Screenwriter Douglas Soesbe will speak at DHS Library Author’s Series

Douglas Soesbe, screenwriter and author, will speak at the Desert Hot Springs Library Author Series on September 15 from 1-2:30 p.m. He has numerous screenwriting credits for films in a variety of genres, including comedies, thrillers and TV movies on Lifetime, CBS, ABC and Hearst Entertainment.

Soesbe spoke with The Desert Sun about the difference between writing a screenplay and a novel, what he admires about Meryl Streep and what Robin Williams called the people he didn’t like.

What were your favorite projects?

There have been so many, but what sticks out in my mind are the actors in the comedies. I worked with Robert DeNiro on “Meet the Parents” and its sequel, “Meet the Fockers”, and with Jim Carrey on “Bruce Almighty”. I was the sole screenwriter for four TV movies, mostly thrillers. I have always loved writing thrillers. Very early on, I was a Hitchcock fan. My latest, “Look Again”, with Morena Baccarin, is currently on Lifetime.

My last feature film, which I wrote in its entirety, is “Boulevard”, with Robin Williams. It was his last on-screen performance before his death in 2014.

What are some of your memories of Williams?

Douglas Soesbe poses with "Boulevard" actors Robin Williams and Roberto Aguire.

Robin was one of the most modest men I have ever known. I first met him on the set of “Boulevard” in Nashville. I was nervous and the producer came over and tapped me on the shoulder. I’m very tall, so when I jumped I hit the chandelier. Robin, who was much smaller than me, started dancing like a hobbit. Sometimes we wouldn’t finish filming until 3 a.m., and Robin would come up to me and say, “Boss, how were the words?” I thought it might be ad-lib, but it still stuck to the script. If he liked you, he called you “Boss”. Otherwise, you were “Sparky”. Writing “Boulevard” and working with Robin Williams was the pinnacle of my career.

Are there any other stars and events that stand out?

Yes, working on the movie “Mamma Mia!” and the sequel. I really didn’t know the story, so to help me write the script, the producers sent me to see the musical in Las Vegas. I didn’t know it was so wild. I love Meryl Streep. She’s a very down-to-earth person as well as an amazing actress – very independent, and (she) has always driven home. The cast was great and very entertaining.

You have written two books. How do writing a book and a screenplay differ?

They are definitely two different types of writing. A book is more difficult and takes longer. When you write a book, the characters are in your head. We can view them. A script is linear and needs actors to bring it to life. My two published books are “Children in a Burning House”, a crime novel and a horror novel, “Scream Play”.

You were recently named one of 10 finalists in a screenplay competition by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola and Zoetrope. What can you tell us?

My script, “Tender Outcast”, was chosen as one of 10 out of 2,000 entries. The story is that of a young homosexual man, son of a sheriff, in the 1970s. The father cannot accept his son’s sexuality, and the son ends up committing suicide. The father will not accept the suicide due to his own guilt and proceeds to investigate his son’s death as murder. I also turned the script into a book.

What have you been up to since retiring to Palm Springs in 2019?

I’m writing a new mystery novel, “The Miracle Murders.” I like to read mystery novels and am currently reading all four 1950s mystery novels by author Ross Macdonald.

If you are going to

Where: Desert Hot Springs Library, 14-380 Palm Drive

When: 1 p.m. on September 15.

Cost: Free.

Other details: Places are limited to 72 participants and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, call the library at (760) 329-5926.

Sally Hedberg is secretary and grants administrator for the Friends of the DHS Library.