By Iman Sadri
March 24, 2020
The name Tesla has received a considerable amount of press in the last 15 years due to Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company. Tesla’s name is an homage to Yugoslavian inventor Nikola Tesla. (1856-1943). Tesla is credited for his discovery of Alternating Current and the creation of the Induction Motor. In his lifetime he filed more than 700 patents. He never married or had children. Historians say that he was married to his work. He lived until the age of 87. There is a plaque to commemorate him at the famed New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan where he died.
Tesla had a contentious rivalry with Thomas Edison – who he worked for and admired. The admiration lasted until Edison refused the applicability of Tesla’s Alternating Current theory. After Edison refused to give him a $50,000 payment for his discovery of Alternating Current and later refusing to see his own progress within Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Tesla struck out in his own. He did however run into financial problems – soon after resorted to digging ditches for an Edison building project. But that was a temporary setback.
His life has been depicted on screen in several films. Memorably portrayed in The Prestige by David Bowie – a film co-starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. A 2020 film starring Ethan Hawke as Nikola Tesla was also produced – called Tesla. In my opinion, Adam Scott should also be considered for a future production as younger Nikola Tesla. Scott has near jet black hair similar to Tesla. He could also pass as European with Slavic, Yugoslavian undertones. Adam Scott has a similar jawline and facial size as Scott as well. All important considerations to transfer a believability to the audience. The facial dimensions, head size, height and body type need to match for the biopic to be authentic. The idea of a biopic should be to transport the viewer back in time.
“The idea of a biopic should be to transport the viewer back in time.”-Iman Sadri
Elon Musk could also finance the project and give it his blessing. A short film / and spec script + short film screenplay of this project has been written by yours truly about Nikola Tesla coming to the present day and seeing the success of Elon Musk’s Tesla company. The real life Tesla died destitute and morbidly thin. In part because he was bad at managing his financial affairs. Spending every dime he had on his experiments. But also because he was given a raw deal by George Westinghouse who had agreed to pay royalties on Tesla’s Alternative Current. Westinghouse did pay Tesla $60,000 as well as give initial royalties on electricity sold. But later Westinghouse claimed poverty and made Tesla sign an agreement to transfer future royalty rights back to Westinghouse.
If Tesla had better legal advice and a wiser understanding of broader investment opportunities to grow his earnings into other longterm holdings such as real estate or equities he would have had greater financial stability. If baseball player Ty Cobb can retire a millionaire from buying and holding Coca-Cola stock then anyone can grow their earnings in any era. It was not to be for Nikola Tesla.
In my script, Nikola Tesla comes back to the present day and sees what Elon Musk has created. Imagine Nikola Tesla played by Adam Scott going to the future and seeing an electric car named after him. Arriving to the Tesla plant and then a Tesla showroom. The opening scene from the project has Tesla arriving at a busy showroom at Fashion Island Mall where a Tesla store is located. It’s a beautiful late summer day in Newport Beach. Nikola (Adam Scott) gets into brand new black Model T. It has tinted windows and a large computer display. He can’t contain his excitement and jumps out of the electric car, only to meet Elon Musk – to be played by Toby Stephens. Musk embraces Tesla and Nikola feels an energy force that he knows exists between the two.
Iman Sadri is the founder of @LASmileMagazine and @BiopicCasting. He serves as a consultant to several casting agencies.