Coleman Hough, Screenwriter on Two Steven Soderbergh Films, Dies at 62

Coleman Hough, who received solo screenplay credit on the quirky Steven Soderbergh-directed improvisational films Full Frontal and Bubble, has died. She was 62.

Hough died Feb. 24 at the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, her friend Jennifer Romine told The Hollywood Reporter. She was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s when she was 42.

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Full Frontal (2002), set in Hollywood and a film within a film, shot in 18 days using a consumer-grade digital camera and was the first produced screenplay by playwright and poet Hough.

Featuring Julia Roberts, Catherine Keener, David Hyde Pierce, Blair Underwood, David Duchovny and Jeff Garlin as a Harvey Weinstein type, it marked an extreme change of pace for Soderbergh, who was coming off Erin Brockovich (2000), an Oscar win for Traffic (2000) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001).

Hough’s characters are “simultaneously self-absorbed and less introspective than they think they are,” Craig J. Clark wrote in a piece for Crooked Marquee in 2022. “They stop short of being completely contemptible, however, thanks to the fleeting moments of grace Hough affords them — with one notable exception … movie producer and all-around creep Gus Delario (Duchovny).”

Hough then came up with an outline for Bubble (2005), which employed nonprofessional and local actors in a crime drama about workers in an Ohio factory that makes parts for dolls. That film also took less than a month to shoot.

Coleman Ann Hough was born on Feb. 26, 1961, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her parents, Kenneth and Ann, were teachers. She attended the Emma Willard all-girls private boarding school and graduated from Emerson College with a degree in acting in 1982.

She was a professor at Lehman College in the Bronx from 1987-98 and at Emerson from 1988-90 before making her way to Los Angeles.

Hough was a publicist’s assistant at Disney and staging plays at L.A. theaters when Soderbergh saw her in Angel and Mr. Charm, one of her productions. He gave her an uncredited role in his 1996 film Schizopolis and hired her to write a modern adaptation of Julius Caesar that never made it to the screen.

In 2003, she penned a short play called Shipping and Receiving that eventually became Full Frontal. She initially created nine 10-minute scenes for the movie, which is set over a 24-hour period.

“Steven asked me to write a list of questions he would ask the actors. But beyond that, I had no say. I wanted no say; I was curious to see what it would become.” Hough told MovieMaker magazine in 2005. “Once I had written the script, Steven, the crew and the actors took over. It took on a life of its own.”

Hough was researching Midwestern industries when she found the doll-parts factory that would be used for Bubble.

She also performed for the experimental theater Dixon Place in New York; wrote and directed the short film The Diagnosis (2008), starring Lesley Ann Warren and James Urbanick; and wrote a script about Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham for HBO.

And she taught screenwriting at Ohio University and USC.

Survivors include her sister, Lee. Donations in her memory can be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

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