LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s full of interesting figures with dreams — struggling actors and writers who wait tables, walk dogs or sell insurance on the side.
In the 1980s and early ‘90s, Leonard Mlodinow was likely one of the most unexpected: a theoretical physicist-turned-scriptwriter.
When TV action hero MacGyver or the Starship Enterprise crew needed new dilemmas to solve, the UC Berkeley-trained scientist was there to supply them.
“I just really loved films and thought I should be writing screenplays,” said the best-selling science writer on a recent sunny afternoon at Caltech, where he’s a lecturer. He was describing his early career at Caltech, in 1981, and why he left for Hollywood. “I was 25 and had really great opportunities in academia, but I kept thinking, ‘I’m in L.A. Hollywood’s not far away!’ I had encouraging experience with a screenplay so I decided to take a chance.”