Cigarettes & Coffee, Written By Greg Mariotti
December 11, 1999
PTA Meets Cigarettes & Coffee
I had an opportunity to set down with Paul for a bit on the set of the latest Fiona Apple video “Limp” which will be the second single and video from her critically acclaimed When the Pawn… release. This is their third collaboration together which follows “Across The Universe” and “Fast as You Can”
Greg Mariotti: Let’s talk about Magnolia. The preview screening you held in Sydney, Australia with Tom Cruise in late summer came in at 3:23. What did you trim? The worm is what I am hearing, some of the worm stuff?
Paul Thomas Anderson: Yeah, the worm stuff. There’s sort of, a little bit more of a follow through on the mystery character, who’s in it now. It’s better to remain sort of a mystery character. The brown jacket and the little kid (Dixon). And that stuff is sort of better served as something to truly think about as opposed to something to answer and in an effort to make it more mysterious and make it shorter…I just took it out.
GM: Cause I was wondering how the little kid (Dixon) got to the car where Linda Partridge was unconscious. I mean seems like that was a way different neighborhood for him to be all of a sudden over there ….
PTA: No, that really wouldn’t have been any different if you had seen anything else. No, that makes total sense in terms of the reality base of the movie. I mean it’s not as if anything is missing now.
GM: Sure so what else got trimmed? I heard that maybe the frog sequence got trimmed a little bit?
PTA: The frog sequence got trimmed, maybe like 5 minutes came out of the frog sequence and just heads and tails of film.
GM: I had read in Premiere Magazine that you made Bill Macy do like ten takes of the scene where he sticks a key a door and then turns around and slips and falls flat on his ass. I didn’t see that in the film, was that true or not true?
PTA: It’s in there. When he walks out and the key snaps off. He kinda smacks himself back into the door. We did like forty takes of it. Or something like that.
GM: And he got hit in the face with a frog quite a few times too?
PTA: Yeah, he did. Yeah. Yeah
GM: I don’t know if I told you this I just thought the film was incredibly ballsy, raw and naked.
PTA: Thank you. Thanks a lot.
GM: They are having a special screening in Seattle on the 28th of December, so I will get another opportunity to see it again before it goes into wide release on January 7th.
PTA: Great. What kind of screening is it?
GM: My guess is probably a press screening with the few critics that are up there. Speaking of critics, was there a gag order on reviews to try to keep the plot, etc. under wraps? I noticed that the Variety, Hollywood Reporter and David Anson (who gave it 3 1/2 stars) reviews have started to come out. Is that OK with you?
PTA: It’s fine, I think David Anson had to give it 3 ½ stars because he saw an earlier cut. He needed to give it a star rating for the magazine Film Comment.
GM: Tell me about this proposed Lennon biopic rumor which has been circulating for more than two years. Is this true?
PTA: No, it’s not true.
GM: So with the dance sequence in Boogie Nights and the use of Aimee Mann’s music in Magnolia, I see a musical in your future. What do you think?
PTA: Sure. Oh yeah, definitely…definitely.
GM: Any idea what’s next at all? Maybe a lean mean short of thing?
PTA: Definitely short.
GM: Yeah. Are you going to take a break for a while?
PTA: I am, I am definitely going to try. I am going to try to take, like a year off or something like that
GM: Are you going keep doing music videos?
PTA: Just for Fiona
GM: What about Michael Penn who has a new record coming out early next year?
PTA: Oh no, I would do it for Michael or Aimee or Fiona and of course John Brion.
GM: Are they going to release Jon Brion’s Magnolia score? Because I know there is an Oscar promo CD floating around.
PTA: Yeah, there is an Oscar promo but there will be a true Jon Brion musical score for Magnolia coming out in January.
GM: What about your collaboration with Jonathon Demme? What are you doin?
PTA: I can’t tell you…..
GM: All right, are you working on a script for him?
PTA: Sort of..
GM: A new script? Not a rewrite or something else like for the remake of Charade?
PTA: No. It’s so….I can’t say (chuckling under breath)
GM: Did you film the Sydney death sequence where the hostage kills him at the end of the film?
PTA: Yeah, I did.
GM: Did you also shoot the Clementine turd, story?
PTA: Yes, I did. Goddamn, that’s, how’d you know that? That’s great.
GM: It’s in the script. I read a bit about it in an interview with her and then I actually picked up the Sydney script and it was in there.
PTA: That’s great….is it in the script? Gwyneth told me that story and I just wrote it down and then we shot it. And it was just fuckin far too long.
PTA: She just couldn’t tell the story any faster.
GM: Why not stick it on the DVD?
PTA: I lost the footage. It’s gone somewhere….in hell with all that stuff.
GM: And you didn’t want to put your short film Cigarettes and Coffee on the DVD as sort of a precursor to Sydney?
GM: Ok. Why not include the Johnny Doe’s death, the Becky and Jerome scene with Dirk crashing the car on the DVD (in the Deleted Scenes section) when it was one of the last things that you decided to cut. I know this was your final cut obviously but are you thinking of maybe eventually doing not a director’s cut… but maybe a fun cut…or an expanded version for people who really want to see that stuff?
PTA: I think we are going to do a new edition of the DVD. Because the directors cut is the cut of the movie.
GM: Right. But even some of the lines that got cut….I know that you cut Dirk grinding on Amber a bit in addition to all the dialogue that was altered or removed for MPAA reasons (Little Bill’s Wife & Jessie, etc.)….
PTA: You know it’s just so small. I don’t know if I really consider it exactly worth it. I might put the Becky sequence in possibly on a new Boogie Nights DVD. We might do a new version because I don’t really think it got transferred right the first time and I want to take another shot at it.
GM: Have you started to think about what you are going to with the Magnolia DVD? Considering the length of the film that won’t leave a lot of room for extra materials unless you use the new DVD-18 or do a two disc set?
PTA: I think I will put one or two scenes that I took out. Maybe Earl Partridge’s longer monologue and the Frank Mackey seminar stuff that I took out. But I’m not going to do a commentary track for this movie.
GM: No? Do you just not want to talk about the film at length? Are you burned out talking about it?
PTA: Yeah. Totally. I just don’t want to talk about it. I’m just so proud of the movie and I think that it speak so much for itself that I should just shut up about it. We will put the Aimee Mann “Save Me” music video on there, and the trailers. I want to keep that stuff to a minimum so it allows more room for the best possible picture and sound.
GM: Are you ever going to do a real sex scene? I mean none of your films have had a real “Hollywood” type of sex scene. Maybe something like that but in a less clichéd way?
PTA: I really want to try. But I don’t want to worry about a ratings issue. I have to decide if it’s something I want to try to do within an R rating or something that I just want to period and not think about a rating.
GM: Melora Walters was incredible in this film. She completely stole the show in my opinion. I know all the early Oscar buzz is for Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore, but I really hope they seriously look at her and the job she did.
PTA: Me too. She’s incredible. I wrote the part for her. The last image in the film was the first one that I had in my mind.
GM: Did anyone pass on roles that were offered to them because I know that Rebecca Pidgeon (David Mamet’s wife) had to pass on a role because she was pregnant [this was the role of Jimmy Gator's mistress which was cut] Did anyone else pass?
PTA: There was moment where Jason Robards was too sick to do it and I offered the role to George C. Scott and he passed. And then Jason got better and I got my first choice back again which was great.
GM: Are there any actors that you are eager to work with?
PTA: Daniel Day Lewis. I think that he’s fucking awesome. I think that he’s a fantastic actor. I really want to work with him.
GM: What about Jennifer Jason Leigh? You are real good friends and I’m surprised that you haven’t worked together?
PTA: You know what. It’s just a matter of time before we get to each other. We are big fans of each other’s work. Maybe next time. I’ve been thinking about that a lot actually.
GM: What movies have you really liked the past few years?
PTA: La Promesse. I thought it was fucking incredible and amazing movie. I loved The Sixth Sense. I thought it was wonderful. I liked Eyes Wide Shut. Nothing else is popping into my head.
Bill Hader (Friend of the site): Did you see Rosetta (same filmmakers that made La Promesse)?
PTA: No, not yet. I haven't had a chance but I really want to. I can't wait to see it.
GM: How’s your DVD collection?
PTA: I got a good collection going now. I’ve got a backlog of like a hundred that I haven’t had a chance to watch because I just buy them when I’m working or I’ll never remember if I don’t buy them now?
GM: What do you think of Cookie’s Fortune and the last few Altman films?
PTA: It was okay. I liked the Gingerbread Man. I thought it was a pretty good thriller, but Cookie’s Fortune was kind of silly.
GM: The spontaneous friction scene in Sydney. A reader from the site saw this happen outside a theater in 1990….
PTA: Hey, that might be true. I was outside of Reno and my car broke down and a tow truck driver picked me up and told me that story. It could have been. That was 1991. I can’t imagine that has happened a lot of times.
GM: So do you like the Cigarettes & Coffee website?
PTA: It’s great. Yeah. There’s maybe one time I saw something and I wanted to correct it. It wasn’t a big deal. I was gonna call you but I didn’t get around to it. No. Everything is pretty much spot on.
GM: I made the site for me because I was sick of searching the Internet and looking for stuff on you. I wanted somewhere for people to come and find everything they could need in one resource.
PTA: I don’t know if you know this but as my press gears up. People are going to your site and clearly they are getting shit from your website. All these big time interviewers are going there and getting all this stuff. Part of its great and part of its a little scary because they’re like “You once said” and I’m like “Really, Oh shit”. Oh yeah, I might have said that!
You will have peaks and valleys just like a director. I have a feeling these next few months there are going to be a lot of people checking out the site and looking for things.
GM: Yeah, I have really noticed the press on you gearing up. There was a real nice Q & A in Madison Magazine recently. Didn’t they want you on the cover?
PTA: Yeah. I don’t want to be on the cover. That’s not my style.
GM: Your films have made a lot of covers over in the U.K. They really appreciate you and your films quite a bit. I think there movie magazines are far superior to the ones we have over here.
PTA: I totally agree. Sight and Sound especially. I am gonna do another Sight and Sound interview in a few weeks. I don’t know. I can say with great pride that they really like my movies over there.
GM: Yeah, their love of film seems stronger than ours. Much better than the fluff over here.
PTA: Yeah, there’s a lot of weird internal politics over here with articles and interviewers.
GM: Do you mind if I post some pictures of your dad as himself and as Ghoulardi on the site? I didn’t want to do it until I got your okay.
PTA: Sure. That would be fine.
GM: I appreciate you having me out here and getting a chance to interview you and see you work.
PTA: No, are you kidding? You shouldn’t appreciate it. I appreciate you and all you work on the website.