Richard Curtis Moves Away From Movie Screenwriting

Exclusive: 'Maybe one day I could write an episode of Girls’

As he announced in Empire magazine last month, About Time marks Richard Curtis’s directorial swansong. He’s putting away the clapperboard, folding up that chair with ‘R. Curtis’ on the back and pursuing other creative outlets, of which he has no shortage. Surprisingly, movie screenwriting won’t be one of them – at least, not in the short term.

“Part of this decision to take my foot off the pedal is also not writing notes,” Curtis told Empire at the film's cinema premiere in Cornwall. “Your life becomes a pot from which you take things you can use in your work, and I’m trying not to do that at the moment.”

“When you’re thinking about writing something," he continued, "as you go through life you’re always watching out for how to exploit it. You’re thinking, ‘Oh, I could do something there’, or, ‘I do something on that’, and it stops you enjoying life quite as much as you’d like.”

For a writer who has penned his own three films, as well as scripts for Mike Newell (Four Weddings And A Funeral), Roger Michell (Notting Hill), Mel Smith (The Tall Guy) and others, the decision to power down Final Draft is a biggie. But Curtis was in cheerily reflective mood when Empire caught up with him at St. Austell’s White River Cinema, a few miles up the road from About Time’s key Cornish locations. He was quoting John Lennon (“‘I’m just sitting,’ he wrote, ‘watching the wheels go by’,”) and explaining that his current muses were more like Bob Dylan. “I’m picking up information that makes me not write”, he told us, “rather than information to write.”

Should he change his mind and unfold his keyboard again, does he have a director he’d particularly like to write for? “Drake Doremus,” he enthused. “I loved Breathe In. He knows where the bone is buried – I think that’s the phrase.”

Curtis left us with a different ambition; one he’d love to add to TV writing jobs on Doctor Who and Casualty. “My daughter and I are both very obsessed by Girls and what Lena Dunham is doing now,” he said. “Maybe one day, if I got lucky, I could write an episode of that.”

That we’d like to see. In the meantime, check back here for a ginormous celebration of Curtis’s work on screens big and small later this week. Asthmatic ants and maternally-outraged gorillas are all welcome.

About Time is out in the UK on September 4 and in US cinemas from November 1. Read Empire's review here.