Bruce Joel Rubin on IU, LSD, and Life

Hollywood tends to be all glitz and glamour, but not for screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, who lives a life of meditative simplicity. Rubin visited the IU Cinema on Monday to speak over his spirituals views on life, and how they intertwine with his work in the film industry.


Rubin wrote screenplays for “Jacob’s Ladder” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, as well as “Ghost”, for which he won an Academy Award for. Rubin’s speech was part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series.


“I loved the ride, but it doesn’t define me,” Rubin said. He enjoyed his time in the limelight, but Rubin’s happiness in life comes from inside. For the past five decades Rubin has dedicated his life to spirituality and meditation.


Rubin contributes his interest in the philosophy of life to an LSD trip he had just out of undergrad. “I was totally liberated from everything that ever was,” Rubin said. After his trip, Rubin became fascinated with Eastern philosophy, and the teaching of Hinduism and Buddhism.


Films like “Ghost” and “Jacob’s Ladder” are subtly influenced by Rubin’s own philosophy. In his films, Rubin obscures the lines between those living and dead, because he believes life is infinite and eternal. “Stories put brackets around [life],” Rubin said.

Despite being famous for writing, Rubin has also dabbled in producing and directing films. “My Life” was written, produced, and directed by Rubin. Writing still remained his preferred outlet, but Rubin used it as a learning experience. “It was very humbling learning how to direct a film,” he said.


Young students and old friends of Rubin made up the majority of the crowd. Following his graduation at New York University, Rubin spent several years in Bloomington attending IU. “The six years I spent in this city were some of the happiest,” he said.


Among those viewing the speech was Robert Iannuzzo, 18. “I didn’t expect him to be so thoughtful and philosophical,” Iannuzzo said. Rubin’s emphasis on spirituality separates him from many of his Hollywood colleagues.


Events like these offer learning opportunities for students. Carter Chalance, 21, came to learn about the industry he hopes to work in someday. “Anytime were given the privilege to have someone that’s been in our field . . . it’s a preparation for us,” Chalance said.


In recent years, Rubin has emphasized his spiritual life over his business life, but he’s no longer meditating or looking for enlightenment. “There is no looking for,” Rubin said. “There is only finding.”