If the name Alex Kurtzman doesn’t immediately ring a bell, his impressive body of work certainly will. Kurtzman is one half of the dynamic writing/producing team that has helped bring us a variety of action adventures over the years, like the “Star Trek” reboot and its upcoming sequel, the “Transformers” films, and the long awaited “Ender’s Game” adaptation.
As if he didn’t already have enough on his plate, this summer we’ll be getting our first look at Kurtzman’s work as a director with the release of “People Like Us,” starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film revolves around a man who is tasked with delivering a $150,000 inheritance to a sister he has never met and is based on the real-life experiences of its writing team, Kurtzman, Bob Orci and Jody Lambert.
Despite the lack of explosions and action sequences in the recently-released trailer, the character-centric story is one that Kurtzman has wanted to tell since before he started his illustrious Hollywood career. When MTV News caught up with the busy man recently, he shared a few details about the genesis of the story and why it is a true labor of love for everyone involved.
“The story starts back when Bob and I met in high school,” Kurtzman said of their longtime partnership that began with a shared love for Steven Soderbergh’s autobiographical book about the making of his groundbreaking Indie, “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” “We really wanted to tell a personal story, we were very inspired by artists who had told personal stories but we didn’t have much to say [at the time], we always knew we wanted to come back to something that brought us together in the first place.”
Fast-forward a few decades to a moment of almost divine intervention when Kurtzman met his half-sister at age 30.
“My dad had had another family before us, it wasn’t a secret but there was a huge age gap,” he explained. “We were separated by 15 years and geography and didn’t know each other. One afternoon I was sitting in my backyard thinking about how to get in touch with them at some point and this image came to me, it ended up being the last image of the movie. I thought ’That’s where I want to get to’ and thought maybe there’s a story here. Three hours later I walked into a party and a woman walked up to me and said ’I’m your sister.’ So it was a sign I guess you’d call it.”
Incredibly, Kurtzman wasn’t the only one to have discovered family later in life.
“When I told Bob he said, ’My aunt had a secret family that she didn’t know about until she was much older.’ While my family wasn’t a secret, we started comparing notes and realized that our stories would blend really well.”
Kurtzman hopes that audiences will laugh as much as they’ll cry, and that they’ll enjoy the characters’ journey as much as Kurtzman, Orci and Lambert did in writing it.
“It took seven years to write, which is very rare for us. We’re used to being on a train that kind of throws us out of the station really fast and we have to keep up with it,” Kurtzman said. “That script was like a warm blanket for me for seven years. It was always the thing I could go back to and live in and luxuriate in.”
“People Like Us” opens June 29, coincidentally the same day as Soderbergh’s latest, “Magic Mike.”
“It’s a weird full-circle moment,” Kurtzman laughed about the release dates.