Interview: With Words, Less Is More

With all the acclaim she's received as a writer of children's movies, it seems strange that Melissa Mathison hasn't written more of them. That is, until you realize everything else going on in her life. The screenwriter of "E.T." and "Indian in the Cupboard" has been married to Harrison Ford since 1983; they have two kids, 8 and 5, and live on a ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyo. Mathison explains: "I have two little children. I didn't want to be missing their childhood while I was away busy writing about children."

Mathison, 45, a native of Hollywood, started out as a journalist but was drawn to the hometown industry. "I like writing for pictures," she says. "It seems to click with me to express things visually--if it can work with just a picture, it's the best way. If you can find the right words, it's great, but I like to put in silence."

Mathison's next project, which Martin Scorsese will direct, is about the young Dalai Lama. "I began research on it four or five years ago," she says. Shooting may start next spring near Tibet, but Mathison won't leave her family behind. "Being around Tibetans will be a great treasure of experience for the children," she says. With her ability to see through kids' eyes, she should know.