Matt López’s plan after graduating from law school from New York University seemed simple enough. With a bachelor’s in film from Florida State University and a recent law degree, López thought he would move to Hollywood to become an entertainment lawyer and write screenplays during his spare time.
While half of the plan worked splendidly (he landed a job as an entertainment lawyer with DreamWorks), he didn’t realize just how little time he would have to pursue his other aspirations.
“There was no spare time to write,” López, 37, told me during a phone interview. “But somehow I found a way. Sometimes, I would get up at 4 a.m. and work on stories. It’s something I enjoyed doing.”
His early-to-rise regiment soon paid off when DreamWorks purchased one of his scripts in 2002.
“That’s when I made the transition from law to screenwriting,” López said.
Although his first screenplay was not made into a feature film, López continued to write and 2006 saw his first co-creation, “The Wild,” hit the big screen. Now, as a co-writer of the fantasy family film “Bedtime Stories,” starring Adam Sandler, López, who is of Spanish and Cuban decent, tells the story of a hotel handyman whose bedtime stories to his niece and nephew come to life.
How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer in some capacity?
When I was 12 years old. I wrote a feature-length script. It was horrible. It’s probably somewhere in one of my mother’s drawers. I was always fascinated with writing. I can almost pinpoint to the exact second when I knew I wanted to be in this business. I was 10 years old and my big brother and I went to go see “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” About five minutes into that movie there is a scene where this big boulder comes rolling after Indiana Jones. It was like being hit by a bolt of lightning. I knew I wanted to do this with my life.
Where did a story like “Bedtime Stories” originate?
It was a story I hatched when I became a dad for the first time. I wrote the movie for my daughter. Having a kid made me want to do a movie that kids would enjoy as well as their parents. I’ve always been interested in bedtime stories. If you ever heard a bedtime story when you were a kid, I think there was a small part of you that wondered what would happen if that story came true. That’s just the power of imagination.
What kinds of bedtime stories do you tell your kids today?
We enjoy a lot of different stories. We read a lot of books. My oldest daughter is in a princess phase right now. I also like to make up my own bedtime stories. The hero is usually my daughter. She goes on a whole bunch of adventures. Bedtime stories are great because they are interactive. That’s why I think it’s such a great thing for parents and kids to do together. I’m sure my parents told me bedtime stories, but I don’t really remember them. All I remember is my parents saying, “Kid, you’ve got 10 seconds to get your butt into bed or you’re in serious trouble.”
Did you write this role specifically for Adam Sandler?
No, but when Disney told me they were going to send it to him I was excited and crossed my fingers and said, “Please take it, please take it!” Luckily, when I wrote it, he was also a new dad. He was looking to do something for the entire family. One of the things Adam brings to the film is his own childlike sense of wonder and sensibility. Plus, as a kid, Adam Sandler would be a pretty cool uncle to have.