“When I go to the Wimbledon ball or the Oscars, it’s black tie with tennis shoes,” — Ashok Amritraj
ISSUE: Summer 2011
STORY: Janice Jann
When it comes to Hollywood producers, Ashok Amritraj is as cool as it gets.
When you imagine a hotshot Hollywood movie producer who’s worked with some of the biggest stars in Tinseltown — from Sandra Bullock to Steve Martin — and raked in billions of dollars in revenue, you may not picture him as a “suit and tennis shoes” kind of a guy. But Hyde Park Entertainment head Ashok Amritraj was never easy to peg. “When I go to the Wimbledon ball or the Oscars, it’s black tie with tennis shoes,” chuckles the easygoing, India-born mega-producer.
A fitting footwear choice given that before conquering Hollywood, Amritraj was recruited in the ’70s to play tennis in the U.S. and reigned as a teenage tennis champ. “Sports is the best way to understand that if you work hard, you’ll do better, and if you slouch off, some guy’s going to beat you,” he says.
Once in the U.S., Amritraj quickly turned his sights to filmmaking. He had grown up watching Ben Hur and The Sound of Music, but had no idea that making a movie was a whole other beast. “I learned a lot in the first five years. Knocked on a lot of doors, had them fall on my face,” Amritraj remembers. It was his perseverance that finally got him in the door. “In this town, 99 percent of movies don’t get made [because there’s] a lack of focus,” he says. “You run around, you go see people. Pretty soon, you’re off trying to cast another movie or writing something else. It takes a single-minded focus.”
That focus has gained Amritraj more than 100 titles under his belt, and now he’s leading Hyde Park’s expansion into the Middle East and Asia. For the mega-producer, it’s all about global synergy. “It’s easier to be a part of the world than it was before,” he says. “If there’s one thing I’d teach my kids, it’s get into business, but do it on a broader basis. Don’t think just L.A. or U.S. There are a lot of balls to play with.”
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