Hollywood Animal

Joe Eszterhas

Joe Eszterhas is best known as the screenwriter who penned Basic Instinct, the film that made Sharon Stone’s nether regions world famous—via a scene, incidentally, that most people don’t realize was added by the director, Paul Verhoeven, not written by Eszterhas. But then all kinds of stories, even legends, have grown up around Eszterhas, who for years was the richest, most successful—and most controversial—screenwriter in Hollywood and the first screenwriter to become a star in his own right. In this sprawling but relentlessly readable memoir, he revisits not only his childhood, first in Hungarian refugee camps, then growing up in a tough neighborhood of Cleveland, but also his long and sometimes scandalous career. He must have kept a good journal, because he has more juicy stories about the film world than anybody I’ve read, and he pulls no punches. This is a hugely entertaining—and, at 736 pages, just plain huge—insider’s look at the jungle that turned Eszterhas into a “Hollywood animal” and almost killed him.