By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Visions of making it big in Hollywood are just a pipe dream for some. But for one former Norman resident, childhood day dreams have become a reality.
Greg (Kullich) Coolidge, Norman High School and University of Oklahoma drama alumnus, long envisioned himself breaking into the movie industry as a writer. His story and screenplay, “Ride Along,” is in theaters now starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.
“There are times where I definitely have to pinch myself, for sure. Still. And I never want to lose that,” he said about having his story made into a movie.
“When I had ‘Employee of the Month’ screened I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is unbelievable. This is a once in the lifetime thing.’ ... It’s important to maintain that sense of wonderment and excitement. I think that’s good.”
The film tells the story of fast-talking security guard Ben who joins his soon-to-be cop brother-in-law James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in an effort to prove himself worthy of marrying Angela, James’ sister.
Coolidge said the story was inspired from an experience he had meeting an ex-girlfriend’s intimidating brother for the first time over a day of golf.
Getting from script to movie has been a 10-year process, Coolidge said. In the past decade the story has seen multiple drafts and writers and has had several different actors connected to it. At one point, the two lead characters were going to be performed by Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson (The Rock).
Coolidge said it is typical for a story to make many big changes throughout the entire movie-making process. Unfortunately, that process can sometimes turn a script into something unrecognizable. But for “Ride Along,” Coolidge said he “got lucky.”
“You hope and pray it turns out. Because sometimes you don’t know. I’ve been in situations where someone rewrites my script and I think ‘Oh God,’” he said. “But with this experience I feel like I’ve been very lucky. When I watched the movie I thought, ‘Hey, this is mostly mine!’ ... [They] changed some things but ultimately it’s still my movie.”
Movie screenwriters typically have little control over a movie’s final product, Coolidge said, but he’s grateful for the chance to be a part of the creation process for “Ride Along.”
Coolidge also wrote the script for 2002 film “Sorority Boys,” as well as wrote and directed 2006 film “Employee of the Month,” starring Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook.
For all of Coolidge’s scripts, he said his goal is simply to help people feel good.
“Laughter. That’s it,” he said. “Not take it seriously.”
Coolidge said it took him a few years to get his career established. For other young aspiring professionals trying to break into the industry, Coolidge suggests being involved in the creation process — acting, writing, directing or producing — as much as possible.
“There is no one set path,” he said, on how to make it in the film industry. “People ask me that all the time: How did you do it? What’s the deal? You get questions all the time. The answer is everyone’s path is different — especially in this business.”
For more information on “Ride Along,” visit ridealong.com.
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