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Peter Morgan on Writing “Hereafter” Intuitively

Peter MorganMany of his other movies are fact-based stories such as The Queen and Frost/Nixon, but screenwriter Peter Morgan says he wrote Hereafter quickly for himself, “without mapping it out too much or being too schematic,” and “left it in a drawer.” But six months or so later, a close friend died and he looked at the script again and decided to send it to his agent.

Steven Spielberg read it and suggested a number of changes, which Morgan says he was “thrilled with.”

But in a later meeting, Morgan said Spielberg thought the changes “he had given me had harmed the script and I said, ‘No, it was good,’ and he said, ‘No, no, it isn’t good, and I damaged your work, and I don’t want to touch it again, and I want to go back to the original script that you sent me, and I want to give it to my friend Clint Eastwood.’

“This was just getting surreal.

“So I thought, ‘Sure, let’s give it Clint. What the hell. You’re clearly no good.’ [Laughs]. Then I got this phone call saying Clint Eastwood wants to do it. But I not only didn’t have to do any rewrites, I wasn’t allowed to.”

Morgan found this all very different from his usual process: “I am accustomed to pain and self-destruction and draft after draft.”

But he came to appreciate Eastwood’s style. “He likes the mess, the imperfection, the instinct. And it is full of bumpiness: it’s full of things that don’t quite add up or work that could be honed a bit more. But his view is the looseness and the imperfection allows an audience in.

“And it’s sort of the antithesis of overworked controlled freakery that so much of the entertainment process is. And there was something about the rawness of the first impulse that he wanted to preserve and protect. It’s a very different way of working than I’ve come across before.”

[From OSCAR Q&A: Peter Morgan Talks ‘Hereafter’ By PETE HAMMOND, Deadline Hollywood.]

Other artists work intuitively.

One of my favorite actors is Rachel Weisz, who studied at Cambridge University and brings both a strong intellect and complex emotions to her roles such as in The Constant Gardener.

She once commented, “You have to stop thinking too much and just use your heart and your gut and your instincts [when acting]. Any intellect just gets in the way. You just have to go with the feeling and not over-analyze.”

But is intuition / instinct always trustworthy?

In his article “Intuition or Intellect,” social psychologist David G. Myers warns, “Intuition is important, but we often underestimate its perils. My geographical intuition tells me that Reno is east of Los Angeles and that Rome is south of New York. But I am wrong.”

He quotes Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

More in my post Intuition: powers and perils.

Peter Morgan on Writing “Hereafter” Intuitively

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2010). Peter Morgan on Writing “Hereafter” Intuitively. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 13 Nov 2010
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Nov 2010
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