Director Jon Turteltaub Talks Hollywood

Blockbuster director and producer Jon Turteltaub’s oeuvre includes Last Vegas, National Treasure and National Treasure: Books of Secrets – films that have individually grossed over $100 million worldwide. National Treasure: Books of Secrets alone has grossed over $450 million worldwide…

Heading to the Windy City to attend the Gene Siskel Film Center gala on Saturday, June 7, 2014, at the Ritz Carlton, Mr. Turteltaub will conduct a conversation with ‘Renaissance Award’ honoree Morgan Freeman.

No stranger to Chicago, Mr. Turteltaub lived in the city in 1994 while filming While You Were Sleeping. On why he is excited to return, Mr. Turteltaub shares, “I absolutely loved Chicago. Hard not to love when living at the Four Seasons and directing a movie. I’m sure the city has changed enormously since my last visit, but I really enjoyed the city’s pride in itself. I loved the blues clubs, the Art Institute and the architecture boat tour on the river.”

And what is the connection between Mr. Freeman and Mr. Turteltaub? Mr. Turteltaub’s recent film Last Vegas starred Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and…Morgan Freeman. That was the first time that the two men met. Mr. Turteltaub shares, “I am a puny mortal next to Morgan. My favorite movie that Morgan starred in will always be Driving Miss Daisy.”

That isn’t the end of Last Vegas either. Mr. Turteltaub told me that he is currently working on the script for a Last Vegas sequel. “I’d love to get some legendary women into the cast, such as Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep,” he says.

When asked how he feels about Last Vegas being labeled as a mellow Hangover for the older set, Mr. Turteltaub responds, “I hate it, hate it, hate it. First of all, The Hangover was brilliant in ways that don’t resemble our movie. That was a plot-driven comedy. [Last Vegas] is a character comedy. Second of all, our movie is about the older set, not for the older set. One of the problems we face in Hollywood is that too many people want to pigeon hole a film…and it’s unfair to the audience to say that the audience has to mirror the cast of a film.”

After 25 years in the film industry directing and producing films from adventure to drama, what is next on Mr. Turteltaub’s to-do list? “I think that every director wants to produce a Western at some point. And I’m sure there will be a National Treasure 3 somewhere down the line…but I am really enjoying comedy right now and I’d like to do another.” Who might he choose for the main role? “If I had to pick an actor that I haven’t worked with yet, I would say that Tom Hanks would make a great partner. He is a bright and generous man and I would love to have a leading man like that.”

Born and raised in Hollywood, Mr. Turteltaub attended Beverly Hills High School with Nicholas Cage. The Hollywood gene runs in the family, Mr. Turteltaub’s father is Saul Turteltaub, a director, producer and writer best known for producing Sanford and Son. On the best advice he ever received from his father, Mr. Turteltaub recalls, “My father always told me that you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. Because of that I’ve always tried to let my sense of humor win out over my sense of anger when making a film. Of course, I never asked him why I wanted flies in the first place.”

A great sense of humor, Mr. Turteltaub shares his life motto: “Don’t put off until tomorrow things that can be put off until the day after tomorrow.”


About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.