Dorothy Tristan, John’s wife and professional partner, is a versatile artist. She’s acted, modeled, sung, painted, and is now pursuing her love of writing. She has written three of her husband’s films: Steal the Sky, Weeds, and A Piece of Eden. She is currently finishing the screenplay for his next project.
Born in New York City, Tristan began her acting career in theatre, playing Charlotte Corday in the national touring production of Marat/Sade. She was Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lady Macduff in Macbeth at Stratford, Connecticut. She played Blanche Dubois opposite Jon Voight in Streetcar Named Desire. She had leading or supporting roles in six major motion pictures including Klute, Man on a Swing, and End of the Road with James Earl Jones and Stacy Keach.
Reflecting on her career change, Dorothy Tristan explained, “Writing is more fulfilling than acting. In acting, you’re always an applicant, always looking for a job. With writing, I sit in my little room, my dungeon, and just do it. I don’t have to ask anybody. And they’re not so different really. Creativity is a spring that isn’t easily stopped. If you block one way, it will go another. It has to flow. I felt like this was it. This is what I’m going to do. And so I changed midstream, went from acting to writing. And never turned back.”
Tristan almost always bases aspects of the characters or events in her works on people she knows or things she’s experienced. “You have to” she explains. “Somewhere in you, it has to be youor how can you write about it?”
She is disturbed by the emphasis on technology in a lot of current Hollywood screenwriting. “It started with Star Wars, which was a wonderful movie, but it was too successful, and it skewed the creative aspect of the business. Too many things now are targeted at a very young audience. Well, I don’t want to write for a very young audience. I want to write for grown-ups.”