December 19, 1952 |
Long Beach, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||California State University, Long Beach
California State University, Fullerton
|Occupation||Screenwriter, playwright, novelist|
|Style||Fantasy, fairy tale, comedy-drama|
Linda Woolverton (born December 19, 1952) is an American screenwriter, playwright, and novelist, whose most prominent works include the screenplays and books of several acclaimed Disney films and stage musicals. She became the first woman to write an animated feature for Disney by writing the screenplay of Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also wrote the screenplay of The Lion King, and adapted her own Beauty and the Beast screenplay from the book of the Broadway adaptation of the film, receiving a Tony Award nomination for this.
Her most recent works include the screenplay of Alice in Wonderland, a huge box office success, making Linda the first and only female screenwright with a sole writing credit on a billion-dollar film, and the screenplay of Maleficent.
Early life and education
Linda Woolverton was born in Long Beach, California, in 1952. She has described her childhood as "traumatic." She graduated from high school in 1969 with honors in the school's theater program. She attended the California State University, Long Beach, graduating with a BFA in Theater Arts in 1973. After the college graduation, she attended the California State University, Fullerton, to receive a master's degree in Theater for Children. She completed her master's degree in 1976.
Upon the completion of her master's degree, she formed her own children's theater company. She wrote, directed and performed all over California in churches, malls, schools, and local theaters. She also began to work as a coach to children acting in commercials in 1979.
In 1980, she began working as a secretary for CBS, where she eventually became a programming executive concentrating on both children's and late-night programming. During her lunch breaks at CBS, Linda wrote her first novel, the young-adult Star Wind. Eventually quitting her job at CBS in 1984, she began to work as a substitute teacher when wrote her second novel, the also young-adult Running Before the Wind. Released in 1986 and 1987, respectively, both were published by Houghton Mifflin. Also, she began to penning scripts for children's television shows. From 1986 to 1989, she wrote episodes for animated series as Star Wars: Ewoks, Dennis the Menace, The Real Ghostbusters and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
Eventually, Linda expressed her wish to work for Disney, but was discouraged by her agent, who said to her she "wasn't ready." Not agreeing with it, she went over to Disney offices in Burbank, California, and dropped off a copy of Running Before the Wind for a secretary, asking for "give it to somebody to read." Two days later, she received a call from Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg calling her for an interview.
Works for Disney
After the interview, Linda was hired to write the script of the Disney Animation's Beauty and the Beast, becoming the first woman to write an animated feature for Disney. From early 1985 to 1988, two different teams of writers took a whack at turning the Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's tale into a feature film, but Linda succeed in adapting the story. Upon its release in 1991, Beauty and the Beast received universal critical acclaim, becoming the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
The success of Beauty and the Beast led Linda to work in several projects with Disney. She co-wrote the screenplay of the live-action film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, released in 1993, and worked again with Disney Animation helping in the pre-production story development of Aladdin, released in 1992, and co-writing the screenplay of The Lion King, released in 1994. Both Aladdin and The Lion King were huge box office successes and received critical acclaim. During this time, Linda also adapted her own Beauty and the Beast screenplay for a Broadway musical, which opened to critical acclaim in 1994, leding Linda to be nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book in a Musical and winning an Olivier Award for Best New Musical.
She assisted the Broadway adaptation of The Lion King, released in 1997 and so successful that is still running. She also provided additional story material for Mulan, released in 1998, and co-wrote the book of the Disney musical Aida, which opened on Broadway on 2000 for critical acclaim.
In 2007, she came up with the idea of a story where an older Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, goes back to Wonderland. Although initially frightened by the idea, she wrote a first draft and presented to producers Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, and Joe Roth, who took the screenplay to Disney. The studio immediately accepted the project, attaching Tim Burton to direct. Alice in Wonderland, released in 2010, was a huge box office success, earning more than $1 billion, and making Linda the first and only female screenplayer with a sole writing credit on a billion-dollar film.
After Alice in Wonderland, Linda was invited to write the screenplay of Maleficent, a retelling of the Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the villain Maleficent. As with Beauty and the Beast, the film went through several unsuccessful versions until Linda was attached to write. According to her, her version of the story is a "reinvention, not just the retelling of the same story." Maleficent was released in 2014.
Linda wrote the book of the non-Disney Broadway musical Lestat, an adaptation of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, which pre-debuted in 2006 in San Francisco becoming the highest-earning pre-Broadway play in San Francisco history. The musical opened on Broadway on 2007. She also co-wrote the narration of the documentary film Arctic Tale, released in 2007.
She wrote the screenplay for Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, to be released in 2016. In 2014, she announced that she plans to take a break on fairy tales to focus in a television pilot that she is pitching.
Linda is a self-declared feminist. Her works are known for strong, independent female protagonists. For example, in Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Linda wanted to create a heroine who "wanted to do something other than wait for her prince to come", and a stronger, intelligent female character. Empire hailed Belle as "a feminist heroine who [is] more rounded than previous Disney characters."
In Alice in Wonderland, she gave to the protagonist Alice an adventurous, inquisitive personality, which leads the character to question the values of Victorian society, and ultimately leading her to dismantle an engagement and become a world explorer. For this, Elle said: "In her version of Wonderland, she [Linda Woolverton] gave audiences a female character that was not dependent on a man for happiness or commercial success."
- Beauty and the Beast (1991; screenplay)
- Aladdin (1992; pre-production story development)
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993; screenplay)
- The Lion King (1994; screenplay)
- Mulan (1998; additional story material)
- Arctic Tale (2007; narration screenplay)
- Alice in Wonderland (2010; screenplay)
- Maleficent (2014; screenplay)
- Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016; screenplay)
- Beauty and the Beast (1994; book)
- The Lion King (1997; assisted the production)
- Aida (2000; book)
- Lestat (2003; book)
- Wildfire (1986; wrote 2 episodes)
- Star Wars: Ewoks (1986; wrote 2 episodes)
- My Little Pony 'n Friends (1986; wrote 2 episodes presented as two parts of one)
- Dennis the Menace (1986; wrote 65 episodes with three individuals segments each)
- Popples (1986; unknown)
- The Real Ghostbusters (1987; wrote 1 episode)
- Teen Wolf (1986-1987; wrote 8 episodes)
- Garbage Pail Kids (1987; wrote 2 episodes)
- CBS Storybreak (1988; wrote 1 episode)
- The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy (1988; unknown)
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989; wrote 1 episode)
Awards and nominations
- Dutka, Elaine (January 19, 1992). "MOVIES : Ms. Beauty and the Beast : Writer of Disney Hit Explains Her 'Woman of the '90s'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
- "Beauty and the Beast". Tony Awards. tonyawards.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Terrill, Ashley. "LADIES, LEADING: From screenwriters to cinematographers, 15 top-tier trailblazers making behind-the-scenes movie magic - Linda Woolverton". Elle. elle.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Walter, Brett. "Linda Woolverton - Biography - IMDb". IMDb. imdb.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Woolard, John (September 8, 1996). "Life is a fairy tale for Disney screenwriter Linda Woolverton". Star-Banner. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "Linda Woolverton - IMDb". IMDb. imdb.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Senger, Amy. "2014 Newport Beach Film Festival: A Talk With ‘Maleficent’ Screenwriter Linda Woolverton". Pacific Punch. pacific-punch.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "OLIVIER AWARDS – Best Musicals Winners". West End Theatre. westendtheatre.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "‘Alice in Wonderland’ screenwriter is ready for haters: ‘It’s audacious, what we’ve done’". Hero Complex. herocomplex.latimes.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Kang, Inkoo. "Angelina Jolie and Linda Woolverton Talk Maleficent in New Featurette". Women and Hollywood. blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Shaw, Lucas. "Will the ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Lion King’ Writer Finally Get to Direct Her Own Epic?". TheWrap. thewrap.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Wloszczyna, Susan. "Maleficent Writer Linda Woolverton on Adapting Fairy Tales for a New Generation". Women and Hollywood. blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Gachman, Dina. "Spotlight: Maleficent Writer Linda Woolverton on Working with Angelina Jolie and Turning a Villain into a Hero". Studio System News. studiosystemnews.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Rothman, Lily. "The Same Woman Wrote Maleficent and Beauty and the Beast—Here’s How They’re Linked". TIME. time.com. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Cochrane, Emma. "Beauty And The Beast". Empire. Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- Fallon, Kevin. "The ‘Maleficent’ Screenwriter also Wrote ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’". The Daily Beast. thedailybeast.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.