Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff Q&A: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ writers
Although Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff were both excited by their Oscar nominations for penning “Straight Outta Compton,” the pair told us during a recent webcam chat that they couldn’t help but be heartbroken by the film's shutout in every other category, including Best Picture. “We think that absolutely their work deserved to be recognized,” said Berloff of director F. Gary Gray and the actors who helped bring rap group N.W.A.'s story to life. “We wish that they had been along for the ride.”
“We were telling their story,” adds Herman. “There would be no movie without Gary Gray and Ice Cube and Dr. Dre and Scott Bernstein (producer) and the wonderful actors O’Shea (Jackson Jr.), Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell. They all were such an indelible part of this movie. We put the words to the page, but it was their story and their contribution that was being filtered through us.” Although Herman is happy to be nominated, he admits, “We wish so many others could be there. They certainly deserve it.”
The pair spoke in-depth about the writing process, which took several years and countless drafts. “We had a really hard time getting ‘Compton’ made,” Berloff admits, “because there weren’t a lot of movies to compare it to. So the people who were in charge of the money were nervous about it.”
Both are optimistic, however, that the film's massive box office success and critical appeal will open the doors for more diverse stories in Hollywood. “My hope is that excuse is out the window,” she continues. “There is clearly a desire to tell these more diverse stories, and I think that the onus is now on us as creators to create them.”
Berloff and Herman are nominated alongside S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus at both the Academy Awards and the Writers Guild of America.