Chris Terrio: A Biography of the Director and Academy Award Winning Screenwriter

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Chris Terrio won the best adapted screenplay Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, defeating a strong field that included Tony Kushner for Lincoln and David O Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. Terrio's screenplay was based on an article from Wired magazine Joshuah Bearman[1], as well as the book by CIA agent Tony Mendez, The Master of Disguise[2] that tells the story of the extraction of six hostages from the 1979 US embassy siege in Iran. Argo marks Terrio's first appearance as an Academy Award nominee.[3] In his acceptance speech, Terrio dedicated his award to Mendez: "Thirty-three years ago, Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, got six people out of a very bad situation, and I want to dedicate this to him."[4] Photo: Disney ABC Television Group Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

by Hugh Pickens, July 3, 2013


Academy Award winning screenwriter Chris Terrio is the author of the the screenplay "The Ends of the Earth" about Ponca City oil magnate E. W. Marland and his wife Lydie that will be filmed in 2014 or 2015. Learn more about the Marland movie at:


In the beginning is the word. Movies start on paper and screenwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for feature films. Screenwriters are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it in the required format to development executives. Screenwriters therefore have great influence over the creative direction and emotional impact of the screenplay and, arguably, of the finished film. They either pitch original ideas to producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold, or screenwriters are commissioned by a producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story.[5][6][7]

Chris Terrio, born on December 31, 1976 in Midland Beach, NY,[8] is an Academy Award winning American film director and screenwriter based in New York City. Terrio won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay[9] on February 24, 2013, for his screenplay for Argo—which was directed by Ben Affleck, and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. On February 17, 2013, Terrio also won the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay of 2012.[10] At the 70th Golden Globe Awards Terrio was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. The Argo script also brought Terrio a BAFTA nomination and the 2013 Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[11]

Contents

Path to Filmmaking

1993 yearbook shows a picture of Chris Terrio when he went to St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School. “Chris was dynamic — spectacular from the day he walked into the building,” says Josephine Cummings, who taught honors English at the Catholic school for 36 years adding that Chris "had a big mind and character.”[12]
Terrio grew up in Hell's Kitchen and Staten Island[13] and his path to filmmaking began with impressive high-school grades at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School[14] at in Staten Island. St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School (also known as SJS or Sea) is a co-educational Catholic school in the Huguenot neighborhood of Staten Island, New York. Though technically an independent school, it functions for all intents and purposes as a school of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York; though it has its own board of trustees. The school serves approximately 1,400 young men and women in 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades.[15]
Terrio studied English and American literature at Harvard University and while at college acted and directed in theatre[16] graduating in 1997.[17] While at Harvard Terrio lived at Adams House. Adams House is one of the twelve undergraduate houses at Harvard University, located between Harvard Square and the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before Harvard College opted to use a system of randomization to assign living quarters to upperclassmen, students were allowed to list housing preferences, which led to the congregation of like-minded individuals at various Houses. Under the aegis of Masters Bob and Jana Kiely (1972–1999) Adams became an artistic and literary haven; during this period, Adams also became widely regarded as the most gay-friendly house, in an era before equal rights for people of different sexual orientations were even considered a viable alternative at Harvard. Adams, under the Kielys, was also the first Harvard House to become fully co-ed. Notable residents of Adams House include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Charles Schumer, Henry Kissinger, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., William Randolph Hearst, Jr., William Burroughs, Robert Frost, and Buckminster Fuller.[18] Photo: Wikipedia

Early Life and Education

Chris Terrio (Full name: Christopher Francis Terrio[19]) was born on December 31, 1976 in Midland Beach, NY[20] and grew up in Hell's Kitchen and Staten Island.[21] "I was born in New York and every day rode the Staten Island ferry so my dream job was to be out on the water all day doing something that felt like it had some tangible reality," said Terrio.[22] Since he was a boy, Terrio loved New York and never felt that his home was anywhere else.[23] "I would take the boat into Manhattan all the time and look up at the kind of Emerald City Skyline. Since I was 8 years old, I've had a slightly romantic view of the city."[24]

Terrio's path to filmmaking began with impressive high-school grades at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School[25] in Staten Island where he graduated in 1993. "I went to Catholic school for 12 years, where my very good Latin teacher said, 'You don't have to be timid about where you apply'" so Terrio became the first from his school to go to Harvard.[26]

While in High School Terrio worked as a teen correspondent for the Staten Island Advance newspaper[27] but chose not to pursue a career in journalism. "I wasn't good enough, I was too lazy... I'm a little bit too manic to let things happen for me, and when you're a journalist and trying to prod people in the wrong way then it's disastrous."[28]

Harvard University

Terrio studied English and American literature at Harvard University and while at college acted and directed in theatre[29] graduating in 1997.[30]

During 1994 Terrio wrote about a dozen stories for the Harvard Crimson during his freshman year including stories about three Nobel Prize winners who graduated in the class of 1944, Harvard students who raised funds for Bosnian relief efforts, three male and two female undergraduates who streaked through Mather and Leverett dining halls, Al Sharpton's appearance at Emerson Hall, and a fire in Lowell House.[31][32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42]

Terrio was active in student theater at Harvard and was in Hasty Pudding Theatricals[43] appearing in Cast 148.[44] In 1994 Terrio appeared in the Loeb Experimental Theater's production of Carson McCullers' "The Square Root of Wonderful" as Paris giving an "engaging performance ...capturing the posture, motions, and tone of early adolescents."[45] In 1995 Terrio appeared in Agassiz Theater's production of "Falsettos" which won the production first place in the college division for the Mosshart Award at the New England Theater Conference. Terrio won praise for his portrayal of the antisocial son Jason. "Terrio's body language, facial expressions, even unkempt hair are so appropriate to the character that it is impossible to convince yourself that he is not actually twelve years old," wrote Joyelle H. McSweeney in the Harvard Crimson. "His Jason is not overly cute or naive, but rather aware, sarcastic, and capable of a deadpan humor to match the rest of the cast."[46][47] Terrio also appeared in a production of Eugene lonesco's "Rhinoceros" at the Loeb X in 1994,[48] Christopher Durang's "Titanic" at the Loeb Mainstage in 1995,[49] and worked as research director in Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club's production of Cantata 2000 in 1997.[50]

In 1997 Terrio wrote his senior thesis on Virginia Woolf[51] entitled 'The Greatest Book in the World': Toward Virginia Woolf's Literary Phenomenology winning a $2,500 Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize for excellence in scholarly work and research for his thesis together with his supervisor Professor William Handley.[52] “My thesis was on phenomenological philosophers and modernist writers. Somehow I ended up in film.”[53] Terrio continued his interest in Woolf and in 2005 said he hoped one day to do a film adaption of one of Woolf's novels. "Some day I'd like to do the film that's closest to my heart and my training, you know--maybe some day I'd do an adaptation of something like The Waves or To The Lighthouse and really see if I have the muscle to be faithful to Woolf in a different medium," says Terrio. "I'm so much a Woolf lover that even in mentioning Orlando and how much I love Tilda Swinton in that film, I have to say that it falls pretty far short--not to mention Mrs. Dalloway, which, no matter how great Vanessa Redgrave is in that film, is essentially not a Woolf anymore after all was said and done there. You'd think with the script and the actor, they would've gotten closer--but it's tricky."[54]

University of Cambridge

After Harvard Terrio was among four scholarship winners chosen from 124 applicants[55] to attend University of Cambridge[56] under a Harvard-Cambridge Scholarship after being the named the John Eliot Scholarship recipient at Jesus College in 1997.[57] “I did undergrad at Harvard in Literature," says Terrio. "But because John Harvard went to Cambridge, they have this thing called the Harvard Scholarship Fellowship where they send a couple of scholars from Harvard to Cambridge to do graduate work. You live in John Harvard’s rooms and go to cocktail parties. It’s a fantastic thing. You get travel money. I don’t think I’ve ever been as rich as I was that year."[58]

Terrio studied English Modernism at the University of Cambridge, specifically phenomenological philosophy, the study of the structures of subjective experience and consciousness, and how that affected ideas about time and subjectivity.[59] "The real and the really false, make-believe and belief-made, were distinctions which held no meaning for me as a boy," Terrio wrote in his application essay. "In college, my academic passion has been, through literature, to explore those processes which construct and re-make our experience of the actual world."[60] At Cambridge Terrio extended his undergraduate studies of Woolf to T. S. Eliot and Heidegger. "Heidegger, especially, rocked me. Heidegger is endlessly applicable to film but I say that with this strong caveat that I'm nowhere advanced enough making movies to have even thought about how to apply this stuff," said Terrio in 2005 adding that "theory is one thing and practice is another and I'm nowhere near to the point, if I ever get to the point, where I can blend the two like, say, someone like Godard does."[61]

Headed for a Ph.D. in literature, Terrio felt "the walls closing in"[62] and made the decision to go into film while at Cambridge. "I was going to go to graduate school in English and philosophy in language theory and [things] like that,"[63] says Terrio but after a while he found himself hanging out at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art all the time and not doing any of his course work at Cambridge. "That’s kind of when I began getting tipped off that I should do something else," said Terrio.[64] "I thought maybe I would a professor and write about books. I thought maybe I would write for the theatre. Then one day, we were at Cambridge, and I said what about film?"[65] "I wanted to write but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to write. I didn't know if I wanted to write fiction, or plays so I decided to go to film school. I had never been to California before but I worked for a summer for a law firm as a legal assistant to make some money then I just got in a car and drove [out to USC Film School]."[66]

USC School of Cinematic Arts

After Cambridge Terrio began to feel "the pressure to be specialized" and get on the the Ph.D. track but instead applied to USC film school, which was amenable to Terrio's scholarship in place of a Super-8 background.[67] "I was at University of Cambridge studying literature and I was getting claustrophobic and I knew that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life and I decided to go to USC film school."[68] Terrio was admitted to the MFA program in directing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts receiving his master's degree from USC in 2002 in film production.[69][70] “In Cambridge I found myself always working in theater and working with actors and hanging out in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. So I just decided that I would try film. I’d never done anything serious with film. So luckily they took a chance on me at USC and I got in."[71]

Terrio has mixed feelings about his two years at USC Film School. "There were certain professors there that I really loved. I don't like to talk shit about [USC] because then I feel like it impugns them and what they did. There were three or four people there that were really great. I have more complicated feelings about film school in general. It's tough. Obviously USC has a great film school, one of the best, but it is tough to take whatever nugget of thing that you have if you want to be a writer or a filmmaker and then sort of try to give it grades and structure it into a program. The ideal film school I think would be just a community of people, peers who are just reading each other's stuff and maybe some of them are older and have had experience. It's always a mixed bag as with any art school but the great thing is that they have toys. They have these endowments so you can get experience working on an avid. You learn what editing is and you learn what lens are which. I think that is really valuable."[72]

"I had no technical knowledge of film before that. I was afraid of the dolly. I think that what film school does is it kind of immerses you in that so if you have a story to tell, you have the tools to tell it with but I don't think that film school is ever going to help you discover yourself creatively. Film schools in fact sometimes work against that because they put you more into a three act Hollywood structure," said Terrio. "This is very true of many art schools. The very thing that made you want to go there is beaten out of you. I can't complain about USC, it's a good program but I have mixed feelings about it in general."[73]

While at USC Film School in 2000, Terrio was co-editor with Yana Gorskaya of Meet Joe Gay, "a charming documentary by a 27-year-old gay man that expresses his attempts to understand why he’s single and what it takes to have a successful relationship." The film screened at several film festivals. Meet Joe Gay was released in 2007 in First OUT, a DVD collection of award-winning gay-themed short films intended to showcase works from filmmakers in the gay community as well as other filmmakers whose work reflects the lives of those in the gay community.[74]

Terrio headed back to New York City from California the night his student film was completed. "I had my car packed up in the parking lot of FotoKem and I left straight from there," said Terrio adding that he holds no grudge towards Los Angeles, a city he once called "one big parking lot".[75] "It's more that there's something about being Back East that's just in my DNA. Maybe as New Yorkers we fetishize misery and the slightly less pleasant day-to-day living in a big city."[76]

Working with Merchant Ivory

While Terrio was at Cambridge James Ivory came there to speak. "I did something kind of nervy. I had written him a letter saying ‘hey, I saw you speak and I thought you were very impressive and if you want to throw me some pointers sometime on how to do it, you let me know.’ To my astonishment, about three weeks later, there was a handwritten letter from him in my box.”[77] Photo: UO Cinema Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

While Terrio was at Cambridge James Ivory came there to speak. "I did something kind of nervy. I had written him a letter saying ‘hey, I saw you speak and I thought you were very impressive and if you want to throw me some pointers sometime on how to do it, you let me know.’"[78]

"I knew that James Ivory had gone to USC film school and had kind of a literature background so I just out of the blue wrote it which I probably wouldn't have the nerve to do now so I just wrote a hand written letter on how he went to USC , did this directing program, and I'm doing it and if you ever want to sit down and tell me or show me the ropes just let me know.[79]

"To my astonishment, about three weeks later, there was a handwritten letter from him in my box," says Terrio. "So when I was back in New York I had dinner with him. He did give me some advice and I went off to USC."[80]

"I knew that they were planning to do this Henry James film. You know that English and American modernism, that period is one of the great loves of my academic life so I said (in the letter) 'Hey, hook me up if the time ever comes.' I said I'll do anything on the film. I'll wear one of those orange jump suits and sweep. I don't care. I just want to be there."[81]

"The Golden Bowl"

Ivory hired Terrio during summer break after Terrio's first year[82] at USC to do research for The Golden Bowl[83] and Terrio received a screen credit on the film as Assistant to Director James Ivory. "[Ivory] presumably needed someone with a literature background because the jobs were [to] go find Uma Thurman an Edith Wharton short story to read about how ladies behave in society.’ And I had just come off six years of literature, especially English Modernism. So it was the perfect nerd job for me.”[84] Terrio also conducted an interview with Richard Robbins who for 25 years scored films for Merchant-Ivory including Howard's End, The Remains of the Day, A Room with a View, Maurice, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, and The Golden Bowl.[85]

"The Divorce"

Terrio went back to USC and finished his Masters in Film Production.[86][87] "I got out of film school. I was broke, and I needed a job. I’m still broke, actually," Terrio said in 2005. "They hired me to do the behind-the-scenes on a film they were doing called The Divorce."[88] "I had no idea what I was doing but I did know how to work a video camera and hook up a microphone, so I got to watch that movie shoot in Paris for two months."[89]

While working on The Divorce Terrio first made his acquaintance with Glenn Close who he would later direct in Heights in 2005 and an episode of Damages in 2010. "I met Glenn [Close], because we were often the only English speakers who were around, we would talk together even though I was pretty low on the totem pole and she was obviously Glenn Close."[90] "I remember we had this long talk about cubism because Glenn was reading a book about Picasso at the time."[91] When Terrio later got involved in directing Heights, he immediately thought of Close because he had met her in Paris.[92] "I hoped that she would remember me and when this project came up, sure enough she did. I was that kid in the corner who was stalking you with that video camera."[93] Terrio began trying to mold some of the part of Diana in Heights toward Close. "There’s a certain irony and sense of humor that Glenn has that you get when you’re talking to her, but I don’t think you always get in her more fierce parts. I really wanted to get that sotto voce thing. I love ‘Bullets Over Broadway,’ and Diane Wiest is a genius. But I didn’t want this to be that; I felt that this needed to be more textured and more layered. Of course, Glenn is a very different person from Diana, but there are some similarities.”[94]

"Book of Kings"

On May 10, 2002 the Hudson Film Group and Merchant Ivory Productions released Terrio's 19 minute short, Book of Kings[95] about an intuitive mother who helps her son cope with the death of his beloved grandma.[96] Book of Kings debuted at the first Tribeca Film Festival, was a Sundance Buzz Cut, and played at a number of festivals worldwide before debuting on IFC in 2003.[97] Book of Kings won the award for best short at the Santa Fe Film Festival in 2002[98] and the award for best short at the Deauville Film Festival in 2002.[99]

"Jacob's Hands"

In 1944, while working in Hollywood, Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood collaborated on a film treatment called Jacob's Hands. The film was never produced, and the manuscript disappeared until it was found by the actress Sharon Stone while researching Huxley's work for a film; it was published in book form in 1998.[100]

"Merchant and Ivory had seen a couple of short films that I had made. They had seen some things that I had written, too. They have a foundation for the arts. They got me to work with the actor Matthew Modine to do a staged reading of a lost play by Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley ("Jacob's Hands")[101]. And I think they were pretty happy with that."[102] "Jacob's Hands" was co-directed with Matthew Modine and was presented at the Red Mills in Claverack NY July 27, 2002.[103] The performance, at Merchant and Ivory's estate in Columbia County, benefited the filmmakers' arts foundation.[104]

"Jacob Ericson, a shy, enigmatic, and somewhat inept ranch hand learns that his hands possess the mysterious gift of healing: a gift he uses to cure animals and Sharon, the woman he adores," reads the synopsis at Amazon.com. "His gift is quickly exploited and the boundaries of his charm and naïveté begin to stretch. Following Sharon to Los Angeles, Jacob offers his healing powers for free at a church in Los Angeles, and then at a seedy stage show where his beloved Sharon also works. It is when Jacob's gift is recruited to heal Earl Medwin, an eccentric, ailing young millionaire, that the love and security for which he has worked so hard begin to collapse. Jacob's Hands is a seamlessly crafted tale showing the dangers that a magical gift will undoubtedly bring to even the sincerest of characters."[105]

Terrio wrote in an article that the play was "presented as a reading for one actor accompanied by voices, this incarnation of Jacob's Hands features Matthew in the title role, accompanied by Mia Farrow, whose voice has the uncanny ability to at once suggest childlike innocence and cynicism; Dianne Wiest, playing Mrs. Medwin, the over-bearing matriarch who has Isherwood's stamp all over her (and whose persona would appear years later in Isherwood's work on the screenplay for The Loved One); Sam Waterston as a stalwart desert rancher; Tate Donovan as the ailing young millionaire Earl Medwin; Fisher Stevens as Lou Zaconi, the unscrupulous agent who manipulates Jacob into entering his showbiz underworld; and, as Dr. Ignatius Waldo, Wallace Shawn, whose ability to play smarmy and manipulative characters is without equal."[106]

Terrio's successful co-directorship of "Jacob's Hands" reassured Merchant Ivory. "I had directed that for them, which seemed to go pretty well, and I got to work with Mia Farrow and Diane Wiest and Sam Waterston, and I think that kind of assured them, ‘Okay, he won’t embarrass us in a room with big actors.’"[107]

Feature Film Directorial Debut with Heights

With the backing of Ismail Merchant,[108] at age 26, Terrio directed the feature film Heights (Sony Pictures Classics, 2005), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It follows a pivotal twenty-four hours in the interconnected lives of five New Yorkers and starred Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden and Jesse Bradford, and features Isabella Rossellini, George Segal and Rufus Wainwrigh] in small roles. It was one of the final films produced by Ismail Merchant.
With the backing of Ismail Merchant,[109] at age 26, Terrio directed the feature film Heights (Sony Pictures Classics, 2005), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Ismail Merchant's death just days before the premiere of Heights[110] cast a pall over the production. "It was a complete shock and we're all still struggling," said Terrio. "Ismail being such a force of nature, charging at the head of the army, I thought he'd outlast all of us, he's so robust. And since he gave me this chance, took me on as a mentor, he's one of the people you most want to be proud of you."[111] Photo: Wikipedia
The key casting choice in Heights was Glenn Close, who Terrio had previously worked with on Merchant-Ivory's "Le Divorce" in Paris. "She has this reputation for being fierce," said Terrio, "but when you get to know her, she's really quite funny and warm. We molded the character of Diana around her."[112] "Glenn said to me, “I don’t want to play a caricature. I don’t want to play the diva who sweeps into the room.” And I felt the same way—I wanted you to be able to see Diana at her vulnerable moments when she’s alone, alone in front of a wall or alone in front of a mirror, because otherwise she would be a histrionic type."[113] Photo: Wikipedia

Selection as Director

In 2001 Merchant optioned Amy Fox's one-act play Heights, expanded it to include "a very successful actress" (Glenn Close) and hired Fox to write the screenplay and Terrio to direct the film.[114] "Ismail said 'we have this project that’s been kicking around in development for a couple of years, and we don’t quite know where it’s going. Do you think you can do anything with this?’" said Terrio. "He gave me what was then the original script of Heights.”[115] "‘Do you think you could do anything with this?’ So I read it and said yeah, this is a world I know--people in their mid- to late twenties who are trying to establish themselves in the arts in New York--and I want to do it. So he told me I could start working on it, and if I could start to get it off the ground, he would produce it. In other words, I won the lottery!”"[116]

"They had seen some short films of mine that I had done in film school. I remember I was on my way to the Deauville Film Festival in France and Ismail gave me a script and said 'Can you read this and tell me what you think?'" said Terrio. "I read it on the plane and came back and told him what I thought of it and he said 'You know I think that would be a very good first film for you. I think you should direct it.'"[117]

With the backing of Ismail Merchant,[118] at age 26, Terrio directed the feature film Heights (Sony Pictures Classics, 2005), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. "We are supporting the young people," said Merchant about Heights. "We want to open the doors for people. We've gotten to move in the direction of people who have hopes."[119] “The genius about this film is that Merchant recognized Chris’s talent," said Glenn Close. "There was something really delightful, certainly intelligent, about him.”[120]

Shooting in New York City

Hap Epstein writes that the first character that Chris Terrio cast for his film Heights was New York City. "I grew up in the outer boroughs, just outside the city. I would take the boat into Manhattan all the time and look up at the kind of Emerald City Skyline," Terrio says. "Since I was 8 years old, I've had a slightly romantic view of the city, and I wanted to capture that."[121] For his images of New York City, Terrio credits Woody Allen as a major influence, as well as cinematographers Gordon Willis and Boris Kaufman, all of whom have helped create what he calls "the romance of Manhattan."[122] Terrio said it was Merchant's idea to film in New York City. While many movies set in New York are filmed in Toronto or elsewhere, usually for financial reasons, Merchant insisted on the real thing — especially since "Heights" includes a couple of scenes that are staged overlooking Ground Zero. "He got the project in motion. He wanted something that dealt with New York after 9/11, and he wanted to shoot it all in New York."[123]

"There’s a kind of romance about the city and the way that it’s shot in the city, I hope," said Terrio. "One of the reasons that Ismail Merchant wanted to make the film in New York so much was that after September 11th, he felt like since his company has been headquartered in New York for 35 years, even though most people associate Merchant/Ivory with London and Paris, after September 11th he wanted to make the film at home – in his home city of New York. I think that the romance of the city, the kind of Woody Allen romance of the skyline, was taken away from us a bit on September 11th. So in as much as one could do this with a small film, I wanted to just restore that visually a little bit. I wanted to kind of give you those longing romantic views of vertical space, of skyscrapers and towers and that kind of stuff."[124]

Actress Elizabeth Banks called Heights the quintessential New York story. " I think they did such a great job finding like the hotels in Times Square and the theater districts and downtown. And you know, Diana’s balcony of her house looks down on like the World Trade Center site, and so I think we were really trying to just show New York in all its glory. Could it take place other places? Sure, it would be a different film. It could be in London, I guess, but there aren’t really many other places that have that sense of like the theater and these grand apartments and these types of people and these types of parties. There are a couple parties in the film and I just love that. Having lived in New York, I believed everything about the movie."[125]

Casting Choices

Terrio says the movie started off as a one-scene play and that there are only about two lines from the original play that made it into the movie. "The assignment was that there was a table set for a romantic dinner but that there were three characters. That was the play and the screenplay took off from there. Ismail Merchant added the character of Diana, the Glenn Close character, and other characters were added and it took off in a very different direction."[126]

Glenn Close

"I knew I wanted Glenn from the beginning," said Terrio.[127] The key casting choice was Glenn Close, who Terrio worked with on Merchant-Ivory's "Le Divorce" in Paris. "She has this reputation for being fierce," said Terrio, "but when you get to know her, she's really quite funny and warm. We molded the character of Diana around her."[128] "Glenn said to me, “I don’t want to play a caricature. I don’t want to play the diva who sweeps into the room.” And I felt the same way—I wanted you to be able to see Diana at her vulnerable moments when she’s alone, alone in front of a wall or alone in front of a mirror, because otherwise she would be a histrionic type."[129] Elizabeth Banks said that having Glenn Close in the movie put a lot of pressure on the cast and made them bring their best to the film. "She just raises everybody’s game. I mean, she just makes you want to be a better actor and those are the type of people that you learn the most from and that you want to work with. …I just felt like, ‘Oh my God, you’d better not disappoint her. You’ve gotta be right there in the moment.’ And she’s so in the moment and such a force to be reckoned with and she’s not gonna back down. She’s going to bring her ‘A’ game every time so it was just great. It was so much fun. It’s so invigorating to work with her.”[130] Jesse Bradford added that Close had a magnetism when she was working. "It’s like laser beams and you just get sucked into what she’s doing. Fortunately for me, that’s pretty much exactly what my character goes through. He’s slightly overwhelmed and sucked in by this woman’s aura, because she’s a huge celebrity. Not only as Glenn Close but as this character in the movie. And so it was a luxury for me to kind of just give into that, instead of having to fight against it."[131]

Elizabeth Banks

The movie tracks a day in the life of Isabel played by Elizabeth Banks, a woman in her twenties, who balances her upcoming wedding to a handsome young attorney with her struggle to establish a name for herself as a photographer. "One of the things I adored about working with Elizabeth was that she’s unafraid to be unsympathetic. Isabel is a certain type of New York girl—the kind who went to prep school and inhabited the adult world from the time she was about thirteen. There’s a slight weariness to Isabel, and Elizabeth got that."[132] Banks says she did a lot of collabroating with Terrio for the part. "I wouldn’t say improv because that’s not really his style, but he will come to the set in the morning and say, ‘Let’s read through it,’ and anything that’s not making sense or not feeling right or not feeling necessary… This script was definitely fuller when we first started shooting and we cut a lot out. That’s true about a lot of scripts. They need to have a lot going on when you read them so that you really get a sense of the people and the characters on the page, but the minute you put it up visually, you can take a lot of the words away because you can do so much with a glance, or a look, or an embrace that you don’t need the words. Suddenly the words seem redundant. So we took a lot of the redundancy, I think, out of it by taking some of the words out and just making it more of our own, too. And making it more of Chris’. I think Chris was really invested in the writing of the screenplay. He adapted it from Amy Fox’s one act play, but her one act play was only the last scene of the movie."[133] "Chris, he’s very mature for his age and he went to film school and he had such strong vision for this, he was so prepared, and so just meeting him put to rest any concerns I would have about him as a first time director. He really doesn’t seem like a first time director. To be honest with you, since Glenn Close had already sort of said of said, ‘Ok, I’m gonna go with this guy,’ who was I to say I don’t know? As long as she had confidence in him, I mean that sort of set the tone for everybody else."[134]

Eric Bogosian

With Close in the starring role, it was relatively easy to cast Eric Bogosian.[135] "I wanted Eric Bogosian for the character of Henry, but Eric is always so busy with his writing and his acting and whatever that I thought that the chances were slim," said Terrio. "Now the Henry/Diana relationship is one of my favorite relationships in the film because I think Eric and Glenn… I mean, they hadn’t really met before but they just met each other and totally hit it off and totally just got it. And so I think when you see them you really feel that it’s a relationship that might have been going on for 25 years, as I imagined it to have been – from the time they were teenagers or something. You know Henry and Diana had been friends for a long time - or at least immediately post-college Henry and Diana had been friends - so that was a nice surprise that just came out of the chemistry between the two of them."[136]

Terrio recounts that it is easier to go fishing for actors of the caliber of Bogosian in New York than perhaps it would be in L.A., because people are generally a little bit more accessible and friendly toward independent film. "Glenn [Close] brought me to the Gotham Awards right before we shot. And I just went up - after a glass of wine - and approached Eric Bogosian, and I said: 'We've been talking to your agent about this part, and I'm not even sure if you've seen it. Can you do it?' The next day it got rolling. There isn't a lot of money involved in a film like this, obviously."[137]

George Segal

George Segal was another role that was relatively easy to cast.[138] "George Segal was a blast," said Terrio.[139] " I didn’t want the rabbi to be the sage man on the mountain—the wise character whom our hero visits to get advice. The thing about George is that he’s so irreverent about everything. I felt that he could sell the first-act stuff that’s sort of comic, then later on, he could turn on a dime and play the minor key just as well. He didn’t read the whole script, I don’t think, so the first time he saw the movie was in Miami. I was ecstatic that George responded so well to the film and became our cheerleader down there."[140]

Isabella Rossellini

"Isabella Rossellini was just a pleasure. She’s such a gentle soul. She’s not a diva in the least bit. In fact, she said to me at the end of the day that she was relieved that I wasn’t scary because she thinks so many directors are scary. (Laughing) David Lynch must have traumatized her. Luckily I’m not a genius like David Lynch so I’m not scary in that sense (laughing)."[141]

Jesse Bradford

Terrio cast Jesse Bradford in a key role. "I didn't think of Jesse right away," said Terrio. "But you see some actors in movies that don't have the best writing in the world, and you see them rising above that, and that's how it was with Jesse. James' favorite movie is 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,' and we talked a lot about that. I think Matt really got the script right from the beginning."[142] Bradford was originally apprehensive about working with a first time director but Terrio "proved to me very fast that though he was a first time director, he was clearly going to do a good job." "I think Chris [Terrio] does a great job of showing New York ...in a really original way and I think more importantly in a way that felt very natural, if you’ve ever lived there."[143]

James Marsden

Marsden was pleased to be part of the cast of a Merchant Ivory film. " I was very excited to hear that they were producing it. And it was great to see them do something that was contemporary and present day in New York. They usually do period films set in England or Paris. I think Ismail [Merchant] said that after 9/11 he wanted to do something set in modern-day New York. But if you just look at their films, they're very elegant filmmakers," said Marsden. "When I sat down with Chris, I was so taken with the script and the story and everything, and how elegant the whole thing was, that I said, ‘I'll play any of these roles. Wherever you see most fit to put me in this movie, I'd be happy to be a part of it.’ "[144] During the filming Terrio coached the Oklahoma-born actor on his accent. "I had to get coached a bit on the Manhattan lifestyle," said Marsden. "I thought I'd gotten rid of my Oklahoma accent complete, but the director, Chris Terrio, would go, 'You're holding on to that r a little too long."[145]

Rufus Wainwright

Terrio calls casting singer-composer Rufus Wainwright "my great coup. He can really hold a close-up."[146] "I’d known his music for awhile and I’d always sort of appreciated his lyrical genius and his way with words. The character of Jeremy really wasn’t anything. It was just a composite of a few plot enablers. And then I was flipping through The New York Times 'Arts' section and there was an article, it was related to Rufus’ album “Want One,” and there was an article that said something… It had a big picture of Rufus and it said something like, ‘Rufus Wainwright emerges from gay hell.’ It was about his battles with addictions and some other things. I thought, ‘This is perfect.’ Rufus is perfectly credible as this person who’s been one of Benjamin’s exes and who is sort of slightly world-weary and wise at the ripe old age of 28, or whatever Rufus was."[147]

Movie Plot

Heights follows a pivotal twenty-four hours in the interconnected lives of five New Yorkers and starred Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden and Jesse Bradford, and features Isabella Rossellini, George Segal and Rufus Wainwrigh] in small roles. Heights makes abundant references to MacBeth. "Significantly, in Terrio's and Fox's interpretation of the play, MacBeth is nowhere to be found. Even in the first scene with the Juilliard students, MacBeth has very few lines - Lady MacBeth dominates," writes Sid Ray. "None of the recurring billboards of the Broadway production features the play's titular character. Through Diana Lee and her daughter, the film centralizes the hidden, suppressed story of Lady MacBeth. Moreover, the film suggests that Lady MacBeth may be weeping behind pillars though she puts on a mocking and defiant public face."[148]

The film starts off looking like it might be a marriage comedy, says Terrio but as the day and night progress, the style of the film gets looser, the dialogue becomes more sparse, and the mood darkens a shift in tone as the day and night progress inspired, in part, by the work of New York playwright Edward Albee. “Albee was briefly a writing mentor of mine,” said Terrio. “[His plays] “A Delicate Balance” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” have a structure similar to the one we used in this film – they take place over one night, and as the night goes on the world gets bleaker, but then the sun rises in the end.”[149]

Directing the Film

The entire six-week shoot was in New York.[150] Terrio says that he was "so clueless" directing his first major studio film that he didn't know how complicated it would be to do night shooting, work on location in New York City, or work with high-profile stars or he would have been scared out of it.[151] "You are on location in New York and you show up on location and there are all these trucks and you think "That's all for me. I have to tell that techno-crane where to go and I have to figure out what lens to use on that truck of cameras and lenses,'" said Terrio. "It's a constant battle but it's a thrill especially if you are on a low budget film. There is all this stuff to fill the frame. the documentarian kicks in because you can just take your fictitious characters and stick them into such a real environment and they begin responding to that."[152] "Some of my short films were set on location in New York in the outer boroughs, so I was used to the documentary aspect of jumping into the streets and getting dirty in order to get the shot," says Terrio. "Shooting in New York wasn’t hard for me because I knew the drill and I knew how to steal shots in order to get it done. The ensemble cast–now that I look it at, it was daunting because there were all of these great actors in the thick of things doing it."[153]

Terrio says he comes from a part of the city that is more working-class than the world of Heights "which was called "haute bohemian" by someone. It's more the world that I encountered in college and in graduate school. I felt pretty comfortable, because I felt like I know these people."[154] Terrio saw Heights' visuals as a tribute to his father. "He wrote manuals for [New York City] corporations and brought us to work one day [from Staten Island]. I remember I was shocked that he was boxed in, in this place." So the view of Heights' upscale lawyer Jonathan is of a man "trapped in the grid that is Manhattan."[155]

Terrio considers Heights a multi-character ensemble piece and saw parallels with Crash, another ensemble piece that appeared at the same time. "Heights is being released at the same time that a multi-character ensemble piece such as Crash is also in theaters," said Terrio. "The thing is that Crash is about how, in Los Angeles, people don’t intersect and interact. Heights is about the opposite, how in New York people are always butting elbows and crossing paths and intersecting. In a way, one could view them as coastal companion movies. I think Crash is darker than Heights is. Heights, at least in the first act, has a slightly lighter tone."[156]

Terrio says he had the advantage of it being a chronological shoot so the actors were really in the skins of their characters by the end of shooting. "By the time of that last scene, Elizabeth and James and Jesse had gone a month and change as those characters, so they really knew what was true and what wasn’t true. That helped the tone evolve as well because they evolved with the characters."[157]

Terrio used some quick thinking and guerrilla-filmmaking techniques to keep the film within budget. For example, in the opening scene of Glenn Close as she critiques the young actors’ staging of Macbeth Terrio couldn’t afford 200 extras to come and be the Juilliard students. "Our extras casting guy, Keith Gunthorpe, went around to acting schools and put up signs that said, “Take a Master Class in Shakespeare with Glenn Close—FREE—Lincoln Center Library on Thursday,” and I swear to you, we had a line down Lincoln Center Plaza of people to take this. So we have all these real acting students who are there, and Glenn just lit up. We’d done the scene in rehearsal, without them, but with them, she suddenly became like a Baptist preacher at the pulpit. I’d given her the CDs of Maria Callas doing master classes at Juilliard. In those CDs, you can hear Callas not only being a diva, but you can hear that she cares about the students, and she cares so deeply about the material that she could almost shake them. Because, like Diana, she wants them to do it right."[158] In another scene Terrio filmed the James Marsden character as he makes a phone call from his law office and instead of placing the camera in the room with him, Terrio shot the exterior of the building. "We shot that from a hotel room across the way, but we couldn’t tell them we were making a movie, so we just did it guerrilla-style since we couldn’t get a permit. This shows you how nervy Ismail Merchant is: after we’d been filming up there for an hour, after demanding that particular room because it had the best view of the other building, he went and said—we’re not happy with the room, we’d like our money back. And he got it!"[159]

Response to the Film

Terrio says that the response to Heights when it was presented at Sundance in 2005 was phenomenal. "We sold out the first screening and there was standing-room-only at the second," said Terrio. "I think it is unexpected–what Glenn does is unexpected and I think the fact that these younger actors keep up with the luminaries on screen surprises people. I think the structure of the film and the way it has been shot surprises people. It is so nice to take it out to show to people–you sit in a little black box editing room for so many months and when you take it out, you feel as if you have shot an arrow over the fence and it has hit something."[160]

Heights opened to mixed reviews receiving a rating of 64% on "Rotten Tomatoes" with 65 rating the movie "fresh" and 36 rating it "rotten." The movie did $1 million at the box office.[161] Bret Fetzer of "The Stranger" wrote that "with wit and sympathy, Heights traces the crossed paths and messy lives of New York theater people, journalists, and artists. At the middle of everything is Isabel (Elizabeth Banks, The Sisters), a struggling photographer whose mother, Diana (Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons), is the grand dame of the theater world. Isabel's fiance, Jonathan (James Marsden, X-Men), is being pursued by a writer for Vanity Fair about his relationship with a lionized photographer. Meanwhile, Diana, though married, casts her eye on a young actor named Alec (Jesse Bradford, Happy Endings), who lives in the same building as Isabel... This only begins to unravel the tangle, but a clever script, clean direction, and nicely pitched performances keep Heights from tripping over its own plot lines or sagging into soap opera. Close, in particular, has a blast doing an uncanny Meryl Streep impression, and deft supporting performances by Isabella Rosselini (Blue Velvet), Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio), George Segal (California Split), and musician Rufus Wainwright keep the edges of the stories lively. Heights doesn't achieve the emotional fullness of the best of Robert Altman's ensemble movies, but it stakes a claim in that cinematic territory."[162]

Hap Erstein wrote in the Palm Beach Post that "Ismail Merchant produced Heights, the final project he completed before his death. It is both an act of generosity, a recognition that Terrio is swimming upstream against a tide of less intelligent films, and a mentoring boost to a talent that could be beginning a significant career."[163]

"For this initially wary viewer, at least, speaking with the director while he was in town for the recent film festival confirmed both his overall potential, and the inner strength of his debut," wrote Andrew Wright. "Whether giving props to his recently deceased mentor Ismail Merchant, good-naturedly knocking his own inexperience, or waxing enthusiastic about his next project (New York again, but this time a down and dirty gang saga inspired by the Brazilian epic City of God), Terrio displayed a poise that belied his age, and more than forgives the occasional soft spots of his calling card. Few things are for sure in this silly business, but mark this: He's a comer."[164]

Ismail Merchant's Death

Ismail Merchant's death just days before the premiere of Heights[165] cast a pall over the production. "It was a complete shock and we're all still struggling. Ismail being such a force of nature, charging at the head of the army, I thought he'd outlast all of us, he's so robust. And since he gave me this chance, took me on as a mentor, he's one of the people you most want to be proud of you," said Terrio.[166] "I don't know what persuaded him to trust somebody in his mid-20s who never made a film before. I'm just awfully glad he did... In the end he really liked it. I think he was really happy with it. That's when peace descended on me."[167] James Ivory could not bear to come to the premier of Heights and Terrio did the rope line while on his cell phone taking a call from homebound, griefstricken Ivory. "I'm certainly not hanging up on Jim just to smile at a photographer," said Terrio.[168] "[Ismail Merchant] really in a way invented how we think about independent films," said Terrio. "He and James were off in India doing these small independent projects at a time when the studios really controlled everything and there weren't that many outsiders. Now independent film is a huge economic and artistic center of Hollywood but at the time there was hardly anyone doing it. He and James went off and said they were going to do their thing. And then they had their huge hits, "A Room with a View" and "Howard's End" and then people noticed."[169]

From Directing to Screenwriting

In 2005 Terrio began writing the screenplay “Random Family”[170] based on reporter Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s decade-long study of a struggling Bronx tribe.[171] Random Family revolves around a multigenerational family in the South Bronx. In Fall of 2008[172] Terrio's script landed him an agent and a deal at Hart-Sharp Entertainment but then Hart-Sharp folded and Terrio's sole consolation was that their development director Nina Wolarksy, promised she'd find him another project[173] which turned out to be Argo.

The Sundance Myth

Sony Classics picked up Terrio's movie and Heights went to Sundance. "There’s almost a Sundance myth that your first film has to be your letter to the world," says Terrio. “When that happened, I thought, Okay, I’m ready to be a famous director, but of course nothing ever works that way.”[174] Terrio's first directorial effort gave him hope that a directing career might lay ahead but [175] the only directing offers Terrio received were for films like Heights. Terrio wasn't interested in revisiting that ground so instead he went broke[176] and turned his attention back to writing.[177] "My thought was, I'm going to start writing and figure out what movie I would want to make if I could make any movie in the world."[178]

Temporary Jobs

Terrio took different temporary jobs working as a messenger, delivering gift baskets. "You name it, I was doing it." When Heights was released Terrio was working as a receptionist at a film editing company. "I was happy to have the job, but I would lead people to think that I was directing or editing commercials when I was taking sushi orders."[179] Terrio continued to live in an apartment on 96th street with four roommates,[180] a rambling Upper West Side rental "shared with assorted ladies" where he had kitchen privileges and everyone's food was labeled.[181] "It’s not like you make a film and the money truck comes and now you’re off driving your BMW. I feel like I hit the lottery in that I got the chance to do this and I never for one second took it for granted. The fact that I had great people who worked with me to do this was just a huge blessing.”[182]

Screenplay for Random Family

In 2005 Terrio began writing the screenplay “Random Family”[183] based on reporter Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s decade-long study of a struggling multigenerational family in the South Bronx, teens and the drug trade.[184] Cindy Adams wrote in the New York Post that Terrio originally planned a five DVD box set about the five boroughs of New York City with one movie each about the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island.[185] Random Family, inspired by City of God directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, was to have been the first in the series.[186]

In Fall of 2008[187] Terrio's script landed him an agent and a deal at Hart-Sharp Entertainment to adapt the play 10 Unknowns by Jon Robin Baitz[188] but then Hart-Sharp folded in February 2007[189] and Terrio's sole consolation was that their development director Nina Wolarksy, promised she'd find him another project.[190] "When you are not in the guild you are just grateful for anything that will give you a month of rent or a couple of months of rent. If someone had read a screenplay or a play that you had written on spec sometimes you could get $5,000. On a good day you could get $10,000 or maybe here is lunch if you will let me be the guy to take your screenplay around," said Terrio.

Screenplay for The Ends of the Earth

Another script Terrio wrote during this period was The Ends of the Earth, based on the story of oilman E. W. Marland. Terrio origninally heard about the Marland story through Oklahoma native Lance Johnson who Terrio met at USC film school in the early 2000's. "I was writing scripts and actually one of them I think is going to be made by Weinstein Company that Jennifer Lawrence is going to do that is about an oil man in Oklahoma in the early 20th century (The Ends of the Earth) involving socialism and an incest story and is just this big American epic of oil and capitalism but told in a different more political way than "There Will Be Blood" and those were the kinds of scripts I was writing so you can image why I was poor because those aren't the kinds of things you can go in and say 'There's this guy."[191]

Terrio's friend Lance Johnson joined Escape Artists in 2000 as an intern and moved up the ranks, most recently as director of development. “I am a producer on ‘The Ends of the Earth,'" said Johnson in an interview with Louise Abercrombie of the Ponca City News. "Lydie once spoke to me when I was four-years-old and I’ve been wanting to turn the Marland story into a film since I was a kid. I utilized a lot of local interviews and research, and I’ve been working for years with the writer Chris Terrio, Escape Artists, and now The Weinstein Company to bring it to life.”[192][193]

Fringe Theatre

During the same time period that Terrio was working on Heights he was involved in Fringe Threatre and off-off Broadway in New York City and directed and appeared in productions at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. "I’ve directed things at LaMama and all sorts of fringy things and been in things at LaMama," said Terrio. "In fact, the last thing I did there, I played a tap-dancing gorilla."[194]

Interview with James Ivory

On November 10, 2007 Terrio interviewed James Ivory at Time and Space Limited, a cultural center in Hudson, NY as part of the Columbia County Historical Society's distinguished author series. Ivory said that he “tweaked the format” and got Terrio to do the interview. “I thought it would be more interesting to have a director, a young director, that we had worked with instead of a film critic or film historian,” said Ivory, adding that film clips of his work would be shown. “It’s up to Chris to decide, but ideally it would be one from our American Period, one from our Indian period, one from our French period and one from our English period.”[195]

Damages

In 2010, Terrio reunited with Glenn Close who he had worked with on The Divorce and Heights when he directed "I Look Like Frankenstein," Episode 8 in Season 3 of Damages on FX.[196]

Writing Argo

To write his Academy-Award winning screenplay for Argo, Terrio immersed himself in the history of the Iran hostage crisis for a year before bringing a draft of the screenplay. "I did months of research. There’s a great resource in New York called the Paley Centre; it used to be the museum of Television and Radio. They have hours and hours of footage where you can just watch chronologically, news broadcasts from every single day, and so I watched many days before the crisis, and then watched the news almost every day for a year after it," says Terrio.
During filming of Argo Terrio was on the movie set with Affleck, ready to rewrite scenes or make changes in the script. “There are few directors who could be so open to having a sour-faced short guy on set,” says Terrio. “You are always so terrified and thinking, ‘It doesn’t work. The tone is inconsistent. I suck, I suck, I suck.’”[197] Ben Affleck says that Terrio's background in directing is an asset. “He writes like a storyteller, like a director in a way, the way he cuts the picture on the page,” says Affleck. “He was so deeply steeped in the research, he became this amazing asset. How many relationships have the writer on the set every day? That’s a rarity.”[198] Photo: Wikipedia

Terrio Makes a Proposal to Write the Screenplay

By 2008 Terrio couldn't pay his rent, he had defaulted on his student loans, and he had nothing but his spec scripts.[199] "It was a weird time for me. I didn't know what my next job was or how I was going to pay my rent."[200] But in November [201] his luck changed as Terrio was contacted by Nina Wolarsky, the development executive he had worked with at Hart-Sharp who was now working for Smokestack and doing development work for Grant Heslov and George Clooney's production company.[202] In 2007 Joshuah Bearman had written an original piece that appeared in Wired about how the CIA used a fake Sci-Fi movie to rescue Americans from Iran. George Clooney's production company had acquired the screen rights to the article and Clooney was going to write the screenplay as well as direct it and star in it. "I was all for that," said Berman. "I loved Good Night, and Good Luck. I thought, "This guy knows what he's doing." But Clooney was too busy to write the screenplay. That's where Nina Wolansky, now a development agent for Smokestack came in.[203] "[Wolarsky] remembered me as, I guess, the crazy guy who writes weird, independent spec scripts in New York – two of them had been very different period things – I think she thought of me for Argo," said Terrio. "So they came and said, “there’s this incident we want to make a movie about, we don’t quite know what the tone is, but here’s this article about it, etc. Do you have a take on what it would be?”[204]

Terrio read the article in Wired magazine and the first thing that came to mind was all the reasons not to do it. "You know I always think starting any project that I can't possibly do this and they've got the wrong guy, and there is no way that I could make it work and then I try to quit and then luckily Nina Wolarsky in this case didn't let me," says Terrio. "That's the great thing about having a producer that you like and you trust so when you call to quit they become your therapist also."[205] As Terrio walked from his apartment in Little Italy to pitch Wolarsky at the Mercer Hotel, still struggling with his approach, an idea struck him. What if the operation hadn’t been classified, and in 1980 the film could have been made by somebody like Sidney Lumet and cast with some of those great actors of the time? “Once I began to imagine that the movie was written by a better writer than I was—Goldman or one of those guys—then I started to feel like the characters showed up and could start talking.”[206]

"So I sort of wrote a – and here’s where the spec part comes in – I wrote a long proposal of what I would do with it. At the time I don’t know whether they knew whether it was Men Who Stare at Goats, or it was Syriana, or whether it was The Player, or whether it was all of them, so I came to them with a long – I’ve recently looked back at it - about 25 page novella of what Argo would be."[207] Terrio's approach impressed George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov at Smoke House. “We met with some writers and Chris Terrio’s take was right in line with the way we saw the film,” says Heslov.[208]

Terrio received the commission from Clooney and Heslov to write the screenplay for Argo in early 2009 and he spent a year hammering out the first draft.[209]

Researching the Story

To write Argo, Terrio immersed himself in the history of the Iran hostage crisis for a year before bringing a draft of the screenplay.[210] Berman gave Terrio all the research material he had put together to write the original article for Wired. "I had given them all of my extra research — it's a lot of material, of course, that you have to assemble to put together a nonfiction magazine piece that's going to get through a Condé Nast fact-checking department," said Berman. "Only a tiny fraction of what you collect actually ends up in the story, so that was all very helpful, because they wanted to adapt the story with some authenticity. Because it was so insane it had to feel real. If it seemed like a fictional story it would be ridiculous.[211] Terrio originally planned to grab his backpack and jump on a plane to research Tehran, but that approach was strongly discouraged, so he ended up doing months of research at the Paley Center in New York City.[212] "It used to be the museum of Television and Radio. They have hours and hours of footage where you can just watch chronologically, news broadcasts from every single day, and so I watched many days before the crisis, and then watched the news almost every day for a year after it," says Terrio.[213] "I spent probably the whole spring, and even longer, just circling and circling: Read every book that I could find on the 444 days, anything I could about Iran; looked at some Iranian movies from that period, ones made by expatriates. The Iran Hostage Crisis is the beginning of the 24-hour news cycle, so there’s an enormous amount of video footage that you can see at places like the Carter Center and the National Archives and the Paley Center in New York."[214]

When Terrio first read Berman's article he was riveted by the story and especially curious about Tony Mendez. "What kind of guy could think outside the box enough to come up with this plan and then undertake it. If I had pitched this as an original concept, brows would furrow and people would say, ‘No audience will ever believe that.’ But Tony managed to convince the United States government to attempt something that was even crazier than what most Hollywood studios would dream up.”[215] Terrio held extensive interviews with Mendez. “I went down and spent time with Tony Mendez and some of his now-retired peers. Some of them are Russians who did intelligence work in DC. Tony would say how they were always stressed and felt the weight of what they were doing, so they tried to defuse that tension.”[216] “I felt very lucky that most of the participants are still alive and so I could get details from them that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get."[217] Terrio considers himself generally suspicious of people, especially people the CIA or the military calls heroes. “But I went down there and I really found Tony to be smart…and he had a great sense of humor. His version of going to work is taking off your wedding ring, getting on a plane, taking a false passport and flying off into the unknown. And it wasn’t a James Bond, sleek, sexy version of it; it was more like a good man doing his job. After I met Tony I tried to make the CIA more of a workaday world.”[218] "The structure of the film is a rescue, with people’s lives hanging in the balance. The stakes couldn’t be higher. But in my communication with Tony, I wanted to know about his day-to-day life, because if you understand the nuts and bolts of what the life of a CIA officer was like at this time, there’s a more complex drama there, which takes you beyond the action and suspense. Whenever I started to get lost in the scale of the story—how these men and women were swept up by historical events—I would remember that, underneath, it’s just a human story about people trying to do the best they can against overwhelming odds."[219]

"You know you’re not gonna necessarily find in a book the fact that the CIA “Pit,” which is the big office where things are done, that it’s always a mess and the coffee maker didn’t work and the ashtrays were piled a foot high and all these little textural details that give you the quotidian sense of life as a CIA officer, which I think takes you out of a glossier version of the intelligence world and more into the world of Argo.”[220] After finishing the script, Terrio discovered actual CIA office photos from the period matching Mendez's memory and Terrio's description perfectly.[221] "They knew they were going to have to present it as "based on a true story" and it would have to feel like a true story," said Berman. "So with that in mind you want all that detail. Chris had all that and he did quite a bit more research on his own. I've have had other stories adapted now, but Chris has done the best adaptation, and he did the best research. He talked with Tony, he went to the CIA offices, he did all kinds of stuff. And, you know, once it was sold it was kind of above my pay grade? Because it's like, there's Clooney."[222]

Terrio also watched classic Hollywood satires, sometimes just to make sure he wasn’t stealing anything. “I don’t know if other writers have this paranoia, but sometimes you think of a joke, and then you think, Oh shit, is that my joke? I don’t even know where that came from. I’m worried I stole it from somewhere.”[223]

Writing the Screenplay

After nine months[224] of research Terrio finally wrote the script in a matter of weeks.[225] Terrio borrowed a friend’s house in upstate New York and shut himself in to write, breaking for little more than daily walks to the supermarket to pick up 12-packs of Diet Coke.[226] "I think that’s always the way with me. I need to circle something for a long time, and the characters are gradually showing up and taking their places," says Terrio. "Finally, by the time I was ready to write, I knew. They had told me what they wanted to say, and I could sort of take dictation, which I know sounds a little crazy, but I’d imagine most writers would say that. You’re afraid every morning when you sit down that the characters aren’t going to show up for work, and sometimes they don’t, but when they do, you’re happy and you write fast."[227]

Terrio says the screenplay is an "escape and rescue story" that he structured as a three act thriller. "You have the setup, which is, 'Here's the predicament.' You have the second act, which is, 'Here are complicating factors involved in the rescue.' Then, finally, you have the rescue or the escape. So, in that sense, I knew that built in was a happy ending and built in there was a lot of tension." Terrio says the challenge in writing the screenplay was to write a credible script about the escape without it turning into "into a self-congratulatory kind of nudge/wink exercise." "“Even at the genesis of the project I was cynical,” says Terrio. "I wasn't sure that I knew how to do it, and I was a little bit afraid of the tonal dissonance of the material." Terrio says the next problem was how to reconcile the three tonal worlds of the film - "the world of Washington and its bureaucracy; the world of Tehran and the immediate sort of clear and present danger of the guards that are combing the city with automatic weapons; and then the world of Hollywood where the challenge really is to create a convincing fiction, or film? The problem becomes how do you write a script in which those three things are the same movie, and in which the tone feels like it carries over from one scene to another?"[228]

Terrio said that to get to the voice of the characters he wrote the screenplay as the last 1970s movie. “Thirty years had passed since the operation and then it was declassified by Clinton in 1997," said Terrio. “So I thought what if it had been declassified in 1980 and the film had been made by some film-maker from that period like a Sidney Lumet or written by a William Goldman. What if you could write it as the last 1970s movie - and that’s how the voice of the characters started to come. I wrote the first scene on the back of an envelope, which was the scene where they’re in Hollywood for the reading of the [fictitious] screenplay. I thought if you could have a montage where you could jump between the three different worlds of Hollywood, CIA and Tehran, you might begin to hear the words of the screenplay."[229]

"It was George and Grant that hired me," says Terrio. "So, at the beginning they were the people I had to convince that I could make a film incorporating all these tones, which still felt like it had the same overall tone. So, they were collaborative in giving me a long leash to hang myself with [laughs]."[230] Terrio says the story started taking on a life of its own and ordering his priorities. "In any art your heatseeking radar is attracted to story when you know something is there on all of these different levels, when you know there’s something there on a thriller level, on an entertaining level, but also on a political or social level. And then when you’re in the story, and this sounds bullshitty, but you start letting the story tell you how to adjust the knob. Sometimes you play up the political stuff, other times you need the visceral feeling of a thriller scene. I think it’s just stumbling in the dark as you try to be true to whatever attracted you to the story in the first place."[231] But writing the screenplay never felt like a job says Terrio, "which maybe is the greatest gift that any writer or director or actor or any artist can have, right? That you get to work and it never feels like you’re going to your job everyday."[232]

Argo Will Be Produced

In early 2011 Ben Affleck got involved with the project.[233] According to Joe Schoenmann writing in Las Vegas Weekly in 2013, Franklin Leonard, the founder of the Blacklist, says that “Chris Terrio, who wrote ‘Argo,’ has said publicly that Ben Affleck found the script because it was on the list.”[234] Affleck says that his involvement with the project came after Clooney and Heslov hired Nina Wolarsky at Smokehouse who found the “Escape from Tehran” Article, and then hired Chris Terrio to write a story from the magazine article about what happened. "Chris wrote it under the guidance of Clooney and Heslov and when they finished they sent it to me and asked if I would be interested in doing this. I got about halfway in and I thought, “I want to run over to their offices right now,” because I knew that this was the movie for me without a doubt."[235]

After carving his previous directing vehicles from the ground up, when Affleck first saw the script for Argo, he couldn't believe his good fortune when handed Terrio’s Argo script.[236] "They said, 'This is our best script,' and I thought that was some executive hyping me on it, but it really was pretty incredible. I was amazed," said Affleck. "I talked to Grant and George and said, 'Look, I really want to do this. This is amazing!' And they said, 'Okay, great! Let’s do it!' So, we took it to Warner Bros. And then, I went back and talked to Chris [Terrio] and said, 'How did you do this?' I looked at some documentaries and read some books and thought, 'God, this is really unwieldy. It felt like it should have been a 10-hour mini-series. How did you get that down into a three-act structure?'"[237] Affleck wanted to push the thriller aspect of the movie more and initially, Affleck had envisioned reworking the script himself, but the draft was so impressive and his relationship with Terrio so good that he allowed Terrio to make the changes. Affleck and Terrio also worked on redefining Affleck's character, based on Mendez. "He was a little bit more broken in the draft that we got," says Affleck. "He was older, an alcoholic. And I changed that and made his personal stuff revolve more around his family and losing his marriage." Ultimately, Affleck says, that was "the wrong choice because I ended up cutting most of it out. I cut out six or seven minutes from the final film, which is a lot."[238]

Terrio found out his screenplay was going to be made into a movie as he was walking along 14th street in Manhattan and his cell phone rang.[239] "I and a friend were walking to see the Tennessee Williams play "The Milkman Doesn't Stop Here Anymore" with Olympia Dukakis and wanted to get on the ACE and not be late for it."[240] On the other line was Affleck who asked him to write the script for the political thriller "Argo." Terrio thought it was friend pranking him, but it ended up being the real deal.[241] "I didn't get on the train and I think I missed the beginning of the play. I spoke to Ben who was immediately disarmingly candid. There was no kabuki theatre of gestures of respect for a movie star."[242] Terrio says the opportunity "came out of nowhere."[243] "This is the first movie I’ve gotten produced that I’ve written and I really didn’t know what to expect. I got a call one day on my cell phone that Ben Affleck was calling to talk about your script and I had no idea, I don’t know a lot of movie stars, I didn’t know what to expect but he immediately put me at ease and you just felt, like, he was - in a nerdy, intense way - he was dedicated to trying to make the film good."[244]

Affleck met with Terrio and said that it was immediately clear how smart Terrio was. But Affleck acknowledged the inherent risks in working with a relative newcomer. “The process is at stake because if you don’t have a working relationship with somebody, you could potentially drag the whole movie down," said Affleck. "But I just came to realize how talented he was and came to have a huge respect for his opinion. He wanted it to go well for me. Most of all, we became friends. Directing is a lonely job because you’re all alone in the director’s chair but his agenda is the movie too.”[245]

Working with Ben Affleck on the Set

Terrio was on the movie set with Affleck during the production of Argo for all but the first week[246] ready to rewrite scenes or make changes in the script. “There are few directors who could be so open to having a sour-faced short guy on set,” says Terrio. “You are always so terrified and thinking, ‘It doesn’t work. The tone is inconsistent. I suck, I suck, I suck.’”[247] "When Ben came on board, there were all kinds of things that he brought to it. He had an actor’s ear for comic timing, which was invaluable when it came to handling the John Goodman/Alan Arkin parts. So, he gave me a lot of straight advice about the structure of certain scenes involving them." [248] “I was on set for most of it and I’ve hung around post-production,” says Terrio. “I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit the lottery at every step of the way on this one.”[249]

Terrio says that Affleck has an encyclopaedic knowledge of film. "He’s been in 30 or 50 films, which has meant that he’s worked with and watched some of the great directors and learned from them. And I’ve been able to watch him on-set, which means that I’ve also been in the room with all the directors he’s worked with," says Terrio. "I’ve also said before that screenwriting is often a long and lonely process, so when you find someone that is willing to collaborate as closely as Ben did with me, it makes the creative work feel a lot less lonely. And we could also be honest with each other. If something was terrible we’d admit it to each other. Ben and I don’t have to censor or edit ourselves. I could tell him: 'On a scale of 1 to 10 how much does this suck?' And he’d be able to say when it was a 9 without having to worry about hurting my feelings."[250]Ben Affleck says that Terrio's background in directing is an asset. “He writes like a storyteller, like a director in a way, the way he cuts the picture on the page,” says Affleck. “He was so deeply steeped in the research, he became this amazing asset. How many relationships have the writer on the set every day? That’s a rarity.”[251]

Terrio says he and Affleck disagreed at times, but it never got caustic. "The battles that I lost, I was glad I lost, because I think the movie is better because of it," says Terrio.[252] "It never felt like you were talking to a film star. It just felt like you were talking to a friend of yours from film school who just wanted to make a good movie."[253]

“It’s such a big complicated film,” said Terrio, “and my experience in film has tended to be smaller and more independent so, sure as a director there are definitely some moments where you think “Oh God, I’d love to be in his chair,” but Ben was actually so inclusive and so generous about it and so I felt like we were on the same team and I would say to him “You know, I’m happy to be Robin if you’re Batman.” I felt like he genuinely had a utility belt and a skillset that I didn’t have and had so much experience and has been in so many films and directed two very good films, I was just grateful to have somebody with his virtuosic abilities to just get in there and make it work.”[254] Terrio adds that Affleck works really hard and has an amazing rapport with actors. "I think he works really, really hard. I sent him an email at like 2 in the morning and he would send me a reply in like ten minutes," says Terrio. "He really knows how to talk to actors. There is a shorthand that he can use to talk to actors. And he knows the difference between and 19 and a 20 in a take."[255]

Critical Response to Argo

Although Argo was "universally acclaimed" scoring an 86 out of 100 at Metacritic.[256] However a small number of critics were extremely critical of the film.[257]

Thumbs Up

"It’s a doozy of a story and so borderline ridiculous that it sounds — ta-da! — like something that could have been cooked up only by Hollywood," wrote Manohla Dargis at the NY Times on October 11, 2012. "The Hollywood angle brings lightness and levity into the movie, serving as comic relief that Mr. Affleck uses contrapuntally with the increasingly tense, perilous situation in Tehran."[258]

"The craft in this film is rare," wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times on October 10, 2012. "It is so easy to manufacture a thriller from chases and gunfire, and so very hard to fine-tune it out of exquisite timing and a plot that's so clear to us we wonder why it isn't obvious to the Iranians. After all, who in their right mind would believe a space opera was being filmed in Iran during the hostage crisis? Just about everyone, it turns out. Hooray for Hollywood."[259]

"Argo offers plenty of nail-biting thrills as well as funnier scenes than you’d ever imagine possible in the grim context of the Iran hostage crisis, which began in 1979," wrote Lou Lumenick at the NY Post on October 11, 2012. "Screenwriter Chris Terrio’s superb script — which avoids caricaturing the Iranian extremists or their beliefs — takes what I’d consider acceptable liberties with the facts, especially in the final section."[260]

"That Ben Affleck can direct a film this good, this smart, this gripping is no surprise, not after his fine efforts in "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," wrote Amy Biancollo at the San Francisco Chronicle on October 11, 2012. "The main source of astonishment is the precision exhibited everywhere, from the slyly vintage look of Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography to the gradual, cinching tension in Chris Terrio's careful screenplay."[261]

"Ben Affleck's 'Argo' is a superbly crafted and darkly funny real-life political thriller, with pitch-perfect performances," wrote Claudia Puig at USA Today on October 11, 2013. "Argo is the rare nail-biter that's also riotously funny as it focuses on a real-life incident that was not exactly ripped from the headlines."[262]

Thumbs Down

Not every critic was pleased by Argo however. Scott MacDonald wrote a scathing review in the Toronto Standard on October 19, 2012 noting that while he had come as primed as anybody to enjoy the film he came away "feeling both underwhelmed and vaguely duped" because the operation carried out in Iran were nowhere near as complex or elaborate as we'd been led to expect. "Essentially, it's a short, uneventful trip to the airport, and much of the planning that went into it is revealed to have been superfluous," writes MacDonald. "This won't do, of course, so Affleck and Terrio provide plenty of fake, whipped-up suspense: a housekeeper who threatens to betray the mission, then doesn't; plane tickets briefly waylaid, then found; an all-important phone call almost missed; a ludicrous last-minute chase; etc. There's nothing wrong with embellishment, but what's the point of making a "true story" if you have to embellish everything?"[263]

MacDonald wrote that he was fine with downplaying the role of Canadian intelligence operatives, who were actually in charge of the mission, not the CIA but that his problem with Argo was that it didn't "do the work of finding drama in what actually happened, preferring instead to take one exceedingly minor element of the operation—a fake science-fiction film invented by the CIA for cover—and blow it way out of proportion."[264] MacDonald says that many of the movie's defenders say they don't care how many liberties a movie takes if it entertains them but "Argo just barely passes muster as entertainment." "Affleck's character is a personality void," writes MacDonald. "You could defend the performance as "modest," but only if by modest you mean "dull as fuck." His handful of "character-building" scenes—domestic moments with his wife and kid—are so blandly soft-focus and inert they're almost eerie. I kept hoping they'd turn out to be dream sequences and that he'd actually murdered them."[265]

MacDonald concludes by writing that while the movie scores big pointing out the slickness and fakery of Hollywood, the film doesn't have the self-awareness to acknowledge it's own slickness and fakery. "The last 30 minutes or so of Argo aren't that far off from the film-within-the-film parody at the end of Robert Altman's movie-biz satire The Player. But satire, as George S. Kaufman said, is what closes Saturday night.[266][267] High-minded phoniness, meanwhile, is what gets you an Oscar."[268]

David Edelstein wrote at NPR that although Affleck pulled off a coup with Argo by combining espionage with the zing of a documentary and blending the two into a "pulse-pounding nail-biter of a climax," Edelstein was annoyed to learn that "after all the movie's assurances of realism, from the prologue to photos over the credits showing the actors side by side with photos of their real-life counterparts, those terrifying close calls are all invented. If it seems too Hollywood to be true, that's because it is."[269]

Winning an Academy Award for Argo

The Screenwriter. Chris Terrio wrote the screenplay for The Ends of the Earth. Terrio, shown above with his Oscar, won the Academy Award for Best Adopted Screenplay in 2013 for Argo at the 85th annual Academy Awards. “Chris has brought to life with his writing one of the most epic love stories that people have yet to really discover. We knew right away that this script was something special," says Dylan Sellers, President of Production at The Weinstein Company. Photo: Disney ABC Television Group Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Runup to the Awards

Terrio says that he has written half a dozen screenplays and three of them landed on Hollywood's black list, a year-end roster of hot unproduced scripts crowdsourced by hundreds of movie execs,[270] where they sat around for years unproduced but Argo, was Terrio’s first script to be plucked from the Black List for feature-film production. “I had screenplays that went around Hollywood and independent film land, that got close and didn’t make it,” said Terrio. “So I feel like I’ve won the lottery to have a movie that a) gets made, b) gets made by a great film director, and c) to have people see it and to even have it in the same conversation as other films this year."[271] In the runup to the Oscars Terrio said he was enjoying the experience of watching audiences see his first major-studio project, while learning the ropes of awards season as a serious writing contender. "I live in New York, so I’ve been at the margins of it, and I haven’t necessarily been in the belly of the beast yet, if it is a beast. It’s just been a rush for me to see people watching the movie and responding to it, but also to capture a little bit of that film-school excitement about movies."[272] "It may be a once in a lifetime thing so I am just trying to savor it."[273]

Academy Award

Terrio attended the Academy Award ceremonies with U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso, a close friend of Terrio who attended Harvard with Terrio and was also the recipient of a Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships at the same time as Terrio.[274][275] "Mi mejor amigo fue nominado para un Oscar por escribir Argo. Y ahí estuve", said Reynoso. "Hemos pasado muchas cosas cosas juntos. Somos amigos de la universidad, entonces esto fue una gran ocasión. Todavía no podemos creer que se llevó un Oscar anoche. Como que estamos todavía en shock." [My best friend was nominated for an Oscar for writing Argo. And I was there with him," said Reynoso. "We have spent a lot of time together. We've been friends since Harvard. We still can't believe that he won the Oscar last night. We're still in shock."][276]

Terrio won the best adapted screenplay Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, defeating a strong field that included Tony Kushner for Lincoln and David O Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. Terrio's screenplay was based on an article from Wired magazine Joshuah Bearman[277], as well as the book by CIA agent Tony Mendez, The Master of Disguise[278] that tells the story of the extraction of six hostages from the 1979 US embassy siege in Iran. Argo marks Terrio's first appearance as an Academy Award nominee.[279] In his acceptance speech, Terrio dedicated his award to Mendez: "Thirty-three years ago, Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, got six people out of a very bad situation, and I want to dedicate this to him," said Terrio,[280] "and the Taylors and the Sheardowns and the people all over the world in the U.S. and Canada and Iran who use creativity and intelligence to solve problems nonviolently."[281]

For his part Mendez called Terrio an “absolute genius. We couldn’t have done it without him. We were blessed at many points and it all added up to the Oscar.” Jonna Mendez, who also is retired from the CIA, said they had breakfast with Terrio theSunday before the Oscars. “Chris was kind of a nervous wreck,” she said. “And he gave that great acceptance speech. He called out Tony and it made us cry.”[282]

Terrio also thanked director Ben Affleck for his support during the film. "Ben, 15 years ago, you were up here with the first screenplay you got made, and now you made this film that brought me up here. It's a gift and I can never repay it."[283] Affleck is equally impressed with Terrio and recalled their first meeting. "I was impressed he was just so smart and collaborative and generous and kind and good — and everything you want in a person — and I just immediately realized this guy is a huge asset to me, and I'm going to stick with him for as long as I can have him."[284]

Randy Myers wrote at the Contra Costa Times on February 25, 2013 that Terrio gave one of the five best speeches at the Academy Awards. "The first-timer hit a grand slam, bringing up Affleck's co-screenwriting win for "Good Will Hunting" and how the "Argo" actor/director has launched his career. But his final words about using nonviolence to solve world problems reverberates powerfully and aptly summed up the topical theme of the best picture winner."[285]

Shocked to Win Award

Terrio says he was 'shocked' to win Academy Award for writing 'Argo' and one day after the Oscars was still processing how life had changed the night before. “Hearing my name announced as the winner was a genuine shock,” says Terrio. “To be bluntly honest, up until they called my category, it was this phantasmagorical blur of musical theater and Barbra Streisand.”[286]

Recent News About Chris Terrio

Argo had its first release at the Tellurdie Film Festival on August 31, 2012.[287] Ben Affleck appears on a panel at the Telluride film festival on September 2, 2012. PhotoCredit: Philippa Kowarsky Wikimedia licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

August 31, 2012: Argo Gets First Showing at Telluride Film Festival

Argo, filmed from Terrio's screenplay, had its first public showing at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2012.[288] Glenn Whipp wrote in the Los Angeles Times on August 31, 2012 that "the closing credits on Ben Affleck's period thriller "Argo" hadn't even rolled at Friday evening's Telluride Film Festival screening before audience members were signaling their thunderous approval." "Applause in the middle of the movie. Hearing nothing but 'wow' and 'outstanding' outside the theater. A big hit," tweeted Hitfix's awards columnist Kris Tapley. "Entertaining combo of political intrigue/Hollywood satire," tweeted IndieWire critic Eric Kohn. "Alan Arkin/J. Goodman steal show. A crowd pleasing 'Wag the Dog.'" "'Argo' seems to be coming out of the gate as an Oscar contender," concluded Whipp.[289]

September, 2012: Terrio Pays Off His Student Loans

Scott W. Smith wrote that Terrio's education at Harvard and USC Film School probably cost about $400,000.[290] To finance his education, Terrio took on crippling student debt and by 2008 couldn't pay his rent and had defaulted on his student loans.[291] "It was a weird time for me. I didn't know what my next job was or how I was going to pay my rent."[292] Although Terrio says that he didn't become a screenwriter to get rich,[293] after his success with Argo he was finally able to pay off his student debt. I had "“crippling, crippling debt which I literally paid off two months ago," said Terrio on December 7, 2012.[294]

Terrio told Indie London in 2013 that when he was at Cambridge in 2000 trying to decide to make films or not, he knew that he was probably looking at ten years of poverty before he had a chance to earn a living with his scriptwriting. "I was sort of pulling my hair out, questioning whether I really could try to make a go of it as a writer. I remember I used to come down to the cinema here and spend many hours trying to get up the courage to decide to commit to possibly 10 years of starving and not paying the rent in order to write scripts."[295]

October 12, 2012: Argo Goes into General Release in the United States

Argo went into general release in the United States on October 12, 2012.[296] Argo grossed $19,458,109 in its opening weekend ranking #2 in 3,232 theaters. During its widest release Argo played in 3,247 theaters closing on April 24, 2013 after a run of 195 days / 27.9 weeks. Argo's total lifetime gross was $136,024,128 domestic and $96,300,000 foreign.[297]

November 29, 2012: Terrio Signs Two-Script Deal at Warner Bros

Borys Kits reported in Hollywood Reporter on November 29, 2012 that Terrio had signed a two-picture blind script pact with Warner Bros. Terrio is expected to tackle the first of the two scripts after he completes penning an untitled crime thriller that reunites him with Argo producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Terrio, represented by CAA and Anonymous Content.[298] Terrio insists he hasn't lost his edge after signing the "plum two-picture deal." “It’s not like suddenly my life is glamorous and I have a pool and I’m sipping watermelon margaritas."[299]

Terrio said that he yet know what those films are. "Coming from the New York indie film scene, I had always dreaded the studio system. I thought there’d almost inevitably be this horrible moment where a scene would be re-written to include a CGI monster and a car chase. And yet Warners, probably as a result of the trust they have in Ben, didn’t do that. They left us alone. They said: “Here’s the money, go make a film.” And that’s such a rare thing. It’s the ideal scenario and we all dream about that… that someone will trust you to make a movie. So, I thought I’d be crazy not to sign up to do that again. That being said, maybe in the next movie they’ll need to have a CGI monster marching through a scene… but I hope not!"[300]

February 17, 2013: Terrio Wins the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

On February 17, 2013, Terrio won the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay of 2012.[301] "Everyone has been so calm and collected as if this is something that happens every single day of their lives. I feel like this bird thing (referring to the award), if I leave my window open might get up and fly away to live with David and David and Steven and Tony. That would be ok because they deserve it. I am so honored to be in the category with you guys. Thank you for making this such a great year for movies," said Terrio in his acceptance of the award. Terrio thanked his mother who flew in from New York and his agent "who stuck with me when there was very little reason to stick with me" and Josh Berman for "his curiousity and brilliance."[302]

"When I started this in 2008 I couldn't pay my rent and I was living in New York, I defaulted on my student loans and I had nothing but I had my spec scripts and I had my guild card. I can't tell you how that propped me up that in a very lonely profession I was in the same club as all you guys," continued Terrio. Terrio concluded by thanking Ben Affleck as a fellow WGA member. "This is yours and you are kind a brilliant and a very, very good man."[303]

February 24, 2013: Terrio Wins Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay at 85th Academy Awards

March 11, 2013: Terrio May Write Screenplay for Bunker Hill

On March 11, 2013 Mike Fleming Jr reported that Terrio is attached to write the screenplay for Bunker Hill about the violent sieges that erupted in Lexington and Concord after a British blockade led to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill, a bloody clash that united the colonies and started the war for independence. Terrio will reunite with Argo director Ben Afleck.[304]

April 9, 2013: Terrio Visits Uruguay at the Invitation of US Ambassador Julissa Reynoso

Terrio (center) spoke to students from the "Alianza Uruguay Estados Unidos" on April 9, 2013. Terrio told the audience pleasantly that he had grown tired of speaking about Argo[305] and this would be the last time he would talk about the movie and that he was happy it was the last time. Terrio visited Uruguay at the invitation of US Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso (right) who accompanied Terrio to the Academy Awards ceremony in February 2013. Terrio and Reynoso studied together at Harvard and Cambridge and have been close friends for 15 years.
Terrio moderated a Question and Answer session with Costa-Gavras on October 9, 2013 after the screening of Gavras' classic ​"Z" sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York City. Photo Credit: Romain DUBOIS Wikimedia licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Diario Uruguay reported on March 28, 2013 that Terrio would be traveling to Montevideo, Uruguay at the invitation of US Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso who accompanied Terrio to the Academy Awards ceremony in February 2013. Terrio and Reynoso studied together at Harvard and Cambridge and have been close friends for 15 years. According to sources at the US embassy Terrio planned to spend several days in Uruguay and will meet with local artists and would speak at a special screening of Argo.[306] Sociedad Uruguaya reported on April 3, 2013 that Terrio would hold a press conference at the residence of the US Ambassador on April 12, 2013.[307]

Montevideo.com reported that Terrio spoke to students from the "Alianza Uruguay Estados Unidos" on April 9, 2013. Terrio told the audience pleasantly that he had grown tired of speaking about Argo,[308] that this would be the last time he would talk about the movie, and that he was happy it was the last time. When asked what makes a good screenplay, Terrio said that the director and actors bring the screenplay to life. It is easy to be ironic or scornful of actors said Terrio, but when you are in front of a great actor something magical occurs. "The actors are the heroes," said Terrio adding that his greatest personal hero as an actor is Marlon Brando. Terrio also praised Daniel Day Lewis, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, and among the new generation Ryan Gosling. When asked what book Terrio would most like to adopt as a screenplay, Terrio said it would without doubt be "Moby Dick," a book that Terrio considers the great story of capitalism.[309][310]

Matías Castro at "El País" reported that Terrio spoke in Spanish at a presentation to the public at Teatro Solís on April 10, 2013.[311] In a subsequent interview with Castro, Terrio said that the work of the director and the screenwriter are entirely separate although symbiotic. Terrio said that he believed that screenwriters need to have the opportunity to hear the actors speaking and saying their lines because this will change the screenwriters way of writing. Terrio said that directors who are also screenwriters write less because they know that the camera can tell stories and it is not necessary to say everything. "En Argo hay mucho diálogo, pero también hay muchas secuencias de acción. Creo que el haber trabajado como director me enseñó mucho sobre eso. Todavía tengo mucho para aprender". [There is a lot of dialog in Argo but there are also many action sequences. I believe tha having worked as a director has taught me a lot about the use of action, although I still have a lot to learn.] Terrio said that the directors he most admires are ones like Paul Thomas Anderson (There will be Blood) who also write their own screenplays. Terrio said that the work of the screenwriter is to provide images without words. "La escritura de guión es una interesante forme de arte porque es una mezcla, un híbrido de dos formas de usar las palabras. Una de ellas es como el trabajo de un pintor que intenta crear imágenes con un significado. Y también está el trabajo de un novelista o de un dramaturgo en el que se intenta recrear un mundo con palabras." [Screenwriting is an interesting form of art because it is a hybrid of two forms of writing. One of the forms is that of a painter who tries to create significant images. The other is that of the novelist or playwrite who attempts to create a wolrd with words."] Terrio added that when he was writing Argo one of the points of reference that he took was from Costa-Gavras' State of Siege which takes place in Uruguay. Another point of reference was from the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo.[312]

June 28, 2013: Terrio Invited to Join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

On June 28, 2013 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Terrio is one of 276 new members being invited to join the academy. "These individuals are among the best filmmakers working in the industry today," said academy President Hawk Koch in a statement. "Their talent and creativity have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide, and I am proud to welcome each of them to the Academy."[313]

August 22, 2013: Affleck No Longer Attached to Terrio's "Tell No One"

The Wrap reported on August 22, 2013 that with Ben Affleck's attachment to play Batman in Warner Brother's untitled sequel to "Man of Steel" he is no longer attached to direct WB's remake of Tell No One with script by Chris Terrio. "There's no exact reason why, though not much has been heard about it in a couple of years at least," writes Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire. "We'd wager that while "Argo" writer Chris Terrio was penning the script, perhaps they couldn't crack the story to make it their own. That, and the fact that producer Kathleen Kennedy, involved with the project from the start (though we're not sure she still is), likely has her hands full as it is shepherding the plethora of "Star Wars" movies on the way. We weren't always so hot on the idea, so perhaps it's not a bad thing this one isn't moving at any kind of speed."[314][315]

August 28, 2013: Matt Damon to Make Directorial Debut with Terrio's A Foreigner

Tatiana Siegel reported in the Hollywood Reporter on August 28, 2013 that Matt Damon is in talks to make his directorial debut and to star in the international conspiracy thriller A Foreigner (formerly A Murder Foretold) for Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch's Film Rites. Terrio is adapting the screenplay from The New Yorker article "A Murder Foretold" written by David Grann that chronicles the true story of a man gunned down in Guatemala who leaves behind a videotape after his death implicating the country's president and first lady.[316] Asked in 2012 when he would know the right project for him to direct, Damon told The Hollywood Reporter: “I think it’ll just feel right. A lot of the choices I make at this point are just kind of intuitive, just based on years of reading scripts, and it’s just more about a feeling at this point for me."[317]

September 12, 2013: Former Primer Minister of Canada Says New Documentary Better than 'Argo'

Rob Giles reported in the Associated Press on September 12, 2013 that former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, Canada's prime minister in 1979, said the real story presented in the documentary "Our Man in Tehran" of how a former Canadian ambassador protected Americans during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis is a "better story" than Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning picture "Argo." "I think the truth is the better story," said Clark. One year after "Argo" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, former ambassador Ken Taylor has debuted his own account of the high-risk caper saying that the documentary offers "a very true" look at Canada's role in rescuing six U.S. citizens during the crisis. Friends of Taylor were outraged when "Argo" debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. "Argo" screenwriter Chris Terrio, who won the best adapted screenplay prize at the Oscars, mentioned Taylor and Sheardown in his speech after saluting Mendez at the awards. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has said "90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian," but "Argo" "gives almost full credit to the American CIA."[318]

October 9, 2013: Terrio Interviews Director Costa-Gavras after the Screening of 'Z'

Gabriel Byrne reported in the Examiner on October 9, 2013 that Terrio moderated a Question and Answer session with Costa-Gavras on October 9, 2013 after the screening of Gavras' classic ​"Z" sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York City. During the course of the interview Terrio made the interesting observation that when he is working he "finds anger to be a very useful emotion," a statement with which Costa Gavras concurred. Terrio also remarked that when he was recently in Uruguay, he mentioned the name of director Costa-Gavras during one of his talks and Costa-Gavras is held in such high esteem for his movie "State of Siege" that Terrio was invited the next day to meet the President of Uruguay.[319][320]

October 25, 2013: Jonathan Rhys Meyers Says He Hopes to Be in Terrio's Richard II

The Independent of Ireland reported on October 25, 2013 that Jonathan Rhys Meyers hopes to be in James Ivory's Richard II which he says is slated to begin shooting in 2014 from a screenplay by Terrio. "Much as I love TV, there are lots of films that I'd like to do," says Rhys Meyers. "I'm meeting for a film next week which is shooting next year and I'd love to do it. It's a James Ivory film on Richard II and it's got a beautiful script from Chris Terrio who did Argo. Fingers crossed."[321]

November 15, 2013: WME Signs Contract to Represent Terrio

Mike Fleming Jr. reported on Deadline on November 15, 2013 that William Morris Endeavor (also known as WME), the world's largest diversified talent agency with offices in Beverly Hills, New York City, London, Miami, and Nashville, is now representing Terrio. Terrio had previously been represented at Creative Artists Agency (CAA). "While Terrio’s run goes back to writing and directing the 2005 pic Heights, his ascension to A-list scribe has been fairly recent," writes Fleming. "Ben Affleck has told me that after carving his previous directing vehicles from the ground up, he could not believe his good fortune when handed Terrio’s Argo script."[322]

One commenter to the article on Deadline speculated that the reason that Terrio changed representation is that Ben Affleck is signed with WME and "it’s likely Terrio’s been seeing WME putting together most of his projects already." Another commenter speculated that Terrio "had some frustrating experiences with projects involving CAA talent and potential directing opportunities. His agent there did a great job but WME saw an opportunity via Affleck to launch [Terrio] as a director."[323]

November 22, 2013: Director Selected for "Tell No One"

Variety reported on November 22, 2013 that Gavin O’Connor (‘Jane Got A Gun,’ ‘Warrior,’ ‘Pride and Glory’) is in negotiations to direct Terrio's screenplay for 'Tell No One.' In 2011 Ben Affleck signed on to direct and possibly star in the movie but the exited after scheduling resulted in the remake falling into limbo. Frank Marshall (‘The Bourne Legacy,’ ‘War Horse,’ ‘Back to the Future’) will produce the adaptation of the English language remake of Guillaume Canet’s French hit.[324]

December 18, 2013: Terrio to Write a Draft of 'Man of Steel' Follow-up

Tatiana Siegel reported in The Hollywood Reporter on December 18, 2013 that Warner Bros. is bringing Terrio in to write a draft of the Man of Steel follow-up. The untitled Batman-Superman movie, rumored to be called 'Batman vs. Superman, will star Ben Affleck. Terrio scripted Affleck's Best Picture winner "Argo," so he has a strong relationship with the Batman actor. David Goyer wrote the screenplay, but has been tied up with a number of other DC Comics titles including Sandman. Sources say Terrio has been brought in to get the script in shape before filming begins early next year in Michigan.[325] Terrio is represented by WME, Anonymous Content and attorney James Feldman.[326]

Warner Brown commented that Goyer is better when he's collaborating with better writers like Christopher and Jonah Nolan. "It's not a bad thing for Terrio to come in and improve on a draft. As a screenwriter that leaves you alot of room (and fun) to take what is "good" or "ok" and make it great."[327] Josh Wigler wrote at MTV that Terrio was probably hired by Affleck to polish the dialogue and for some light story restructuring, but that there's no time at this point for a major rewrite. "Terrio's involvement in the film is an encouraging sign, but let's leave it at "encouraging" and nothing more. It's not healthy to view Terrio as the man who will rescue us from repeating any of the first "Man of Steel" film's failings — although that would certainly be nice."[328]

Terrio's Screenplays

In 2005 Terrio wrote an adaptation of the play "Ten Unknowns" by playwright Jon Robin Baitz[329] for Hart-Sharp Entertainment but then Hart-Sharp folded. Terrio's sole consolation was that their development director, Nina Wolarksy, promised she'd find him another project[330] which turned out to be Terrio's big break - Argo.
Speaking at "La Alianza" in Montevideo in April, 2013 Terrio said that if he could choose one of his unproduced scripts to turn into a film, it would be Random Family. "There is a small script about the Bronx that I have wanted to do for years which is about the drug wars and women in poverty and if somebody said tomorrow you get to make one film it would be that Bronx film."[331]
Terrio wrote a version of "Richard II" at Merchant Ivory.[332] The Man In Hat Production Company reported on February 24, 2013 that Terrio's adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II (the original ‘Game of Thrones’), will be directed by James Ivory and co-produced by ManInHat.[333] Photo: Wikicommons
Terrio is writing a remake of French thriller 'Tell No One" for Affleck.[334] Borys Kit reported in the "Hollywood Reporter" on November 28, 2012 that Terrio is in the process of writing the screenplay.[335] Mike Fleming Jr. reported on Deadline on June 15, 20122 that Ben Affleck is attached to direct with Warner Bros releasing the film domestically and Universal Pictures International launching it overseas. The new project is basically a remake of the French film adaptation Harlan Coben’s book Tell No One, which was directed in France by Guillaume Canet.
On March 11, 2013 Mike Fleming Jr reported that Terrio is attached to write the screenplay for Bunker Hill about the violent sieges that erupted in Lexington and Concord after a British blockade led to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill, a bloody clash that united the colonies and started the war for independence. Terrio will reunite with Argo director Ben Afleck.[336]

Following is a list of writing projects that Terrio has been involved in. The date before the title is the earliest date for which a documented reference to the screenplay is available.

2005: Ten Unknowns

Terrio wrote an adaptation of the play "Ten Unknowns" by playwright Jon Robin Baitz[337] for Hart-Sharp Entertainment but then Hart-Sharp folded. Terrio's sole consolation was that their development director, Nina Wolarksy, promised she'd find him another project[338] which turned out to be Terrio's big break - Argo.

Ten Unknowns explores the commercialization of culture through the character, Malcolm Raphelson. "A once-renowned artist now suffering from 'painter's block,' Raphelson rages against the current art world's hunger for the next “it” artist. When a New York agent, a young apprentice and a beautiful graduate student enter his self-exile in remote Mexico, it becomes a perfect lair. The interweaving tension builds as a complicated mystery unfolds." The New Yorker proclaimed Ten Unknowns to be “…a cunning and elegant play…with deft storytelling.” Baitz, considered one of America's 'best playwrights of conscience' was born in Los Angeles and raised in South Africa. His play A Fair Country was one of the finalists for a Pulitzer Prize in 1996. Baitz has written for the television series The West Wing and Alias. He was also the executive producer of the ABC-TV hit drama Brothers and Sisters.[339]

2005: Random Family

Terrio began writing the screenplay “Random Family” in 2005[340] based on reporter Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s decade-long study of a struggling Bronx tribe.[341] Random Family revolves around a multigenerational family in the South Bronx. LeBlanc and Chris Terrio are writing and co-executive producing. Rich Rosenthal, who oversees WB's digital division and Neal Gabler are executive producing.[342] Gillian Engberg reported on Booklist that "Journalist LeBlanc spent more than 10 years following two Latina women from the Bronx, and in this ambitious work, she tells their stories, beginning in the late 1980s with their young teen years. Older Jessica becomes a mistress to an enormously successful heroin dealer, and Coco falls for Jessica's brother, an aspiring gangster. The two women find love, weather abuse, have babies, endure their own and their partners' prison terms, and struggle with health problems, social systems, motherhood, their own mothers, the violence of their communities, and the uncertain future. LeBlanc's prose is sprawling and dense with cinematic detail--what people wore, ate, drove, listened to; where they lived; what they said--and she studiously removes herself from the story, letting her characters' day-to-day lives unfold in scenes that are both gripping and mundane and, like life, defy easy organization. What emerges is an important, unvarnished portrait of people living in deep urban poverty, beyond the statistics, hip-hop glamour, and stereotypes."[343]

In 2009 Nellie Andreeva reported at the Hollywood Reporter that producer Phil Rosenthal had three projects in the works at HBO and a sitcom set up at the BBC including "Random Family," based on the nonfiction book by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Andreeva said that LeBlanc and Terrio were writing and co-executive producing and Rosenthal and Neal Gabler were executive producing.[344]

Speaking at "La Alianza" in Montevideo in April, 2013 Terrio said that if he could choose one of his unproduced scripts to turn into a film, it would be Random Family. "There is a small script about the Bronx that I have wanted to do for years which is about the drug wars and women in poverty and if somebody said tomorrow you get to make one film it would be that Bronx film. But it's very hard. The one thing that Hollywood insists upon is that you need a star. And if you are making a movie about 16 year old girls in the Bronx, there is no star who can raise the money. That is a big problem in Hollywood. Unless you have a character who can be played by a big star like Ben Affleck or George Clooney or Meryl Streep or Jennifer Lawrence, there is no economic model. On HBO maybe. HBO can takes chances and make films without stars but the economics of film are really hard."[345] Part of the problem is that private financiers who once were willing to put money into any project amid the 1990s independent-film boom are becoming more gun-shy. "Most of my experience was from independent investors," said Terrio in 2006. "It seems now that they're a lot more savvy about what names equal at the box office."[346]

2006: Richard II

The Independent reported in 2006 that James Ivory wanted to film Richard II. "I don't know how easy it will be to pull off, but that's one of the things I want to do," said Ivory. "I love the play. I think it would make a wonderful movie."[347] Terrio wrote a version of "Richard II" at Merchant Ivory.[348] The Man In Hat Production Company reported on February 24, 2013 that Terrio's adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II (the original ‘Game of Thrones’), will be directed by James Ivory and co-produced by ManInHat.[349] After watching Avatar, Ivory plans to direct the film in 3D. "I'm going to be doing all sorts of things with Richard II that people would gasp if they knew... shooting it in 3D," says Ivory. "I think if you're going to do something set in the 14th century, in period, in 3D, it will be like something from Mars practically, I think. It will be strange and effective."[350]

The Independent of Ireland reported on October 25, 2013 that Richard II is slated to begin shooting in 2014 from a screenplay by Terrio and that Jonathan Rhys Meyers hopes to be in the film. "Much as I love TV, there are lots of films that I'd like to do," says Rhys Meyers. "I'm meeting for a film next week which is shooting next year and I'd love to do it. It's a James Ivory film on Richard II and it's got a beautiful script from Chris Terrio who did Argo. Fingers crossed."[351]

2007: The Ends of the Earth

Terrio completed a period piece in 2007 called “The Ends of the Earth,” that dramatizes a scandalous father-daughter love story that brought down a powerful Oklahoma oil baron.[352] Carson Reeves posted a review of the screenplay for "The Ends of the Earth" on July 2, 2012 on his web site "Scriptshadow" based on a 2007 draft. Reeves encouraged readers to seek out the script and read it and said he was bursting with enthusiasm over the screenplay. "Seriously, this has to be one of the most amazing untold stories ever. I can't believe they haven't made a movie about it yet," writes Reeves. "This is a wonderful screenplay and I'm hoping they get it cast soon because with the right actors and the right director, this has "Oscar" and "classic" written all over it."[353]

On August 6, 2012 the Weinstein Company, producer of two recent Academy Award winners for best picture: "The King's Speech" and "The Artist," announced that they are attached to topline the romantic drama "Ends of the Earth," written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Chris Terrio based on the lives of EW and Lydie Marland, in a story that follows the controversial love affair between an oil baron and his adopted daughter, which destroys the empire they built together. "Chris (Terrio) has brought to life with his writing one of the most epic love stories that people have yet to really discover," said Dylan Sellers, Weinstein Company president of production. "We knew right away that this script was something special."[354][355] Jennifer Lawrence, star of "The Hunger Games" and "Silver Linings Playbook" is attached to play Lydie, an educated, headstrong woman who was adopted as a girl by her aunt Virginia and uncle Ernest who later becomes their adopted daughter and eventually becomes EW's wife. According to the screenplay, Lydie urges EW to raise workers' wages at the Marland Refinery and give them unpredecented access to medical care, earning her the nickname the "princess of the prairies." [356][357] Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch and Lance Johnson[358] will produce the movie for Escape Artists, which is aiming to start production in the summer of 2013. “We hope to be in production next year (2013), and I also hope to be able to film in Ponca City," said producer Lance Johnson, a Ponca City native, "but it’s still early in the process and the schedule and location won’t be determined until we decide on a director.”[359][360]

Kristopher Tapley wrote at HitFix on March 27, 2013 that when the Weinstein Company put out a press release on February 19, 2013 announcing that director David O. Russell would be taking the reins on "The Ends of the Earth," people close to the project are saying Russell was never committed to it. Tapley says his own source said Russell wasn't interested because he "didn't want to do another incest movie." Tapley added that Terrio was making it clear to journalists that he had no knowledge of any of it and hadn't even met Russell and that he was trying to be as zen as possible about the situation.[361]

2007: Baltimore

Nikki Finke reported on December 7, 2007 that Baltimore by Chris Terrio and Jesse Lichtenstein had received 4 mentions in the 2007 Black List which is a list of unreleased screenplays compiled from the suggestions of over 150 film executives and high-level assistants, each of whom contributed the names of up to 10 of their favorite scripts. The highest rated screenplay on the Black List for 2007 was Recount by Danny Strong with 44 mentions.[362] Baltimore is described as follows: "“Only twice in history has a city in the continental United States been attacked by a foreign enemy. The second time was September 11, 2001. The first was August 24, 1814. This is that true story."[363]

Carson Reeves wrote on Script Shadow that Baltimore contained some "good stuff" and the structure was pretty good. "And yet I still felt detached during it," writes Reeves. "I rooted for Sam for the reasons I mentioned above, but we get this sort of half-thought-through storyline with him and his son that was sooooo generic. "I don't like daddy. Daddy doesn't like me." Blah blah blah. Terrio's obviously come a long way since then as the relationship between Ernest and Lydie in The Ends Of The Earth is one of the most complicated and intriguing I've ever read."[364]

Jesse Lichtenstein, the co-author of the screenplay, was Terrio's Production Designer on Book of Kings in 2002 and the producers gave "Thanks" to Lichtenstein in Heights in 2005.[365]

2008: Argo

2011: Tell No One

Terrio has written a remake of French thriller 'Tell No One" for Affleck.[366] Borys Kit reported in the "Hollywood Reporter" on November 28, 2012 that Terrio is in the process of writing the screenplay.[367] Mike Fleming Jr. reported on Deadline on June 15, 20122 that Ben Affleck is attached to direct with Warner Bros releasing the film domestically and Universal Pictures International launching it overseas. The new project is basically a remake of the French film adaptation Harlan Coben’s book Tell No One, which was directed in France by Guillaume Canet. "The plot involves a pediatrician who is out one night frolicking by a lake with his wife when she suddenly vanishes and he is severely beaten when he tries to find her," writes Fleming. "When she turns up murdered, he is prime suspect. That’s until she’s declared a victim of a caught serial killer. Years later, bodies turn up in the same spot and the nightmare is repeated, the pediatrician again under suspicion. Right around that time, he’s given evidence that his wife wasn’t dead at all."[368]

The Wrap reported on August 22, 2013 that with Ben Affleck's attachment to play Batman in Warner Brother's untitled sequel to "Man of Steel" he is no longer attached to direct WB's remake of Tell No One. "There's no exact reason why, though not much has been heard about it in a couple of years at least," writes Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire. "We'd wager that while "Argo" writer Chris Terrio was penning the script, perhaps they couldn't crack the story to make it their own. That, and the fact that producer Kathleen Kennedy, involved with the project from the start (though we're not sure she still is), likely has her hands full as it is shepherding the plethora of "Star Wars" movies on the way. We weren't always so hot on the idea, so perhaps it's not a bad thing this one isn't moving at any kind of speed."[369][370]

Variety reported on November 22, 2013 that Gavin O’Connor (‘Jane Got A Gun,’ ‘Warrior,’ ‘Pride and Glory’) is in negotiations to direct Terrio's screenplay for 'Tell No One.' In 2011 Ben Affleck signed on to direct and possibly star in the movie but the exited after scheduling resulted in the remake falling into limbo. Frank Marshall (‘The Bourne Legacy,’ ‘War Horse,’ ‘Back to the Future’) will produce the adaptation of the English language remake of Guillaume Canet’s French hit.[371]

2011: A Foreigner (formerly titled 'A Murder Foretold')

Terrio wrote the screenplay for another true-life tale with "A Murder Foretold," based on the murder of a man in Guatemala, who left behind a videotape implicating the country's president in the death.[372] Borys Kit reported in the "Hollywood Reporter" that the screenplay has been completed. The film will be produced by Paramount, Indian Paintbrush and producer Steve Zaillian.[373] "A Murder Foretold takes place in a country devastated by killings routinely perpetrated by everyone from secret police to drug dealers," wrotes Mike Fleming Jr. in "Deadline" on October 13, 2011. Rodrigo Rosenberg, a wealthy businessman who watched his wife-to-be get assassinated along with her father, was later gunned down while riding his bicycle. His murder stirred up an entire country frustrated by the endless waves of violence, sometimes involving corrupt government officials. At his funeral, Rosenberg had an intermediary disperse copies of a videocassette he had recorded himself, one that implicated the president, his wife, and other close aides in his killing. A special prosecutor was appointed, and he followed a trail of clues that led to an unbelievable conclusion and a real crackdown on violence in Guatemala."[374]

Tatiana Siegel reported in the Hollywood Reporter on August 28, 2013 that Matt Damon is in talks to make his directorial debut and to star in the international conspiracy thriller A Foreigner (formerly A Murder Foretold) for Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch's Film Rites.[375]

2012: George Clooney and Grant Heslov's Untitled New York City Crime Thriller

On November 28, 2012 Borys Kit reported in the "Hollywood Reporter" that Terrio is reteaming with George Clooney and Grant Heslov for an untitled thriller set in the world of New York crime. Paul Greengrass, the director of Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Identity, will direct the thriller with Clooney attached to star. Kit reports that many of the deals for the project were made over a year ago but it’s only now that Terrio is tackling it.[376] "It’s untitled as yet but it’s a New York crime syndicate movie that Paul Greengrass is directing. So, it’s a dream team for me – my favourite director in the world and these two producers who have been really good to me. So, I now feel like I’ve used up my share of good luck now and should be careful when crossing the street to make sure there’s no bus heading in my direction."[377] On September 27, 2013 Terrio attended the world premiere of Greengrass' Captain Phillips at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall as part of the 51st New York Film Festival.[378]

2013: Weather Service

Terrio has a spy thriller called "Weather Service" in development.[379] The NY Times reports that Steve Tisch will produce the film for Escape Artists, the same production company that has the rights the The Ends of the Earth.[380]

2013: Bunker Hill

On March 11, 2013 Mike Fleming Jr reported that Terrio is attached to write the screenplay for Bunker Hill about the violent sieges that erupted in Lexington and Concord after a British blockade led to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill, a bloody clash that united the colonies and started the war for independence. Terrio will reunite with Argo director Ben Afleck.[381] In his new book, Bunker Hill, Nathaniel Philbrick revisits the beginnings of the American Revolution, a subject freighted with more myth, pride and politics than any other in our national narrative. There’s an ugly civil war side to revolutionary Boston that we don’t often talk about,” he says, “and a lot of thuggish, vigilante behavior by groups like the Sons of Liberty.” He doesn’t romanticize the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord, either. The “freedoms” they fought for, he notes, weren’t intended to extend to slaves, Indians, women or Catholics. Their cause was also “profoundly conservative.” Most sought a return to the Crown’s “salutary neglect” of colonists prior to the 1760s, before Britain began imposing taxes and responding to American resistance with coercion and troops. “They wanted the liberties of British subjects, not American independence,” Philbrick says.[382] Terrio said in Uruguay in 2013 that his vision of Bunker Hill would be ""retratado desde un punto de vista más real, más violento, una mirada más sucia" ("portrayed from a more realistic point of view, more violent, with a closer dirtier look".[383]

2013: 'Man of Steel' Follow-up

Tatiana Siegel reported in The Hollywood Reporter on December 18, 2013 that Warner Bros. is bringing Terrio in to write a draft of the Man of Steel follow-up, the untitled Batman-Superman movie that will star Ben Affleck who worked closely with Terrio on Argo. David Goyer wrote the screenplay, but has been tied up with a number of other DC Comics titles including Sandman. Sources say Terrio has been brought in to get the script in shape before filming begins in early 2014 in Michigan.[384] Comments to the story include one by Warner Brown that Goyer is better when he's collaborating with better writers (Christopher & Jonah Nolan). "It's not a bad thing for Terrio to come in and improve on a draft. As a screenwriter that leaves you a lot of room (and fun) to take what is "good" or "ok" and make it great."[385]

Terrio previously signed a two-picture blind script pact with Warner Bros. in November, 2012 and had been expected to tackle the first of the two scripts after he completed penning an untitled crime thriller for Argo producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov.[386] At the time of his signing, Terrio said that he did not yet know what those films are. "Coming from the New York indie film scene, I had always dreaded the studio system. I thought there’d almost inevitably be this horrible moment where a scene would be re-written to include a CGI monster and a car chase. And yet Warners, probably as a result of the trust they have in Ben, didn’t do that. They left us alone. They said: “Here’s the money, go make a film.” And that’s such a rare thing. It’s the ideal scenario and we all dream about that… that someone will trust you to make a movie. So, I thought I’d be crazy not to sign up to do that again. That being said, maybe in the next movie they’ll need to have a CGI monster marching through a scene… but I hope not!"[387]

On January 17, 2014 Warner Brothers announced that Batman Vs. Superman was being pushed back until 2016. Joe Comicbook wrote at Comicbook.com that rumors are running rampant on the Internet about why the film was pushed back and talked about five of the most popular rumors and fan speculation. One rumor involving Terrio was that as "reports surfaced around a month ago that Argo writer Chris Terrio had been brought in to do a draft of the script. Is it possible that he’s wound up having more script changes than Warner Bros. anticipated?"[388]

Awards

  • Terrio won a $2,500 Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, an award at Harvard for excellence in scholarly work and research, for for his senior thesis entitled "'The Greatest Book in the World': Toward Virginia Woolf's Literary Phenomenology" together with his supervisor Professor William Handley.[389]
  • Book of Kings won the award for best short at the Santa Fe Film Festival in 2002[390]
  • Book of Kings won the award for the award for best short at the Deauville Film Festival in 2002.[391]
  • Argo won the 25th Annual USC Libraries Scripter Award for best literary movie adaptation in 2013. The award was shared with authors Joshuah Bearman (the Wired article “The Great Escape”) and Antonio J. Mendez (Penguin book The Master Of Disguise) who provided the original source material.[392]
  • The Argo script brought Terrio a BAFTA nomination.[394]
  • Terrio won the 2013 Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[395]
  • Terrio won a Writers Guild of America Award in 2013 in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay for a Motion Picture for Argo based on a selection from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired Magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman.[396]

Terrio on Screenwriting

Following are some of Terrio's observations on art, screenwriting, and the film industry that were explored in articles and interviews by Lindsey Bahr, Matthew Belloni, Paul Brownfield, Kyle Buchanan, Rob Carnevale, Barbara Chai, Brendan Connelly, Peter Debruge, Denis Faye, Stephen Galloway, Sylviane Gold, Christy Grosz, Patrick Hruby, Marty Mapes, Janet Maslin, Addie Morfoot, Ben Mortimer, Rebecca Murray, David Poland, Steve Pond, Charlie Rose, Lisa Rosen, Jacob Soboroff, Jeff Strickler, N.P. Thompson, John Watson, Damon Wise, and Jordan Zarakin.

Maintain Your Integrity

Maintain Your Integrity
"When you're writing, I think you have to take it deadly seriously. You have to be aware of the responsibility you bear when people are giving you two hours of their time."

Terrio says that after directing Heights he was in the peculiar situation of both being poor and needing a job and also being really picky about what he thought he could do. "I would speak to my agent and there were opportunities that would come along but they were things that either I knew I couldn't do them well or I didn't want to do them," says Terrio. "There are some [screenwriting] jobs that maybe you look at and think that maybe I could get but you think that I would rather be delivering Christmas baskets again. I can't wake up in the morning and say 'I'm going to do that' because at least if you are delivering Christmas baskets you have your contrarian rage and you say 'This really isn't my job. My job is home writing.' But if you take some shitty job that your heart and your mind isn't in then you say 'This is my job. I'm being paid to stay home and sit at my desk and write this shitty movie.' So it is a little hard not to get depressed and to just wake up in the morning and feel invigorated by what you are doing."[397] "When you're writing, I think you have to take it deadly seriously," adds Terrio. "You have to be aware of the responsibility you bear when people are giving you two hours of their time."[398]

Don't Go into Film to Get Rich

Terrio says that when he was at at Cambridge he was in a really difficult place about what he wanted to do in life and whether he’d go and try to make films or not. "I was sort of pulling my hair out, questioning whether I really could try to make a go of it as a writer. I remember I used to come down to the cinema here and spend many hours trying to get up the courage to decide to commit to possibly 10 years of starving and not paying the rent in order to write scripts."[399]

Even after Terrio directed Heights for Merchant Ivory it wasn't a ticket to instant fame and fortune. "We took the movie to the Sundance Film Festival, and the studio put us up in a four-star hotel. So there I am, drinking $8 bottles of water while I've got $40 in my checking account," said Terrio adding that when he went on a tour to promote the movie he went to "check into one hotel, and they rejected my credit card. Finally I got someone from the studio on the phone to promise to pay for the room, but the hotel still wanted my card [for incidental expenses]. Loud enough for everyone to hear, they announced that they ran my card three times - the last time for just one dollar - and it was rejected all three times. They gave me a room, but they made a big show out of taking away my key to the courtesy bar." Terrio considered it was a comic coincidence that Heights opened the same week as Speilberg's War of the Worlds. "While we were shooting our movie, they filmed a scene for `War of the Worlds' in my old neighborhood. They paid people $50 to sit in their cars and create a traffic jam three miles long. My mom and all her friends did it. She kept telling her friends, `This is what my son is doing now, just like Steven Spielberg.' No, Ma, not exactly."[400]

"I'm not doing this to get rich," said Terrio in 2005. "And I'm not getting rich. I still share an apartment with four roommates. But I have quit my temp job."[401]

Write Like a Director

Terrio says that he will probably direct again at some point.[402] "I started off directing little things and then they sent me alone to my gollum cave to write for a couple of years but I would love to direct again," said Terrio in 2012[403] adding that being on a set is good for him. "I kind of knew that if I didn't study directing I would probably never leave my apartment that I would work inside my apartment all the time and I would indulge my reclusive side so in a way working as a director is kind of good for me. It's like you have your winter and then you have your summer. You have your time when you are contemplative then when it's time you go out into the world again and I think it is a good symbiotic way to work that you remind yourself about what it's like to be on a set and in rooms hearing people speak and seeing actors work, then kind of go back and buckle down and just work alone for a while. I was lucky on Argo because Ben sort of let me torture him on set because not only was I grateful to stay involved in the movie but just to sit and watch Arkin and Goodman do their thing was really sort of nourishing."[404]

Ben Affleck says that Terrio's background in directing is an asset. “He writes like a storyteller, like a director in a way, the way he cuts the picture on the page,” says Affleck. “He was so deeply steeped in the research, he became this amazing asset. How many relationships have the writer on the set every day? That’s a rarity.”[405]

Terrio learned from Affleck during the shoot. "Ben is very easygoing, but that belies somebody who knows what he wants and knows how to get it. Ben’s ability to work with (cinematographer) Rodrigo (Prieto) and quickly get what he wants, know what he needs, and give himself options is a great thing that I picked up. He already is cutting the movie in his head when he’s making it. He immediately has an instinct about when it’s in the can and when it’s not."[406] "[Affleck] really knows how to talk to actors. There is a shorthand that he can use to talk to actors. And he knows the difference between and 19 and a 20 in a take."[407] "People say [Affleck] is an actor turned director. Which is like saying - oh it's a dog walking. How could he do such a thing. But you think of this great tradition of actors turned directors. Kazan was an actor, Lamet was a actor. Of course you have Orson Wells."[408]

The Most Terrifying Thing

The Most Terrifying Thing
"I think that the most terrifying thing is the empty page. It is like walking in the freezing tundra of white space. The empty page is a scary thing." "The real work is done alone in a room. It's not out here at a cocktail party. As long as you remember your desk is waiting at home and there's some blank screen that is taunting you, then I think you don't compromise your outsider status."

Terrio says that the place where the real work is done alone in a room. "It's not out here at a cocktail party. As long as you remember your desk is waiting at home and there's some blank screen that is taunting you, then I think you don't compromise your outsider status."[409] "One of the things I’m not sure you’re always prepared for is the loneliness of it. You really have to get to a mental place where every single day you can be prepared to be alone for long periods of time."[410] Terrio adds that the most terrifying thing in the world to him is a blank page. "It's like walking in the freezing tundra of white space. The empty page is a scary thing and that is why I think I was lucky to have something to adapt [with Argo] because you are at least starting with something - an article. The article that I had was very short but still it was something. I knew there was a story. I could go down and talk to Tony and get information. Once you have started on a project then waking up in the morning is exciting to go back to this little world that you have created. But the blank space makes me want to go back to bed to go to sleep.[411]

Terrio's Best Bad Idea

Terrio says his "best bad idea" was to go into filmmaking in the first place. "But this is why I’m a writer – I can’t instantly come up with an interesting answer to that question. I’ll have to go away, think about it for a little while and then do it in three drafts [laughs]. But for now, the best bad idea for me was making that decision, or taking that risk, to become a writer."[412] "I always feel wary of giving advice because it suggests that I think I did everything right so you should imitate me. It could be that I did everything wrong and just got real lucky and so I ended up here. But I think it's just to, you know, you have to wake up every morning and feel that you're writing something that you love because writing is such a lonely and depressing profession, I think. So I would say, stick to your scripts of the things you love and hopefully, eventually someone will hear your voice."[413]

Strike the Right Balance Between Drama and Reality

Terrio explains that when writing a screenplay based on a real event it is difficult to strike the right balance between the demands of drama and reality. "It’s trial and error, and you’re not always sure if you got it right. There’s compression of certain things; there are places, especially in the third act, where we turn up the volume and raise the adrenalin. We decided to fill it in with the most adrenalin producing version that we could; and yet it’s trial and error. Sometimes we step back and ask, “did we push it too far? Did we push it far enough?”[414] "The process is full of doubt and second guessing and you’re constantly redrawing the tennis court of how far you can step out of what really happened," says Terrio. "Are we playing upon the audiences adrenaline, their hopes and fears and responses to genre filmmaking? Absolutely. But are we doing it in service of a true feeling and the essence of the experience of the house guests? I think so."[415] Terrio says that screenwriters are allowed to use dramatic license to tell the big story. "I spent many years looking closely at Shakespeare's history plays. And when you look at – I don't mean for this to sound pretentious – you're constantly making dramatic choices that maybe don't have anything to do with reality. Take Richard III. Did he really have a hunchback? Probably not, but is he a much better character because he does? Yes, of course. You're constantly trying to give a sense of the story while also entertaining the audience."[416] Terrio adds that the process of adapting journalism is completely different from the process of adapting fiction or a play. “(The film adaptation of) “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is brilliant, but the characters, tone and almost every word of the screenplay comes from the play. ‘Argo’ was different. It was a process of trying to build an inhabitable world, creating almost a hundred new characters, and finding a voice that isn’t immediately apparent in the factual sources.”[417]

Film is All About No Words

Film is All About No Words
"I used to be a snob about the theatre. Why bother making movies? It’s so much better if you can see a real performance at the theatre. But then The Passion of Joan of Arc showed me there’s a whole interior world that you can’t necessarily get on stage." “I think of film as, primarily, a visual medium. I think there’s the theatre and there’s fiction, prose and poetry. And then there’s film which has to take in elements of all those kinds of writing but ultimately is a visual experience."

Terrio says that one of his favorite movies is The Passion of Joan of Arc, because it’s all about the close-up and what cinema can do that theatre can’t. "I used to be a snob about the theatre. Why bother making movies? It’s so much better if you can see a real performance at the theatre. But then The Passion of Joan of Arc showed me there’s a whole interior world that you can’t necessarily get on stage," says Terrio.[418] "The movie I've seen more than any other movie is Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, because to me the whole reason to do film instead of theater is the close-up. Theater is all about words, and film is all about no words. That and [Ingmar Bergman's] Persona are the master class in close-ups."[419] “I think of film as, primarily, a visual medium. I think there’s the theatre and there’s fiction, prose and poetry. And then there’s film which has to take in elements of all those kinds of writing but ultimately is a visual experience."[420]

Cut Out Dialog and Tell the Story Visually

Elizabeth Banks recounts that when Terrio directed her in Heights she would work with him every day to cut out dialog that didn't make sense or feel right or necessary. "The script was definitely fuller when we first started shooting and we cut a lot out," said Banks. "That’s true about a lot of scripts. They need to have a lot going on when you read them so that you really get a sense of the people and the characters on the page, but the minute you put it up visually, you can take a lot of the words away because you can do so much with a glance, or a look, or an embrace that you don’t need the words. Suddenly the words seem redundant. So we took a lot of the redundancy, I think, out of it by taking some of the words out and just making it more of our own, too. And making it more of Chris’."[421]

Negative Space and Production Values

Terrio says that one of the reasons that he liked shooting Heights in New York City is because the production values are so high and there's always something to fill the frame. "There is all this stuff to fill the frame. The documentarian kicks in because you can just take your fictitious characters and stick them into such a real environment and they begin responding to that," said Terrio. "I lived in Los Angeles during film school and I never knew where to put the camera because it is always negative space. There's nowhere to put the camera. Then you go to Paris and your production value looks a lot higher and [the same is true for] New York and Washington. New York is so full of New York that there is always something there."[422]

Distill the Story to its Essence

When asked about how he selected what parts to tell and what parts to leave out in Argo Terrio says that the writer has to find the the essence of the story. "There was this moment in 1979 and 1980 when six people had to get out of Tehran. And just as it proceeds in the film, Tony Mendez, CIA officer, went to Hollywood, created buzz around the fake movie to create a cover story to get six people out. All that is absolutely true," says Terrio. " If we actually told everything that was happening, we'd have a 12-hour miniseries or longer. There are all kinds of Canadian heroes in this. Pat and ken Taylor, John and Xena Sheerdown, Canadian diplomats who also helped to hide Americans in the city. You know, there are -- there's no shortage of heroes everywhere you look in this story. So you go through a painful process of trying to figure out what is the most compelling way to economically tell the story in a way that is truthful to the sense of what happened and also -- the essence of what happened to hold an audience's attention."[423]

The Actors and Director Are the Heroes

Terrio says that the director and actors bring a screenplay to life. It is easy to be ironic or scornful of actors said Terrio, but when you are in front of a great actor something magical occurs. "The actors are the heroes," said Terrio.[424] “You know, [in Argo] Bryan Cranston giving one loaded look to Ben Affleck tells you a whole lot that I couldn’t accomplish in the script or Zeljko Ivanek, who’s the State Department guy giving this ridiculous idea about the hostages escaping on bicycles, which was a real idea by the way that the State Department floated, that could easily sound like Theatre of the Absurd. But, you get an actor as truthful as Zeljko, and you don’t doubt for a second that this State Department guy is earnestly giving this bad idea. So, there’s a lot of tweaking, but ultimately it’s in the director’s hands.”[425]

Terrio says that his greatest personal hero as an actor is Marlon Brando.[426] "On the Waterfront I've probably seen 50 times and I could keep watching it."[427] Terrio also praised Daniel Day Lewis, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, and among the new generation Ryan Gosling.[428] Favorite directors include Fellini ("especially his more realist stuff like Nights of Cabiria and La Dolce Vita"), P.T. Anderson ("I can always watch anything that P.T. Anderson does. Even when I don't completely buy the films, there's always so much to admire that I just sit there with my jaw dropped."), Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay[429] Paul Greengrass, and Christopher Nolan[430]. But the movie Terrio has seen more than any other is Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. "That and Persona are the master class in close-ups."[431]

The actors in Argo give credit to Terrio for making their job easier. "When you start with a script that's so well written, it's actually easier for actors," said Bryan Cranston. "The hardest work I've ever had to has been on scripts that were sub-par, where the guideposts are vague and flimsy and you have to do a lot of work in creating an honest character. But Chris Terrio wrote a beautiful script, and to me it was just a case of following the signs he put in there." Alan Arkin praised the way the tone of the movie shifts dramatically. "I think it's a masterpiece of writing. It's the way movies used to be made all the time in Hollywood. I don't know what happened, but about 20-25 years, someone decided, “If it's serious, it's serious; if it's a comedy, it's a comedy.” There's no sense of the contrasts that go on in human life all the time! And if movies are supposed to be a representation of human life, you wanna see some contrasts!"[432]

Don't Confuse the Audience

Terrio says that in Argo you have compression and composite characters because there has been a definite decision made to avoid confusing the audience. "There were definite decisions that we made [in Argo] about, for example, the housekeeper in the film," says Terrio. "There were actually three different housekeepers but they all had to keep a secret and they all had to go into hiding after the house guests escaped so we decided that we are going to composite her into Sahar who is the housekeeper in the film. It breaks your heart when you have to compress and you can't include somebody. There were two Canadian diplomats named John and Gina Sheardown who helped to hide the house guests along with Pat and Ken Taylor, the ambassador and the ambassador's wife. But then you are dealing with so many different places and so many different characters. You have the CIA, you have the State Department, you have Los Angeles, You have Teheran. That when you would go back to the house guests, when you tried to have various diplomats involved, it would be confusing."[433]

Leave the Film Room to Breathe

Terrio says that even when you've thought out a carefully thought out structure to a film, it's important to keep finding the little messy edges, "the places where the edges fray a bit." "Right up to the end [in Argo], you never feel like you’re going through some sort of direct linear structure, because it keeps trying to elbow its way out in any number of scenes. Things like the bazaar, where it suddenly feels like this strange belly of the beast that you’re going into structurally, and yet when you’re watching the scene it just feels like this dynamic, alive organism."[434]

The Characters Tell You What They Want to Say

The Characters Tell You What They Want to Say
"I need to circle something for a long time, and the characters are gradually showing up and taking their places. Finally, by the time I was ready to write, I knew. They had told me what they wanted to say, and I could sort of take dictation, which I know sounds a little crazy, but I’d imagine most writers would say that. You’re afraid every morning when you sit down that the characters aren’t going to show up for work, and sometimes they don’t, but when they do, you’re happy and you write fast."

Terrio says that when he is writing a screenplay he needs to do months of research and circle the actual writing of the screenplay for a long time. Then the characters gradually show up and take their places. "Finally, by the time I was ready to write, I knew. They had told me what they wanted to say, and I could sort of take dictation, which I know sounds a little crazy, but I’d imagine most writers would say that. You’re afraid every morning when you sit down that the characters aren’t going to show up for work, and sometimes they don’t, but when they do, you’re happy and you write fast."[435] "You start to hear the rhythm of the way the people talk, and then it becomes easier."[436]

Praise and Criticism Stifle Creativity

Terrio says that he tries to avoid reading the press because even good press can stifle creativity and bad press can be crippling. "People used to say 'They don't read press. They don't read reviews.' and I would think 'How can you not. You're fucking lying.' And yet with [Argo] I have had to shut it out because even if you read a good review and it says 'That tree produces really orange oranges.' next time you try to write you start to think "God, I've got to make it more orange. I've got to make it more orange," says Terrio. "Criticism is, of course, just crippling because if you are a fairly insecure person and I think I am and I think many writers really are, you are eager to believe negative things and when somebody says something then the little critic inside your head just says "You suck. You suck. You suck." so I have had to avoid reading stuff and whatever but of course you meet people and you talk to people and it's great when sometimes people just point out some little moment in the film that they 'got' and you think 'God, that's the thought that I had or the thought that Ben and I had' and somewhere through the magic of the movies it landed somewhere. That really is gratifying. But if you start google searching yourself - I don't know how people do it. I would like be in a straight jacket drawing on myself with a sharpie. I don't see how people take all that in and still feel like you can create. It's a skill that you acquire over time but for the moment I am happy to just take a step back into my Gollum cave and just fixate on the object of the script that is in front of me."[437]

The Skills Necessary to Advance Your Arts Career

Terrio says that "a lot of times the very thing that makes you want to go into the arts is your interior life, and the fact that you're not the most comfortable person at the party, or the best at networking. So to some degree, the skills required to advance your arts career are at odds with the very thing that inspired you to get into the arts in the first place."[438] "I’m probably, like, a slightly awkward, nerdy person but the great thing is when you find somebody who exists on that same nerdy plain as you do and, maybe I’m not that good at small talk, but I thrive if we’re talking about how to make the scene better."[439]

How to Properly Shoot a Spitball

Terrio writes that a common critique of some screenplays is that the script has "too many men in rooms talking" so he knew that the scene in Argo of top-floor officials from the CIA and State Department sitting in a conference room debating various scenarios for a cover story to get Americans out of Iran would be "more difficult to pull off than any of the more (ostensibly) complicated set pieces in the film." "The writing in a scene like this is, in effect, naked," writes Terrio. "The tension has to come from the audience's awareness of subtle shifts of power in the room." Terrio knew that this scene would be the major turning point in the film and it would come when Mendez finally decided to speak up to his superiors, exposing the absurdity of their plans and, in effect, volunteering to take over the Tehran operation. Terrio drew inspiration from how two masters, Paddy Chayefsky and William Goldman, handled situations like this in their screenplays for Network and All the President's Men by throwing a "spitball" to shift the conversation with "an ironic barb that could render the boardroom of a television network or an editorial meeting at the Washington Post speechless." In Terrio's screenplay, after one of the CIA operatives suggests that he "wanted to put the six escaped Americans on bicycles and tell them, in effect, 'Pedal north until you smell Turkish food,'" Terrio settled on the idea that Mendez would throw a spitball into the conversation by making a joke.[440] Mendez listens to a plan involving smuggling bicycles to the Americans and then pointing them in the direction of the Turkish border 300 miles away. “Or you could just send in training wheels,” Mendez says, “and meet them at the border with Gatorade.”[441] "Mendez would make his off-hand joke. The table would go silent. The attention of the room would shift to the court jester speaking truth to power."[442]

Don't Overexplain

Don't Overexplain
"When you are trying to orient an audience into a world, it has to feel like the jargon and the energy of the insiders, but you also don't want to make it so jargonny and insidery that the audience can't follow what is going on. You can drop a word like exfiltration that maybe the audience hasn't heard before. I hadn't heard it before I started on this film. But exfiltration which is the CIA practice of getting people out of a country. You don't know exactly what that means. But the audience is so quick that they catch up immediately. You have to be careful about not to overexplain to bring the audience into a world that maybe makes them feel like they are eavesdropping and they are invisible spectators in an inner santum where people are talking trade and tradecraft."

Terrio explains that there is an enormous amount of exposition in the same scene which he calls the hardest scene he ever wrote where the "white men in suits" are sitting in a conference room debating various scenarios and that it was very tricky to try to bring the audience into this world and make them feel like they are invisible spectators in an inner santum where people are talking trade and tradecraft. "It was a tricky scene in terms of tone and it was a tricky scene in terms of proper nouns and exposition," said Terrio. "When you are trying to orient an audience into a world, it has to feel like the jargon and the energy of the insiders, but you also don't want to make it so jargonny and insidery that the audience can't follow what is going on. You can drop a word like exfiltration that maybe the audience hasn't heard before. I hadn't heard it before I started on this film. But exfiltration which is the CIA practice of getting people out of a country. You don't know exactly what that means. But the audience is so quick that they catch up immediately. You have to be careful about not to overexplain to bring the audience into a world that maybe makes them feel like they are eavesdropping and they are invisible spectators in an inner santum where people are talking trade and tradecraft."[443]

Heighten the Tension

Terrio writes that it was a deliberate choice to heighten the tension during the final escape sequence in Argo. There is really no information on how close the Iranians came to capturing the Americans - were they 30 seconds behind or 3 hours? "So in the absence of this information, it’s almost your responsibility as a dramatist to go to the highest, most tense version." Terrio says that he and Affleck decided to use sight and sound to make the audience feel as tense as the house guests actually were. "The end of the film does unapologetically use drama elements to try and grab the audience by the collar and say, here, watch this," says Terrio adding that it's not something he takes lightly as a screenwriter and that there are lines that you draw yourself and say you're not going to step out of these lines. "I would not have people shooting at the plane. I would not have had people killed on the runway. I would not have had one of the house guests left behind. There are certain things I would not have done, but tonally to create a really tense scene is something that within those bounds I certainly feel a dramatic license allows us to do."[444] Terrio says the screenwriter has to create the experience of the lived moment for the Americans on that plane and find a way to dramatically describe the intense euphoria they felt when the plane took off. "I think Ben took all the mastery of suspense that he showed in "The Town" and applied it to the scene, so you get a moment that is utterly fluent in the language of suspense, in service of creating empathy for these real people and their real predicament," says Terrio. "We definitely thought, How much do we squeeze out of the genre elements? And the decision was, We’re gonna squeeze every drop out of it."[445][446]

Use Point of View to Open Up Dramatic Space

During the year that Terrio did research on the story behind Argo,, he became steeped in Tony Mendez’s story and spent nearly a week consulting Mendez[447] as he leaned on Mendez for just all the small details of life in the CIA.[448] "In the summer of 2009, I went down to Maryland and spent some time with him. He lives at the edge of the woods in what looks like Ken Burns Civil War documentary territory. So we spent time just hanging out, having dinner, talking, having a bottle of wine. He then took me to Washington D.C. and to the CIA," says Terrio. "He started introducing me to other Cold War spies, many of whom still live in the D.C. area because a lot of them work as consultants for security companies. In some cases they were KGB spies that were Tony’s nemeses in the Cold War."[449] Terrio said that didn't even speak to the real-life house guests before writing Argo because he had to be confident that he was telling the story from Tony Mendez's point of view. "I think of it as a railroad track and there are various tracks that come off the railroad track. So for Tony, I really wanted to know everything, down to what kind of shoes he wore," says Terrio. "As a writer, I wanted to be able to enter the residence like Tony did, having his point of view in the whole thing." Terrio says that as far as some of the other stories around him, he felt he needed to use them to open up dramatic space and as he began to develop the house guests in his head they began to take on lives of their own. As the process continued he talked to the house guests and they would they tell him what he got right and what he got wrong. "It’s an interesting superstition as a writer. Where do you create fact and where do you want to touch earth for reality and the places where you feel you need to open up dramatic space to write? You’re reading as much as you can and knowing as much as you can, but in terms of interacting with the real people, you have to choose carefully because biological human beings sitting in the room with you are very powerful things"[450]

Create an Emphatic Response

The Emphatic Response
"The service of any narrative or dramatic art is to create an empathic response. I hope it’s there for the house guests and I hope it’s there for all kinds of people in the film, caught up in this tangled situation"

Terrio says that the purpose of any narrative or dramatic art is to create an empathic response. "Take my favourite cut in [Argo], which is the cut from champagne on the plane to the shot of the housekeeper at the crossing. That’s a moment where the airplane scene has given us empathy for the house guests but that’s immediately twisted because we see there are victims of this whole situation left behind, who aren’t celebrating, who aren’t going and being toasted," says Terrio. "The service of any narrative or dramatic art is to create an empathic response. I hope it’s there for the house guests and I hope it’s there for all kinds of people in the film, caught up in this tangled situation."[451]

The Power of Myth

Terrio says that in Tony Mendez's book there’s a passage where Tony’s describing being with makeup artist John Chambers and figuring out that they’re going to call the fake movie Argo. "And then it describes how that title both comes from a joke—which literally was a joke that Chambers and Tony used to make, which is the ‘Ah, go fuck yourself’ joke—but also that it has these mythological connotations to it, which Chambers and Mendez were aware of and chose. I feel that somewhere in that passage is the root of the tone of the film, which in some sense was a harder thing to get at than the particular narrative." Terrio later arrived at the idea of creating a staged reading of Argo for the Hollywood press. "You have all these people sitting around in these ridiculous costumes and yet you have the great mythological intonations of, ‘Our world has changed.’ It’s a nudge and a wink, but there’s also something earnestly mythological about it."[452]

A Hero's Journey

Terrio says that Tony Mendez's journey in Argo is, in its way, a redemption movie.[453] "You get little glimpses at the edges that he is trying to atone for something."[454] "[Mendez] had been ferrying out the apparatus of the Shah's dictatorship and in a way that is America with its hands dirty. But at this point in his life and his career, Tony does something that is pretty unequivocally good. He gets these people out of an extremist situation."[455] "There’s a scene in the film that’s taken right out of what Tony told me, which is when Tony Mendez takes off his wedding ring and puts it down on the dresser before he heads off to Tehran, which was kind of a ritual Tony always did," says Terrio. "He would quietly sort of take off his wedding ring, always put it in the same little bowl, and then he’d go off assuming a new identity. In that same shot of the film, you see a photograph of a little boy, and that is Ian Mendez, Tony’s real son."[456] Tony’s motivation, throughout his hero’s journey, was always to get back home and the last scene in the film ties it all together. “I knew that I wanted to get to a place where you could have that last scene with Tony and Ian in the bedroom, after watching Tony blown this way and that throughout the movie.”[457][458] "He is Odysseus ...and in the end he has to come home. Tony finally getting home to his son is the emotional core of the movie."[459]

Personal

Terrio attended the Academy Award ceremonies with U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso (right), a close friend of Terrio who attended Harvard with Terrio and was also the recipient of a Harvard-Cambridge Scholarship at the same time as Terrio.[460][461][462]

Chris Terrio was born on December 31, 1976 in Midland Beach, NY[463] and grew up in Hell's Kitchen and Staten Island[464] Terrio's father was a Marine[465] then wrote manuals for a company in New York City[466] for thirty years.[467] Terrio's parents live in Richmondtown, Staten Island and Terrio's appearance at the Oscars was the talk of the borough. "I’d heard that childhood friends had been following the whole Oscar contest I was told that there was a party at a bar, but I didn’t want the details. I was afraid I’d let people down.”[468]

Terrio's grandparents are from Hell's Kitchen[469] and his grandfather was a longshoreman.[470] Terrio grew up in part in his grandmother's house in Midland Beach, one of the "last of the Italian, Irish working class neighborhoods".[471]

Terrio is Catholic[472] and attended Catholic school for twelve years.[473] For a Catholic from Staten Island, Michael Fox writes that Terrio displays a good feel for assimilated young Jewish professionals in his movie Heights. "I didn't feel like a cultural stranger. I've been to as many seders as I've been to Easter celebrations, for sure," says Terrio. "As far as the slightly neurotic characteristics and sense of humor that are sometimes associated with Jewish characters, those are my friends and that's me. I've been made an honorary New York Jew by association, because that's the world I live in."[474]

For the past four years Terrio has rented a fifth-floor walk-up on Horatio Street in the West Village of New York City. “I didn’t do very well at the environment of Los Angeles. I don’t like driving and I feel that I work better when I’m able to walk and see people around me all the time,” says Terrio.[475] "I never really felt that my home was anywhere except New York. I spent three years in Los Angeles in film school just having dreams of the day I would come back."[476]

Terrio speaks Spanish.[477][478]

Terrio attended the Academy Award ceremonies with U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso who attended Harvard with Terrio and was also the recipient of a Harvard-Cambridge Scholarship at the same time as Terrio.[479][480] Reynoso says that Terrio is her "best friend." "Nos hicimos amigos automáticamente, vivíamos en la misma casa y después nos fuimos a estudiar juntos a Inglaterra". ["We became friends automatically, we lived in the same house [Adams House], and then we both went to study in England."][481] A native of the Dominican Republic, Reynoso immigrated to the United States in 1982. She spent her youth living in the South Bronx in New York City, attending Catholic schools where she learned English. She was admitted to Harvard University, where she helped found the student group "Fuerza Quisqueyana", with other Dominican students. After obtaining a B.A. at Harvard University in 1997, Reynoso obtained an M.Phil. degree in 1998 from the University of Cambridge in England, before enrolling at Columbia Law School, where she obtained her law degree in 2001. During her college years, she traveled throughout the world, long before she would dream of becoming a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.[482]

Cindy Adams, gossip columnist for the New York Post, wrote in 2005 at the New York premier of Heights that when she first met Terrio in 2002 "He was then a hot 25. And fresh from film school. He's now a hotter 28."[483]

Timeline

1976 - Born on December 31, 1976 in Midland Beach, NY

1993 - Graduates from St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School in Staten Island and enters Harvard University

1997 - Graduates from Harvard University in English and American literature

1997 - Attends University of Cambridge under Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships

1999 - Admitted to MFA Program in Film Direction at the USC School of Cinematic Arts

2000 - Co-Editor for Meet Joe Gay

2000 - Hired by Merchant Ivory during summer break after Terrio's first year at USC to do research for The Golden Bowl

2001 - Hired by Merchant Ivory to do behind-the-scenes work for The Divorce

2002 - Graduated with a MFA Film Direction at the USC School of Cinematic Arts

2002 - Assistant Director for Equation

2002 - Directs Book of Kings for Merchant Ivory

2002 - Co-Directs "Jacob's Hands" with Matthew Modine at Red Mills in Claverack NY

2002 - Assigned by Merchant Ivory to direct The Heights

2005 - The Heights released

2005 - Terrio "goes broke" and writes scripts at home

2005 - Terrio writes an adaptation of the play "Ten Unknowns" by playwright Jon Robin Baitz for Hart-Sharp Entertainment[484]

2005 - Terrio begins screenplay for Random Family

2007 - Hart-Sharp Entertainment dissolves in February, 2007 - an event which had been expected for months.

2007 - Escape Artists publishes screenplay for "The Ends of the Earth" in October, 2007

2007 - Terrio interviews James Ivory at Time and Space Limited in November, 2007

2007 - Baltimore, co-written with Jesse Lichtenstein, appears on the 2007 Black List in December[485]

2008 - Terrio contacted by Nina Wolarsky in November, 2008 to do a treatment for Argo

2009 - Terrio wins contract for spec script for Argo and spends one year doing research

2010 - Terrio directs "I Look Like Frankenstein," Episode 8 in Season 3 of Damages

2011 - In early 2011, Ben Affleck gets involved with Argo and re-energizes the project.[486]

2012 - Terrio nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Argo

2012 - Terrio signs two-picture blind script pact with Warner Bros in November, 2012

2013 - Terrio wins the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in February, 2013 for Argo

2013 - Terrio wins the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay of 2012 in February, 2013 for Argo

2013 - Terrio Visits Uruguay in April, 2013 at the Invitation of US Ambassador Julissa Reynoso

2013 - Terrio invited to join Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2013

2013 - Matt Damon to Make Directorial Debut with Terrio's A Foreigner

2013 - WME signs contract to represent Terrio

2013 - Terrio to Write a Draft of 'Man of Steel' Follow-up

External Links

Future Research

Afterword from the Author

Ponca City Main Street Veteran's Day Parade. My interest in Terrio began when I started to put together an article about the making of the movie "The Ends of the Earth" on May 23, 2013. My interest in the movie was obvious because I was born and raised in Ponca City, I love this city, and I returned to live in Ponca City after a 40 year absence. Photo: Hugh Pickens
Statue of Marland On Ponca City Town Square Terrio's movie, "The Ends of the Earth," will be made about our local hero, E. W. Marland, and will have a huge effect on how the rest of the country perceives our city's history. Photo: Hugh Pickens

Interest in Terrio

My interest in writing an article about Chris Terrio began when I started to put together an article about the making of the movie "The Ends of the Earth" on May 23, 2013. My interest in the movie came about because I was born and raised in Ponca City, I love this community, I returned to live in Ponca after a 40 year absence, and this movie about our local hero, E. W. Marland will have a big effect on how the rest of the country perceives our community and its history.

As I began putting together my article I started to write short biographies about each of the major contributors to the movie including both on-screen talent and talent behind the scenes. I was soon confronted with the paradox that while there was already overwhelming amounts of information available for several of the major players, there was a dearth of information about other contributors who were just as important. There was too much information available on Jennifer Lawrence, Harvey Weinstein, and David O. Russell so I simply used what I found on Wikipedia and pared it down. However, when I began to write about Chris Terrio, the major contributor to the movie as the author of the screenplay about Marland, I found that there was relatively little biographical information available about him and that no one had yet put together a comprehensive overview of his life, his evolution as a writer, or his career trajectory. So on July 3, 2013 I began to put together a separate article on Terrio.

Why I Enjoy Writing This Kind of Article

During the time I spent working on Wikipedia in 2007 and 2008 I created and/or made major contributions to articles about Jack Vaughn, Joseph Blatchford, Kevin O'Donnell, Carolyn R. Payton, Loret Miller Ruppe, Paul Coverdell, Mark Gearan, Mark L. Schneider, Gaddi Vasquez, Ron Tschetter, Amy B. Smith, Christopher R. Hill, M. Peter McPherson, Mae Jemison, Reed Hastings, Robert Blackwill, Timothy Crouse, Philip Goldberg, Michael Retzer, Bennett Haselton, E. W. Marland, Robert S. Kerr, T. Boone Pickens, Josué Sánchez, Tania Libertad, Daniel Alomía Robles, Cindy Blackman, Dennis James, Esperanza Spalding, Imani Coppola, Marie Daulne, Nkechi Ka Egenamba, Terry Fator, Rick Benjamin, Lindsay Crouse, Pamela Isaacs, and Marsha Hunt. Most of these are names that are not familiar to the general public but they are people who have great importance in their own specialized fields.

As I wrote on November 3, 2007 in Why I Enjoy Writing for Wikipedia, "what I enjoy doing is in-depth research on one person. I like to find someone, an artist, a politician, a former Peace Corps Director, or an Oklahoman, that I like and am interested in learning more about and write their biography from scratch. First I think of someone I would like to write about, then I go to Wikipedia and see if there is a story started about them already but a story that is incomplete. What I like is to find a story that is just getting started. When I go to an article on Wikipedia about someone known best by a small group, and I find only a few sentences written down, then I know I have struck gold. That's the story I want to write."[487]

Methodology Used

Terrio's life history met those criteria so I began tracking down references, news reports, interviews, and movie reviews related to him. The methodology that I follow for putting together an article is an iterative process which the Wikimedia software particularly facilitates. First I will find and archive resources and raw materials for the article in a database. Then I put them into a chronological framework in Wikimedia. The missing points in the chronological outline will then suggest other avenues of interest so I will repeat the process incorporating new information into the framework, then modifying the framework as new information comes available.

I was also very encouraged because as I was writing I was contacted by Terrio's research assistant. He had seen some of the articles I had already done about E. W. Marland and Ponca City through his searches on the internet and was interested in finding out more about Lydie Marland so that Terrio could put the finishing touches on his screenplay about Marland. Terrio's research assistant and I have communicated extensively and while I was able to help him learn more about Lydie and E. W. Marland, I was able to learn from him about Terrio's background and the process Terrio follows in writing his screenplays. I need to make clear however that although I have learned a lot from my interactions with Terrio's research assistant, I have been very scrupulous in not using any of the information gained from those interactions directly in the writing of my article and have only incorporated information from publicly available and verifiable sources. That is one reason why every statement in my article has a footnote that shows the source of the information. Private information stays private.

Emergent Biographical Properties

What I find most interesting about assembling a biographical article like this one is witnessing the evolution of an emergent narrative from the relatively simple interactions of uncomplicated factual statements. We understand the world through storytelling but whether we selectively remember our lives as narratives or whether narratives guide our life choices is a question for philosophers. In the narrative of Terrio's life which emerged from my research, you have a man who from a very early age has a dream, dedicates himself and makes sacrifices to follow his dream, has initial success then decides to change his path and embarks on a journey, and finally after years of struggle reemerges to even greater success. It is a classic American story and it is obvious from my research that Terrio still dreams big and will go on to even greater accomplishments in the future. What has most appealed to me in writing about Terrio has been that Terrio has repeatedly put the integrity of his artistic vision above material success and that the well-deserved rewards and recognition he is now receiving are the product of his years of preparation, struggle, and sacrifice.

At this point I consider the article about Terrio completed. If there are errors in the article, they are errors not of consistency but of omission. Since I have used only publicly available resources the missing parts of this study are the things that Terrio hasn't talked about or that the people who have interviewed him have failed to elicit. If this article were going to be expanded into a full scale biography, someone would need to interview Terrio and start interviewing people who knew him at different stages of his life. That is not something that I am going to do because I don't have the time or the resources and at my age investigative journalism is really not something that I find rewarding. I have taken the article as far as I can at this point and I don't think there are any major aspects to Terrio's public life that have gone undiscovered. The only additional work I plan to put into this article is to spend a few minutes every week maintaining it by incorporating new material about Terrio the same as I do for my articles about Jon Carson, Phillips 66, and the making of the movie "The Ends of the Earth".

Writing this article has been a rewarding journey for me as well. Thank you, Chris Terrio, for your dreams, the way you have achieved them, and the hours of joy you have given me discovering and documenting them. I wish you good fortune in the future.

Best Regards,


Hugh Pickens

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  424. Montevideo.com "Chris y los Argonautas" April 10, 2013.
  425. Filmthug. "Chris Terrio Interview" interview by John Watson. March 13, 2013.
  426. Montevideo.com "Chris y los Argonautas" April 10, 2013.
  427. Movie Habit. "Interview with Chris Terrio" by Marty Mapes. June 26, 2005.
  428. Montevideo.com "Chris y los Argonautas" April 10, 2013.
  429. Movie Habit. "Interview with Chris Terrio" by Marty Mapes. June 26, 2005.
  430. Indie London. "Argo - Chris Terrio interview" Interview by Rob Carnevale.
  431. Movie Habit. "Interview with Chris Terrio" by Marty Mapes. June 26, 2005.
  432. Empire Online. "Argo: a round table encounter with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman" by Damon Wise. March 3, 2013.
  433. Huffington Post. "Writers' Room - Argo" Interview of Chris Terrio with Jacob Soboroff. February 6, 2013.
  434. Hit Flix. "Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio on 'Argo,' the Middle East and the root of all drama" December 19, 2012.
  435. Awardsline. "Q&A: Chris Terrio on Argo" by Christy Grosz. December 28, 2012.
  436. Hollywood Reporter. "THR's Writer Roundtable: Osama bin Laden, Why 'Schindler's List' Is Irresponsible and When Judd Apatow Was a Dishwasher" by Matthew Belloni, Stephen Galloway. November 14, 2012.
  437. Deadline. "OSCARS Q&A: Chris Terrio" by The Dealine Team. December 16, 2012.
  438. New York Times. "How Her Little Play Became His Big Movie" by Sylviane Gold. June 5, 2005.
  439. Filmthug. "Chris Terrio Interview" interview by John Watson. March 13, 2013.
  440. Vulture. "The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter Chris Terrio on Argo" by Kyle Buchanan. December 20, 2012.
  441. The Wrap. "Ben Affleck & Chris Terrio Dissect 'Argo' - and Defend Some Untruths" by Steve Poncd.
  442. Vulture. "The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter Chris Terrio on Argo" by Kyle Buchanan. December 20, 2012.
  443. Huffington Post. "Writers' Room - Argo" Interview of Chris Terrio with Jacob Soboroff. February 6, 2013.
  444. The Wrap. "Ben Affleck & Chris Terrio Dissect 'Argo' - and Defend Some Untruths" by Steve Poncd.
  445. The Wrap. "Ben Affleck & Chris Terrio Dissect 'Argo' - and Defend Some Untruths" by Steve Poncd.
  446. WSJ. "How Oscar Nominee ‘Argo’ Escaped the Black List" by Barbara Chai. February 15, 2013.
  447. Washington Times. "Tony Mendez, clandestine CIA hero of Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo,’ reveals the real story behind film smash" by Patrick Hruby. October 10, 2012.
  448. The Hollywood Reporter. "'Argo' Screenwriter Explains the CIA Secrets and Surprises Behind the Film" by Jordan Zakarin. October 15, 2013.
  449. WSJ. "How Oscar Nominee ‘Argo’ Escaped the Black List" by Barbara Chai. February 15, 2013.
  450. WSJ. "How Oscar Nominee ‘Argo’ Escaped the Black List" by Barbara Chai. February 15, 2013.
  451. Bleeding Cool. "Discussing The Sympathy And Subtext Of Argo With Oscar Winning Screenwriter Chris Terrio" by Brendon Connelly. March 4, 2013.
  452. Awardsline. "Writing Nominees Discuss Their Adapted Screenplays" by Paul Brownfield. February 19, 2013.
  453. My Digital Publication. "You Can’t Make This Stuff Up" by Lisa Rosen. January 2013.
  454. JBFC Podcast. "In Conversation with Chris Terrio" by Janet Maslin.
  455. My Digital Publication. "You Can’t Make This Stuff Up" by Lisa Rosen. January 2013.
  456. WSJ. "How Oscar Nominee ‘Argo’ Escaped the Black List" by Barbara Chai. February 15, 2013.
  457. My Digital Publication. "You Can’t Make This Stuff Up" by Lisa Rosen. January 2013.
  458. DP/30. "An Interview with Chris Terrio" by David Poland. December 2012.
  459. The Wrap. "Ben Affleck & Chris Terrio Dissect 'Argo' - and Defend Some Untruths" by Steve Pond.
  460. CONX. "CANCELED - Press Conference with Award Winning Argo Screenwriter Chris Terrio" April 12, 2013.
  461. Harvard Gazette. "New Scholarship Brings Harvard-Cambridge Total to Four" by Susan Peterson. February 27, 1997.
  462. Teledoce. "El vestido de Julissa Reynoso" February 26, 2013.
  463. Staten Island Live. "Staten Island native Chris Terrio wins the Oscar for "Argo" screenplay" February 25, 2013.
  464. WSJ. "The Oscars' Outside Man" by Barbara Chai. February 20, 2013.
  465. American Film. "Argo: This Film's No Phony" October, 2010.
  466. Seattle Weekly. "Chris Terrio" by Shiela Benson. October 9, 2006.
  467. A Laughter of Inner Devils ~ N.P. Thompson on film, books, and the visual arts. "Chris Terrio’s Heights" by N.P. Thompson. June 16, 2005.
  468. NY Daily News. "Oscars 2013: Chris Terrio was 'shocked' to win Academy Award for writing 'Argo'" by Joe Dziemianowicz. February 25, 2013.
  469. TimeOut New York. "The new nominees: Q&A with Chris Terrio, screenwriter of Argo" by Joshua Rothkopf. February 20, 2013.
  470. A Laughter of Inner Devils ~ N.P. Thompson on film, books, and the visual arts. "Chris Terrio’s Heights" by N.P. Thompson. June 16, 2005.
  471. WNYC. "Chris Terrio on Writing the "Argo" Screenplay"
  472. Interfaith Family. "Heights Director Taps into Jewish Neuroses" by Michael Fox.
  473. Seattle Weekly. "Chris Terrio" by Shiela Benson. October 9, 2006.
  474. Interfaith Family. "Heights Director Taps into Jewish Neuroses" by Michael Fox.
  475. WSJ. "The Oscars' Outside Man" by Barbara Chai. February 20, 2013.
  476. New York Times. "How Her Little Play Became His Big Movie" by Sylviane Gold. June 5, 2005.
  477. El País. "Chris Terrio: "Soy solo un estudiante" by Matías Castro. April 11, 2013.
  478. YouTube. "Chris Terrio at the Alianza Part 2"
  479. CONX. "[CANCELED Press Conference with Award Winning Argo Screenwriter Chris Terrio" April 12, 2013.]
  480. Harvard Gazette. "New Scholarship Brings Harvard-Cambridge Total to Four" by Susan Peterson. February 27, 1997.
  481. El Observador. "La embajadora de EEUU en Uruguay "ganó" un Oscar" por Mauro Acerenza. February 25, 2013.
  482. Wikipedia. "Julissa Reynoso" retrieved July 17, 2013.
  483. New York Post. "View of Wondrous Heights" by Cindy Adams. June 16, 2005.
  484. WNYC. "Chris Terrio on Writing the "Argo" Screenplay"
  485. Deadline. "Black List 2007′s Best Liked Screenplays" by Nikki Finke. December 7, 2007.
  486. WNYC. "Chris Terrio on Writing the "Argo" Screenplay"
  487. Ponca City, We Love You. " Writing for Wikipedia" by Hugh Pickens. November 3, 2007.

About the Author

Hugh Pickens

Hugh Pickens (Po-Hi '67) is a physicist who has explored for oil in the Amazon jungle, crossed the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia, and built satellite control stations for Goddard Space Flight Center all over the world. Retired in 1999, Pickens and his wife moved from Baltimore back to his hometown of Ponca City, Oklahoma in 2005 where he cultivates his square foot garden, mows nine acres of lawn, writes about local history and photographs events at the Poncan Theatre and Ponca Playhouse.

Since 2001 Pickens has edited and published “Peace Corps Online,” serving over one million monthly pageviews. His other writing includes contributing over 1,500 stories to “Slashdot: News for Nerds,” and articles for Wikipedia, “Ponca City, We Love You”, and Peace Corps Worldwide.

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This web page is frequently updated so check back periodically to see the latest information added to Screenwriter Chris Terrio or subscribe to the rss feed for this article. If you have any information or insights that you would like to see added to this report please contact Hugh Pickens by email at hughpickens AT gmail DOT com.

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The material in this article is licensed under under the Creative Commons under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Except for short, fair use excerpts, the material on this article cannot be used for commercial purposes without permission of Hugh Pickens. Attribution for use of any material from this article must be provided to Hugh Pickens and if used on the web a link must be provided to http://hughpickens.com.

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