Monday, November 12, 2012
Interview: Aero Q&A (Magnolia)
Videos courtesy of Hollywood Elsewhere. Transcription courtesy of Megan Leddy.
ANNOUNCER: Right now it’s my pleasure to welcome back Paul Thomas Anderson and tonight’s moderator Adam Sandler ladies and gentlemen.
ADAM SANDLER: Thank you – he just roped me into this. I thought he wanted to go get dinner and then I showed up and said, “We’re eating at the Aero?”
PTA: He’s gonna do stand up for twenty minutes.
ADAM SANDLER: You ever notice in a relationship? [Laughter] So what happens? We’re seeing Magnolia tonight – that’s the first one I saw of yours. I saw that before I saw Boogie Nights.
PTA: And you called – cause I wanted to do with you – and you said “We’re not going to do that, are we?”
ADAM SANDLER: Really? I loved it though. I remember Paul was writing Punch Drunk and he told me about it and I really didn’t know Paul’s work, I didn’t know Boogie Nights I was that stupid – after I saw that – by the way, that was fantastic. Did I ever tell you I like Boogie Nights? But anyways, Magnolia, I went to see it and it was sold out, it was just like this and I was in the front row and I was doing this thing the whole time. I didn’t know it was going to be seven hours – how long was it? [Laughter] Three hours though, right?
PTA: Yeah, that’s, it’s 3:07. We should really get out of here.
ADAM SANDLER: Sure – we’ve got to hit it. But I do remember going “Oh my God, this guy is incredible” and I was a fan – you guys might see some frogs later.
PTA: Has anybody not seen this movie?
ADAM SANDLER: Alright – you’re gonna like it.
PTA: That’s so cool.
ADAM SANDLER: Fantastic!
PTA: You’ve never seen this?
ADAM SANDLER: Oh the kid – the kid’s gonna like it! Right on. [Laughter] Wreck it Ralph is down the street young man. Be careful.
PTA: Oh no! [Laughter]
ADAM SANDLER: He’s gonna like it. He’s gonna like it. He’s gonna like that [unintelligible] So you want to ask Paul any questions out there? You want to do it like that? Anybody? Anybody? He’ll answer you – go ahead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was just wondering – I saw this really fascinating documentary Side by Side about the diminishment of celluloid, and how digital is going to be basically… in a couple of years, are you going to shoot your next film on celluloid or give in to digital – what’s your plan as far as what is happening?
PTA: If anyone couldn’t hear he was just asking about my future plans of digital versus film and this kind of stuff. I don’t have any plans for what I would do yet cause I don’t really know exactly what the film is. I think it would all depend on whatever the story is, whatever the film is. I don’t discriminate – I like everything. I’ve said before the only thing that bothers me is when things get thrown away – like there’s a projection booth up there and there is more than enough room for to have a digital projector and keep the old projectors. It’s just a drag when things get shoved to the side – that’s the thing that bothers me. And Aero – God bless ‘em – just keeps them around. I just get bummed out when things get excluded for something else. Other than that I’d be a fool if I said anything bad about some digital photography that I’ve seen – it’s just amazing, stunning what they can do. But yeah, that’s how I feel about it.
Your jacket is like The Prisoner. You know that? Stand up so we can see that jacket. Turn around so everyone can see it. Look at that - that is cool. The Prisoner is a Patrick McGoohan show old 60s and they had jackets with white piping just like that – so cool man.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’m rather curious as far as, because you are a director and a writer, do you write in order? And when you direct do you direct your scenes in order or out of order?
PTA: Well that’s a great question. Well, I remember when we did our film together I had this big plan that we were going to shoot it all in order. Maybe on the second day we were 100% behind schedule and that goes out the window. You try to as much as you can but it’s kind of impossible to pull off.
ADAM SANDLER: You saw a lot – when we did Punch Drunk Love – you did see a lot in your head, like you had a score going on when we were shooting scenes. I remember that. We would do a playback – I mean he would be at the monitors, I had no idea what the hell was going on half the time, I would come to the monitors and see Paul with his headphones on and he would be kind of doing drums, and I was like “This guy is fucking crazy.” Sorry, sorry kid – forgot about you. But anyways, I do remember he has a lot going on in his brain going in there. I think while you’re writing you kind of see what you want to shoot.
PTA: Yeah mostly, for sure you know – when you sit down and write, sometimes it’s great fun to write from the beginning, it feels fresh it feels like that feeling when a curtain opens up. You can kind of auto-hypnotize yourself into thinking “Oh the screen’s opening up.” You start writing – it’s really exciting for about an hour and then there’s nothing on the screen. You just sit with it. Sometimes I’ve written scenes and they end up in the middle of the movie. You kind of just keep at it until you figure it out.
This movie had lots of different pieces that I had forever and ever lying around and just needed to come together and be a film. But these were the days when I wouldn’t cut anything. I thought every word I wrote was… good. Ugh – I wish I could cut fifteen minutes out of this movie for you guys tonight. I do, I do.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You have one hour.
PTA: Oh, no. That’s too much work. It’s fine how it is. [Laughter]
ADAM SANDLER: Go ahead buddy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: First of, I want to say, growing up Jewish like everything you did was awesome for me, it made me explain my culture to everyone I grew up with, so it’s awesome you’re here. I’m here because I love this movie and I think this was the first movie I ever saw that was really more serious filmmaking, and it made me want to be a filmmaker. So I was wondering what was something in this film that you think people don’t always pick up on?
PTA: What’s something that I did in this film that isn’t talked about? Honestly I’ve been trying to remember this movie all day cause I knew I was coming down here. I don’t mean it – it’s not that bad! But you know you do have to kinda – and not that much has been coming to me. Honestly this a movie I wrote after my dad died and that was the biggest thing. I don’t think about this film – I don’t think about scenes really, I just think about what my life was like at the time. There will be shots in here I do not remember doing – I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. It’s not like when you’re working on a film you know what’s going on with it – the memory of it becomes something else – it becomes a memory of your life. Not of the film. That was the biggest thing.
ADAM SANDLER: I do remember seeing it in Jason Robard’s stuff – it was devastating. And watching Cruise, too, Cruise kills you in this movie. This movie blew me away when I saw it. You know what he did, that so many actors, he just gives so much room for an actor to just do stuff that they’ll walk away and go “I can’t believe I did that in a movie.” And he lets you, this movie in particular, there are so many story lines, so much depth, so much sadness and sickness that its – as an actor you’re just like “Man I want to be in that movie.” That’s what this movie does as an actor. I’m sure as a filmmaker, there’s a lot filmmakers out there like “Shit I better start writing some good shit. That stuff’s unbelievable.”
Go ahead guys.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can I please be a PA on the next one?
PTA: Sure! I mean it could be like five years before… [Laughter] You’ll probably be, you know, directing films by then. Take somebody from the back Adam.
ADAM SANDLER: Okay – sorry. This nice kid’s looking at me right in the eyes and I gotta go over there. Alright.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was just wondering since we have both of you here tonight can you talk about kind of working together on Punch Drunk?
ADAM SANDLER: Sure. The blue suit. The blue suit was… everything in that movie was, any time someone stops me on the street and I gotta say there are people who go “Hey – fucking Happy Gilmore!” and stuff like that I’m very happy about. But the Punch Drunk – when I get stopped on the street and someone goes [whispers] “Punch Drunk Love” – they talk about Punch Drunk I take it as a compliment. But I just did everything this guy told me to do. I just came to the set and knew my lines and he kinda told me what my guy would be feeling and what he’s going through at this moment and he just masterminded the whole thing. I just gave myself to Paul as an actor and I trusted everything he had to tell me. And he’s funny as hell. I remember it was kinda a comedy. It was kind of – Barry Egen was just a guy who was massively overwhelmed, and he had a lot of sisters. And I remember you casting the girls and Paul said something like “I stopped by a Temple today and I met these girls that I think are gonna be your sisters.” [Laughter] Right? It was something like that. And I said “You got any actresses?” “Nope.” I don’t think any of them were, right?
PTA: No – none of them were. And they brought – I think there were three or four sisters – and they brought cousins and normally when you – people who know the film – there’s a scene when Adam comes to a birthday party for one of the sisters and it’s just populated not just with sisters but with husbands and kids and stuff like that – all these women brought their kids. Normally when you shoot a film there’s like teachers standing on the set, they say “You know you can’t - you can only shoot for three or four hours” and these sisters were pretty much like the sisters in the movie they were looking at these teachers going “No fucking way – don’t tell me what to do with my kid!” So we, you know, abused the privilege and shot with this family – great family – and they were just dynamite ladies, and overbearing and great and loud and fun to be around.
ADAM SANDLER: And one last thing I do remember in particular and I had kind of forgotten about, but there was a scene at the dining room table that when I read it I was like “Oh God I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do that scene.” It was when Barry Egen had a big breakdown and was bawling crying and screaming – just devastated – and was full-on tears, full-on upset with his family. And I kept dreading that scene cause I’m a comedian and I wasn’t very excited to do that. And I do remember just going “Alright, it’s that day” doing it all, going full tilt, bawling, crying, doing everything I’ve got snot running out of my head. And I did the scene and everyone’s like “Oh man - good job Adam that was fantastic” blah blah blah – and I remember I called him like four months later “Hey, how did that scene cut together?” And he goes “Oh, I cut it.” [Laughter]
Alright – let’s go to the back. Sorry guys, sorry we’ll get to everybody I hope. Go ahead young man.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah – who is your favorite actor and why? [Laughter]
ADAM SANDLER: No, but he’s worked with – I mean, Joaquin in The Master, holy shit. Fantastic. Hoffman – fantastic. Daniel Day – that’s hard to mess with. Daniel Day! That’s hard to mess with man. When he says he’s doing a movie and I’m like “Oh yeah, what are you writing - who’s in it?” and he’s like “Daniel Day Lewis” and I’m like “Well, okay. I’ll sit out on this one.”
PTA: I’ve been so lucky – I mean just everybody he just listed – also too people that pop into my mind that are bizarre – small parts – like there’s this girl at the end of The Master who plays the girl Freddie is in bed with, and she’s just this girl named Jen Page. She came in for one day, had to strip all her clothes off do this really intimate scene and it just tickles me whenever she is onscreen, I think she’s so great, and I think you get moments like that where you just – yes of course I expect Adam to be great I expect Joaquin and Daniel to be great – you expect it. That’s why they’re great. When somebody will come on for a day and do something fantastic is like as thrilling as anything. Sometimes even more thrilling when you see somebody who is just starting out and they come and do something – that’s the coolest when that happens.
ADAM SANDLER: Magnolia’s got a bunch of that too.
PTA: There’s a ton of it in Magnolia – I just spit all over the place – there’s a ton of it. This cast - in particular God she just popped into my mind – April Grace who interviews Tom Cruise is dynamite. She’s an actress that I auditioned for Boogie Nights and she didn’t get that part it wasn’t right but she always stuck in my mind. So I wrote the part for her…
ADAM SANDLER: What’s the girl’s name who was dating John C. Reilly in this movie?
PTA: Melora Walters.
ADAM SANDLER: Unbelievable. She’s amazing in this.
PTA: Henry Gibson, the great late Henry Gibson, is in it. Yeah – on and on the list is long. You know, Michael Bowan is great and Felicity Huffman – it’s a long thing task. Yeah – for this film there’ss so many parts and that’s what was great to do everyday. Luis Guzman… I just wanted to say real fast there’s someone here tonight, I hope, Jim Plannette – raise your hand. There he is. Jim Plannette was the gaffer on this film – I learned more about how to a light movie set from him than anybody else I’d say - One of the best. Young Frankenstein for God’s sakes. This is one of the great, great… [applause] he did ET for God’s sakes. So yeah…
ADAM SANDLER: Go ahead, this next girl here.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What would you say as a writer influenced you to go from sort of multi-character fantastical kind of films to something very single protagonist, hyper-realism sort of thing.
PTA: Like the one we did together?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: From like Magnolia to The Master.
PTA: She’s asking how you go from doing a multi-character fantasmic creations – that’s a great word, if that was your word – to something more focused and probably it’s because you feel like “We did this – don’t want to do that again.” I remember when we did our film it was after this and I just remember feeling like I don’t – I want to do something completely different. In some ways I sort of stopped myself and said maybe it’s harder to sort of focus on one story. There’s nowhere to cut to – you just sort of deal with one thing. It was an exercise maybe at the beginning but to do something light with Adam, to me that film that we made was the first time I felt, I don’t know, there was just like a confidence – we struggled – but there was a confidence I kind of got to through a lot of the struggle. And it just felt like it was one of the first real film’s I made that really was mine in some weird way. Hard to describe, but that just kind of gives you confidence to keep moving forward, keep trying new things.
ADAM SANDLER: Go ahead buddy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How do you decide with themes, I guess it’s kind of a similar question, but like in Punch Drunk and in Magnolia there’s a lot of downward [can’t tell] and time – are these things you want to try and like attack, or they just kind of come?
PTA: He’s talking about themes. I guess it’s kind of – I have to say I’ve never really started anything with any big ideas about what it is – just more bits and pieces that hopefully accumulate into something that feels good. It’s kind of like Will Farrell in Old School when he stands up to the debate thing and he’s such a stoner, such a partier suddenly this thing just spills out of his mouth. He feels light-headed afterwards – you know what I’m talking about? That’s what it feels like when you write a script – suddenly you stand back and you’re light-headed – you can’t believe it came out of you. You wonder who crept in in the middle of the night and wrote it.
ADAM SANDLER: Way in the back man. [Unintelligible] Alright, who’s next?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What’s your premise when dealing with comedic actors such as Adam as opposed to Daniel or Joaquin, and Adam vice versa, what’s it like working with a dramatic role like Punch Drunk?
PTA: I don’t think it’s any different at all. You’d be surprised at how quickly when a serious dramatic actor or somebody who’s won awards or funny actor, how quickly it all disintegrates into just like “What the fuck are we gonna do and how are we going to make this work?” It just very quickly - all that stuff just goes away and you’re just standing there trying to do something right and good. It just doesn’t… I think that’s it.
ADAM SANDLER: It’s funny – you would – when we did it together you kind of, if I was insecure about something before going in Paul wasn’t like a guy who was like “Well…” trying to make me feel better about it. He kinda gave me a look like “Well, that’s your shit. You getter get that right.” I and I was like “Alright, I’m on my own.” I better figure this out. But he was supportive, but like “Listen, we’re here to accomplish something and as an actor you knew what we were getting into, so do your job.” And I think every actor, every movie that you see that you love, I think the actor goes in with, of course actors make choices that are bizarre and the director will say “No, no, no let me lead you down the right path.” And he did that with me a lot and ultimately it’s up to the actor to just get what he has to get out of himself.
PTA: Let me just talk about actors – one thing I’ve noticed like – the worst thing in the world can be sometimes when if an actor doesn’t know what the plan is for the day – you know like how many set-ups are we going to be doing? Because you want to know how to pace yourself and what to do and where to put yourself cause you expend a lot of energy – so coming up with a good plan, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this, it’s going to be five shots. It just helps to have that kind of thing on a movie set in general but it’s really helpful for the actors, cause if somebody thinks it’s going to be a one, and they spend all of their energy and you say “That was on the back of your head.” You wouldn’t see any of that. So it’s just management of a situation in a real simple way. Shouldn’t we start the movie? You guys, it’s a school night.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It’s Veteran’s Day.
ADAM SANDLER: Oh Veteran’s Day – yes.
ADAM SANDLER: Ok go ahead – right back there in the hat.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You have so many original stories and then your adaptation, how did that writing process compare? And why? What compelled you to do an adaptation of There Will Be Blood?
PTA: Well, what compelled me to do an adaptation of There Will Be Blood she said – well my memory of it is that I had lots of things that I was writing but nothing was floating my boat or good enough or I couldn’t kinda get it going and I came across a book that had enough sort of vague similarities but had this real drive and momentum. So it was kind of born out of writers block almost and just transcribing that book onto script form was just a way to keep practicing and exercising and writing and seeing if it would go somewhere. I never really thought it was an adaption – I thought it was just practicing. And lo and behold it just kept giving and was great and at a certain point that book was like that thick – it seemed impossible to kind of do this whole thing. And it inspired enough to sort of moved off into a different direction so thank God it came a long when it did. It’s a terrific book. But I didn’t know how to adapt it properly I just sort of knew how to commandeer what was useful to me and move a different direction. And as a credit – give credit to it as a main source of inspiration.
ADAM SANDLER: You what was great also? I’m friends with Paul so I watched the process. He decides what he’s going to do – what movie he’s going to do – and when he sets off he writes it there’s just a quiet confidence. Whenever I call him up “How’s that movie coming along?” He says “Pretty good.” “And how’s the shoot going?” “Yeah, I think we’re onto something.” And the funniest is, I think I’ve seen since Punch Drunk every movie of Paul’s alone with him in the editing room. And we watch it together and Paul’s you know asking some of my thoughts is anything was confusing, but I watch these movies that are unbelievable, I can’t believe what I’m watching, and he’s right next to me and I just get to go “Whoa – whoa.” I feel like saying “Hey Paul, how the fuck did you think of that part?” But then I say “Keep going, keep going.” It’s bananas – there’s a confidence to Paul I’ve never seen. Not flashy, not showy, not in your face. Just like “I think I’m…” He’s an amazing guy.
PTA: I have to say in reverse Adam has given me two notes on both those films he’s talking about that I did, that were great . One in particular on There Will Be Blood the whole section where the movie leaps forward in time, Adam says “What about this? It’s a bit of a mess.” And Adam said something: “Why don’t you just get rid of it?” And it took me six months to realize what he was talking about – that you could just get rid of it. I wrestled with this whole thing in my head, and it ran around in my head, why don’t we just get rid of it? And I finally realized at the last minute we can just get rid of it.
ADAM SANDLER: And I said “What about a bowling pin being a weapon?”
PTA: Remember? I never give you credit for that.
ADAM SANDLER: Alright, come on – I think Paul wants to get out of here so let’s do one more question – whoever it is say it. Ask it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How much of your screenplays and your writing do feel is influenced by your personal worldviews? Do you kind of try to stay out of it not wanting to judge your characters? How do you – what’s that process like?
PTA: Well – I suppose no matter how much you want to stay out of it hopefully that’s kind of impossible. But, no God I don’t know. I mean a film should be an exciting film, it shouldn’t be homework or it shouldn’t be me telling you what to think or anything like that. I don’t think. I think you try… that’s a drag, you know? That would not be my business. Hopefully you get to a place where you’re like – I think I said before this great writer said “Writing should be like auto-hypnosis.” Where at its best you’re not really doing it – you’ve got characters behaving how they’d behave. Your powerless against the fact that you’re gonna see through, but hopefully you try to remove yourself from the equation. You know that foggy moment right after you wake up and it’s just this thin little sliver after you wake. You don’t think about who you are or what’s going on – trying to get to that kind of sliver when you’re writing is the sweet spot hopefully. And it’s not too much like I don’t know pouring medicine down somebody’s throat – otherwise I’d do this for a living which is come here and talk, lecture…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What book are you reading right now?
PTA: What book am I reading right now? Well, I’m spending a lot of time reading Inherent Vice… and I just finished reading, and I’m going to read it again, Waging Heavy Peace which Neil Young’s book which is so great. Yeah – high recommendation. Go get it – it’s great. And it’s this thick but it’s so easy to read. I read it so fast.
ADAM SANDLER: just saw him the other night. I saw him like two weeks ago.
PTA: At the Hollywood Bowl?
ADAM SANDLER: Yeah, yeah. That’s crazy. It was unbelievable, yeah. By the way I’m reading Purplicious.
PTA: You learned how to read?
ADAM SANDLER: That happened after Punch Drunk.
PTA: My all time favorite movie? Right now my all time favorite movie would be, oh God I don’t want to – you go first.
ADAM SANDLER: Yeah, no I don’t really have a favorite I have one’s that rocked me as a kid that I thought about the most. You know what blew me away as a kid? Oliver. That killed me.
PTA: The Black Stallion just popped into my head, a movie I loved when I was a kid.
ADAM SANDLER: Yes, yes. That was a great one. Diamonds are Forever was a good one too.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [Unintelligible] reunion?
ADAM SANDLER: We talk about it.
PTA: We talk about it all the time.
ADAM SANDLER: We almost – we talked about a kids movie one time. Years ago. Someday. Someday.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You and Daniel Day Lewis…
ADAM SANDLER: I know. I definitely could be his goofy brother. No doubt about it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [Unintelligible]
ADAM SANDLER: I think just a good way, is just making sure that the actor gets to keep his confidence. That’s a nice way to approach it. If you’re not getting what you want out of your actor don’t strip away everything. You just got to lead him in the right direction and get him or her – as an actor if you are doing scenes that are deep you just need to feel secure or feel like you’re amongst family. So that’s probably the best advice. I don’t know – there’s more than that – but that’s good for me.
PTA: I agree with that, yeah. A friend of mine made a movie with The Rock and Johnny Knoxville and he said that if The Rock would mess up a take he’d just go “Okay. Alright let’s just try again.” You know and he’d get right back into it and Johnny Knoxville – such a great guy – if he would mess up he would bang his head and he’d be so upset with himself. And he said he could just watch two who just obviously come from different backgrounds, different upbringings where they learned how to handle it differently. Yeah, that thing about confidence, if you’re an actor the second you start feeling confident or that you know what you’re doing or you go “God I’m right here” that’s the second it will slip away from you. It’s just so elusive. It’s slippery – getting anything good let alone something good sixty days in a row on a film shoot is kind of a miracle when it happens. But that family thing is right. Making a movie should be like a family, like a big dysfunctional family where everybody is cool with each other but everyone’s honest with each other too.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Whose story is Magnolia? Who is the protagonist of that story? There are so many points of view.
PTA: I don’t know – fuck… I suppose the answer is whoever the story ends with is who it belongs to. I don’t want to ruin it for everybody here – I already ruined one element of it.
ADAM SANDLER: Hey – just that kid hasn’t seen it. But yeah, maybe you’re right.
PTA: How do you create characters? I don’t know – steal them from people that you know or stories that you’ve heard or things that you’re thinking or writing for an actor that you want to work with - all those different things.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How do you know if you’re taking too long on something or if you’re rushing something?
PTA: Ha – good question. We’re going to end with that – how do you know if you’re rushing something or taking too long with it? I wish I knew the answer to that. You know sometimes it’s easy to do things if they’re well written you kind of walk in and it goes really well and it’s smooth and it kind of comes together great and you kind of can’t believe it. And other times you bang your head against the wall or something forever and ever and ever and sometimes it gets better and it was worth it and other times you were just doing the work of trying to see if there was anything there and then it never makes the movie. But it’s all work and you have to find your own barometer – you know make deadlines for yourself. Somebody said they “love sound of deadlines as they whoosh past my head.” I know that sound.
Thank you all very much.
ADAM SANDLER: Enjoy the movie guys.