Mission Impossible, Without Limits, and War of the Worlds producer Paula Wagner joins the Insiders to discuss working with Tom Cruise, being an actress-turned-talent agent, producer, and studio head, and the true measure of success in Hollywood. Her long and esteemed career that has taken a turn back to her roots on Broadway is explored, and we learn about the delicate balance necessary to make both studios and artists happy while creating lasting work. The things that actors need to do to get representation, and the reasons that Oliver Stone, Liam Neeson, JJ Abrams, and Matthew Broderick have got the goods are all discussed in this unscripted interview on the Insiders, hosted by Sebastian Twardosz.
Paula Wagner currently helms Chestnut Ridge Productions, developing and producing film, television, theater, and new media projects. Wagner has worked in the top ranks of the entertainment industry as a talent agent, producer, and studio executive. She began her career at Creative Artists Agency where she spent 15 years representing some of Hollywood's top actors, directors, and writers. In 1993, she moved on to producing and launched Cruise/WagnerProductions with her former CAA client Tom Cruise. For more than a decade, C/W produced such notable films, including the Mission: Impossible film franchise I II and III, Without Limits, Shattered Glass, Narc, The Others, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown, The Last Samurai, and Ask The Dust, and Steven Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds, which Wagner executive produced.
Wagner was co-owner and CEO of United Artists Entertainment, LLC from 2006 to 2008. During her tenure, UA released the Robert Redford political thriller Lions for Lambs and the World War II thriller Valkyrie. Additional producing credits include the critically acclaimed and award winning Lifetime original movie Five and The Governors Awards ceremony for AMPAS, 2013. Paula also produced both the 2011 and 2012 Producers Guild Awards show. Her Broadway producing credits include The Heiress starring Jessica Chastain & David Strathairn, Grace starring Paul Rudd & Michael Shannon, and Terrence McNally’s TONY nominated play Mothers and Sons. In addition to being on the board of the PGA, Wagner is a member of AMPAS, and the Broadway League. She serves on the boards of Film Forum in NY, American Cinematheque, National Film Preservation Foundation and is a Lifetime Trustee of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her degree and is an adjunct faculty member.
More Full Episodes of The Insiders:
The Insiders Short Clips Playlist:
00:01 Welcoming Paula Wagner to the Insiders.
01:09 How Sebastian got a break.
01:45 Launching the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE franchise.
04:35 Collaborating with Tom Cruise on production.
05:25 Producing WITHOUT LIMITS.
08:06 Getting a start in show business and transitioning from acting to becoming an agent.
11:45 Learning to discover and work with talent.
14:28 Working with Matthew Broderick and John Hughes.
15:51 Risky Business, A Few Good Men, and developing talent.
16:59 Working with Oliver Stone.
17:45 Liam Neeson, staying true and breaking the mold.
19:47 What can actors do to get attention from an agent?
21:30 Transitioning to producing from being an agent.
26:30 Transcendent moments working on THE LAST SAMURAI.
27:30 Balancing the interests of talent with production.
29:20 Working with J.J. Abrams on MI3, and working at United Artists.
32:07 Becoming a studio head.
33:45 Producing on Broadway--a homecoming of sorts.
35:30 Working in show business and being open to how life intervenes.
36:42 Defining success in the film business.
41:15 Thanks and Goodbye!