Robert Di Niro stars in movie about University of Houston professor

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by khou.com staff

Larry Seward / KHOU 11 News

Posted on April 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 10 at 11:13 AM

HOUSTON -- A University of Houston professor is helping produce a movie about his own life, and one of Hollywood’s legendary actors has a starring role.

Nick Flynn teaches creative writing at the University of Houston. He also writes non-fiction, publishing books of poetry, plays and eye-opening memoirs.

One tells Flynn’s personal story about growing up in Massachusetts without father, then working at a homeless shelter where his father re-enters and then drastically changes Flynn’s life.

Flynn’s father, Johnathan, is a self-proclaimed poet, alcoholic and con man who did time in federal prison. After leaving his family Johnathan sometimes spoke to his son through letters.  In their reunion their shared love for writing and Flynn’s own substance abuse stirred conflict.

With Flynn’s help and an $8 million budget, filmmaker Paul Weitz turned this into a movie starring Robert De Niro, Paul Dano, and Julianne Moore. 

“The thing that sticks out to me is the father who is a writer who couldn’t get himself together enough to do it and the kid finally does it,” De Niro said.

But the movie can’t show you everything.

“The very tail end of the film it sort of condenses 20 years of my life into one scene,” Flynn said.”Where now I’ve written a book. I have a wife. I have a child. Those things in the film suggests I figured those things out in a year or two. But in real life it took me 10 years to write a book, and another 10 years to have a child and a relationship.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is his work with the homeless. You’ll see him at rallies and inside city hall advocating for people like his father, a man whose life inspired both a book and new movie.

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