Fast Company profiles Terminator director
New York, April 16, 2009 – What do you say about a brilliant Hollywood director who suffers a breakdown, generates more money than God, and goes only by a three-letter moniker? In the May issue of Fast Company and online at www.fastcompany.com, Mark Borden finds a lot to say about the enigmatic McG – director of Terminator Salvation, and the Charlie’s Angels franchise, and producer of TV’s The OC, Supernatural, and Chuck – who in the past few years has overcome a debilitating anxiety disorder and stealthily emerged as one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood.
In “Hollywood’s Rogue Humanoid,” McG (born Joseph McGinty Nichol, for the record) talks publicly for the first time about his struggle with agoraphobia that finally brought him to his knees, just as his career and reputation were heading for the stratosphere. Everything temporarily ground to a halt on a July day in 2004 outside the Warner Bros. private jet terminal, when McG collapsed. “I was staring at the terminal, knowing I didn’t have what it took to get on,” McG tells Borden. “It just put me in that fetal position in the corner, saying, ‘What have I become?’ I had to look into the abyss and experience that find-my-character moment – and realized I didn’t have it.”
After keeping his condition secret for so long, Borden writes, McG is relieved to discuss it publicly for the first time, just as his diversified $2 billion entertainment machine – including Terminator Salvation and the film version of Spring Awakening – is cranking into high gear. “There’s something about the path I’ve walked to get here that means I can be forthcoming,” McG tells Borden. “I don’t know how much deeper you can get than being agoraphobic for your entire adult life and having that be the mountain you need to overcome. I don’t know how much further you can get than your brother dying in a cocaine overdose and being there to clean up the scene. [He lost his brother in 2007.] I look in the mirror and realize everything I’ve got is out there.
Hollywood moguls aren’t scared of casting their fates with him, either. “He’s the kind of guy where if you put a big franchise in his hands, you know you’re going to be taken care of and have a big hit movie,” says Amy Pascal, who runs Sony Pictures.
McG has no intention of letting his condition stop his plans for entertainment domination and innovation. “My dream is to create a new United Artists and a legacy that puts people who create content at the top,” says McG. “I believe it is content that drives the audience, not some multi-media conglomerate.”
But while he has grand plans for the future of his multi-faceted empire, McG doesn’t kid himself that the emotional demons are gone forever. “I’m glad there was a comeback,” says McG. “But I don’t want this to be some Up With People, Promise Keepers kind of story. I’ve flown all over the world now, but I may have a nervous breakdown tomorrow and you may have to put me in a chokehold. I have great respect and liken it to someone who lost 300 pounds. They’ll never look at you and go, ‘I’ll never gain it back.’ Hell, call Oprah.”
The May issue of Fast Company is on newsstands beginning April 21 and is now available online at www.fastcompany.com