Kenneth Lonergan doesn’t think there’s a real difference between comedy and drama, at least not in the way he writes and directs. The playwright-screenwriter-director talks with Marc about the lie of sentimentality, how ideas collapse when he’s writing and new ideas emerge, and why he hopes to get to 95% satisfaction with his work (he’s gotten to about 90% so far). That work includes Manchester By The Sea, Margaret, You Can Count On Me, and plays like The Waverly Gallery, which is now on Broadway. This episode is sponsored by Loop Jewelry, Screen Dive from 20th Century Fox, YouTube Music, and Stamps.com.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
All right. Let's do this. How are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck stirs what's happening, a marc marron. This is my podcast. How's it going. Are you alright? This? Is it the week beginning of the holiday season. This is where, we've already weighed whether maybe some of your store on the fence. I don't know, we've already weighed whether or not we're going to have people over we're going to have family over we're going to go, see our families we're not going to see our families were going to go to a thing at someone else's house. We don't really like that much, but we don't have in other plans, and we can put up with it for a night there. Okay, people We only hang out with many other time, but it's nice to be around other people with families and what not, if we're not going to go see. Our family, maybe you do in that thing, or maybe you just have a,
quiet night at home, avoiding the entire thanksgiving event in situation. Maybe you you do that you just have like a sandwich. Maybe a soda- and you kind of I in the fact that you turned your back this family and national tradition. But yet you watch the dog show the next day, because that's something to be excited about ha grooming right, all those different shapes of dogs purebreds, that's exciting the parade, not great anyways. I guess my point is How are you fortifying your mind and heart in preparation, for I yeah say: vacation. Maybe some of you were just can't wait. You can't wait to get their mom and dad. sir grandma's house, or maybe you ve, got kids in their excited to see grandma, even though you don't really like her that much a I dont know what your situation by What's on your mind, so my mom, but I'm focusing on food
on the show. I talk to kenneth Lonergan long again is a playwright and screenwriter You might know him from winning an academy award for manchester by the sea. He also did the film Margaret wrote and directed that and you can count on me- was his film several play. I just saw one of them in new york. That's been revived, I think it. I don't. It's called it's revival. If it's just put up again, is it still? revival, if it's not old as hell, but waverly gallery, which he wrote in two thousand, is now up in new york. Elaine may and it joan Allen is in it. Michael Cera is in it great writer and I was a little intimidated. I always assume I'm going to be outgunned, intellectually by for who do who write theater. I I don't know why that is. I guess I I have a place in my in my heart in my mind, that is threatened by people.
Have the wherewithal to write plays. I guess I put a lot us a stock in the possibility of fear and what it can do, I find that some plays are more abstract. Those are the ones that always get me after. I think it was early on when I started. In or seeing sam shepherd plays run like where the fuck does this come from, but I'm still moreover, intimidated and and dim nervous when I talk to play right they can have honoured and myself had a great conversation. He came to the hotel in new york and we sat there, the sirens, through the window and and talked about a new york, about plays and about all kinds of stuff is actually a interesting thing happened after
with the conversation. It may be I'll, remember to tell you what that was. I there's a black friday sale at pod, swag dot com, which is where you can get all wtf merch. I want to make sure you know this. It's forty percent off the entire site this friday, so you can get discounts on items from lots of your favorite podcasts go to pod, swag dot com, that's p! O d s, w a g dot com to check out everything, that's there or go right to pod, swag dot com, I shall be t f and get a new draft. Linda beauty, s, shirt or some of the new sign posters or assign copy of waiting for the pie, It's all forty percent off this friday November 22nd and I did put those posters in those I screened giant, posters from my phoenix show just got those over there just signed a bunch of books. So the do that So how are you preparing what's going on thanksgivings coming up? I think I'll I'll do a dispatch from Florida. I haven't gone down there in a couple years and,
because I've been shooting generally glow is not going to start shooting until after thanksgiving it's so I get to go down and I generally cook and am making some changes this year to it. It's a big choice to big and how will they will now? Will they be received? The chair, just to the menu that I'm going to incorporate this I do think pretty heavily about it about the food as I haven't been eating much it's time to start and again, by the way, I'm glad I waited till thanksgiving and I waited till the beginning of the year. The season the shooting, a bunch of weight. I took off like Jesus as of today. Probably fifteen pounds and most of it was in preparing to to start shooting because those pants that I wear on glow the one pair of pants, I think we're integrating a second pair, perhaps a season, but they snug towards the end of the shooting, they're, just food all around and eat shit all the time over. There too, I try not to, but then you end up, eaten the I'll just have to have a half a day,
you gotta, I have a quarter a donut and then out background I'll, get that other quarter and if no that other half, maybe I'll eat that eating a donut, way can be at can take a half a day, but so I'm ready to go, eat thanksgiving I'd. I know you're, probably just one What how are you change in your menu mark? What what? What is it that you're doing I'll tell you? The big change is I generally do a sweet potato thing just standard kind of like strew, topped sweet, sweet potato thing. That's almost like a dessert, but I think I'm, I think, that's out. I think it's out and I know some you can be ipo, why? Why would you remove that? Unlike because there's a healthier, more interesting way to eat sweet, squashy, sorta, sweet, potato, sweet kind of shit. I've come up with this. This recipe that I believe I invented in a new share this with you, because it simple, if you take that, why do you
cambodia? Is it cambodia, squash cambodia, maybe no, the squash. It looks like a pumpkin that doesn't dead. That's fighting, turning yellow it's gonna, its aid composure, I believe, is a squash. Doesn't matter. Do you want me to tell you the recipe, do you want to me to you it's what I'm doing sharing a recipe with you. That's something friends do so you take. Ok, you cut it up, you got it, you take all the seeds out clean all assuring you shit out of it and then he swayed into triangles. I don't make em too thin. I, like maybe when a half inches on one side and then up to the point and then what I do, I'm telling you it's good, get some key get some clarified butter, pre of melted, make it. So equity and then put in a little bowl and then just coat each piece of the kabocha squash with the key and then all of it. We ve got masala, which is, an indian spice, it's got you.
Like cumin coriander, some cardamom cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, sometimes nutmeg and the idea of theirs different versions of it, but just do the key and do the gara, masala and then salt them up and then roast them until they brown a bit and that's it it's like all those like half of those spices. Half of the indian spices just happened to be thanksgiving, spices, sneaking in something exotic with something that is also well found, in the tradition of the turkey day stuff. Am I I making too much address of. Do you think that maybe my obsession with a this squash? I head to florida in the next couple days to cook might be asking some of the other feelings I might be having about going down to thanks giving see my mom my brother's, come in I'm flying him down? We haven't been together with my mother in a long time for thanksgiving my cousins time.
asking people getting older, and it's far too too. You know by the end of the week it could be underwater or there could be chaos in the streets over some predicament forward, as is a chaotic place. That is a sad trending read, but that will be put out by the the the slow sinking of the state because of a denial that it's putting in that we have anything to do with it. Water. In this it's in florida, but I'm telling you the squash. The squash is going to be the shit, don't be afraid to eat the skin, don't be afraid to eat the skin in life. A quick email. This one was fun I like to try to help out. You know what I mean: I'm not perfect in any way, but if I can help out, that's nice marin drops F, bomb in my meeting at the summit, good day mark. I drive
work every day and listen to your podcast as I snake through the shitty sydney traffic that inevitably happens in the central business district. Where I work I finished listening, the curve episode and the busy phillips episode began to play as I pulled into my garage, it was only six minutes and fifty six seconds into it. Before I jumped out of my car and went up to my office, I was in my weekly sales meeting with all my offices across australia on a video conference call and had my phone The boardroom table, as I was expecting an important call about a contract, so it was in eyesight with the ringer switched off, just as my colleague in melbourne was speaking. All that was heard from Sydney was who gives a fuck followed by. I fuck up we'd, who gives a shit yes for some inexplicable reason, your my cast started playing on my phone by itself on speaker. What was creepy is that the phone was untouched for thirty minutes in some poltergeist shit went down as I scrambled embarrassingly to stop this tirade being confused as my own, as I am canadian and too
untrained ear. People around the other offices may have actually thought it was me swearing. Coincidentally, you did actually say what I was feeling about my weekly meeting. So thanks for that, after the meeting, my colleagues in sydney asked what the pike has. Wasn't, I told them deputy f. You might actually get three more sign. Ups, while I wasn't fired and peoples the humor in what happened. Thanks for breaking up the monotonous monday meeting dread with a well timed f bomb cheers justin glad to help out justin glad to help there's one other one! Here, big ass, hello. I have a huge request to ask of MARC Maron. I would be super great. If whoever reads this could pass along my message to him: well, I'm reading it My mom is a huge fan of the deputy pike ass. She has a boomer wives mug that she probably displays us remain coffee, mug and she's. The one usually telling me about a new great episode, she's been having some medical she's lately with her shoulder involving multiple surgeries and she's, really bummed out about it
cause a recovery is not going well. This all being said my huge request. Is I was wondering if there was any way I could buy some merch as a present have mark sign it to her she's going in for further. during december and she's been in a really sad place for a while, and I just know that something like this would really help her spirits I know this is a huge ask and mark. If you read this thanks for even considering sincerely phil yeah, we can work that out but then you have to buy and you got send it to me and it's a long, it's a long process. So I then said what's her name to fill- and he said to her, he said thanks, reply. Her name is rosanna and want to mention last names for rosanna with the shoulder issues. it's going to be alright? Alright, it's hard about back when you're older, takes time, but you know your luck, it's just a shoulder and not at origin or a brain or losing a foot is that. Did I help Rosanna? Okay, all right?
so can you honor again kenneth lawn again, I don't think I know, monitor com kenny by things some people com kenny can have on again. We talk my hotel room in new york. We are nice conversation and I before I talk to him. I made sure to catch up on some Stu. I never watched Margaret and I know what sort of A movie that got mixed response. I know it. I knew there was some sort of air of was controversy by tat, but it was a difficult movie and a lot of levels I talked to about it, but I wash- and I thought it was a pretty stunning film and what is what was my point about this okay I'll tell you kenneth and I had one of those conversations after the makes one off that I wish a bizarre, but we are talking about. We talk about margaret during the interview, but then afterwards, because Elaine may is in his Elaine may who is in the very influential and famous comedy, nickels and made, but also went on to write. Many movies away
it directed the heartbreak kid and I brought up the heartbreak kid after we turned the mics off, which is a great movie, one of my favorite movies, with the charles grodin civil shepherd eddie albert, and I I just watched margaret, but we it's about the heartbreak kid being one of the great movies that really rides the line appropriately between tragedy and comedy in a way. That's just painful and beautiful. It's it's! It's a stunning movie, and then I asked him you know. Whatever happened is a lane may's daughter was in. heartbreaking, I'm like whatever happened to her and he was like she's in Margaret and my coup and and she played a part in it was devastating her name's jeannie berlin and I had no idea what happened to her and I just watched her in a three hour movie, be the genius and it was so thrilling really. I I just love moments. that that he is, but sadly, we didn't have a conversation on the mike's but kudos and respect to the heartbreak kid.
But anyways I'm trying to introduce Kenneth Lonergan away a genius. Elaine may's greatness, play okay, so this is me talking to Kenneth Lonergan hotel room in new york city his play. The waverly gallery is now on broadway, with Elaine may, Joan Allen, lucas, hedges, David Cromer and Michael Cera. It's at the golden theatre through the end january, okay, listen, isn't Talk nice to see you we've never met before ever I feel like I gotta why I guess I feel I can know you I yet why that happens, sometimes with people I maybe we have common friends possible. I don't know I've talked to people in your movies have talked to casey where the movie, I might have seen you at a award, show of some kind as possible yeah. There were a lot of them last two years ago, no kidding right lawyer to start like, I saw the play the older play. That is up
and wavering gallery last night. I doubt who know how much it when something like that is radon. How much do you have to do with it depends completely on the production, but this one I had a lot to. I was there a lot and I didn't directed lisle illinois power directed at five Is there a lot, you know very involved in the casting and the process? You know if you're the playwright, you can do as much as as you if you're around they're, like yeah, let yeah they like to have you around. If you're you, the us, should try not to be and what was different about staging at this time well it's different when it's just so. You know the first time was staged in nineteen eighty at two thousand and eighteen of the first time you ever do a little more he may be a little more precious about how it's done and you're. You know it's like the the big deal. This big deal too, but I don't know you just Sorry, I guess you just more pasta.
Little less flexible. We have here the writer, but I might have to be flexible anyway, because it's a cat cast in the director and right doesnt work, exact vigorously. it will now. You know now, there's bigger sets, no cause. It's on broadway now is on off broadway before so regionally was, it is one set. It was one set with a rotate with a turntable table, the very end. It's a heart. You know when I play. Wasn't really thinking too clearly about the sets. It's a little awkward. The way the set goes because it goes back and forth between two locations. the middle, the second act and then there suddenly hallway and then there suddenly and new apartment there. We haven't seen right and it doesn't sound like a big problem, but it can be because you have to theater in a small theater, even in the bigger theatre, that's still hard to solve, because if you have one said, you've got this big space that you don't use until the last scene.
If you don't you do that, then you have to figure out a way to introduce it in the middle of the action. Also, it's a continuous thing. They go from the hallway into the final apartment and you have to figure out it's an injured. It's a design challenge. We are because not elegantly thought: by the writer and that guy now it's it's very well, it's very autobiographical, yeah yeah. It is, and you grew up here in new york, yeah yeah and that, like cause, I I cause like. I grew up with some of that same jewish history and where did you grow up? I grew up in new my family's from jersey. So I had a communist great aunt in fort Lee you know my grandma goldie in new jersey now my grandma eleanor and bayonne yeah new asbury park, but I I just find that, like that
that whole generation that history that somebody that has that proximity to to the nazis into that kind of stuff. It day there they're almost all gone yeah pretty much gone now. I guess there's a few hanging on, but you know my born in nineteen thousand three and she was eighty in her light ladys in the in the late. Eighty Sienna me I'm in should be you know, four hundred fifty now so the other exhorts Kind- it's. Why is it like sort of this amazing gift to have it like? I guess we're really the last generation of grandkids. It were able to talk about that and even the way that the set is is design with that type of art. There's something very specific about that sort of progressive, in school, jewish experience yeah that that really reads and Elaine may do a great job with it yeah, she's, amazing and the whole thing. You know the then she's from my grandmother and the character in the place from a very particular demographic. She grew up in brooklyn
parents were immigrants she, but then she quickly manhattan. Greenwich village, kind of a bohemian lifestyle rise she's, a soft I can communist. She was interested in the art scene. She was mostly mostly interested in socializing and and but she was very politically active, amber the american labor party and did all sorts of? lots of meetings with people like national hammered and yeah lived around them. from Eleanor roosevelt after after fdr died and used to see her walking dog in the park and she kind of knew everybody here then really kind of exemplified the greenwich village scene in the forties and fifties do, you still live in the city yeah. I do. I live in soho now find
I guess I are you- are you experiencing cause? Some of that there was some new stallion involved in in in looking in the way they projected from the film pieces onto the sat here is: does your heart sort of break for what was the city yeah it does. I mean it's very so an eye, I mean cities, never state. It's always been in flux, its always changing but place. That is part of the plan. But- and I know, it's hard to miss new york city in the nineteen. Seventy. It was such a sewer, but there was, it's now seems to me to be kind of getting back to that. It's dirtier. It's noisier, there's constructions insane! It's hard, and the the you know the whole city has been taken over by these buildings and all these construction projects, the subways a disaster. It's really gotten the infrastructure is breaking. structures a disaster, but it in my wrong and noticing that, like add, if you're gonna, we know who the people are here and well, I don't feel quite
That way, I feel like it's still the same balance, there's still a balance of native new yorkers people who come in from the outside and and commuters who come in and out. You know, there's not as many can live here now it's much more expensive to live here. Yeah, I know it is. I mean my grandmother wasn't wealthy, but she bought a huge. Know, had some money cause, her father was pretty well off and they bought a building on washington place in nineteen. Forty, I don't think for a lot of money and she was the landlady to a small in an apartment. Building will happen to the building, that's been solved, but and now they're redoing it. I'm sure they're, you know it's been under construction for about a year and a half. Maybe two years- and I know it's gonna be some Twenty million dollar single residence palace route, oh yeah, maneuver, yeah those people where they coming for. No, I think there must. I think a lot of them are foreign. I think of the right of them. Think the think the building was sold to a german mission of some kind and I don't know who they sell to. I don't know who could afford those rents, you look at that
rabbits for sale in new york city is like twenty nine dollars, seven million dollars for a little while I mean it's really gone crazy. never tell her, because I spent time here I lived here for many years, and I can't tell if I'm being like old. Sort of like well back in the day was this or that and the people were different, but it just feels like the the tone of this city has gotten it. Not. I I maybe it's because There seemed to be a more vital art scene. I know where you came up in playwriting. I'm here I mean I, I think this art I think everything that's in it is still here, except for the middle income, people who are able to live in manhattan, but which is a huge difference, but I mean to me it's the physical. I mean we're listening to sirens right now. You never don't hear sirens anymore. You never down here, construction. You never got. Cameras took me. Fifty forty minutes to get here to get forty blocks
there's no way to get around subways broken. The streets are clogged and all this construction creates more and more traffic problems and will create traffic problems when it's done. is there. People have to put me up here off to go somewhere, I'm not going to stop making people and they're not going to stop making cars now and then I could have stopped building these buildings. It's just like the it's literally like the face of greed, he's fucking buildings. He just hate them If I did, I don't know what fills them. Everytime, I'm in a hotel like this, and I just walk across the way yell at people working during the week, I'm sort of like, oh, my god, It happening one of them go bust. I mean N y. U, for instance, is building this ignore you know they keep building and building and building the village, and they Can'T- and I think it's they just the people who are I don't know a lot about it, but like the people who get the contracts provide the contracts are making fortune. The school is not able to put enough students in these two dorms right and it's not a not a moneymaking
proposition in the end, except for the people who skim off the top ones when they're being built, so that's kind of whose and over the city was always just empty building thickest d ye. I think so I lost vessels, but it's not for the people who live here right New york has never been until late for the people that I have, but now it's just there's no sense of public life at all. It's more like it's kind of like the whole city's, like a big fuck you to the people who are here cuz, you cannot get around yeah. It's just and I lived here. My whole life and you know part of living in new york, as he knows always complaining about how different it is, gotten worse, but it really really as thick like. So it's the same evolution. That's in the play the kind of young, except now we know what it's turning into: it lacks any real character, in these neighborhoods you I live in the ville. I used to live in the village alive and saw how bleecker street, even during the
Changes in the sixtys and seventys was still local businesses that have been there for a long time. In the last ten fifteen years they ve been wiped out, ralph, Lauren and and While these designer stores and now they're all shut cause, no one, not even law for ralph Lauren can pay those rents, and so you can just buy online yeah so to bleecker street. They wipe out the local businesses and then they collapse under the weight of their own answers and then they dont none. Then they dont dub there not something. I can a seller spaces businesses anymore. So what does the future hold? it is more of this. I think it's like it. Let's see you walk around your it's like a dystopian society, it's own country. I know you cannot believe. What's out, there is getting to the theatre. I live. A pretty you know exist the lifestyle compared to most people in oh yeah super rich. But anyone is you know doing well. Is better than everybody else, and my god get just going back and forth to work is like it's like a marathon of garbage noise.
In writing organs. We still. haven't we ve been here for ten minutes. We have in her the siren stop once cited I figure like like I watch that I watch margaret last night. I hadn't seen it as in the other movies and I've seen that the one play, but I don't get to the theater. Alexa don't live here and you know when I was watching the play and realizing that you know you're, half, jewish, half, irish and I found that there were sort of like I could see and balance in the writing. You know that that in the sense that- yeah. You seem to be existentially, irish and intellectually jewish I a know. I mean that it's not the message because of the character that away may pose you grandmother you know is, is is now we sort of buoyant and engaged and intelligent and charming and funny even in the middle of her losing her mind, there's sort of a common
There there's a pace to it: yeah right and with Michael cera as well that the day you there is a a deliberate sense of comedy there, but there is no escaping the bleakness, no Well, there really Isn'T- and I guess that's an honest way to look at life, but it seems fundamentally irish to me. Oh, I see yeah. I guess so I shoulder it well, you know I the blaze of supposed to be a little a somewhat of a argument against sentimentality. We all go through these difficult and terrible things not all day long and not every day, not every year? But when you do it's it's I don't know. I think it's worth while the b to be frank about it. We are but also like I feel like it now, but the interesting thing about there was- ever an argument in the plane, even in when you wrote it. It seems that even at that time, there was sort of a natural. Sort of we put her in a home, made
you know me I say: didn't I mean it didn't work that way and in the play in my life and my life, my mom just didn't wanted. Put the grandmother in a home, and she also it's a little hard. You know the problem is with all elderly people or what it is who are not doing. Well is that you have terrible. You can't leave, them alone. Most of the time it don't live in the same family as the same most of them. They don't live in the same house as arrest the family, it's difficult to Take care of them at home, especially if you don't have the income to pay for help if you're, if it's family. You can't leave them alone at home. You can't leave you moved with you, it's various it's very much of a strain, and then Alternative is to put him in a nursing home and anyone who thinks that anyone enjoys that is just fooling themselves so and very few
people are out of it to the point where they don't know where they are right. So it's a terrible dilemma and my mom solved it by taking the burden onto herself, but on the other hand, she couldn't have done that if she didn't have the income to pay for help, I cannot know a single person can take care of a someone who's demented and wandering around all day long possible. So it's not sentimental, but it is yeah sort of responsible and loyal, with certain amount of love that this is done, and it will tolerance and patience. Yeah, that's yeah! I mean that's a lot of people. Do it. A lot of people figure out a way they move back home. To take are their parents. They then sometimes
I just can't you know, that's not because they don't love them as much. They just don't have the capacity to care for them properly, but also in the in the in the character that represents you and and in terms of the the what's his name, Daniel, like you are able to at the end. You know, process his stuff that you can hold both memories. In your mind, we have that how she ended in who she was yeah, he's one continuum and and and to make sure you remember, the other party may not be sentimental, but it's necessary yeah. I think it's. I hope it's the opposite. sentimental. I mean to me sentimentality- is a way to avoid real emotion. It's kind of looking self having the emotion, rather than looking at the situation that that that that is difficult and I think it's a a way to soft power just to make it more tolerable. You have the sort of sweetie saccharine bullshit. It's all! Ok, in the end, its her time in all that crap, nobody knows nobody thinks it's their time
Nobody wants to go, people hold on to very, very little cause, it's worth being alive and they not to quote myself people really want to hang around functioning and have a life, and it's kind of easy for people for those of us who are not in the hot seat, to to kind of quite let them go, and this is life but its if you, if you're the one who's on their your way out. It's not something you want to do, and I think there is a certain amount of respect you can give to you. Can try to put yourself in the shoes of someone is really going through something you're not and try to behave towards them, as you would like someone to behave towards you, trouble is. Is it sort of an aesthetic mission of yours too, to add two to completely makes or that you sent a melody sentimentality is put in its place,
part of fear. I just hate it. I think it's such a lie at the outer filthy lie in adult, and I think it makes people feel isolated, sirens more sirens. something about it's also incredibly self centered I guess, if you export the way you just did with me, there is just that. It's something we do to relieve ourselves from a certain amount of emotional responsibility, yeah into it's, it's it's a lie. You know it's a lie that everything's okay and I don't believe in providing people's noses fact that everything's, not okay, but there's something about the common experience of not of things going back, if they have had a lot of people? To my surprise, come up to me. You know back when we first of the plan now like to say that I was really it was really rough, but it's it's or something, there's something good sing? Your experience reflected back to you accurately. feel so alone a lot of times when people, especially in this culture when people are in trouble
everybody's been in trouble, but you're kind of pushed off to add your regular relegated to a to to a to a role in the margins? It's not really woven into the way we after you know, take care of each other. Take care of each other and people do privately. But it's not a communal experience and that may be shouldn't be, but there's something that's very isolating about. You have your friend in your family, hopefully, but there's some. you're, not it's almost as if you're, not you're, down, and you're not in life with everybody else, and of course you are, but any so I think there's something valuable and just being frank, seventy something valuable about, just just in itself. Just trying to be truthful what I thought out loud about the fact that I think you know. Most of us are built to shoulder or two to sort of at least be able to show up for other people in a fairly present an honest way without collapsing. It seems that because of the pace of technology and in an emotional selfishness that people dismiss people,
but I do think that you know we were naturally able to to sort of show up for people that, in the worst is ways and it takes less than you think I definitely and people really look for each other and we had a great way, namely that something is seeing the city. It's like you at the beginning of margaret, even without horrible accident in new york, I mean, there's gonna, be a hundred people trying to help out with without a second delay. No, I think that's children it's very it's a really good thing and that's partly with the plays about to it's how nino, but I don't think I think it's you know both as a play and in life. You know this also works better dramatically, but the you know the. If you don't sugar coat, how rough experiences you're, giving more value to the effort people make to to deal with that right. So it's balance, yeah, there's in it. You know at first he does often bring out the best in people. If you have a friend in the hospital just walking through,
those groups grimy little halls and seeing all the open doors with all the relative sitting in these chairs, and you know it's depressing to see people sick, you know in the oven in so much trouble, but it's very it's kind of fun, I don't know what the right word is, whether it's comforting a warming or inspiring there's something beautiful about all those families sitting around visiting in this sitting there in trying to help out my just filling life at its best is rough enough, and so the fact that people that it so easy to make Worse is a real problem and her, and I thought you know the fact that people, you know I don't know if it's anybody's fault in other, not more both generational homes. Here anymore, I was talking to somebody had a friend who passed away now, who's when she, was older. She said to me: if I could, I'd moved to ireland is charming to be old in ireland and I met him
I have had a woman from africa last night who was talking to me. We are time at the play and she said we're having somewhere discussion the one we're having now and she said to me you on africa, people like to get old they have all the authority, everyone it's to get old so that they can be in charge and be the most respected person in the room and be the most just. the person in the room where everyone looks too and it's completely different, and so when people get elders, is huge system because you're. The most. You just cause you're the earth here, if you're, the oldest person ear the person at the at the top of the in wisdom either wisdom or even if you just have some respect because you're older and it's it's, it's it's third, the opposite it is kind of the amazon you just you just pushed off to these communities. That are, you know all all older,
people, which is a sort of a false community, eleven everyone's the same age you're put in assisted living facilities, nursing homes or you're, just not in and life in the same way past as is erased in one year on year ass, his arrest and it's really valuable for everyone, its which really, you staying in its valuable, it's it's enriching of of in up to now what happened before you are here really informs your intelligence and you're inside about what's happening. Now people who have no sense of the past, don of a very accurate sense of the present. I think this
That is all that. Anyone ever you know when they have ideas, they think the first ones to have them when they're morals, they think they're, the they're they've they've hit the pinnacle of morality because they happen to be alive now and they don't realize it. In ten twenty years, everyone's going to be looking back at them, appalled their behavior morals in general, yeah, you so, and it's just there's also like cult different colors from the past I mean it's a tremendous, it's just the stupendous, of stuff like the cultures in the personalities in the way people walked and talked and dressed in the music they listen to and the ways they but in the ways they address problems, it's this incredible treasure I would then you might want to look for and also thought to that. in balancing that the honesty of their the comedic element of somebody becoming rapid She is swell or is a real thing, and I and and I think that that it's an interesting line to sort of ride, that there is humor in it.
it has to be humor in it yeah. How would you even deal with you? Have you got a nice? You know it's been said many times. You've gotta laugh. It's like there's an also think people are just funny. You know there. There are no joke zones in life, plenty of them but they're in normal life there. Not that common. It's usually somewhere there's something funny happening somewhere it almost always end in laughter. It can cause, I do stand up and it it there's different qualities of laughter. You know, there's there's laughter that should be crying, which is fine, valid, laugh. You know there's laughter because people are shocked and uncomfortable and then there's the nice sort of turn of phrase laughter or impress with you know what they're doing it serves a lot of different purposes. I offer the latter that could be crying myself I like most of it. I don't. I there's a nervous laughter which I don't like, but you get used to like when you do what I do you get used after a while
like younger people, younger writers and actors, are like why they laughing at that line, and I know I like it when people laugh when something bad happens like it's there and have a nervous react comfortable, but I know they're having doing it because they're having some kind of an emotional reaction and you kind of get used to it. It's a little bit of a it's a weird thing, but like the most dreadful thing, it happened in the plant, some one, personal, garlic and you're like what the fuck you laughing about that? That's the one that you'd be crying, that's the one that yeah like I! I don't know how to process sadness and you know, and I'm uncomfortable and challenging- and you know you're going to I'm going to go ahead and laugh for a second. It's involuntary I don't like aggressive laughing. I like when people laugh to prove they're, not in it or to prove they are no better to prove yet It's nothing is mostly more initially elaborate ashore to their friends. Yeah yeah, that's another one. It ain't glare for yet the attic laughed yet the three films you may not be glass, I think the likely
I've heard some hearty laugh sit that way as and when there is there in a group. Those are those movies get laughter. You knock off relax times, Sure I try to I mean, I think, there's I say, never think, there's any difference really between comedy and and drama, it's all the same thing in a way almost more than two sides of the same coin. I just like. I think, no one thing I think comedians tend to do when they do serious work as they dropped their sense of humor completely and they become quite grim and doll. You know when they do serious roles are just kind of trying to prove to everyone that they're not only funny and I feel actually uncomfortable in their little insecure yeah, but they think they are. They think their gift is not worth as much as they don't think they don't think so much of what they can really do, and I don't think there's much and I get a lot of real life value. From comedians through comedy, and I don't think it's.
and in any way, less valid way to react to rack react to life or to to channel your experience, through your own perceptions in your own ability to to, to put it back the world and some interesting way that no one else can- and I know I don't know what I mean I do know. I think I know why they do it, but I think they're mistaken, because why real. Why did they drop their senses? If not, why they do serious roles? Why they do serious roles so utterly humorously? Can give me an example in one after trashing his pacific. I'm not a Y needs. A rare occurrence at like a that that comedians acting series roles doesn't happen. All that much no decisions, some some like to do it and they kind of flip back and forth and you're just dying for them to be serious. Well, okay, I'll give you an example cause I like, when woody allen did his first serious movie, it was called interiors right and his his his balances now shifted. So he does. His cum is his sense of humor. Is
through even more serious films, but that first movie did which did have good things in it. Only marine stapleton had any sense of humor in the entire film, and the rest of them were just grim. Looking out the window, bleak humorless and those kind of and because of that yeah and- and he had to find the balance he did have to find a balance, but his first instinct, when he did a serious movie part of his energy went into proving he was didn't just have to be funny, and I think a sort of a there's, no need for that. Like yeah, it's not that's a meaning need to turn away from just to dump most the time I think like when people are doing some form of art or any, We like to make a statement, a defensive stay. and in some way it never quite works is nobody else is having no one else really is bothering to.
I was thinking. Oh he's only funny yeah. You know he only he is, and it's made him insecure somehow in that example yeah where he had to prove himself in some other way, kind of yeah and he's not the only one. I just picket, because it was a long time ago what I've noticed about about comedic people acting is some of them there. So do we funny that they can't rid themselves it yeah, and then you get what you're talking about you get someone who is dug in comedically. even when he's doing serious role. There is an absence, that that enables them to either through your recognition of their password or just who they are, that they're they're, still kind of funny, yeah, some some so
times. I mean it's a and there's some actors who can go back for it. Then there's lots and lots of actors who have no sense of humor they're, no good in comedies they they do the same thing in a funny way. It's the inverse they're they're, really good serious actors, and then they do a comedy and they drop their whole sense of reality and they just kind of mug over and Wang can overdo it and they're terrible because they don't think that they they somehow whatever insight they have. Any human behavior drops out because they're trying to be funny with a capital area, just like comic actors to grim, are trying to be serious with a capital s right. Why guess resent bring it up in terms like I obviously that's funny parts in the movies that are very serious that you ve written, but I mean knowing that you wrote analyze this which, which is like I love it. it's a movie, I watched repeatedly yeah I've. I've never seen it but you were running rough trade out the yes, that's how? Yes, but again you try to you've, never seen
I have never seen it cause. It was rewritten as it's just a stupid. It's a stupid to I dunno who I'm trying to I mean it's funny because I'm I'm very jane Rosenthal who produced the fans, are really good friend of mine. She's been very good to me, three written. It was first I my first hollywood experiences and I wasn't surprised at all because I knew what I was getting into, but it's been rewritten by fourteen. We have not really were to my left in an exemplary title: the idea, behind it, is mine, originally the m, the kind of the kind of you It's in it is mine, so I take some credit. I thought it was just it was just rewritten, be you know totally atomized, I I can't even hang any of it on you still don't really know, but I've I've seen bits of it and is. It does seem very funny to me so but yeah I mean But even when you're writing straight up come even if some look even like them. ex brothers, you dont have a serious moment. The whole film theirs. Something there Genuine emotion in those films in the emotion to me, is how much they like
growing around and how much they like mayhem and how much they and they really like it, and that's a real. action to the world. You know that don't like anything too stuffy, they don't let any snot not they're, not just out there to knock down. You know social, pretensions they are really just like they just loved insane and stupid stupid silly and they're really good at it. And that's to me a genuine feeling that come strictly through their being funny and is just as valid A reaction to the world is anybody else's. So he turns your sort of has your cousin, They offer real joy to do a couple. Big hollywood comedies the anime this and that in a guess, bullwinkle yeah? Well, that was an assignment I mean you gonna make a living, sir. I will any views the are you every turn, your back on that now I mean I still do rewrite work I haven't lately in the last couple of years, but I end up until two years ago. I you know, that's how I make a living for the most part, just being a script doctor cause, I don't
I haven't made any. I haven't made a lot of money off my own movies because, the more money that gets put into a film project, the less creative control you have now. I probably would have more than than ten years ago, but I saw keep those things separate or they give you. They give you scripts too, to give it a little yeah you get an asylum, not ignored, I'm yeah, well, you're get fired, the sea can't get too precious about think it to attach the material when they give it to you or they serve. Why can you make a civil more real? Sometimes you they'll say like the sometimes a second you make him or funny. Sometimes I'll say, the characters are no good, sometimes they'll, say both usually one. I do a rewrite. They are after that, dialogue and better characterizations, and then I and then I do my best and then they fire me and someone else rewrites it intellectually, though, when when somebody says that about a character like way cause where'd, you come up at what theater did you come up in as a playwright?
where'd. You start writing. I, sir writing. In high school theatre yeah, I had a really good theatre programme and my high school and I started getting. I was interested in writing, plays and grade, and I really liked it and that's what I always wanted to do and then I went to n y. U romantic writing permanent way you, but I only went there cause, I thought the homework would be easy, because I was already writing a lot anyway, and my parents wanted me get a degree and I didn't about that some others, parents were urged psych as well father was, was a physician internist anew geriatrician user doktor doctor doctor moments mom and stepfather psychoanalysts wow. Now they ate and your brothers sisters why I've as large, extended family you do here and be in the household with psycho analyse because you know how I died. My first wife was a kid of psychiatry. They sort of get a bad rap, some time as Austria,
but yeah my opinion. Parents are not oddballs, particularly at all, I would say, and you know they don't actors at home. When did you feel they would you feel you got out of that? There would have been different than other people I don't know I don't think assocation. I think as a general, interested in the house and personalities and different kinds of people in, but I can't say that doesn't exist in other kinds of honduras, but that certainly existed in my home. Is that what you're worth it cause? It seems that, in order to be it, someone interested in creating, you'd have to have those interests. Yes for sure, but who knows I'm in my item the on the only person with a with professional artistic bent in my old family of three steps: siblings, brother, half, brother and adopted sisters and my its sister as a storyteller and and writes, but the rest of them
doctors and lawyers like that? Well, maybe they're just afraid. I don't think so, but everyone's in you know two brothers play the piano and everyone's got artistic interests, so it's different when you're doing it for a living. right, start writing in high school and go to n y. When did when did you start producing I place after that I joined a theatre company called naked angels, which is which was a bunch of actors and writers coming at it and why you who are that was in that that I know volley. A lot of them are fisher, stevens rob: morrow Nancy, Travis, Matthew, Broderick, Robbie baitz joe mantello. These are a lot of these are theater people and yet yamato yeah. Rather, as nail did, okay
yeah. What was your name in a situation where you'd writing workshop yeah? That was like they had a little space on seventeenth street and they would do we do like one acts and sketches and evenings of short pieces, and you know some full productions and it was a great place to to be. You know there are a lot of young theatre companies in the late eighties and nineties and- and you know like and if the euro, which is a really nice theatre, the one on to become a legit off broadway mammon, thereby Yes, he he was involved in starting and he and he still has a relationship with them. It's weird I talked to him and I yeah. I I heard that interview was really good. I thought it was challenging because, like I find them fascinating guy, but I don't love his approach, acts No, I don't either. I think it's, I think it's a. I think it's a misstep. It's strange to me. I mean again it's the way he works, and you know there are many things that are great about him, but I don't understand the idea that only the writer comes up with character only the writer has a point of,
about the people in the show and that everyone should just say the lines flat and only I don't I understand that at all, and I don't think it works and here's another one. I think I mean again. I don't like to talk badly people who are alive and work. You could say critically but critically speaking your korea now well, I mean who asked, but I mean I think he had a trainable talent for dialogue, probably better than anyone's, and I think he took it a bit for granted. It didn't mean that much He started to explore other areas. I think, because just thought anyone who can write anyone can write dialogue or if you can write dialogue, it's just a gift, and it's not worth that much and I don't agree. I think he had a tremendous insight into the culture into people's behaviour is, and all the things he is interested in and it was through, is credible ear, and I think it's something that's worth cult waiting and hanging a like. Not not my business telling me what to do.
As I said, I dared I I would imagine, he's not the kind of guy who's going to take any advice. Of course not he's got his own stuff. He wants to do and more power to him yeah, but your dialogue is it. You also have the gift for it, but it's so dry, What difference yeah? Well, I'm not you know one, I'm not really trying to make a point. I'm trying to I'm trying to? I don't have a really have a an agenda to push. I don't. I don't mean that he does, but I mean I trying to think what I try to deal with. A lot of people try to do is explore certain air. You know look at different of things that then I'm interested in that. I might have an insight in that somebody else, because they're not me might have, may not of an eye, and I in I don't feel like my job to answer questions here, though, to decide how people should do things. It is. I know how the world should go, what people should do and I
I have my opinions and I'm sure they seep into my work, but I mostly think it's a question of you know part of what you do is look patterns that you happen to see because you're, the only one looking at things from your point of view, if you can get those if you can find some of the patterns and connections in in life that that interesting. When that you have some insight about and get them into into a dramatic form, that's that's something worth doing it's fun to do too. Well, that's, I think, that's what trying to come around to in terms of your evolution is that when somebody says that there is a problem with a character anyway, when you approach a character, you exploring a character because, like Margaret is it is, is a genius movie and as a character. Study of a teenage girl know that that waking because it's a fresh in my mind and like I'd heard about it and I didn't see it, and I did I knew there was some sort of problem with them
we know that you had a problem with it yeah. Well, there are a lot there's a long editing struggle, I'm very happy with the way the movie turned out. If you watched the extended edition, I dunno, which one you watch, there's two there's the ethical release and then there's the longer extended addition, which is much better. I bought one on itunes, not which one that is, I hope it was they're both they're both available while there but they're both long ones, really long, but it moves much faster. It doesn't feel as long. I hope I dunno if I watch the right one while I don't either, but but but my my Question is is at something like that where you have this teenage girl. Is this character? You know who has no conflicts that are not and necessarily unusual outside of you know, cradling a dying woman in writing or in her arms. At the beginning of the show, and outside of that you know divorce, you have daddy issues whatever yeah, but in in order,
to support or two to build a round this character and behave like like. I just like what is the point. What is the process of of of taking character building it out and then surrounding of what these surrounded it with. How does that starts to construct itself with that? That was a interesting, really fun to write, and I think I just started out with this girl who had my first dear, which didn't really make it into the final film. Quite I did, but that in a bright jested form was this girl she causes and is right there for this terrible accident which in which a woman is killed and austria bus accident, and she the first idea I had was that this. This bad terrible thing happens that she felt this very traumatizing she's, also partly responsible for and she lies to protect yourself and also the bus driver just on the spur of the moment and then she, my first idea, was that
then go to all these adults and ask them what to do, and none of them would have an answer for her and that I yeah. When I tried to write it turned collapsed because I you know, if you really think I try really hard to think what would really happen if this was real, and I thought well, of course, adults would have advice for her like they might not have the right advice, which is where I, where it went it up. She shoot she They didn't. Nobody had a solution that really was work was was complete because there is no solution. That's that's complete and that's what she goes through and then that slowly built into this idea of I don't know how, but it it into this idea of living in a city where everyone is somewhat connected and everyone is not- and just the the simple idea of like we're sitting here and there's no probably five, ten thousand people walking around very near us and they're all having a very experience from the one we're having in some of them are,
going through really serious things and some of them are playing frisbee and it's just got interested, especially in a city like this, where everyone's in such close proximity, that's how you gotta get deputy scenes. Were you see like she's, a person among people whether its in an audience are walking down the street or any that there was a lot of focus put directory on on, like you know that all these plan, everybody else and part, and then one reason this film was so much fun to write into shoot. We should have been. Its funding at it, but that got into political goals with the studio and the producer, but was that you it's a little hard to describe you. If you have any verner hertzog says his ideas are like burglars who come into his house. He doesn't really feel responsible for them. They just occurred to him. He doesn't know where they come from and I feel that way when things are going well, you kind of have to have them half partner.
have an idea, and then, but it's like this idea You and it's does it's almost the way, a move. Another movie would interest you, but it doesn't it then you have this impulse. You want to put it paper, you want to put it out there and make it. You want to do you want to have it. You want to give it some shape and then If idea, that's really exciting and interesting to you to me I'll to talk about myself, then try to follow the trail of what your interest is without even necessarily knowing what it is and you other ideas that strike you as as And then you have ideas that strike you as wrong. You don't always know why. But if you kind of trust that you're something inside you that's trying to get out and you try to listen to those signals. You try not to. try to listen to when you're bored and when you don't think it's any good and you try to listen to when you're interested and intrigued and wanted, and then you find out later on, you find all these themes cropping up or not in or out
these storylines are all these ideas that are that are connected to each other? So the things in that film is the whole idea when you're it. Teenager? Your life is very serious and dramatic, and part of it is very sincere and deeply felt and part of it is his big show you're putting on because you sort of feel in the middle of the of a tv movie. At the same time, it was a very passionate, very, very, very they're, not they're, not inured to life. There just discover at penn. they actually said to me. You know this girl is trying to right this terrible and just you know this injustice that she's caused and that nobody elses, that you know she goes to the police these lawyers and she can't get anyone to acknowledge that that dead and what this bus driver did is something that should be recognized as a town. A thing in and dealt with some form of justice. she struggles very hard to try to find some kind of anyway. So then the million may said to me, she said only a teenage girl could think she could affect the world. That much did you have it
nature the time you right, you know. I have one now Quite as not quite as vigorously anti parent does the character in the in the film, but it's that's it and is one of the areas the thumb looks at is the way kids can be. so you know the fruit. Your first move into independence is to decide your parents are hypocrites and phonies and shallow and eventually kind of go back and realize they're. Just they're just up kids and there just I figure things out the way the way you are and that you're no better than they are really me unless you something and usually wrong with them. When you are trying to solve problems of carrot, do you realize these nuances specifically, yeah I mean part of it is instinctive and part of it is falling. This hidden trail right. Part of it is once you the trail is revealed to you. You then followed up more consciously, but lot that there is a sort of a half conscious state into to when you're riding in and the
smart in cipher part of every one is not in the southern part. That's on the surface. You know people mean there's something that connects you to others, people are to your own ideas, that's a that's a bit more unconscious and I think tat like to compare athlete like when they're really in the zone. They're, not thinking about every you know a basketball player, who's playing, really brilliant, is not thinking about every shot shoddy, not thinking about where the ball's going just in some kind, prove that nobody understands and when you writing, while in acting well in playing music. Well, I think you into a similar and her. No one really knows what that is: it's not some magic, it's a very powerful and assistant side of being human being, but nobody quite knows what it is, but it's also like within the crap that you've chosen, that you know that you keep trying these things out and you push things onstage and you process the shower and when you don't want it's not happening, you're, just really awkward and you trying to like
You know you have a great scene and seen a great seen see his great seem d socks and you just like on the fact that my get from aid a sea that fucking everything up then becomes like math emotional man a little bit and that, but part of it is thinking, will what really at what happened. If seen a was real real, true what would happen after that? Anyone would they in fact go into the wood they go get a cup of coffee no they're fighting too much. If I write this fight scene in order They then have a cup of coffee as I've written in seeing be something The change I may have skipped the scene where there may be a scene where they reconciler. Therefore they have to go. They have an appointment, something concrete has to happen to get you from one. point to the next. If it doesn't make logical sense, the first time you write it the and from what we if you think about that, when somebody sends you an already thing that you're not you didn't write the original and you are working at these characters and and the say things like what this like, as a
it's a little easier to do it with someone else's and sometimes I think it'd be better to kind of adopt that I journeyman attitude towards me. work, it might come a little more. We like you able to slow at from their own draft little s precious about it and not try to dig so deep all the time It doesn't always work, sometimes you're more more shallow six carry you through better. Let's talk about now over bit about directing about manchester by the sea, We've done these three movies and they're very specific. You know, there's a you know. I I can't remember where you can count on me: takes place to small town in upstate, new york and then in in Margaret that's here, yeah the city and then like manchester by sea, was in. I spent the lot in new england, the I start economy there with the college of the very specific type of
life in person? Yeah sure is so why there I mean when does it? You know what is the seed of that that was a little arbitrary. That was more like an assignment which you given and something in it. You just dive in in that new dive into that point. Mum. That idea the idea of the film was matt, damon and John presents gaze and name. They came to me with this the idea they wanted me to write a script for and it was their first aid It was this story takes place in manchester by the sea, where I'd never been so small town north of boston, just next to gloucester gloucester and, I said sure they said put it anywhere you want. I said that sounds good to me, so it was. It was sort of a sign backwards royal. But then it became mind very quickly, but it was a kind of a backwards, as a starter with a place, and then I learned more about that place had been in gloucester a few times, and I have some relatives in Massachusetts. I wasn't totally alien to me
there was a certain amount of research. So what the story. They said to you that this guy causes the death of his kids in a horrible accident run with it. they said. While their idea was it's kind of his time of town character and he accidentally his daughter. He is taking care of his daughter and she chokes to death. While he's out putting the trash is, and I share pretty grim and then he the town and then, when his brother dies, he comes back to take care of his teenage, his his young nephew and they form a relationship and it's kind of his redemption is to come back and take care of his nephew. So that was the bare bones. I threw out quite a lot of that and I actually and the accident that happened worse than what they had imagined and cried for while to write him as a town character, and it didn't work at all side. So I had to which out his personality completely before I can go anywhere worms this town, myth then he's a town notorious in the town for having having done this I ve been some are responsible for this and other film there is an accident, the main care
responsible for, but this is worse than I not totally dissimilar. There's a certain sum, it was a really good idea right away and then There's a certain amount of material that I that they suggested that I didn't didn't do anything for me, so I, but I had this assignment. I had to write it and I needed the at the time, and I liked the idea- and I love Matt and I I like john- I don't know as well, and I really wanted to do this so I, fishing around till, I found other material that that connected to their idea, which I liked as much as could have been my teaching in your head, yeah yeah, I was like. Well, I don't like the main characters. I've written these already flat. I don't need, doesn't do anything for me. I don't really see who he is. I don't have no end, but I written a brother character for him, who I really did like. He seemed like a real guy in my head and to me was a real person, so I got rid of the main guy and I switched the brother to being the main character just in my head and then I
like. Okay, then I felt like I had something more robust to work with, and then I gave him a a different yet a different brother, and then I had a little family that I believed in and was able to proceed and it's kind of like you're following clues that are coming up. For your own mind, and that's something I've over the years. That's if I have any kind of technique. That's my that's! What I try to do is follow my interest and if, if, if I like, actor of Lee instead of the character of John who had started out as then, I know, that's, that's that's going to yield something valuable it is. I find it so interesting that, like you know in specific, I I guess my it's not really a question. but I I just I I dunno. I know how it happens, or maybe it's just an acute empathy or percent perception of of human nature, but you, the codependent relationship of the brother, with the
our condition with that woman and her character. He always it is a very specific and I think, a very disturbing and real thing that it is in that just happens for you mind, or do you like you because, like it seems psychologically sound yeah and in also elsewhere, casey's character young without a whole year that there there's something about that new I hope it is. I mean it's, it's only supposed to be here I mean, but that's what's interesting. I mean, if had people say lots of nice things to mean one thing. Nice thing people say is I like how your characters are not good or bad, and my feeling is first, given the second like who do you know? Who is all good? bad. Like I don't know, anyone who, like the there's, some really rotten people in the world that even they have friends and relative So the answer you think they have shitty frantically relatives or they're nice to their dog. You now I mean
it doesn't exist. Someone who looks like in the movies there's no person back on how to tackle, and we send a mental to think of villain is all is that nosey civility doesn't you know the most villainous people in the world think they're right and think they are or they're aware that their that they don't care about anybody else and they think that's fine, we'll resident yeah, but he he's sure he's right about everything, and everyone is that's. What's so maddening also not just does not just to be You know it's more dramatic to have two people who think they're right arguing with each other. I see moving. The villain is cackling with glee laughing cause he's so evil like this doesn't do anything for me. It's it's week, he's not real. It's much more frustrating to deal with somebody else's alternate reality than it is to with someone who agrees with you that that they're, no good and so make makes for better drama, I think, and when you're directing What are you out
as a writer, you know what is what's your approach to directing? Is it it as a to because you know you're you're pretty she, you know it's straight ahead. It's a beautiful when you do have an appreciation, obviously, of of the environment, but is it there to service the the writing in the characters in a in. This way or or you do protests direction with that as some sort of craft in your head My whole goal was to it is vivid lifelike as possible. Whatever the story may be, that's that's what I, doing so amber in out. To me. The environment is really it's such, presence everywhere. You go like the room we're in now or just my drive up here. Just one when we go out to this noisy are outside. What's going on out there, it's just well, it's just daily life now but like over. But if you get in a car and drive an hour, you suddenly in the summer you're at a new york there's a sky opens up. You could be in one of these depressed little towns and you're up in new york state. You could be in the hamptons, where
various eugene, and it's a suddenly different and the environment really seeped in everything and I'm a meal for some. Whenever reason, I'm always really interested in the physical environment that that the characters are- so that's one way to kind of bring them. Elsa life. Also, if life is very specific, there's no real such thing as a generality in the world. Everything is very concrete and specific. So sometimes saw my way into the stories is to be as specific as possible. Minister, seltzer amount of research. Thinking is accurately and vividly as you can about the people and what's happening in the room between them. and some of it you it comes to you as if by magic, even though it isn't and some of it you have to work on and figure out and kind of plod. Through till you come up with something that you like, and what's your approach to, you know actor
pretty much the same. You know I have an idea of the story that I think works cuz. I wouldn't have The script finished until I do and then, when were working on the scenes, you kind of time a mere aversion and hope they can you That is a jumping off point in most of the time they can, and then there are things that I know are happening in the scene that if they don't pick up on, I would point out to them and then there's there are always things that they, know that I never thought of, and that's the fun of working with actors is that they bring so much to it so much more to it than I could fully collaborative in europe, very much so yeah they're, I mean there without them, there's nothing and It's one thing to imagine all these things happening in all these people and nothing to actually embody them and become them, and you know that what they have to do is is tremendously difficult and an interesting, and I just tried to in like, for instance,
If there's a couple and I've written them as insulting each other, in their meant to get along well, sometimes people who are not naturally sarcastic and mean like. I am well make a little smile after they insult there's there in our spouse or brother sister, apparent right in a scene and I will say: listen I think you're close enough that you don't have to make in order to make it clear that it's a joke. You ve known me known each other for ten years and when you get around, there's no need to soften it by by smiling and to me that, just a greater intimacy in the end, that's something that anyone can understand and they'll stop smiling and in the end something will spark between them that wasn't there before. So that's it. I think I might say, and then all other time, if is going well, I don't say anything in case he original guy no matt Damon was going to first yeah matt was going to play the the lead and his schedule got too tight, and I thought he had you know we could. He have either delayed for two years or gone ahead.
Casey and matt, and I both great casey was it should be. It was was a great idea if Matt couldn't do it, so we offered it to casey and luckily he was able to do it. hard to imagine it any other way there, both great actor yeah. That's a funny thing that happens, you write it and you can put various people in your head and then, when someone really comes in and bodies at you, it's hard to imagine anybody else, doing it when you're shooting that those scenes like you're. I'm sure the one thing that you probably talked a lot about was that scene with michelle Williams and when they, when they first each other after all those years yeah I mean when you're on set, and you see that thing unfold it had to great in our than anything he could have ever met yet is in there just enough there, just both so good, and they, I think I've heard so much up to its a great scene, and you know I like the writing in the scene, but the performance is what makes it and it's just really there so alive, and the situation is so painful and they're, so try so hard.
again. You know, I think the scene would have been less good if one of them one thing people like to write a lot of fights arguments. You watch t v in there and they are always on or any movie. You know that they always start out there snapping sure they're, always arguing and I'm like it's just easy to write a fight scene, and I and and I think that it's people don't fight that much or that openly in real life. They do, of course, but they do a lot of other things. To these two characters. Really trying to be nice to each other, but there the terrible odds and they can't connect she's, desperate to connect and he's desperate, not do so they can't, but at this, but the another thing that's happen, they're, both very conscious of not trying to hurt each other. I think that's kind of what makes the scene so strong, because they're both they're, both the but the way they both perform It is so there's that the the conflict between what they doing out there they're trying to when each other in doing it is impossible to sustain the events. To walk away. I think it's, I think it's great. I love how they do it,
is very exciting. On the set to watch that happening. How many times did you have to do it? We did a few. We had two cameras. Yeah we did. We should we schedule for half a day, because we know it was a big scene. That's a long time for, I love you like you're, hot and we had been weak. Did I think project about five takes, so you have one You have kate over michel, shoulders, shooting casey and then also to shot the same time and then, but then than the reverse ass. He ate it, and now the alike I feel bad for what I said about comedy earlier because, like I realise that when you say that there is not dead, much difference or any different tween, Drama comedy is that in a piece of work, if there are laughs in something like you do there, they're earned and they're complete. we within contacts. Where you write something like analyze this or whatever you are you right. Jokes, but when I think about the relationship between cases, character- and you know his
His brother's son yeah there's a yeah. There is in its, but it comes Yannick. I hope that there is no it unemployed, but, like you look at some, I like scorsese, who writes you know who who who makes these films about these very violent extreme, but he loves extremity and behavior, and his his movies are incredibly funny. There's people are so far out, even if they're, even if These ruthless murderers right. It's really funny somehow, because he so enamored extreme behavior. Look at stanley kubrick. His movies are not thought of as being particularly funny, except for like doctor strange which is a flat out comedy he's got this in credit, his sense of humor. I dunno what it is. It's a sense of irony, or just this strange, like I dunno, but so a lot of people Do this you know Pedro almodovar, dover outbreak, spanish director movies, incredibly fast incredibly moving and there's just it doesn't it's it's not that thing where it's funny and then there's a serious scene and then goes back to being funny here. It's all woven together together, not stick, no
which is sort of makes sense that you know that the analyze this got so far away from you, because there are scenes in there that are so sticky that I have to respect mystic yeah unexamined nothing wrong with stick. I loved it spreads its great I mean might but like Show like the honeymooners, which is the single greatest television, Joe ever in my opinion, in its really funny, but there's a real their relationships in it are very real and that's nice arctic. The characters are growing and they're really believable, even though it is essentially said sitcom, and I it all it all goes together. Very well. So what was your experience with the you know in terms of where you're at now and what you can do with with the accolades? You have when academy awards. Nothing. No, but in terms of like I'm curious about the experience. What held up Margaret so long
it's a very long story, not very interesting, but it was essentially, it was very difficult movie to edit it in any it was it's a very different kind of movie. It's very. It has a really unusual structure and the length is the needed to be longer than it was contracted for, and that was the fulcrum of where the conflicts were and they basically didn't believe I was going to get it to them at the right length or that it would be good at the right length. I they wanted me to get it in on schedule at the length which was two and a half hours and have me be happy with it, and I I'd really hard to do all three things, and I couldn't- and I was able to keep it on schedule. There is a series of contracted extensions, but that sounds too because five years to do, but there was all mutually agreed upon delays and it just got just
from there. We didn't trust each other. We didn't like each other. They didn't give me the leeway I needed to complete the film cuz. I didn't trust me and I couldn't understand that they that that was something they wanted to do because the feeling was if they just leave me alone. I would get it done be really good. the one thing they didn't want to do is leave me alone. They tried everything, but that and even after in fighting for two years. They say: what can we do I'd say leave me alone and they say why would it different now because, because you've never tried it, so it just nobody would back down. It was impossible to turn out to give the film to them at the at the link they wanted and have it be any good. I didn't know that started they thought I was conspiring the whole time to but to them at a longer length. There wasn't an interest want to just bolt on from there and many many there many checks as to the to the to the direct story,
how to take all your happy with the director's cut, I'm very happy with the extended version. It's still not exactly what I would have wanted. There's some there's some music there that I don't like. There's some edits there that I don't like it's much much better than the other version, it's much closer to what I wanted. It's a bad I'd say about eighty percent of what it should be in usually like to get up to ninety ninety. Ninety forty five per cent, so manchester by the sea, is ninety five percent, nine thousand and ninety, I think it's and it is about ten minutes. It could come out of it and there's a couple of things in it I don't love, but mostly, I think it's really pretty much. Why are those tenants in it as you lose it's hard to, you know you have you have to you have to finish it. You know you can't keep tinkering with it. First of all, you can't, if you keep, there's a point at which you get to where your your fixes start to make it worse, and you don't, You stand why, but once that happens through time to block lock it down It was further along in earlier
then I realized I spent about six months making really my new changes that worked, didn't, make it better and then, that six months you have to release at this early stage. You can't keep screwing around with it forever and you're, not confident that year fixes are gonna, make it any better, so that ten percent is inexplicable to you and tell you you, you don't know what this She is bio without an acceptance, yeah yeah It's your hands! It's out of your hands to a certain degree when it was in your yeah. It's the same with writing a script like you you're. You can see where it needs work. You keep working on it and then at some point the balance tips and you see that you're making it worse. So you have to stop, even though some of it's still not satisfactory. So there's no good, there's no being satisfied. I know I'm very sad, I'm I think I'm more satisfied with most of my work than most of my friends who do this. Same thing? I'm I am really happy with economy. I'm really have with manchester a little. I have a couple of little quibbles. you can count on me have two quibbles with it. Exactly there's just two
in that. I'm not crazy about me. I! One thing that I should have kept in an I change, one shot that I should a left the way it was but I don't wake up, and I think now, but I I I am always annoyed when I watch it when it comes on, but I'm very happy with my plays, I don't think they're perfect, but I think they're mostly really good, and I I like the way they've been performed. Some pretty satisfied I'd love to see the production of the lobby hero, but I haven't yeah. We had a real. It was a really good one. Last year I don't think it's possibly completely satisfied especially return when you get a little better. Hopefully your job or you're, different personal, and it's just you know. work in the service like a question of stepping in and stepping back, and then You know you're up close working on and then you step back to look at the whole thing, and you see see the little differently but its it. But at some point as it as you get older, you accept what you ve done and you can. That that's where you were in your life and that those issues has it ever happened. Where you had issues, something and you realize one night. It actually is ok.
How many times yeah yeah you kind of have these details start to loom very large in your mind, and then you reel off at the time I mean that's partly why it's difficult because your mood changes say. Look at one senior like this is a disaster or your worried. Someone else is going to think it's a disaster and then you look at it a week later I go it's fine or, but as write. The I mean if you wanted to you, go in and in this new production of the waverly gallery you could change it yeah. You can. I mean I, there are three four things I would cut from the script, but I'm not confident I'm right and part of that, because I hear you're different when you're really connected to it, to the point where will work on it and I have and may be. Superstition may be wrong, but I I have for most of my working life. Try to respect what I was doing at the time and understand that I couldn't do it now, just cuz. I was a different. psychologically I was in. I was really
groove whatever that project one and I maybe don't know as much now about it as I did, then the feelings are different different and might the insight is different and I have a different view of it cause now at its different. It's not something I'm working on by myself. Other people have been involved or the people have seen it. It has its. It started become a different animal and what your involvement with the with gangs of new york, That was a really good time for me. I I they had. Been through three riders. The last guy who worked on his name is hussaina, mean he's a really good writer and he was only able to come in and you have some work on it and then he had to go off and they asked me to come. They asked me to come at the very last minute and rewrite some of the characters and dialogue and that I just got married. They flew my wife and I to rome. My wife meet around and we lived in rome for three months and I went to the studio change the every day and work with scorsese and daniel day, lewis and Leonardo
and was really fun, and I love I love period stuff. I love I'm really just in the civil war. I left the house that was just incredible to be on his blocks and blocks and blocks of this reconstruction of nineteen. New york city slums is just incredible. We just had a really good time. Everybody else was freaking out about the movie and I was having a blast yeah. It's like a exciting yeah. It was really exciting. Yeah I now in in those moments, because I'm I'm shooting, I have a very small part in the joker movie, so yeah, it's ongoing, the first time I've met de niro yeah. Of course, I can imagine doing a scene with him for like their forty seconds, it's cool, but until I get something else, yeah yeah but like like even in watching them work, I mean there was something planted in your brain about that process. In about working with actors and about directing we just so thrilled to be there, that you didn't really weren't. Looking at that I know a little above I mean you can't help, but it what's happening around you. You know this was a big big in to watch him marty like call marty
everyone else might in thy showing wrath. We. U, I haven't seen him for a while, but we got to be pretty friendly. He's been really really get to me. Then I just I love him, but he to watch. manipulate all the elements of this enormous production and keep his eye on it and did not just the production but the people in the cotton other high the thing and the design the shots. I didn't get the same working with the actress too much because he would basically go off and talk to them quietly, so I didn't ever knew what he was saying to them, but I kind of watch him. riding. The performances from the monitor in the editing earn later fascinating and just. watching the different way. The act just approached the parts and the press, as ever return. The rewrites was interesting. You as well mostly done rewrites, not I've, never done rewrites on the sat. While you know I was. I was running about two weeks ahead of the schedule which was pretty intense and
Had this really get system we'd all they meet with him in the actor involved, and we all talk. the scene. What was wrong with that and what what they wanted- and I don't know they listen character all the time he did that boy. While the time yeah but and but he seemed to me to be very nice. the characters and very nice and not on the weekend. He dropped the accent they. He told me later that he had to step in and on of, if his first second son, born yet, but he had a kid at home and have didn't, want to come home and be the sinister build, a butcher which you would have done before he had children setters. First of all, he ever did put his wife through that yeah I'll. Just put it exactly just put his wife through it. So anyway, so we'd sit there and we talk about the scene and then I'd go off. I'd show it to marty when marty- and I were happy we'd show to the actor and then everyone would just sort a very good system of circulating. It's not started. One was happy so where's your with.
What areas of your brain are are are are sparking now in terms of what you're writing now with where you had it. I have a screenplay, I'm interested in and I'm trying to get off the ground, and I have a plane on an original screenplay and have a play that I would really I too right. I have no idea if I can or not and it causes, for it would be quite a challenge to try to put it together its if it I've right it it's a historical. What period is a fourth century thought at it Fourth, the late roman empire for centuries, idi, and I don't have any idea how to put it on a stage and I probably won't be able to do it. But it's it's it's a period. I've gotten really interested in lately. Why I dunno I was always interested in history. I was always interested in roman history Among many other periods, I, like medieval history like nineteenth century history, like you're, going gonna write in that dialogue. You can't write dialogue from in you can't write
I write fourth century latin or greek. So no that's one of the problems is: how do they talk? one of the many many problems I prowl. I don't think I can do it, but I'm I'm learning a lot about what kind of human story can you place, then that you can't place now the trip a while to totally different world? It's like What kind of human story can you place in the deep south that you can't places soviet russia. I mean it's, so you can find a place shakespeare all kinds of different environment. Maybe it's maybe it's has to be done in a modern way. I really have no idea. It's very. I mean I didn't want to say it's early in the process. Cuz, I don't know. If there's going to be a process, I'm worth what The world is the screenplay. Why you know the truth? Is I'm a little uncomfortable talking about stuff? I haven't written cause. I don't want to talk it away via via right. That happens. It does happen. You keep talking about it and there's nothing left to do yeah. So what is the? What do you do during the day?
he's right. I try to write. I do crossword puzzles. I read the freak out. Sometimes you're, not in an internal way. How are you handling the world? It's horrible. I dunno I dunno what to do about it. It's quite, I think about it, a lot, probably not as active about it as some people I dunno do about it. It's pretty bad. It's a little hard to know how bad it is. One scary thing about it, because in iowa until we had an argument, pretty casual cause I said not so sure I said this is the worst administration is the worst presidential since we've ever had- and I said I'm not sure, that's true, it's having That's right now. I don't know how bad it's going to get it's very at now, but I don't know if this is going to be now, if you think about, if you would been, you know if we have been alive and growing up in nineteen, sixty nine seventy eight the world
pretty grim, then we this terrible war. The whole country was b series of assassinations, terrible problems, riots every summer bombs going if everywhere, it must have looked like a complete collapse to people at the time and he said he didn't agreed in thing. Nixon was as bad as trump and I Now, if he's right or not, we are not in a war, not at a major war. There's all these small. My is all these smaller horrible conflict all over the globe were not in a big major war, we're not in the middle of an economic crisis, we're not having riots and race. It's an all kinds of other rights. We don't have. We don't have the is gunning down union workers who you know, there's a lot that happening that had has happened. It doesn't mean that it's not going to get very bad, but I don't know it and the other thing is. I was going to say, like you, also look at you, The most extreme example and think of the rise in others season, their consolidation of power. You know you say why
the Jews leave as soon as hitler came to power. They didn't know how bad it was gonna get. It happens in increments, so You don't really know what we're up against yet and some through saying it's going to be hard to no one to leave it's hard to know what to do or how I mean. I think the thing to do is to agitate and try to vote vote out the right rabid conserve cynics that are in power now and you gotta try to find some way to find I'm kind of civilized accommodation with all the people who violently disagree with each other. I dunno how to do any of that, but- and it's gotta be done, but I in terms of just prognosticating about how bad things are going to get or how bad this is in the big picture. I don't really know it's quite bad, but as an artist joke like right there. What you said, like you know like it, would seem that on some level it doesn't necessarily seem that this is your starting point for for creativity, but you know bridging the gap between
yeah. These ideological tribes now seems to be rich territorial and obviously a lot of people talk about it near and end. I guess some people would say well I'm going to to to confront that roar explored. The through characters is in that's not the way your brain works I know you can only write about what you can write about. You may want to write about lots of things, but I'm not you know, there's some things you're better at and some things you do more. Naturally, and I don't know, I you like to think that any kind of connection that people make through fiction with other people is valuable, even if it's just to give people I mean, and I I think, there's a valiant entertainment. You know people, some people, think it's a narcotic and I suppose it is, but I think there's some young people need to have something to. Watch on tv when they come home where, the batter to go to the movies or to go to worry too much. You know too much, I know, but it's not something you'd want to do without and and I you want people to think and have
will experience. At least I do when they go to see my work. and I don't know how I do think, there's some value in you stand. Somebody who's point of view is totally different from yours. I dont know that you get that a lot and entertainment, and then you get a lot of you now, whereas, where's the right wing point of view in the entertainment world simply doesn't exist and I'm not I'm oh and stars on twitter who people assume have gone bad yeah yeah. Exactly I mean I often one: I've wondered for many years way before trump. What had this idea of putting on a really right wing oriented play city and seeing how tolerant all my tolerant friends were too, other ideology I get a totally jingoistic playing are now just something that presented. A conservative point of view is reasonably as possible
and I know, they're going yeah- so I think there's a lot of a lot of stretching it needs to be bought on both sides. I do think you're right. I think that's a tribal, a at aspect I mean, frankly, none of us want trump to do well at anything. We just want him gone because he's so awful, so were I. I would bet that my most of my friends, including most us- you know- I assume you have the same yet since you're in show business. I assume you have a similar political ideology but like the fact that I get a little depressed when I read how could the economy is because I don't think about all the benefits is it that are accruing for people? I think he's going to make it more popular, the bad as winning and that's a really unhealthy attitude, I'm people in up and people would agree with you. What is it is unhealthy people on the left are every bit as knee, jerk and and and and and and regimented in their thinking and as people on the right. We like they're not as disappointed they're, not as focused, and they don't have a long term view that
in that's correct, and I we try and we hope that our values are are better, but so do people on the right. I don't I'm not a relativist. I don't think it's all the same thing, but I know people on the right can understand. Why how we can feel that were mauro and were against every single thing that that he does but to us. I think it's not equipped he's, not something that should be tolerated, his knees and easy. His is a very, very bad guy the pathological liar? I mean I don't have to go into all right for this audience, especially not to go into the whole story, but How tolerant are you? How tired should you be of mccarthyism not at all, is the argument, but then you're accused of picking and everything poor, Joe Mccarthy says, but he's up self serving climbing liar. He didn't even believe anything he was saying yeah so, but
none of that conversation that you just we just had your, including putting on this this display this that that's empathetic, insensitive to a conservative, viewpoint. Yeah yeah engages you enough to to to to rise to the I think about it all the time you know. As you say, you can only write what you can write about it, I'm not. I don't I don't not seen very many plays movies, read very many books that have a nice pacific political message that there they convey that are any good write to me. I think that's journal. Some essays speeches, conversation people, I'm not here- to make up point cuz if I'm making point through the medium of a drama near or a comedy? some very clever, a really good point to make using the people in the story as puppets to to disguise the fact that I'm putting forth some kind of
particular ideology right function and if I have something to say, that's, that's that's, a declarative sentence. I'm better off just saying it instead of spending two hours have, Some other people are saying up a shallow care thirdly, great talking to you man, oh you too thanks a lot like our doing it, my pleasure that was good, talking to that man again his his play. The waverley gallery with a lane may and others is playing at the golden theatre through the end of january iter sure. To. I
the white boomer lives.
Transcript generated on 2022-07-17.