A BEAUTIFUL MIND
A Beautiful Story
A Beautiful Mind is inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr., and in part based on the biography A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia
Nasar. Born to a middle class family in a small West Virginia town on June 13, 1928, Nash has been a figure of fascination in the world of ideas for more than 50 years. His pioneering work in the field of game theory made him the star of the 'new mathematics' in the 195 0's, but he disappeared from the scene during the long years that schizophrenia distorted his life. Nevertheless, game theory became a vital element of business and economics during his absence. By 1994, Nash had regained control of his life and was again active as a scholar. That year,
he received the Nobel Prize in Economic Science, along with John C. Harsanyi and Richard
Selten, "for their pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games." (Non-cooperative games are those in which no outside authority enforces a set of predetermined rules.)
A Beautiful Mind began its way to the screen when producer Brian Grazer read a Vanity Fair article about John Forbes Nash, Jr. Grazer was fascinated by writer Sylvia Nasar's true story of the mathematical genius who won international acclaim, then lost it all to schizophrenia. What made the story truly exceptional was the fact that Nash eventually recovered enough to return to work and later win the Nobel Prize.
"I loved this story because it was about survival," said Grazer. "And I also loved that it was about genius as expressed through the root of competitiveness." After seeing early galleys of Nasar's biography on Nash, Grazer engaged in some competition himself to obtain the film rights to her book. "I saw that the story could present a visceral experience for an audience," Grazer said.
Grazer hired Akiva Goldsman to write the screenplay. Goldsman brought an immensely singular perspective to the project. His parents, therapist Tev Goldsman and renowned child psychologist Mira Rothenberg, had founded one of America's first group homes" for emotionally disturbed children in the family's Brooklyn residence. Akiva Goldsman grew up side by side with children who occupied their own delusional worlds. His unique understanding of the material and his desire to explore the dramatic line between reality and delusion made him the only choice for Grazer.
Goldsman took on the assignment with strong ideas on how to structure the narrative. "It's not a literal telling of Nash's life," the writer explained. "I tried to take the architecture of his life — the
genius, the schizophrenic break, the Nobel Prize — and from that constructed a semi-fictional story." Goldsman received a "written by" rather than "screenplay by" credit for A Beautiful Mind from the Writers Guild of America, which signals extraordinary innovation and a distinctive departure from the source material.
Although many directors wanted the project, Grazer and his Imagine partner Ron Howard quickly found that they were in complete harmony on how to best approach the adaptation. "Ron has succeeded at the challenges of every genre," said Grazer, "and has demonstrated particular strength in creating three-dimensional characters, which is critically important with this film."
The two partners had spent years looking for a project that dealt with mental illness and its impact on people and their families. "When you read about it, you realize that mental illness is so prevalent,"
Howard said. "People didn't always have the right terms for it, but most families have had a brush with it. The story of John Nash is an amazing, powerful journey. But as unique as this man is, his story is also very accessible because it is so heartbreakingly human."
Grazer and Howard were also drawn to the love story at the hear
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