Curtis Hanson photographed during  the
Director Curtis Hanson photographed during the "4th Annual Directors Guild of America Honors" at the Waldorf-Astoria November 16, 2003 in New York City.
Mark Mainz/Getty Images

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Curtis Hanson, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay for the 1997 noir thriller "L.A. Confidential," died Tuesday at his Hollywood Hills Home at the age of 71. 

Hanson had also directed films including "8 Mile" and "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," but the iconic Los Angeles noir helped cement his success in Hollywood. He won an Oscar for writing the film alongside Brian Helgeland, who joined take Two to remember his late friend.

Their relationship began around the making of "L.A. Confidential," of which Helgeland had been trying to convince Warner Brothers to let him make. However, he was spurned by the company, who hired Hanson instead of him. Lucky for Helgeland, Hanson took a chance on the young writer and brought him on to the project.

"Curtis started out as a screen writer and had done horror films in his younger days, as I had," said Helgeland in an interview with Take Two's A Martinez. "In a funny sort of way, Curtis saw a younger version of himself in me."

The two ended up working together to create the movie.

But things didn't go well. Warner Brothers didn't take the movie seriously and were indifferent to the drafts that they'd turn in, said Helgeland, "We basically worked on our own dime a lot of it. I did a lot of drafts that I didn't get paid for, but Curtis was always this cheerleader for the film. Not rah rah, just this kind of grim cheerleader and wouldn't take no for an answer, so it was kind of, that was his big thing was to just put this thing on his shoulders and not put it down till he got it made."

Warner Brothers remained unenthusiastic about the film even after it was finished. They had assigned a bad release date for it, said Helgeland, and they wouldn't send it to any festivals. But Hanson pushed and eventually got it into Cannes, where it was a resounding success. From there, it began to pick up awards, until finally, they the writers walked away with an Oscar.

When asked which character Hanson would've associated the most with in "L.A. Confidential," Helgeland said, "I think ironically, he associated more with Kevin Spacey's character, [Jack] Vincennes, because Vincennes had sort of existed on the fringes of Hollywood. And not that Curtis was on the fringes of Hollywood, but he wasn't an A-list go to guy at the time. And I think he had a lot to prove cause he loved Hollywood so much and he loved movies so much. And he knew he had this great movie in him, but...he had to give himself the chance to make it. It wasn't going to be given to him."

Besides Helgeland, others from the film also took time to remember the late filmmaker.

Actors Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, who starred in the movie, tweeted about Hanson's death Tuesday evening:

https://twitter.com/russellcrowe/status/778428750719397888

https://twitter.com/TheGuyPearce/status/778508908251975680