Feature

Tom Shadyac: The director who’s giving it all away

After mountain-biking accident in 2007, Shadyac reevaluated his life and work.

Tom Shadyac has given up on Hollywood, said Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. For two decades, Shadyac, 51, made millions directing commercially successful comedies like The Nutty Professor and Bruce Almighty. His life changed in 2007 when a mountain-biking accident left him with post-concussion syndrome—a brain injury that can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Shadyac’s reaction was quite different. He began to feel deeply disillusioned with the competitiveness and greed he saw in himself and others, so he started giving away his money and possessions. “Too many things are handed to us—the private jets and the big hotel suites,” he says. “But what it does to you is insidious.”

Recently, he sold his 17,000-square-foot mansion and moved into a trailer park. “I’m much happier in this little place than I’ve ever been in all my fancy houses.” He’s making a small film consisting of interviews with wise, altruistic people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and figuring out how to spend the rest of his life. “This is an experiment,” he admits. “I still have a lot of money that I don’t feel is mine because it came from a competitive system that is helping, in its own way, to destroy the world.” Though he’s not certain where it will lead him, he says his mission is clear: “You have to be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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