Known for making 'guy flicks,' she has overcome sexism
Date: February 28, 2006
By: ABC News Internet Ventures
Gale Anne Hurd has made more than two dozen movies that have won eight Oscars and received 22 nominations. As a producer of guy flicks like "Terminator" and "The Hulk," she has broken down barriers and become a Hollywood force.
"A producer has to be compassionate but at the same time fairly uncompromising," said the 5-foot-2 Hurd. "I am there to make sure that the director's vision for the film is achieved." Hurd, who also produced "Armageddon" and "Aliens," said that she was tough but fair. She picks scripts, directors, stars and bankrollers. "There are films that are financed by groups of dentists, by doctors, by friends, by someone's credit card," she said.
She recalled when Arnold Schwarzenegger's credit card saved a business lunch about the then-unknown "Terminator." "We pooled our available cash," Hurd said. "It wasn't going to cover the bill. And Arnold - gentleman that he is - stepped up, put down his credit card, and said: 'You know, this same thing has happened to me before and I'm happy to be able to pay for the lunch and I'm also happy to commit to starring in the film.'"
Sexism in Hollywood
Not everything has gone smoothly when making movies. When making "Aliens," directed by her then-husband, James Cameron, Hurd encountered brazen sexism.
"We had a very, very well-known Oscar-winning production designer who came in, and couldn't look me in the face, and said, 'OK, who's really producing this movie?'" she said. "And I said, 'I am.' He said, 'No, no, no, no. You're married to the director, and you're a woman. You couldn't possibly be producing this film, and I don't want to waste my time with someone that can't make the decisions.' And I said, 'Well, it's wonderful meeting you, and I just want you to know, you won't be the production designer on this film.'"
She has surmounted many barriers in Hollywood and become one of the most powerful producers in the business. But she said it was not easy.
"As a woman starting out in Hollywood, as a producer, there were many obstacles to overcome," she said. "And there were many times when I questioned whether I could overcome those obstacles. And in common with the characters in my films, you do find that inner strength to carry on, to persevere and, ultimately, to succeed."
She has tried to give back to the industry that has given her so much. Hurd treasures her membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She heads a committee that awarded $300,000 to 19 film festivals this year.
And, for nearly a decade, she's judged the Nicholl Fellowships, which provide new screenwriters with $30,000 to write another script. Nicholl Fellowship winners have gone on to write hits like "Air Force One" and "Erin Brockovich."