Terence Winter in 2015
|Born||Terence Patrick Winter
October 2, 1960
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Screenwriter, director, television producer, film producer|
Critics who do the weekly recap, I find that kind of absurd. That's like reviewing chapters in a novel.
It used to be that you had to do a certain number of episodes to hit syndication in order to try to keep a show on, because it's important to the network because it sells good commercial time. That's really not how HBO does things.
People talk about the plots and what happened, and they see your tricks a mile away.
If I hear an interesting turn of phrase on TV, I'll repeat it back – I just like to roll it around on my tongue. The same goes for dialog: I'll either speak it aloud or whisper it. I definitely sit in front of my computer and mutter. People have mentioned it.
For me, I need to fully immerse myself in a script to the point where I'm literally locking myself away for weeks at a time and I just write it. So I can write twelve to fifteen hours in a day, with breaks in between, obviously, but I need to just sort of live within the world of the script.
I was in the equity-trading department at Merrill Lynch. I was there in 1987 when the market crashed.
I started with the book 'Boardwalk Empire' and then immersed myself in the history of Atlantic City, World War I, the temperance movement, Prohibition, pop culture. I even read the news and magazines of the period just to soak in it. That was before I even started thinking of the story.
Any abhorrent behavior is more interesting to me. I'm always amazed when somebody asks me, 'Why don't you write something about nice people?' Because nice people are boring, that's why.
When Prohibition was first enacted in 1920, most people stockpiled alcohol, thinking they'd have enough to last them for years. By 1923, that was starting to run out, so your average person started to rely more and more on criminals.
I think people, whether they realize they're doing it or not, seek out distractions to take their minds off what they know is bad behavior.
One FBI agent told us early on that on Monday morning, they would get to the FBI office, and all the agents would talk about 'The Sopranos', having the same conversation about the show, but always from the flip side.
I'm always amazed by writers who say, 'Oh you know I had a half hour so I sat down and wrote a little bit.' I just need a real big chunk of time to sit down and focus. That's my process.
Very often at the end of 'The Sopranos' you get the feeling that its not under control, you should be very worried, and life is kind of really, really messed up at lot of times. It leaves you feeling very disconcerted. That was kind of the point of it.
One of the nicest things I ever read about our show was that a critic felt 'Boardwalk Empire' could be the beginning of the blur between television and cinema, because the production values are so high and the storytelling is so compelling.
J. Edgar Hoover very famously denied the existence of organized crime up until the Appalachian Meeting, I think, in 1957. It was interesting to me that he clearly had to know that there was such a thing as organized crime and organized criminals as far back as the '20s.
As a writer, I've tried to avoid strong opinions about morality. You just want to present things as they are and let the viewer come to their own conclusion.
The thing is, when you paint somebody in all of their colors, they're never all bad or all good. Even the worst person has humanity in there somewhere.
I have a rule: I will not alter the basic history of a real-life character to suit our fictional needs in a big way.
I'm not really gangsta. Not at all. I just write about them. It's fun to pretend, at least on paper. But in real life, not so much.
During seventy years of TV, the audience came to feel that the rules are, you can't kill the second lead on your TV show! Whatever's going to happen, it's all okay because there's no way they can kill the star.