Jeff Vintar (born in Oak Park, Illinois) is an American screenwriter. He is best known for his original screenplay, Hardwired, which became the basis for I, Robot. He attended the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop and published a series of cartoons in several issues of Random House's The Quarterly. Carving out a living as a factory worker, cabinet-maker, English teacher, and transit bus driver, Vintar broke into the film business when he sold three original screenplays in the span of five months.
The first screenplay, The Long Hello and Short Goodbye, was made into a German-language film by Warner Bros. in 1999, starring Nicolette Krebitz and Katja Riemann. The cutting-edge structure of the story worried Studio Hamburg, who re-edited the modern noir into a more simple linear film, a move which polarized critics and audiences alike. The film received a positive review in Variety that predicted it would play in broad-minded festivals around the world "where genre fans should lap it up." An English-language version of Vintar's original Long Hello script struggled to reach the screen for years under Moebius director Gustavo Mosquera and Face/Off director-producer John Woo. It is currently in development at Circle of Confusion.
The second screenplay, a twist-filled sci-fi love story called Spaceless, has remained in active development for a decade, first at specialty division Fox 2000, then Fox Animation, and finally at the main live-action division of Twentieth Century Fox. The script is a long-time favorite of Gore Verbinski, who directed The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean. Vintar reacquired the rights to Spaceless through the little-known WGA contract "reacquisition" clause in the spring of 2009, and the project has moved to Universal with Verbinski producing through his Blind Wink Productions. Jane Eyre director Cary Fukunaga was hired to direct, but after turning in a rewrite that differed too greatly from the original script, he has since been removed from the project. Verbinski has taken over as director with Vintar back on board as writer.
The third spec sale, Hardwired, survived development hell at Walt Disney Pictures under director Bryan Singer, only to be picked up by Twentieth Century Fox for Alex Proyas. The resulting film, eventually renamed by the studio I, Robot after the Isaac Asimov short story collection, made $350 million worldwide and boosted the career of star Will Smith after a series of disappointing releases. The original "Hardwired" screenplay was a cerebral murder mystery that read like a stage play, and representatives of the Asimov estate considered the script "more Asimov than Asimov." Vintar transformed the script into a big-budget studio film, also moving the story into the "I, Robot" universe. When Will Smith signed on to star, studio-mandated changes made the project more of a traditional summer blockbuster, a move that angered Asimov purists, although some critics considered the final product to have brains as well as brawn.
Vintar has adapted a number of sci-fi literary works including Frederik Pohl's Man Plus and Gateway, Asimov's Foundation, Cordwainer Smith's Scanners Live in Vain, and Greg Bear's Blood Music, many of which remain in active development. Other Vintar screenplays include an early 20th Century Fox draft of Iron Man, co-written with Stan Lee; the first draft of Y -- the Last Man for New Line Cinema; a remake of the Orson Welles classic The Lady from Shanghai for Columbia Pictures; and the three-week rewrite of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within that landed the production its high-profile voice cast, including Alec Baldwin, James Woods, and Steve Buscemi.
A recent project is a murder mystery set on board the International Space Station, based on Boom! Studios' Station, for producer Laurence Mark. Ericson Core will direct. Venturing into television, Vintar worked on an adaptation of Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon for Syfy, and co-created his first TV show about a town filled with pulp characters, The Riviera, at Fox International Channels. Next up is an original western screenplay based on the manhunt for legendary California bandit Joaquin Murieta at StudioCanal; an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's celebrated science-fiction novel, Ubik; a rewrite of Joe Haldeman's novella Seasons, about an anthropological mission on a distant planet that goes horribly wrong, for director Tim Miller and Sony Pictures; and writing and executive producing a limited series about the history of Ebola, The Hot Zone, for Fox Television Studios.
He is married to Michele McCain, a well-respected teacher of the blind and visually impaired, who has spent the last several years raising their daughter, and working as script and story editor.
- I, Robot (2004)
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (released as "Fainaru Fantaji" in Japan) (2001)
- Long Hello and Short Goodbye (1999)