LB: ‘Big Fish,’ Steven Seagal, and Emotional Truth

by Larry Brody

Everything I say is emotionally true.

The other night at a meeting in the TVWriter™ Online (that means Zoom) Writers Room, I was reminded that yes, the statement above is one yours truly often has made, but its first public appearance probably was in a press release from a representative of a guy named Steven Seagal.

I suppose I could’ve said “actor” instead of just “guy,” but having seen a few of Seagal’s films I don’t find that to be an accurate description, either emotionally or literally.

The press release, as I recall, was a response to a magazine article (anyone remember those?) in which Seagal’s veracity was questioned because he had an official bio cram packed with unverifiable claims, such as that he was a former CIA agent, which seems always to be unverifiable no matter who makes it and in what context because the CIA evidently refuses to comment on such things.

Is Steven Seagal a literal or emotional truth teller? A liar? I dunno. But I do know that the unnamed P.R. rep who originated the statement is a genius, and I thank him/her/them for the great service they have performed for misunderstood – or perhaps all too well understood – storytellers everywhere.

Which reminds me that I have, in fact, encountered only one better, as in more understanding and sympathetic explanation of how those of us who live so fully in our own heads think and feel, and that’s the perspective shown in one of my favorite films of all time, Big Fish, screenplay by John August, based on a novel by Daniel Wallace.

Big Fish is a personal touchstone for me. It is to my life what Field of Dreams has been to the lives of so many others, an incomparable film/book duo that always makes me happy to be alive.

No matter how critically I try to examine it, my adoration is as emotionally true as I can ever feel, and I encourage all storytellers and those who love and want to understand them better to watch the film or read the book. I know I’ll be rewatching and rereading my DVD and Kindle versions today.

Big thanks to the friend whose comment got me into this most excellent frame of mind. You know who you are and how much I love you.

Big Fish the film is HERE

Big Fish the novel is HERE

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.