Hollywood Armenians: Steven Zaillian
Steven Zaillian (Arm. Զայիլյան) is an American film director of Armenian origin, screenwriter, editor, producer and founder of the "Film Rites" film company, and winner of the "Oscar" in 1994 for the screenplay for the film "Schindler's List". He was also nominated for an "Oscar" three times for movies "Awakening", "Gangs of New York", and "The Man Who Changed Everything". The Times magazine called Zaillian "the most cunning, skillful and sophisticated screenwriter in Hollywood since Robert Towne."
Steven Zaillian's scripts belong to such superb films as "Awakening" (1990), "Schindler's List" (1993), "Mission Impossible" (1996), "Civil Action" (1998), "American Gangster" (2007), "Hannibal" (2001), "Gangs of New York" (2002), "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2011), "The Man Who Changed Everything" (2011) and many others.
Steven Zaillian is the recipient of the "2009 Outstanding Screenwriter of the Year Award", and the "2011 Writers Guild of America Lifetime Achievement in Screenwriting Award".
In 1944, at the 16th Academy Awards ceremony in the nomination "Best Writing, Original Motion Picture Story" - the drama "The Human Comedy" won. The screenplay was written by William Saroyan.
William Saroyan was born in Fresno, California in 1908 to a family of Armenian emigrants from Bitlis in Ottoman Empire. Forty-five years later, in 1953, in the same Fresno, in the family of a native of Van (also in Ottoman Empire), the radio news reporter James Zaillian - Steven Zaillian, the future famous screenwriter, was born, as well as Saroyan, the winner of the "Oscar".
Steven worked every day as a newspaperboy. At the age of twelve, he saw his first film at the Fresno cinema. After work, in the evening, having saved up money, Steven again and again bought a ticket to the cinema.
While studying cinematography at the University of San Francisco, Zaillian once accidentally ran into Rouben Mamoulian on the street. He called his parents and said that he "saw Mamoulian himself and now knows exactly who he wants to become in life". Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) was famous an American film and theater director of Armenian origin.
In 1975, Steven Zaillian graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in cinematography.
Once, in one of his interviews, Steven Zaillian said: "I have always dreamed of making a film on the Armenian theme, but there are no proposals or sponsors. It is especially important to make a film about the Armenian Genocide in Hollywood, in order to convey to the viewer the objective events of that time."
Steven Zaillian lives in Los Angeles with his wife Elizabeth Zaillian and their two sons Anthony James (b. 1985) and Nicholas Alexander (b. 1989).