IT'S ONLY A MOVIE: A MEMOIR BY BRUCE JOEL RUBIN
FOREWARD (from the book)
I don’t know who I am writing this book for.
I have had what would be considered a successful Hollywood career. I have also been a spiritual seeker and meditation teacher for over fifty years. Although gay, and closeted most of my life, I have had a wonderful marriage to my wife Blanche. I have two remarkable sons Josh and Ari, two exceptional daughters-in-law, and two incredible grandchildren. In my mind these worlds have blended and reinforced one another for decades, but as a book I have only hazy ideas about how these disparate life stories combine or who my reading audience might be. I would be satisfied to let this manuscript sit in the closet until my grandchildren want to read it. But if you are reading it, that clearly didn’t happen.
It’s Only a Movie began because one of my meditation students, Joseph Maddrey, asked if he could interview me. He’s a deeply sincere person, the author of several books about people in the film industry as well as many true crime shows on television. I said sure. We recorded a lot of conversations, interweaving my spiritual journey with my Hollywood career and how the combination led to movies like Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder. Joe edited the transcripts into a manuscript, which I waited a long while before reading. The problem was that while my Hollywood career had mostly ended and I was able to consider writing about it as a book, my spiritual life was still moving forward. I kept feeling that I needed to arrive at some kind of perfect awareness, some ultimate state of enlightenment, before I could present a finished work to the world. That part of my journey, full of profound revelations and insights, did, in fact, lead to what might be called enlightenment. (Having given away the ending of this book, perhaps I may have saved you from having to read it.)
Recently, several years after putting Joseph’s draft on the shelf, I got a call from one of my son Joshua’s friends, Paul Cronin, an author of several books on prominent filmmakers. He had, unbeknownst to me, asked Joshua if he could read the edited interview transcripts, and shortly after that I got a call from him saying he needed to see me. He had recently bought a house with his wife Gabrielle not far from Blanche and I, and he came over to visit. His first words were that he had read the manuscript, that he felt it was an exceedingly important work (I may have added the word “exceedingly”), and that it needed to be finished. His big question to me – Where is your father in all this? – I considered a surprising but important one. It was enough to allow me to move forward with the book once again. I didn’t need to arrive at an ultimate spiritual apotheosis to make it worth sharing. It also helped that Joseph and Paul had met one another as Blanche and I were packing up and leaving California (during which boxes of material from my home office were shipped to the Academy archive). Knowing that they could work together to help me with this new draft was encouraging. So I set out to write it.
My spiritual journey may be of limited interest to certain readers. I think you will smell these sections coming and can skip them if you like – though I feel they are at least as important as the Hollywood stories that dominate the book. Your call. I name names throughout, hoping, I suppose, to make this a popular autobiography and of interest to readers outside of my immediate family. Whether I have succeeded in this remains to be seen. All I can tell you is that the assembly of all these facets of my life, including my large and very close family, which has been the centerpiece of my life, comprises a full picture that is, for better or worse, me.
Bruce Joel Rubin
Red Hook, New York May 2023