Thursday, October 03, 2002

Interview: Exclusive Advance Seattle Screening Q&A Transcription

September 30th Q & A with Paul Thomas Anderson & Adam Sandler at

Seattle's Cinerama theater.

What came first, the pudding or Adam?

PTA: Adam came first. I think I had a lot of things in mind. A lot of big ideas, a lot of bright ideas in search of a thought. One thing lead to another. I had many many many pieces and chunks of something that I thought would be interesting to try and do or say. To grab a hold of something is always hard. Then, the pudding happened. I had read about the pudding dude. There's a real guy who bought all that pudding. He's sort of a frequent flier aficionado, which there are many. There's even magazines that are dedicated to frequent flier miles. That somehow became a real trigger, but there was no doubting the fact that I wanted a piece of Adam Sandler.

So Adam, did he say, "Dude, I got this pudding." So what happened when he first came to you with all these ideas.

Adam: I was shooting a movie. A mutual friend introduced us on the phone. He came by and visited me and we hung out for a night and we had a great time hanging. He told me that he was thinking about writing a movie. I already seen Boogie Nights and I thought, "Oh yeah, all right!" I thought it was awesome. Then a week later, Magnolia came out and I watched that and thought, "Holy fuck. This guy is incredible! So we stayed in contact during his writing process. PTA would call me up every couple of weeks and say, "I wrote a few new pages today". I'd say, "yeah, what's it about, what's going on?" and he'd say, "Nah, I can't tell you". (audience laughs). I'd say, "c'mon, give me something".  He'd say, "Ok, page 33,". Then he'd tell me just one line and I'd be thinking in my head, "Fucking A!" (audience roars with laughter).

Did you anticipate what the music was going to be while filming the movie?

PTA: For the most part, yes. Jon Brion and I would talk about what notions and ideas might make sense. He would do things that then I could have to shoot to, so Adam and Emily would know. Sometimes it's a nice thing if you can say to an actor, "Here's what's going to be planned." Or it can sort of be like a little bit of a musical number and they just got dance around it a little bit. So they know what the rhythm is or how fast they should talk or anything like that. Another benefit is that Adam is very musical. If you ever watch the movie again, there's a really funny thing that happens when Adam is on the telephone in Hawaii as there is a parade happening. It's a real interesting experiment in what sound can do to somebody. It was a real parade and there were cameras hidden and no one knew what was going on. We did a few takes and it was kinda not that great. It was sort of the first time that Adam was not like hitting it. And I thought maybe it was all this craziness [the parade] and everything else. Then this amazing thing happened with the take that's in the movie. Far down the street, there was these tribal drums. It was a Japanese day parade, a celebration of a Japanese holiday. So there these tribal drums down the street going "boom, boom, boom". That was the take. Because it obviously sort of got inside of Adam's mind and brain and this amazing take happened. But previous to that, the takes that weren't so fantastic had this gentle, wonderful music happening as the parade was marching down the street. So I was thinking after that great take, "Jesus Christ, let's some more drums happening".

Will you always shoot in Panavision?

PTA: Yes.

Is it all right, I've got a two part question?

PTA: Why do you just make it a three parter? [audience laughs]

This movie is so fucking golden age. How did you assemble such an amazing crew since your first film and managed to retain most of them through all your films? What words of wisdom did you gain when you went to visit Stanley Kubrick on the set of "Eyes Wide Shut"?

PTA: I got my crew through good taste. [audience laughs] I've been lucky enough to work with a wonderful group of people pretty consistently  from my first movie through this movie. I think in some ways that's why I wanted to work with Adam. He has a very similar work ethic with the people I like to work with. Making a movie is like a family experience. You spend more time with people making a movie than your own family, so you have to love them very very very much. So you all have to attack the movie with the same energy or otherwise you just want to go home.

Adam: Plus you told those guys that we're gonna go to Hawaii for three weeks. [audience laughs]

PTA: By meeting Stanley Kubrick, something very important happened, which was a very humiliating and humbling experience. It's something that we stole and adapted to our liking. He shoots for a very very very long time because he has a very small crew. So if you have more crew, then you have to shoot for less time. Many times when you go to make a movie, there's absolutely nothing that's conducive to creative thinking. It does not allow for you to be creative at all, but if you do it enough, you start to realize how many people do we really need. We don't need that many. It affords you the time, which is a real luxury to be able to investigate stuff, fuck around. Not know what you are gonna do that day and not know better the next day. That was important. When I showed up on his [Kubrick's] set, there was about 10 people there. I said, "Wow. Do you normally use such a small crew?" And he said, "Yes, how many people do you use?" And I felt like a Hollywood cocksucker. [audience laughs]. I guess I use alot more than I need. Because at the end of the day, there's a camera, lights, film and some sound and you put some stuff through it and it comes back out and that's it. Thank you for your two part question. [audience laughs]

What does the color blue mean to you? It's all over the film.

PTA: Oh, fuck! I don't know. [audience laughs]

How many sisters do you have?

PTA: Not seven. [audience laughs]

Did you know that the movie was funny while writing the script or filming certain scenes?

PTA: That's a great question. But honestly, I don't remember really. I don't remember what was funny or what wasn't funny because it's all kind of funny, even though it sometimes a little sad or a little scary. I know some people that I really like or really respect told that sometimes they were afraid to laugh. And I like that. I remember when I told some friends that I was making a movie with Adam Sandler and they asked if it was funny. I just thought to myself, if you laugh then it's funny and if you don't it's a drama. [audience laughs]

What inspired the use of color transitions? What drove you to include those in the film?

PTA: Pot [audience laughs]

Adam: That's not true and I don't want to think that about Paul. It was a lot of hash, actually. [audience laughs even louder]

Adam, this is such a different kind of role for you. How you do feel now sitting in an audience watching yourself?

Adam: It's always weird watching yourself. I don't know. I feel proud of it. I like hearing people laugh. If they like it, that's a great thing. I don't want to look at my head too long. [audience laughs] because this place has the biggest screen that I've ever seen. [audience laughs louder] It's a little weird, looking at your nostrils and what not. [audience laughs even louder] But it's good, it's nice, you know. No actor likes to watch himself too long. You start feeling insecure. (In a patented Sandler comic voice] It is fun watching me a little bit. (audience roars]

PTA: I think we have culture shock a little bit. We've had this movie for two years and we've never shown to a group of more than 10 people. It's a real fucking joy to take it into the world and show it.

Adam: We watched it together alone.

PTA: Naked.

[audience laughs]

Adam: He painted me blue.

[audience roars]

Adam: He painted me blue and half way through the movie, we turned it off.

[audience roars again]

Adam: Anyway, what were we talking about?

[audience laughs]

Adam: We watched alone. We laughed at times and at other times we were like, "Oh, Barry Egan, that hurts." Then we showed it to like 10 - 20 people a couple of times. Only a few times in a group setting. I've only seen it publicly twice. It's a great feeling.

Adam, It looked like you were having a little too much fun kicking the asses of those brothers. I just wondered if that felt good to you. Did you see yourself in any part of that character?

Adam: It always feels good to kick three brothers' asses and hand an iron back to the fourth brother. [audience laughs] Who hasn't felt great doing that. That was pure PTA. He wanted to make it almost like....before we made the movie, we watched some Fred Astaire movies...and he just wanted it to feel like a musical. It was pretty rough. Barry Egan took care of business. But he got in and out there pretty quick.

It looked like you were having fun smashing up that bathroom too?

Adam: That was fun. I like that. [turns to PTA] I got to do that four times. [audience laughs] Four takes. The soap one was the last take. In my head, I was gonna tear that the soap dispenser off, but it just wasn't coming. [audience laughs] Too bad PTA cut right after, cause you don't get to see me turn to the camera and say, "I just can't do it!" [audience laughs]

Where did you find those four brothers?

PTA: The four brothers are from Utah. They were Mormon. They were great guys. Originally the part had been written for two guys. I always kind of thought that was wrong. I talked to my casting director, Cassandra, who is wonderful and said, "Why don't we go to Utah and look for some people that might be good for this?" She came and said "I found this guy." I said, "Yeah, he looks interesting." She said, "and he's got three brothers". I thought how exciting to have the concept of a guy with seven sisters with four brothers coming after him. That was really exciting. They came down to Los Angeles. We were already shooting at that point. And with one look at the four Stevens Brothers and you'd be a fool not to hire them. They're great dudes, great great dudes.

Aren't some of the sisters related too?

PTA: Two sisters are real sisters and two others are cousins. Other than Mary Lynn, they weren't actors. There is no difference between action and cut with any of those sisters.

Adam: That's true. I remember when we were filming a scene where Barry Egan breaks down and was crying. PTA calls cut and all the sisters turn to me very concerned and said, "Are you alright?"

You wear only one blue suit throughout the movie. How many did you have and did you get tired of wearing it?

Adam: I think I had two main ones, five suits in all. For the first half of the movie, PTA made the suits too small. He wanted Barry Egan to always feel uncomfortable. I had a snug suit on. Snug on the back, couldn't turn to well in it. Snug everywhere. [audience laughs] I would always have the blue suit on. We shot in place where not too many people would see me. I was alright because of the crew knew I was Mr. Blue Suit. But when I was in neighborhoods with kids, they would run up to me with a Billy Madison tape to sign. I'm sure when they were walking away, they were thinking "What's up, with that blue suit?" [audience laughs]

Adam sees someone leaving the theater.

Adam: Please don't go! [audience laughs] Alright, go ahead, you gotta wake up tomorrow. Bye guys. [audience laughs]

What was it like for both of us to work with Emily Watson?

Adam: Who wouldn't want to work with Emily Watson?

PTA: Anyone who has seen Emily Watson's work knows that she's got balls. She'll do anything. She is up for anything. It's great to be around someone like her. Her standards of excellence are really high. She's incredibly fun to be around and is there to work. She pushes everyone along. Emily and I both felt like making a movie where nobody dies or has cancer or anything like that. We wanted to change things. We were both really excited to try and make a happy movie. Then along came Mr. Happy Gilmore. [audience roars]

Adam: She was the sweetest girl. She was encouraging to me. There were times when I would be nervous or tense about stuff I had to do in the film. She was very sweet. Emily would come by on the days she wasn't shooting and hang with us and cheer us on.

PTA: I had the best vantage point the first time that Adam Sandler and Emily Watson ever met. She was about to vomit and he was about to vomit. They were both so nervous. He was thinking, "She's an Academy Award actress." She's thinking, "Oh my god, it's Adam Sandler. I was driving Emily over to Adam's house. She was so nervous and so excited and she asked me to pull over because she thought she might throw up.

Adam: Really? [audience laughs]

PTA: Yeah. I showed up at Adam's house and he was pouring sweat. On the surface you could say that they are from two different worlds, but they're really not. Because good is good and they both had a commitment to what we were trying to do. It was pretty fucking great to see both of them nervous and then quickly not nervous at all.

Adam: I saw "Breaking the Waves" and then I saw "Hillary and Jackie". I saw that movie with my girlfriend and we thought how incredible she was. We talked about her performance for the longest time. Then Paul said I was doing a movie with Emily Watson and I knew I had to really concentrate. [audience laughs]

Moderator: It's driving me nuts. Who was the guy in the red suit in the grocery store?

PTA: I don't know. I always look at Adam in those scenes.

Moderator. OK. I'm glad I ended that on such a high note. [audience laughs]. These guys have to catch a plane, so I want everyone to thank these guys for joining us tonight.

[audience applauds wildly]

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