You probably know Michael Crichton as a best-selling author. But he also achieved great success as a screenwriter, film director, and television producer. In 1994, he became the only artist to simultaneously have the number one movie (Jurassic Park), television show (ER), and book (Disclosure).
As a writer, Crichton’s first top seller was The Andromeda Strain. It established his theme, the worst-case scenarios possible when modern technologies aren’t properly controlled. His novels were usually picked up quickly by Hollywood. Other books he wrote that became films include The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Sphere, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, and Timeline.
He wrote and directed Westworld, a hit that established his directing credentials. Though he never focused on this part of his craft, he directed six film, including hits such as Coma, The Great Train Robbery, and Looker. His screenwriting credits include Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, and Twister.
Crichton originally planned ER as a movie. However as he was discussing it with Steven Spielberg (Great American Things, July 22, 2009), Spielberg asked him what he was working on these days. Crichton said, Oh, I have this idea about dinosaurs being brought back to life. So Spielberg focused on Jurassic Park, and Crichton turned ER to a television series. He wrote the first three episodes, and became the show’s executive producer.
Crichton held passionate views about the mistake of politicizing science. State of Fear made a statement about the issue of global warming, and how governments can control and manipulate citizens by keeping them panicked about environmental catastrophes.
Spielberg said this after Crichton’s death from cancer in 2008: “Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park….There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.”