Brian Grazer: How a Curious Mind Creates An Original Idea

Brian Grazer Talks about How a Curious Mind Creates An Original Idea at The James Altucher Show

Episode 166

“Imagine… If you had suddenly learned that the people and the places and the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse— had never been.”

I was in LA at Imagine Entertainment. It’s Brian Grazer’s studio.

He produced “A Beautiful Mind,” “8 Mile”, a bunch of Jim Carrey movies. He’s worked with Eddie Murphy and produced my favorite TV series, “Arrested Development.”

“I bought the book ‘A Beautiful Mind‘ with the thematic intention of trying to make a movie that would help de-stigmatize mental disability,” he said.

So he created an alternate reality. And he’s done this in his own life.

“You see, the nightmare of schizophrenia is not knowing what’s true,” the psychiatrist says in “A Beautiful Mind.” He was talking to John Nash’s wife as she watched her husband get electroshock therapy.

She loved a schizophrenic man. A brilliant man.

She let me him keep his delusions.

They weren’t real. But what’s the harm?

Nothing. Unless you almost drown your baby.

He won the Nobel Prize.

And I cried.

His mind brought him delusions but it also brought him love.

Between two realities, he chose himself.

He lived in his contradictions. Between what’s real and what’s imaginary.

Between health and illness. That’s where he found his original idea.

Some of me is jealous. Some of me feels sad. Some of me ran out of things to say.

I don’t try to be everything I am.

So I become the rest of me. The side that practices difficult gratitude and improves just 1% a day. The part of me that listens. And flies to LA to be in an alternate reality.

Brian Grazer says, “Curiosity propels storytelling. All stories, incidentally, need propulsion. It not only creates the story, but it gives life to energy. And energy is what stories need.”

It’s what life needs. Or at least, my life.

Brian also produced “Apollo 13,” another one of my favorite movies. He used his curiosity muscle to reframe the story.

“People think it’s about space. They thought it was about aerodynamics,” he says. “To me, it was only about human resourcefulness.”

“Perspective is everything,” Brian said. “It’s everything.”

His perspective comes from curiosity. Which he wrote about in his #1 New York Times bestseller, “A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life.”

I don’t know where my curiosity will lead me.

But I can only hope it helps in your reality.

Resources and Links:

Also mentioned:

  • Edward Teller – the Nobel Prize winning physicist who worked on the atomic bomb
  • Isaac Asimov – part of the “big three.” He’s known as one of the best science fiction writers of the 20th century
  • Natsmavenus

    I look forward to listening to this interview, as I do all of your interviews, but please be aware that “A Beautiful Mind” was complete fiction. Sorry for the rant here James, I admire you, but you romanticized something that is an absolute nightmare. Unmedicated Schizophrenics are delusional 24/7 and are not capable of ever being present in any relationship. They don’t question what’s true anymore than a sane person would because they believe their hallucinations are reality. As a child I had the extreme misfortune of being left alone with a schizophrenic for years so I know of what I speak. I applaud Grazer for wanting to remove the stigma toward mental illness, but suggesting that a schizophrenic can choose to be sane some of the time to please their spouse shows that he didn’t let facts get in the way of a good story.

  • Takeshi Takumi

    The right title is “A Curious Mind”.
    It’s a small thing, though.

  • Stephen Hunt


  • Colin Wan

    I love this podcast. Two of my favorite men are having a curious conversation. Love to read the book “A Curious Mind”. Thanks Jame

  • “Recontextualisation is the best way to overcome no’s.” – Brilliant.