By Jonathan Merrick
From street kid to one of Hollywood’s elite screenwriters, David Ayer has had one hell of a ride.
Ayer, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, had his newest film, “Fury” starring Brad Pitt, hit theaters this past weekend to rave reviews and took the top spot at the box office. He’s made his stamp in Hollywood for writing gritty, character-driven movies that audiences can’t get enough of. In a world of play-it-safe writers, he makes it a point to write on the edge, earning his status as our Badass Writer of the Week.
Ayer spent most of his early life as a street kid in South Central Los Angeles (in later years, the city would become the backdrop for many of his films). He dropped out of college and found himself in the U.S. Navy. After he left the service, Ayer lived in a tough area of Los Angeles, struggling to break into Hollywood and dealing stress from his time in the military. He comitted petty crimes and spent his days adrift with his friends. Ayer eventually channeled his energy into screenwriting and wrote “Harsh Times,” which he would later go on to direct.
Following the success of the movie, Ayer was able to get away from the streets and become a script doctor. He worked on “The Fast and Furious”, “U-571”, “S.W.A.T,” and other high-end action films. On a personal note, I should mention that his commentary track on the “S.W.A.T” DVD is one of the most useful writer’s commentaries of all time. He’s brutally honest and speaks freely about his style and work ethic. Anyone who wants to pen screenplays has to check it out immediately.
Ayer’s big break came with “Training Day,” the film that Denzel Washington would win an Oscar for. Form here, Ayer began making his own films, including “Street Kings” and “Sabotage.” From what I’ve seen and heard, “Fury” could end up being his masterpiece.
For all of the above reasons, Ayer is a true badass in Hollywood. He stays true to the craft of writing by writing what he knows.
Oh yeah, go see “Fury.”