Interview with Christina Welsh, co-writer of “Addicted”
We were so lucky to be able to talk to Christina Welsh, co-writer of the new erotic thriller “Addicted” (out in theaters October 10th). Christina is a talented screenwriter who found her foray into the entertainment industry in 1998. Read a little more about Christina’s journey here:
BlueCat: Tell us a little bit about your background – how did you get your start as a screenwriter?
CW: Growing up, I loved going to the movies — any chance I got. When I was 14 years old, my father got me into an advanced screenwriting class that was for adults only. Later, I majored in screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University, but in the years following my graduation, I went off and did other things. I did a little acting, was an entertainment reporter on the radio, did some movie reviews for a local newspaper chain. But in the back of my head, there was always this voice nagging me: “Hey, you want to be a screenwriter!” In 1998, I didn’t have any connections in the business, so I went to a networking seminar. You had to pay to attend and my hope was to meet agents and producers and other people who could help my career.
BlueCat: Who ultimately gave you the connection into the industry?
CW: Two writer-producers (Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick) who wrote The Santa Clause and Space Jam were speakers at the seminar. I went up to them during a break and threw out this idea just to see what they thought and they said: “Wow we love that – we’d love to develop that with you!” So it was this Lotto moment where I thought, “These successful writers want to work with me!” That was one of those great, amazing moments and they were the ones who had the connections at the studios. We pitched the idea to Disney, they loved it, and they hired me to write the script. It never went into production, but it got me into the Guild, it got me my benefits, and it launched my screenwriting career. It also allowed me to quit my day job. I’ve been luckily and steadily working ever since.
BlueCat: Tell us about your new adaptation, “Addicted.”
CW: It’s an adaptation of a best-selling novel by Zane, and it’s a very provocative book about a sex addict. It’s about a woman, a very relatable successful career woman, wife and mother who loses almost everything to her sex addiction. It’s very thrilling, exciting and sexy! It’s an entertaining movie, but also has something to say in the end about addiction and its impact on the addicts and their loved ones.
BlueCat: What are the challenges you’ve faced with writing an adaptation as opposed to a spec screenplay?
CW: I tend to write original specs. This [adaptation] was a real challenge. The first week after I was hired, I thought, “How am I going to turn this 325 page book into a 100 page screenplay?!” I would literally just stare at the book for long periods of time, walk away, come back, look at the book again and think: what have I gotten myself into?! It was nerve wracking but exciting. I had to ask myself this question, “What’s the core story here?” The book itself spans 20 years and 325 pages, so I had to look at it to see what I could keep, and what I could lose. I had to look at what is essential in the story of this woman and the path she travels as a sex addict, a journey that threatens her life, her marriage, her family her work — that was the core story. As much as I loved some of the early childhood scenes — when the lead character first meets her husband at ten years of age and they can’t stand each other! — we couldn’t keep all those moments because it was just too much for a 100 minute movie. When adapting a book, you have to condense characters and plot points, but the studio was very involved and gave great notes. Zane, the author of the book, was very accessible and I would call her or e-mail her and get her advice and her thoughts. She was very gracious because she was handing her baby over to someone else, which is so hard to do. It was very challenging. I had never adapted a book before, so it was very educational and a great experience.
BlueCat: What’s the hardest scene you’ve ever had to write?
CW: Sometimes, when there have been elements of my personal life that worked their way into scripts, I had to take a step back because the emotions were too much. It’s when the lines are blurred between myself as a person and myself as a writer that it’s really hard. They say, “write what you know” and that’s where personal stories come from, but that can be challenging. “If Only” was inspired by the death of a friend and that would hit me as I was writing it. The script was inspired by that loss and friendship, but it can be emotionally tough to weave elements of your personal life into your work.
BlueCat: Why are you a writer?
CW: I’ve been writing since I was five years old. I remember as a kid, I was writing a little story before bedtime and my father said, “It’s time to go to bed!” I said, “I’m finishing my story!” He said “Well, go to bed and I’ll tell you a story!” I said “Well, I’m finishing my story!” So he said “You have a choice: you can finish your story or you can hear my story.” I said, “I’m going to finish my story.” My dad told me that’s when he knew I was going to be a writer. From a very early age, I loved writing. Even when I graduated from LMU with a screenwriting degree and didn’t pursue [a screenwriting career] right away, I was still writing as a journalist and as an entertainment reporter. And writing and performing in live theater productions in Hollywood. There’s always been an element of writing with everything I’ve done in my life.
BlueCat: What is your favorite movie?
CW: That’s a tough question, because there are so many movies I love for different reasons! I will say “Rocky” because I love the movie and the impact it had on the audience. I love the story of the underdog as well as the behind-the-scenes story of Sylvester Stallone and how he held out to play the lead and wrote the script for himself. When I attended that screenwriting class as a kid, the professor gave us “Rocky” to read. Seeing the movie and then reading the script had such an impact on me as a young person. People in the theater were standing up and cheering during the boxing scenes. It was an amazing experience, so that’s at the forefront of my mind and definitely what drives me as a screenwriter: the desire to have an impact on the audience like that.
BlueCat: What’s next for you?
CW: I wrote an erotic thriller called “Rue” that has some nice Hitchcockian twists and turns. That’s making the rounds right now. I’m also working on a TV pitch with a director. My movie, “If Only,” has generated some interest for a foreign language remake, so I’m just staying busy and always thinking of the next thing.