From ‘Basic Instinct’ to finding God

Last time I heard from Joe Eszterhas, he was warning people not to smoke because he had just gotten throat cancer. That in itself was quite a revelation because Eszterhas was the ultimate party boy during the 1980s and 1990s, writing “Basic Instinct” and “Jagged Edge,” two of the raunchiest movies of that generation, and living the Hollywood high life.

Well, it turns out that Eszterhas has found God, and I think it’s wonderful.

Eszterhas apparently had a “Road to Damascus” experience and attends a Catholic church. He says he enjoys the sermons at the local megachurch but misses Holy Communion, so he continues to consider himself a Catholic. He refuses to tithe to the Catholic church, however, because of the pedophile scandals. He has written a book on his conversion (read the accompanying story for details).

I have been following Eszterhas’ career since the “Basic Instinct” days because he lived at that time in Sausalito, which is right next to the town where I grew up, and he made a fortune writing screen plays. “Basic Instinct” is one of the raunchiest and darkest movies I’ve ever seen (I saw it before I converted), but Eszterhas says he doesn’t want to write movies like that anymore.

He has turned down hefty offers to write scripts for movies with sinister plots and dark themes like the 16 other ones he wrote that made it to the screen- some paying as much as $3 million a script.

Mr. Eszterhas said he spent too much of his life exploring the dark side of humanity and does not want to go there anymore.

As a convert myself, Eszterhas’ experience rings true:

He worked as a police reporter in Cleveland and “was always fascinated with the darkness. I covered countless shootings, urban riots, and in several situations I was there before police were because I had a police radio and used to drift around the city until something happened,” he said.

But after his spiritual transformation, he said, he had had enough of death, murder, blood, and chaos.

“Frankly my life changed from the moment God entered my heart. I’m not interested in the darkness anymore,” he said. “I’ve got four gorgeous boys, a wife I adore, I love being alive, and I love and enjoy every moment of my life. My view has brightened and I don’t want to go back into that dark place.”

Mr. Eszterhas’ love and appreciation for life was magnified even more last year when his surgeon told him he didn’t need to schedule another visit.

“He used the word ‘cured,’ a word that oncologists generally don’t use,” Mr. Eszterhas said. “He said I didn’t have to come back for any checks, that my tissue had regenerated to the point where you cannot only not tell that there was ever any cancer there, but you can’t tell that there had been any surgery there.

“Naomi and I were, of course, overwhelmed when he told us. I think it’s truly a miraculous blessing.”

It is a wonderful thing to see somebody make changes in his life that are positive, focused on family, good health and faith. We should all celebrate another person heading in the right direction.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

3 thoughts on “From ‘Basic Instinct’ to finding God

  1. Geoff,

    Thanks for posting the article. I agree that it is a wonderful thing that God has touched another life and that Joe has allowed Him to do so.

    I got a kick out of the following paragraph in the story:

    “He and Naomi have been faithfully attending Catholic Mass on Sundays ever since, and as the book title states, Joe carries the cross down the aisle. He asserts his nonconformity, however, by wearing jeans and Rolling Stones T-shirts when he does it. Despite the rebel attire, he says he carries the cross with more reverence than most.”

  2. A wonderful story, Geoff. It never ceases to amaze me how many people find light and truth as they grow older and realize there is more to life.

    I have two uncles who both experienced amazing transformations in their lives. Both had been inactive from the Church for quite some time and both came back to activity. One uncle, in fact, served in a bishopric shortly after becoming active. My other uncle in the last year or so went through the temple and was sealed to his family.

  3. I loved this story, Geoff. This part was incredibly moving to me:

    “I was going crazy. I was jittery. I twitched. I trembled. I had no patience for anything. … Every single nerve ending was demanding a drink and a cigarette,” he wrote.

    He plopped down on a curb and cried. Sobbed, even. And for the first time since he was a child, he prayed: “Please God, help me.”

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