Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interview: AAP Newswire

Transcription courtesy of Le_Ted

RN is, of course, the station you are listening to and Marc Fennell is my name.  Filling in for Julian Morrow who is stuck in TV land.  And just imagine this: Imagine coming back from the brutality of World War II to nothing.  No family, no money, no future.  Well that is what faces Joaquin Phoenix in the highly-anticipated new film The Master.  He becomes a drunk, a sex addict.  That is until he falls into a cult ruled by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a character heavily inspired by the founder of Scientology and Dianetics, L. Ron Hubbard.

(0:30 - 1:10 - dialogue from the film promo - "Why all the skulking and sneaking?" . . . "above all, I am a man.")

Mmm, dark stuff.  We caught up with the man behind The Master earlier today, Paul Thomas Anderson.  He's also the director of movies like Magnolia and Boogie Nights and look, let's just say it was an interesting chat.  As a director, you get flown around the world and asked the same questions over and over again.  And it can take its toll, which you're about to hear.  The film is set immediately after World War II ends and at that period in United States history, a lot of new spiritual movements started to take off, like Dianetics and Scientology and I began the interview by asking him why was that period, after World War II, such a fertile period for these ideas, these religions to take off.

Well, the theory is that any time there's a lot of death, people start wondering what happens, giving way to these discussions and these ideas happening.  I read about this idea that spiritual movements can take hold more easily after wars and that seemed to give me some focus on what I was writing.

With the film The Master some of the most compelling scenes are when the Master himself, Philip Seymour Hoffman, I guess tries to tame Joaquin Phoenix with these very kind of brutal, repetitive exercises and one of them, he has to walk from the wall to the window again and again to describe what he sees and feels.  And you can tell he's slowly losing touch with reality.  I'm curious, was that based on something real that you read about?

Uh, it was based on an exercise that you - the idea is to repeat an action over and over again, hopefully taking you through all stages of emotion where, you know, from "this is fun" to "this is kind of driving me crazy" to  "what's the big deal?" where you kind of ultimately are getting to the place where you realize that the wall, there is nothing there.  There's a wall?  You can put your hand through the wall, if you want to.  You can put your hand through the window, if you want to.  You can, you can feel beyond those things, kind of like an auto-hypnosis sort of feeling.  Sort of makes you, hopefully, the idea is that it makes feel kind of free, free of a lot of the things that bog us down.  Windows and walls.

We're getting very metaphysical in this interview (laughs)!

I know, I know.  Well, you started it.

It's my fault, it's my fault.  Blame me.  But there's a lot of scenes like that, a lot of different processes that the Master puts Joaquin Phoenix through.  How many of them were based on real things and how many of them were things that you concocted?

As any writer may admit to you, the difference between things that are real and things that I made up is like a fuzzy line.  I don't really remember.  It's years ago, I've been working on this film for five years.  It all seems like a distant memory right now.  I know I should remember this stuff and promote it better and act like I know but oh God, I don't remember!

It's okay, you're on the other side of the world.  You've had a long flight, we understand.  Look, what have you been up to today, you sound so tired?  I'm wondering if we can break out of the mold of talking about movies and just talk about you for a while.

Hey, that sounds - that sounds great.

(laughs) Tell me what's been going on in Paul land?

Well, just been down here to promote the film and it's been good so far.  Starting to wear on me a tiny bit, I'm just sort of tired and I miss my kids, I miss my home but I'm going back tomorrow.  Nothing against down here, what I really hoped would happen is that they would have come down with me but unfortunately they couldn't make the trip so - Yea, it's hard.  You go away from home, you get lonely. Really, it can be - It's an uptown problem to have but, I got three kids at home.  It's primetime over there where I come from, it's Halloween.  Carvin' pumpkins -

Ah, you should be taking them trick-or-treating, dude!

Well, we will when we get back.  It'll be carving pumpkins and costumes and - a Wonder Woman costume.  A Yoda costume!

On a scale of one-to-ten, how sick are you of answering questions about Scientology?

Uhm, Ten.

(laughs) I thought that might be the case!

Ten.  Fifteen.  20.  25.  30, 35.  You know, it's not that you get sick of the question.  I understand, I mean, we've made a film and you have to speak for it.  Sometimes you get the sense from people that they have another agenda.  I'm not getting that sense from you at all.  But you can feel a kind of smirk sometimes, with people talking about it.  And it just gets my defenses up.  Makes me feel, I dunno, it makes me mad.


Mm, 'cause, I dunno.  I'm gonna get to the bottom of it, I'll figure it out.  I don't know.

We need to get some therapy going on the air -


'cause everybody knows National Radio is the exact time to get therapy, isn't it?

Well, don't they have that though?  Come on you've gotta have some, like callers call in and you know, like, Loveline?  You know what I mean, like you call with love problems and stuff . . .?

Well, that's basically what we're doing here, you know.  "It's Psychology Radio and our guest is Paul.  Paul, how are you doing?"

I'm fine.  My penis is in a knot and what do I do, like, that kind of stuff?

Screw talking about the movie, let's talk about your penis!

I broke my dick.  What do I do?

We should also do a love song dedication when we're done with those.  If you could dedicate a love song to anyone, what would the song be and who would you dedicate it to?

Oh, that's a good question.  I would dedicate a song to my daughter.  You know what? I'd play 'Call me Maybe' for my daughter.

(laughs) Little bit of Carly Rae Jepsen on Radio National!

That would be - Actually, honestly?  That is the song that I need to hear again to make me happy again.  That song makes me so happy when I see it it - when I hear it.

We can totally do that for you.  Just lastly, before I let you go, because you are out here to promote a film: What's the one thing about The Master  that you wish people would know before they walked in ?

Well, you know, I would lower your expectations in terms of plot.  And I would raise them in terms of performances and watching two great actors work together to tell that story that way.  I mean, it's kind of a joke, but it's actually true.  You want to let people not only know that you have a film that's out there in theaters so they can get there to see it but help manage a little bit of what we've done.  And say, yea, "Lower your expectations on plot."  That's what I would say.

That's the only time I've ever met a director that says "lower your expectations in regards to our film." The film is called The Master.  It is is in cinemas November 8.  Paul Thomas Anderson.  It has actually been quite a pleasure talking to you!

Thanks.  Well, you've made me happy.

Now we're gonna play some Carly Rae Jepsen.  You're listening to RN Drive.


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