Two-time Academy Award winning writer-producer Marc Norman was born on February 10, 1941 in East Hollywood, California. He attended L.A. public schools and travelled north to Berkeley and the University of California in 1958, graduating in 1964 with a M.A. in English Literature.
He expected to wind up an English professor at some college, but without much enthusiasm. He'd barely squeaked through his Master's orals, and his panel strongly advised him to not pursue further studies. This stung, but not for very long--he had to agree; a professor's life was not for him. He'd grown up watching lots of movies on TV--his only solace during the two years spent studying for the exam had been watching better, classic movies, the best from around the world, at a storefront repertory theater up on Telegraph Avenue. He loved movies, he realized, and that became his plan B--he'd move home and try to get in the movie business.
Marc landed a job delivering mail at Universal Studios in 1964, along with other young Hollywood wanna-bes, producer Mike Medavoy and directors Walter Hill and John Badham. Writing a treatment for an episode of a new Universal TV series got him out of the mailroom--he wound up working as an in-house writer for Leonard Stern, the producer of "Get Smart." Stern encouraged him to move to New York City where he developed new shows for David Suskind and Daniel Melnick. But Marc was homesick for LA--besides, he had a screenplay in mind. Renting a small apartment in West Hollywood, he wrote SURROGATE through the summer of 1967. The screenplay didn't sell but it served as a writing sample that landed him several episode TV jobs. Retitled THE CHALLENGE, the screenplay finally became one of the first "ABC Movies of the Week," starring Darren McGavin and Mako in 1969. Marc wrote several more movies for television before selling an original screenplay OKLAHOMA CRUDE in 1972 to Columbia for Stanley Kramer to direct. The film, starring George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway, was profitable and Marc was launched as a feature writer.
Marc's next film was ZANDY'S BRIDE, which he wrote for Gene Hackman and Liv Ullmann in 1974. He next co-wrote (with Oscar-winner Sterling Silliphant) THE KILLER ELITE, Sam Peckinpah's revenge themed thriller, starring James Caan and Robert Duvall, and next year, the Irwin Winkler production of BREAKOUT, starring Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland and Robert Duvall.
A pilot, Marc appeared as a stunt flyer with his classic German bi-plane in THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER. Inspired by his flying experience, he subsequently wrote and directed the original play ORMER LOCKLEAR, about the first wing walker, which premiered at the •Mark Taper Forum in 1980. The producer of dramatic television series Bruce Paltrow attended Norman's play, and offered him the opportunity to direct several episodes of "The White Shadow." Paltrow's daughter, Gwyneth, coincidentally stars in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.
Norman first envisioned the idea for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE in 1987 while working with director Ed Zwick ("Glory"). His idea was to portray a young William Shakespeare as a struggling writer working to create his first truly great play, "Romeo and Juliet." Before then, Shakespeare had written several plays and poems, but it wasn't until "Romeo and Juliet" that he was recognized as the preeminent playwright of his time.
What inspired Shakespeare to reach deeper and farther than he ever had before with "Romeo and Juliet?" Love, of course, and Marc began the romantic screenplay for Universal Pictures. Tom Stoppard joined the two filmmakers as a co-writer. As happens too often, a good idea lay dormant until Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein found it and thought it a perfect vehicle for Gwyneth Paltrow. Weinstein acquired the screenplay from Universal and started production with director John Madden in 1998. The film also starred Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare, Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, Dame Judi Dench, Ben Affleck, and Tom Wilkinson.
In addition to the two Oscars, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE earned Marc two Golden Globes, a Writer's Guild Award, a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and Best Screenplay awards at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards, the New York and Chicago Film Critics Society. In 2005, Marc transferred his love of speed from airplanes to hot rods and wrote his homage to early hot rodding in a feature script MR. HORSEPOWER. Over the years, he has published three novels, including FOOL'S ERRAND and OKLAHOMA CRUDE.
Taking a break from movie work, Marc wrote his authoritative WHAT HAPPENS NEXT; A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCREENWRITING in 2006, a one-volume overview not only of his profession but how it fit into the larger history of Hollywood over a hundred-year span. Random House published the book to welcoming reviews--Salon judged it one of the best books of 2007.
Marc married Dale Jean Moore in 1967--they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary two years ago. They have two children, twin boys, Alex and Zack. Alex is in the marijuana business--Zack has created and sold two start-ups, and is currently on his third, marketing a medical application for virtual reality.
After taking off several years, Marc wrote his spec UNTITLED VIVALDI screenplay in 2018. It was acquired by Fox Searchlight, and is scheduled to begin production this year.