I was "The Weird Kid" in school, and always worried about the next disaster, and have always been obsessed with injustice. But I'm really fun at parties! I'm an oddball. I was very proud, because recently Jezebel called me a badass... I was always telling stories to entertain myself as a kid, but I never thought of screenwriting as a career, so I became an actress thinking that was a way to tell stories, and then when I was on the show MY SO-CALLED LIFE Winnie Holzman (who created the show, and later wrote WICKED) took me aside and said "I have some very, very bad news for you. You're not an actress, you're a writer." And I was like "WHAT" and she was like "You're so deep in the closet as a writer, and you have gotta come out." And Winnie was a closeted writer as well - and she had gone into acting, and avoided writing, because it's not a career that women are very welcome in, you don't see a lot of women doing it, but also nobody encourages you to do it - nobody encourages you to tell the truth, you always get in trouble for it. I'm always in trouble for telling the truth.

So Winnie encouraged me, and then I started writing, and I did 8 million part-time jobs to support my writing career, and I wrote a spec script called "Warm Springs" and that got me the job to write THE GOOD LIE eleven years ago. I've spent eleven years trying to get this movie made.

And I started writing for television to support getting this movie made!

That's how I started writing for TV, I was going to write movies exclusively, and this movie got stuck, and I was out of money, and my agents were like "Everyone wants you to write for TV" - by then WARM SPRINGS had gotten made for HBO, and I was so desperate for money at that point I was like "Okay, sure, I'll do it." I said yes, and that got me my first TV job.

So Terry Winter was someone I had met when I was struggling to go from acting to writing, I had sent him the script for WARM SPRINGS which he was reluctant to read, and he read it, and he said to me "It's Rocky, about FDR." And I sent him my script for THE GOOD LIE, and he loved it because it's so funny. It's very funny in ways you don't expect at all. And he just remembered that, and then I got a call from Terry one night in 2007 or 2008, saying "Why haven't you listened to your messages" and I went "I have a message?" and he said "I called you a week ago, I offered you a job on Boardwalk" and I said "you're kidding!" and I listen to my voicemail, I was in a drive-thru at McDonald's, getting a Happy Meal, and he says "are you in a McDonald's line?" and he said "Get me a Big Mac! I offered you a job a week ago! We need you, we're going to sit in a room and create this map." So I called my agents and said "I'm going to work on Boardwalk Empire" and they said "What!?"

SO I worked with Terry and two other writers on season 1. I was learning about the birth of the Mob, and prohibition, and Atlantic City, and one of my part-time jobs as I was supporting my writing career was I sold purses out of the trunk of my car. And Terry had a thought that - you probably know more about bootlegging than I do! Because I'd tried to make money any way possible, I was a good person to put on the show. So that's how I got Boardwalk.

You can check out the official trailer for THE GOOD LIE here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5mrvffezmM&feature=youtu.be

The film opens on Friday, October 3rd, and by October 24 should be in theaters all over country.

Victoria's helping me get started today. Ask me anything. I'm very honest, so I may get in trouble, but I tell the truth.

retweet: https://twitter.com/reddit_AMA/status/516615190629335040

Edit: Everybody come see THE GOOD LIE this weekend or when it comes to a theater near you, and contact me on Twitter @MargaretNagle73, and let's talk after. Let's all just keep talking to one another. Thank you so much for your questions, and I'll ask the question Elvis Costello asks: "What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?"

Comments: 91 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

penxpaper21717 karma

I really want to love Red Band Society but the wholly inaccurate portrayal of Eating Disorder treatment is driving me crazy. My question is, what kind of research went into the medical conditions & their treatments?

MargaretNagle8 karma

Her eating disorder is slowly being revealed, and we didn't focus on it in the pilot because we had too many stories, there are so many characters to deal with. And slowly we are going to start peeling back her eating disorder, because eating disorders are complex, and multi-layered, and they have a lot of denial involved, because they are physical and mental, and so the arc of Emma's character - until Emma wants to be a participant in getting better - that's going to be coming, we have to slowly strip her back because it's not an overnight thing. I urge you to blog about how to write - I'm not writing day to day, I'm just an executive producer and wrote the first 2 episodes, but I urge you to write the show and tell them how you feel. We did study them a lot, and the thing about eating disorders is that there's a big taboo about them - and this is a network show, it's not a cable show - there's a huge difference between writing for network and cable, there just is. But the plan is to really go there, and it's just taking longer.

KooKoo4CastleNnathan15 karma

I absolutely love My So Called Life. I'm 26 and discovered it a few years ago and found it completely relatable still. Looking back, do you think you would ever want to change anything in the show, now that you see it from a writer's perspective?

MargaretNagle27 karma

I'd never want to change a single thing about that show. It's perfect. The show was only 18 episodes, ABC took it off the air three different times, they didn't like it, and it took the audience a long time to find it. And critics were mean to it, didn't understand it - and I want everyone who jumps on and judges a show right off the bat, they are killing art - people are so quick to judge something, and get defensive or insecure when something is asking you to watch it differently. Three different timeslots, they would drop the show for 4months, then come back and make a couple more - it was BRUTAL what they did to the show, but the audience found it on MTV and it lives on, but it could have run 5 seasons, the network didn't take care of it and viewers are always harder on new things, and they are harder on things that ask them to feel things. That's the one thing - everybody's got to slow down for a second. There are so many TV critics, and there were critics who were trying to go back and save MY SO-CALLED, but in the mind of the network it was damaged goods. And it's such a beautiful show, and Winnie - she's an incredible writer. She's writing another Show for HBO with Cameron Crowe about roadies, about the people who go with them on the show and set them up in every town. And she comes to everything, to the premiere, we watch all my stuff, I sit and show her, she shows me her stuff, she's this incredible life mentor.

Here's the thing: when you're the writer in Hollywood, you're the brunt of a lot of stuff. And even with THE GOOD LIE, I got fired off it 2 years into it. But they couldn't find another writer to re-write it, so luckily what happened was the producer of it died, so it went into turnaround, and the script was on what is called "The Blacklist" which is the best unmade scripts in Hollywood that year, so I proceeded to - I'd received most of my work as a writer off this movie, but I'd never been able to get it made. So the WGA has this little-known rule called The "Writer's Re-Acquisition Rule" - which is that after a script has not been touched for 5 years by any other writer, the original writer can legally get it back for a free 18 month option and try to re-sell it themselves.

So I waited for 5 years from the last time I'd been paid to write on it, and i went into Paramount with legal documentation from the WGA and took the script back, and Ron Howard - every producer turned it down, but Ron Howard was starting a 1 year writing program where he wanted to use the TV writer's room construct to write features, because feature writers get so isolated and alone, and what if they could check in with other writers? So he hired 9 writers, and he said "I'll help you redevelop THE GOOD LIE." So while I was at Paramount, they were going through a rocky time, and they had 3 studio heads who each gave me different notes - so the script was sort of corrupted, and so Ron Howard said "Come do this program, and you can just take the script and get it back to what you wanted it to be." So that's what I did, and then the financing he had for the movie fell out after 12 months. So I had a new script, but no financing, and I'd used up 12 months of the 18 month option. SO then I had a 6 month ticking clock going and I was sending this script everywhere and everyone said "No" - and it's a $15 mill movie, it's not an expensive movie, but no one would do it, and finally it found its way to a producer named Molly Smith, and she, it turned out, her father had adopted a Lost Boy in Memphis. And put him through college, and this Lost Boy got his P.H.D in Engineering! That's the other thing - Lost Boys are really smart, they are making this huge contribution to our world. So teaching themselves to read in high school, having done math & science without going to school.

So she said "I'll finance the film" and it was so hilarious -we were at the very last week of the 18 months, and she said "Well," - I had to go to Paramount and buy the script back - and I was paid scale plus 10% for the agents because it's not a lot of money for the amount of drafts I did -and I was literally taking work to keep this project alive, so I could afford to keep writing, because various studio heads ask you to do work on it - she said "I'll write you a check" and I said "You don't understand - my bank is going to hold your check for a WEEK to make sure it clears, and my check will cash, and it's now 4 pM and at 6 PM we are toast."

So she was scrambling to get a cashier's check and get it into Paramount BEFORE they locked the doors- but we got it in. 6 months later we were shooting the movie, Reese took this small part, and really the movie is about the guys and their walk and we were in Atlanta shooting. And when we sent the check in, it was almost exactly 10 years to when I got the job.

And when we premiered at TIFF a couple weeks ago, we had no idea how it would be received and we got a 10 minute standing ovation.

dhholland1315 karma

MY SO CALLED LIFE was a huge show for me and my friends. Being teenagers going through issues that were tough for us to deal with, having that kind of show highlight a lot of what we were going through allowed us to speak ore openly and honestly about ourselves. What was it like to be a part of that show?

MargaretNagle10 karma

Okay, first of all, Wilson Cruz is a regular on RED BAND SOCIETY - we've been friends since he was 19 years old, and he's giving me an award next week in LA! So about the whole LGBT - I have felt - it's really interesting, my best girlfriends all grew up to be gay. And I was bullied in school, it was the girls that grew up to be gay, they all ended up being the ones who would say "Leave her the hell alone." My brother is disabled and retarded from a car accident, so they really made fun of me. and I did a lot of theater and plays, so a lot of my friends were gay. And also, the smart kids are always picked on, so on MY SO-CALLED LIFE, there were letters that came in from kids in really remote places all over the country from kids who would say "i'm scared, I'm gay" - Ricky was the first openly gay character on a series. And I remember with Wilson - his own parents kicked him out for a while, while we were doing the show. I remember him telling about a kid in Ohio who had written him a letter saying he wanted to kill himself because he was gay. So Winnie said - this is just too much for you, you're 19 and going through them yourself, we'll call them, we'll go through them and help so that you're not taking it all on yourself Wilson.But now Wilson has gone on to be a media spokesperson for GLAAD - but at the time, the flood of people who wanted to speak to him - EVERYBODY answered every letter. They said "Call me, write me, there's hope, don't suffer in silence, we are here for you." So that was one of those things when the show was cancelled - we were thinking "God, where are those kids now, hope they are okay."

So it was really really important. And I just always feel that because - if we're all equal, then I want to see my storytelling reflecting all different kinds of people in the world. One of the things on BOARDWALK, for example, Michael Pitt's wife was gay, and having to hide that fact from him, hiding that fact while he was away in WW1 she fell in love with a woman. Or Cara on RED BAND SOCIETY, she has 2 moms. Or for example, Octavia Spencer, I'm sort of into seeing a world - I can't just look at a bunch of white dudes every single time. That's not the world we live in. We are not better for that. People say "if you can't see it, you can't be it." And I think maybe the reason I didn't start writing sooner, I didn't see a lot of female writers doing writing - none of my professors encouraged me to do this, it was Winnie. So I urge you - if people want to write, if there is something you need to do, follow your passion and do it, because that is what you are going to be best at. And you are going to be happier if you do that. It's so bottom line. But it's hard sometimes to figure out what your passion is.

I'm someone who was a super-late bloomer. I worked so many things, it took so long, and this is my FIRST MOVIE getting made and it took 11 years.

So I urge you - never give up. Don't let other people tell you who you are. There's only one you. And we need to hear from you.

luckylizard5 karma

How much of the original Catalan series "Pulseras Rojas" is in Red Band Society and how much are you changing and writing yourself?

MargaretNagle4 karma

I created eight new characters for the American version, and I kept Jordi and Leo and their friendship at the core of the show. I also used the device of the boy narrating the show from his coma. Albert Espinosa, who wrote the original Red Band Society in Catalan, became a real go-to person for me in the middle of the night - as I was writing I would email him in Spain, and he encouraged me at every step to make it my own show.

wellvis4 karma

This certainly looks like an interesting movie. What would you say were the biggest obstacles to getting it made from your perspective?

MargaretNagle9 karma

That it had people whose skin wasn't white.

This movie is about so much more, and these kids, what they survived, it's about this group of kids, there are 20,000 of them, their families, their civilization was wiped out in a civil war in South Sudan in the 1980's. And these children walked 1,000 miles through the sub-Saharan desert as a group, surviving on nothing, and they walked to a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where they stayed for a few years, and they were bombed and shot there, and half of them were murdered. And what was left of them walked back through Sudan to Kenya, to a refugee camp there, where no one in the world would take them, and they lived on 5 meals a week in this remote refugee camp, and finally in the late 90s and early 2000s, the United States brought 3,600 to the United States and resettled them. It was the largest resettlement program in US history. So it's the amazing, incredible story of these kids growing up and how they survived, like LORD OF THE FLIES, their survival in the desert - the first 35 minutes of the film is just their sheer brute survival as children. And then we see them grow up, and they have to come to America, and that's their greatest challenge yet. It's a real critique of America, because they lived in these tribes in South Sudan in the Stone age - and this is something I get a lot of crap on online. They'd never seen a phone, they didn't know that someone had been to the moon - and then they are suddenly dropped in the USA, and they have to survive here. And it is a comedy - the boys are really funny - and we've had standing ovations at screenings around the country. For 11 years, I knew that - if I could show this to people, if I could get this out of the bureaucracy of hollywood - we are already starting to see this, but it's very hard to market a film like this, there is always fear around it. But when we tested the film around the US, we got the highest test scores since THE KING'S SPEECH. So we gotta get people to see their butts in the seats. So the hardest part of getting this film made is explaining to people - this episode of 60 MINUTES was the most popular story they ever reported on. And for the past 10 years, 60 MINUTES has gone back 4 times to check up on their stories. And all the actors in the movie are refugees of war, we have Gerduany (go look him up, he's unbelievable - he's a model and a humanitarian) and then we have Emmanuel Jal and he is really famous, books have been written about him, he has a TED talk and is a musician who plays all over the world, he's remarkable. And we have Corey Stoll, who is from HOUSE OF CARDS and is a total rockstar, and Reese Witherspoon. The film opens on Friday, October 3rd, and by October 24 should be in theaters all over country.

MargaretNagle10 karma

George Clooney said something like "We can all agree on Sudan." And on Wednesday, we are doing a social media Thunderclap with the ENOUGH Project, we are getting 1 million people to go on social media because we can re-direct focus to South Sudan because they have 2 million displaced people there - by Christmas there will be 250,000 people in the refugee camp the kids came from, and they are going into a hardcore famine.

So this is not just a film - it's also bigger than that. And so we're not going to let this go. And we played it in Washington DC last week, and we got 450 Senators and Congressmen to come. We plied them with cocktails, and had them sit down and watch the movie, and then we served them dinner. We brought out the Lost Boys - Nico & Vince played, they wrote the music for the movie- and Emmanuel Jal did some of the music, and John McCain was crying, we had Samantha Power and Nancy Pelosi, and we said "You guys can stalemate all you want, but this is something we can all agree on, to use our resources to help these people." And UNICEF came, and UNICEF has been a partner with us, and we've created THE GOOD LIE fund - http://thegoodliefund.org - and we just want people, this is serious, so we were able to raise $250,000 seed money, we made all the Congresspeople and Senators pay for dinner, and UNICEF is going to take the aid in and work with us, so we are going to use this and we are trying to open up, get these people out of there to be resettled or at least make sure they have enough food and educational resources to live in this camp.

rakust4 karma

What's the biggest sandwich you've ever eaten?

MargaretNagle5 karma

I like peanut butter & jelly.

beernerd3 karma

I love that you were getting Happy Meal when you got the call. Was that your way of being frugal, or do you still buy Happy Meals?

MargaretNagle9 karma

Well, it's not about being frugal, although you can buy a Happy Meal with all the loose change in your car (Happy Meals are awesome like that)! But I still buy Happy Meals by myself - it's one of my dark and dirty secrets. And I love the toys, but I always give them to other kids - in fact In THE GOOD LIE, the Lost Boys' first meal in America is that they go to America and they get a Happy Meal and they look at the toy like "What the fuck is this?!"

I also put my car in THE GOOD LIE- I had Reese Witherspoon drive my car the way I drive it. My friends haven't seen the movie yet, but they will laugh when they see the exact car that I drove into the ground for 10 years being the car that she drives in the film.

DJ2Flasks3 karma

What's the worst part time job you've ever had?! I love shitty job stories!

Also, I'm an actress and am currently working on writing my first play - you seem to be THE PERSON to ask for generic guidance here. :> :>

MargaretNagle13 karma

Well, I was a shoe model in NYC because I have small feet, and there's a shoe convention every year in NYC, and because my feet are small they'd book me. But these shoe salesmen, it's a little sketchy being a shoe model - because people that are really into shoes on women's feet like that usually have a little bit of a fetish, so you work for a shoe company all day, and then the people working and pushing the shoes, they come to NYC and they wanna have a good time, they want to take you out and look at your feet... it was really weird, You'd be like "I wanna go home now" and they would say "No, wait try on these shoes... you just have a great pinkie toe.." and you'd be like "Oh no, what have i done?"

The thing about being an actor and writing - you're actually really set up to be a writer if you're an actor, because you're working within the world that a writer has created, you're saying their lines, you're dramatizing the moments they've put into the writing, so you're actually learning writing, character, story drive, dialogue, so actors make really good writers. And the way I was able - the first thing I was able to write was the spec script for WARM SPRINGS, and it ended up winning the Emmy for Best Movie, but the reason it worked was that - as an actress, I'd been in so many plays and done so many other writers' work, I'd acted in MY SO-CALLED LIFE, you're learning all about writing if you turn that part of your brain on, you're LEARNING to write. So I would say to any actor that wants to write is that you're going to have a lot of basic training, you're just going to apply it somewhere else. It's like if you're a football player and you decide you want to be a coach, you know a lot about coaching because you've been coached so much.

BebeGene3 karma

As someone who is struggling with a foundry of odd jobs to pursue my creative path, thank you for sharing.

Shot in the dark here, but if you're in LA, do you take interns or shadows? If so, how do I sign up?

Need more AMAs like this!

MargaretNagle8 karma

All my interns are so successful now, they don't work for me anymore! I'm so proud of them! By the way, I don't believe anybody should work for free, I believe that everyone should be paid for their work so I pay my interns. I don't have, like - I'm not working in an office right now, I'm looking forward to working in my pajamas for the next 6 months and being a total bum and writing my play! But I desperately need someone to help organize my life, but I never want to get out of my pajamas, and that's my reluctance with hiring someone, is that I"m a total slob.

Oh by the way, Reese Witherspoon's character in the movies is a total slob- and I was famous for people not wanting to live with me at college because I can out-slob any guys. I've got it over them, completely. So it's a big struggle between cleaning up and doing my job. So the reason I don't hire people a lot is because I'm such a bum. The Lost Boys are horrified by her house, even though they've come from a refugee camp!

two_off2 karma

What's your favourite story from your part-time jobs that you never find the right moment to bring up and talk about?

MargaretNagle10 karma

Oh my god, that's so hard! There are SO many of them. Let me think...

Okay, so, this is a weird one - I've had so many! I was an Usher at the Berkeley Community Theater so I could go to contests for free, I've lost a lot of hearing, I love music... I worked in a sweatshop, translating for people... I worked at an aerobics studio, I used to open up a gym at 3 AM in the morning, down in the Village - that was the worst job, because I don't like waking up, and I would get on the subway - and the subway at 3 or 4 am in the morning is a lot of people changing their job shifts, and the subways don't run that often at that time, so you have to wait half an hour for the subway, and I would get to the gym and it would be all these pissed-off investment bankers who wanted to do their workout before they crushed the world... I had just gotten off the subway with 500 maids cleaning office buildings... I'm a person who thinks that everyone is the same. I recently, in the writer's room for RED BAND, had someone say "Go, you're such a Communist in the writer's room" and i said "Thank you so much!"

Because I think that's so bad. And I've had money, and I have had absolutely NO money. I've sold all my vintage toys from childhood during a writer's strike. I've seen the whole thing. And I think people get so separated and lonely and lost when they think money means more than anything than being able to buy some food. When people define themselves in that way, talk about ripping your heart out.

And I was always bullied in school. I was seriously bullied. So writing - and in the RED BAND SOCIETY, like the girl who bullied me really badly is the girl who needs a new heart in RED BAND. And I know she's seen the show, and she is horrified - she was mean to everybody who was artsy, or smart, or bookish. She was ruthless.

Nadyshenz2 karma

Maybe you can advice some modern american writers that you found very interesting?

MargaretNagle2 karma

Well, it depends - do you want TV, playwriting or movies?

MargaretNagle3 karma

For me, David O. Russell is the most audacious and special filmmaker out there. I also love Quentin Tarantino for the same reason. They've created - they are writers and directors who have created their own style of storytelling that is very unique to them. And they have a "take no prisoners" approach to character development, particularly David O. Russell, and I think that's so active when you watch his movies, it's an active experience. His characters are not good or bad, black or white, they're the way all of us are - we're complicated.

And I want to say - I write a lot about kids because kids are complicated. There is nothing simple about childhood. Childhood is very emotionally complicated, and children are incredibly smart and they see everything. SO I always reject people who write about children as if they are not complicated, because they are. Or that children or teen-agers are less capable, somehow, than adults. They're not, they are. These children in Sudan have survived without adults practically their entire lives. I just reject it - I mean, TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD, Harper Lee writes very complex protagonists in Scout and Jim and Dill, the kid next door who's gay but doesn't know it yet- I mean, there's a complexity to those characters as children, and they are as multi-layered as any adult character you find. If she wrote it today, they would want to make it a YA Novel. Which is bullshit. Nothing against YA novels, but I don't like characters by age being marginalized.

legendoflink32 karma

Hi Margaret. How long did it take for your dream to materialize and what kept you going while while you were trying to achieve your goal?

MargaretNagle6 karma

It took four years to write my spec script, "Warm Springs," because the first draft of anything is terrible, and you can't show a script as your writing sample that's not truly great. People are looking to say no to writers, so you have to have a script that's rock solid when it finally gets to people that can help you with your career, but two years after I wrote it, it won Best Movie at the Emmys, and I won the Writer's Guild Award, so I guess, six years. But it's been eleven years getting this movie made, and this has been my real dream - telling the story of the lost boys and girls of Sudan. Dreams aren't easy - making a dream come true is really hard, but it's possible. You just can't give up even though you want to stab all of the people who say no to you repeatedly, which is a line from "My So-Called Life" that Angela says about her mother.

Nadyshenz2 karma

Where do you draw inspiration for the writing from? is it mostly from real life or you use your imagination?

MargaretNagle3 karma

I combine them both together. So for example in THE GOOD LIE, it's about you start with these two brothers and their little sister in South Sudan, and I have 2 older brothers and I'm the little sister. So I started with a family unit that has dynamics and sibling rivalry that I was familiar with. But then I open that up and take them on a journey through a civil war and coming to America that is obviously very different than my own life.

Citrous_Oyster2 karma

I have a question about screenwriting. How did you start out and his do you get a script read by the right people? I finished one myself and haven't the slightest clue where to go from there.

MargaretNagle6 karma

Screenwriting contests are fantastic because the people who place are more likely to be read by agents and producers. That's what I would do. Enter every screenwriting contest you can!

dhholland1312 karma

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I am also a closeted writer. I have recently began focusing most of my attention on writing. Did being an actress help with being able to write scripts, or was scriptwriting something you took classes for and studied once you decided to begin writing?

MargaretNagle2 karma

No, I had auditioned for the movie jERRY MAGUIRE, and I'd gone in more than once, and Cameron Crowe had very different drafts that I was given to look at. And when I realized I was a writer, I sat and looked at these varying drafts of JERRY MAGUIRE, and I had an amazing draft of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and I read screenplays to teach myself how to write screenplays. And then when I finally got to take Robert McKee's class, which I absolutely LOVED, and I realized my instincts - the class really confirmed for me that my instincts on storytelling were correct, and I returned and I've taken the class like 3 times, and I'll just drop in for a day, and I get rei-inspired about what I'm doing. Robert is such an incredible teacher, and being a writer is such a lonely job - so to check in with that class, I've met a lot of writers that check back in, I can't say how great it is - you get beat up as a screenwriter in Hollywood, you get beat up even if you're doing great work. So it's a class that is so supportive and understanding that it's an amazing thing - we all burst into tears at the end of the class when he encourages us not to give up and keep going. And he's a really tough dude too. http://mckeestory.com

I would encourage anybody to go take that class. ALL the Pixar movies use Robert McKee. Robert McKee goes in-person to Pixar to talk to them. I mean, he's old now, so I urge anybody who can take one of his classes to go do it.

Bagira572 karma

I love Boardwalk Empire and I think the writing on the show is absolutely incredible. I'm really impressed that there's a woman writing for such a male-centric show. How do you do it and how do you make it relatable to women as well? Also, as much as I love the show, I think it has two weaknesses. 1) Why did you kill of Michale Pitt (that was the best episode but still, he was such a great enemy) and 2) Why didn't you ever make Gillian one of the seasons' main villains? She was the most logical option because of their history and because she's so badass.

MargaretNagle4 karma

I worked on season 1 and I consulted on season 2 and then I had other jobs - this movie, THE GOOD LIE, came into being and I went off to work on that. Boardwalk - so the Michael Pitt decision, that was all the guys left in a room, so I didn't really have a part in it. And Gillian being a bad guy - that was also after my time. But understand that Gillian is doing - she is a survivor. And she has to do whatever she can to survive with the limited resources available to her in that world. So her art is really important because women who make money or have any power or position in that world have to go in hard and be super-tough.

BABaracusX2 karma

I have also had many crappy jobs. which was the worst and do you have a story about what made it so bad?

MargaretNagle6 karma

I used to pass out the ice Skates at Rockefeller Center, when people went ice-skating I had to go in the back and find skates that fit them. People would never tip, or be super-super rude, so sometimes after a long day I would give them skates that were too small. And when I'd get tipped, it would almost always be a quarter, so I would carry a big bag of change on the subway and cart it home... another was I was a pollster for the MSNBC / WSJ political poll. And you would only get paid if they completed the poll. So you could spend a half an hour- and the employees at MSNBC would listen in on the other end of the line so you couldn't cheat, so I would sit on the phone begging people to finish the poll with me, because they had like 60 questions... i was a waitress at LOTS of different places in New York and Chicago to pay for school... One job that i had I put into an episode of BOARDWALK, "Anastasia", the character of Margaret works in a French dress shop, run by a woman named Claire, and that was based on my french boss who would make me put on the clothes in the store and would say horrible, rude insulting things to me while I sold the clothes! But you write what you know, so it was fun, it was all based on my real life experience working at Lanvin, the big coutier designer.

DornishWhine1 karma

How difficult do you find it to write around commercial breaks, on a show like Red Band Society?

MargaretNagle2 karma

When you write a pilot, the act-outs before a commercial break are your friend because they allow you to give a cliffhanger or give the story a kind of rise dramatically, and when you come back from commercial, you can start another piece of the story. There's no getting around them in network television, so you have to make them your friend. I would prefer not to write with commercials on cable, but if you're going to write for network, you have to learn to work with them. Watch "The Good Wife" - they do them brilliantly. "The Good Wife" is the best-written show on network television - they set the bar very high.