Akiva Goldsman was born in New York City on July 7, 1962 to Tev Goldsman, a therapist, and Mira Rothenberg, a child psychologist. Both parents ran a group home for emotionally disturbed children. Goldsman's parents were occupied with their work, and Goldsman said, "By the time I was 10 or 12, I realized they had taken my parents away from me. I wanted nothing more to do with that world. I wanted to be a writer. I had a fantasy that someday I'd see my name on a book." In 1983, Goldsman attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. After graduation, Goldsman studied creative writing at New York University. He began writing screenplays, and in 1994, he wrote the screenplay that would become the film Silent Fall. Afterward, director Joel Schumacher hired Goldsman to write The Client. In the late 1990s, Akiva Goldsman wrote screenplays for A Time to Kill and Batman & Robin, which were considered subpar quality and got him nominated for the Golden Raspberry Awards. Goldsman came to the realization, "I sort of got lost. I was writing away from what I knew. It's a little like a cat chasing its tail. Once you start making movies that are less than satisfying, you start to lose your opportunity to make the satisfying ones. People are not serving them up to you, saying, 'You're the guy we want for this.'" Goldsman appealed to producer Brian Grazer to write the screenplay for A Beautiful Mind and ultimately won an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay. The star of A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe, later invited Goldsman and director Ron Howard to film Cinderella Man, and Goldsman wrote the film's screenplay.