Dylan Callaghan talks to William Broyles Jr. for the Writers Guild of America, west.
Since serving in Vietnam as a Marine Lieutenant, William Broyles, Jr. has gone on to successful careers as a both a journalist and a Hollywood screenwriter, but he's still very much the war veteran that led a platoon of men in combat. Though he's scribed for films as disparate as Polar Express and Planet of the Apes, nothing is more personal to him than the war movies he's worked on, including last year's Jarhead and the new Clint Eastwood-helmed Flags of Our Fathers.
Broyles put his heart and the better part of two years into adapting James Bradley's same-titled novel, hoping Steven Spielberg would direct the film, but as is so often the case in Hollywood, things didn't quite go as planned. Instead, Oscar-winning writer-director Paul Haggis penned a second incarnation of Broyles' script and was able to persuade Clint Eastwood to shoot it. In a trade where being rewritten is anathema, Broyles is not only a dutiful warrior without a hint of bitterness, but says flatly that Haggis did a better job and that, in the final assessment, he is grateful the film he was so passionate about was finally made.