"Frears is that kind of a director who asks all kinds of questions .... and it’s your job as the writer to find the solutions."
What was it like working with director Stephen Frears?
Well, you develop the script until you’re ready for it to be shown to a director, which is what we did on Ali. And then once Stephen read the script, there begins a whole other process, which is exactly what you hope for as a writer. Because it’s a collaborative process, you hope the director is going to come on and take it to another level. I mean, it doesn’t always happen. Frears is that kind of a director who asks all kinds of questions. He’s not a writer, though he has huge respect for writers. But what he does is he asks questions, and it’s your job as the writer to find the solutions. So when Stephen came on board there was a whole new development process. In fact, when they were in pre-production, I was brought to New York for two weeks and, as it turned out, I stayed for the whole of the shoot. Because Stephen likes to have the writer on set and to be in on rehearsal, in the background; then he’ll come over and say, is that all right? And you give him your input, and he will take it or leave it as he sees fit. But it’s really quite a great process. I was on set every day. I felt very useful as a resource for the film, and I had a great time.