by screenwriters Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
Three years ago Alejandro González Iñárritu called us to say that he had been haunted for months by a single image: a man in his underwear levitating inside the dressing room of a Broadway theater. In time we would come to understand that this image would be the launching point of one endless “shot,” a shot that would chronicle the tragicomic battle between a has-been Hollywood actor and his incessant alter ego. That’s how the idea of Birdman was hatched. Birdman would be the inner voice that would harangue Riggan Thomson throughout the claustrophobic corridors of Broadway’s St. James theater and slowly but surely nudge him toward a psychological meltdown that, in the end, would either doom or save him.
Fair enough, but how could we go about defining our hero’s endless struggle against his own ego?
Ego is that thing within us that constantly struggles to convince us that we are special, that we somehow control our own destiny, that we, by grace, are intended to achieve greatness. Ego places us ever so gently atop the towering mountain of self-delusion where we stand upright and self-contented until the moment when we finally glance below and realize that the perceived foundation was nothing but an illusion... or delusion.
Birdman may be praised, Birdman may be criticized. More than two years ago those thoughts and fears made no difference to us. With nothing to guide us but our mediocre hero and his quixotic quest, we decided to take a chance. To follow him down the rabbit hole into his deepest desperation and, in turn, face our own insecurities as we faced down his. It seemed so noble. So self-important. But in the end, writing Birdman was like levitating in nothing but our underwear. Fearing the worst. Hoping for the best. Doing anything we could to silence the voice. That voice.