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On Screen and Off, Producer Scott Rudin Adapts

Some books make excellent films and some books don't. The difference, says producer Scott Rudin, often lies in who you get to make the films.

Rudin knows a thing or two about making great films: He is the executive producer of There Will Be Blood and the producer of No Country for Old Men, two of the five movies competing for this year's Best Picture Oscar.

"The best adaptations are the ones that really excavate the material," Rudin tells Robert Siegel. "The movies that work are the ones in which somebody very smart figured out how to take all the thematic material, all the character material, all the filigree, all the beautiful writing and put it into a story. If you don't put it into a story, you end up with something that feels like a hybrid, and those, basically, don't work."

At age 49, Rudin's ability to get movies made is hardly in doubt. He has produced or executive produced a wide range of films, including The Queen, The Truman Show, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Sister Act and The Firm, and he is known in Hollywood as one of the best readers of scripts, a brilliant dealmaker and an obsessive workaholic.

"There's an enormous pleasure to be had in the sponsorship of this kind of film-making," Rudin says. "They're spiky, bold movies... No Country deals with enormous issues about how we live right now. If you have the ability and the wherewithal to create work that's basically in a discussion with the culture we're in, how could you not want to do that?"

In this interview, Robert Seigel also talks with Rudin about his legendary temper — "Everybody grows up," Rudin says — about his decision to skip college, and about his early start working with legendary Broadway producer Robert Whitehead.

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