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January 18, 2014

OU alumnus goes Hollywood

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.”

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