'I'm a fighter:' Star triathlete uses her prize money to help fund dream Oscar-nominated film

After 16 years, the film finally came to life, and the journey to get there is one Lesley Paterson will never forget.

ByCurt Sandoval KABC logo
Sunday, March 12, 2023
Triathlete uses her prize money to fund Oscar-nominated film
Lesley Paterson, a screenwriter and executive producer on "All Quiet on the Western Front" - which is nominated for nine Oscars - shares how her career as a triathlete helped fund the project.

LOS ANGELES -- Who will win the Oscar for best picture? Well, the triathlon community has a favorite.

Lesley Paterson, a Scottish executive producer and screenwriter on Netflix's "All Quiet on the Western Front," is also a 5-time triathlon world champion.

After 16 years, the film finally came to life, and the journey to get there is one Paterson will never forget.

"My heart is outside and the outdoors," she said. "I love the scenery, I feel very connected to land. That's where I'm inspired, creatively and otherwise."

Literature inspired her in grad school where Paterson studied film and theater. She and her husband bought the movie rights, but that came with challenges.

"We have to get a contract, they have to choose you, and you have to pay money, and often, that only lasts for a year or 18 months and you have to keep renewing it," Paterson explained.

In 2016, needing money to renew those rights, she found a race in Costa Rica she thought she could win. Her plan was to use the money to pay for the fees.

"The day before the race, when I was pre-riding the course, I fell off and broke my shoulder," she said.

A broken shoulder in a triathlon is like getting a flat tire right before a car race, unless your husband has his doctorate in sport psychology.

"He said to me, 'Well listen, Les, you are really good at the one-arm drill. Why don't you just try and swim with one arm?' and I thought, 'Well that's a bit crazy, but I like being crazy, so I'll give that a bash.'"

Off she went.

Paterson swam a mile with one arm and came out of the water 12 minutes back. She rode her bike through the field and moved up to second place, then ultimately, straight for the win.

"I'm a fighter," said Paterson, who thanked her husband for the extra push. "I never give up so he knew I wanted to do this, he supported me."

"All Quiet on the Western Front" is nominated for a total of nine Oscars, including best picture.

"The most wonderful thing about the film getting these awards and being commended is that we're getting more eyeballs on the film, especially for the younger generation," said Paterson.

Mark your calendar: March 12 is Oscar Sunday. The 2023 Oscars air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. After the last award is handed out, stay with "On The Red Carpet" for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information. Click here to download our CTV apps to watch "On The Red Carpet" wherever you stream.