2 Jun 2015

Curiosity as a superpower - Hollywood producer Brian Grazer

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 3:10 pm on 2 June 2015
A curious mind book cover.

A Curious Mind. Photo: Brian Grazer

Curiosity is a superpower according to Oscar winning producer Brian Grazer.

He is one of Hollywood's most successful producers with movies like Splash, Apollo 13, the Da Vinci Code and a Beautiful Mind and TV shows like 24, Arrested Development and Empire to his credit.

Grazer tells Afternoons with Simon Mercep that he’s been organising what he calls ‘curiosity conversations’ with experts in any field outside the movie business for more than 30 years. “When you reach out to somebody and start asking them questions it opens up your own perspective,” Grazer says  “It brings you a bigger life."

Brian Grazer has talked to presidents, Henry Kissinger, Princess Diana, Steve Jobs and Michael Jackson and more simply out of a sense of curiosity. He writes about the power of curiosity in his new book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life.

This passion for talking to interesting people with interesting lives started when Grazer was a young boy.  “I grew up in a tiny neighborhood in a tiny town and I wanted to see a bigger world and experience a bigger world through asking questions" Grazer says.

Discovering the world outside his home through books wasn’t an option because of a reading disability. “I had a Grandmother who was my best friend. She was always looking at my straight Fs and Ds on my report card and at the same time saying: 'you’re going to be special'. You just continue to ask questions and be curious and it will evolve” Grazer recalls.

It evolved into a curiosity conversation once a week with great thinkers. They started long before Grazer became a Hollywood success. Grazer says he would write letters to people he wanted to talk to. “I would say I’m never going to ask for a favor, I’m never going to ask for a job. I just want to have 10 minutes of your time and I managed to turn 1 minutes into an hour” Grazer adds. And, he says, these conversations gave him the confidence to make his first movie, Night Shift at the age of 27, and then Splash. “I gave Tom Hanks his first job. It was a movie about a mermaid and implausible but successful. It enabled me to trust my own self."

Curiosity is free, Grazer says, and more powerful than you might expect.