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Interview with Horton Foote

Jerry Lincecum

Sound | c. 1986

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  •  Foote discusses his writing strategies and process, which include journal writing and meditation  
  •  Foote talks about the inception and development of his Tony Award-winning play The Trip to Bountiful 
  •  Foote on film adaptations and his Academy Award-winning screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)  
  •  Foote discusses the process of writing the original screenplay for Tender Mercies (1983), which won Foote a second Academy Award.  
  •  Description of Foote's Orphans' Home Cycle, a trilogy of plays. Each play in the trilogy is comprised of three one-act plays.  
  •  On the decline of the film industry and Foote's forays into filmmaking  
  •  Foote identifies key influences on his work 
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Jerry B. Lincecum (English Professor, specialist of Texas and Southwestern literature, Folklorist) interviews writer Horton Foote. Foote, a native of Wharton, TX, discusses his writing processes from idea to finished product, the writers who influenced him, and how experience informs his writing. He specifically references the experiences of writing Tender Mercies and the screenplay for Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. He also comments on trends and evolution in the Hollywood studio system, and the differences between writing for his own projects versus being a writer for hire.
Playwright and screenwriter Albert Horton Foote, Jr., better known as Horton Foote, was born in Wharton, Texas, on March 14, 1916. Foote started his career as an actor, studying at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. He moved to writing in the 1940s, becoming one of the chief writers for television by the 1950s as well as a leading playwright by the 1960s. In 1995, Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play “The Young Man From Atlanta.” In addition to his work with television and the stage, Foote was also an acclaimed writer for films, penning the screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Tender Mercies (1983), which led to Foote winning an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay, respectively. Both films also contributed to Foote’s recognition by the Writers Guild of America. Foote often wrote screenplays based on his own plays, including his semi-autobiographical trilogy 1918 (1985), On Valentine’s Day (1986), and Courtship (1987). The first two films of the trilogy were shot on location in Waxahachie, Texas. Foote died in Hartford, Connecticut, on March 4, 2009 at the age of 92. Fun fact: Foote was the descendant of Albert Clinton Horton, a Texas politician and the first Lieutenant Governor of Texas.