We tend to only associate creative people with their most successful work. American Graffiti may have been awesome, but George Lucas will always be known for Star Wars. J.K. Rowling continues to write novels, but she'll always be the lady who gave us Harry Potter.
But creativity is a fluid beast, and sometimes actors, writers, and directors branch out to pursue projects that seem to be the exact opposite of what they're good at, and they experience a level of success that can only be described as "unfair."
6 Carrie Fisher Helped Write Half Of The Movies You Saw In The 1990s
You might recognize Carrie Fisher in one of her many varied bit roles, such as the nun in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the therapist in Austin Powers, or Phoebe Cates' best friend in Drop Dead Fred. If you're into celebrity gossip, you probably know about her brief marriage with Paul Simon. She's pretty accomplished off the screen as well, having written a novel and an autobiography. But she's perhaps best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, and honestly if you didn't know that, you're either 85 years old or you grew up in a bomb shelter.
"I- uh- need to go back to the shelter to ... check on something."
But long after she played our favorite member of space royalty, Fisher was hard at work rewriting the scripts for dozens of big movies, including Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and yes, the Star Wars prequels.
"Bullshit!" we hear you declare. "I don't see her name anywhere in the screenwriting credits of Lethal Weapon 3, a list of names I committed to memory long ago!"
"Besides, the real unsung hero was uncredited oboe soloist Tom Boyd!"
The thing is, unlike novels and that weird webcomic your cousin publishes on DeviantArt, screenplays are rarely written by a single person. While only one or two people may get credit for it in the film's final list of credits, uncredited (but well-paid) script doctors are routinely brought in to punch up dialogue, resolve plot holes, and sometimes rewrite entire swaths of the story. It's sort of like when your less-literate friends ask you to help them with their cover letters.
Fisher was one of Hollywood's top script doctors for 15 years. Some of her more famous movies include the aforementioned Hook, Sister Act, Last Action Hero, The Wedding Singer, Coyote Ugly and Scream 3. And yet, not even she could save the inexplicable dialogue that came spilling out of people's heads in the Star Wars prequels.
"I don't like this dialogue. It's course and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere."
Unfortunately, she's since given up the work, saying that times have changed and studios are wanting people like her to do punch-ups for free, because they apparently feel that Fisher needs to build up her resume. Instead she's banking on reprising a role from a science fiction trilogy she starred in back in the '70s and '80s.
5 The Wacky Dean From Community Wrote An Oscar-Winning Drama
Sony Pictures Television
If you recognize Jim Rash, chances are you know him from Community, the show that will never die, no matter how much its fans beg for it to be put out of its misery. Rash plays the school's dean, a man who is over-the-top ridiculous, even by the standards of a show that's featured multiple school-wide paintball wars and Chevy Chase's hilarious racism. Rash's completely absurd character single-handedly keeps an army of costume designers employed.
Sony Pictures Television
And an army of fan fiction writers.
When he's not using literally any excuse to wear insane costumes, Dean Pelton is sexually harassing Joel McHale and making terrible administrative decisions. So naturally, when Rash decided to expand his career from acting into writing, he wrote an Oscar-winning drama about a troubled man who learns that his dying, comatose wife has been having an affair.
The Descendants was a somber, highly acclaimed novel that Rash and his comedy writing partner somehow decided would be the perfect subject matter for them to develop into a screenplay. The movie does have some funny moments, but ultimately it's still a drama about a man with a family full of sycophants, children that don't get along with him, and a dying wife who cheated on him with Matthew Lillard.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Even Lillard is upset by this.
Rash's adaptation (which was his very first script) won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and The Descendants was named by many critics to be the best film of the year. And this wasn't just a flash in the pan by some comedian taking advantage of terrific source material -- Rash's next film, The Way, Way Back, was an original dramatic story that premiered at Sundance and is currently sitting at an 85 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is our responsibility to assume that Rash does all of this dramatic writing in between takes on Community while wearing a Tina Turner costume.