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Oscar Week Feature: Top 20 Interviews of 2015, by Patrick McDonald

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StarDirector Julien Temple 

Gary Kuzminski, Julien Temple, Shannon Flynn
Julien Temple (center), with CIMMFest officials Gary Kuzminski and Shannon Flynn, April 18, 2015
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Julien Temple is a legendary rock documentary and narrative filmmaker, with credits such as “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle” (about the Sex Pistols), David Bowie’s “Absolute Beginners,” and “Joe Strummer, The Future is Unwritten.” He received the BADASSS Award at Chicago’s CIMMfest, a springtime film and music festival that is life affirming, and is still (and always was) a cheeky bastard.

Memorable Quote:[On meeting the Sex Pistols] I came to the top of the loft, with a worm’s eye view of the band’s practice, silhouetted in front of these big windows. Remember, the style of the moment was flairs and long hair, and here were these guys had skinny legged skin tight jeans, big fat feet, with brothel creeper Teddy Boy shoes. mohair jumpers in yellow and black, and short, spiky hair which I had never seen before. They were like insect men from Mars. Who the f**k were these guys? I listened to them for awhile, and when they stopped playing I approached them with ‘I’m doing this film in my film school, would you do the soundtrack?’ Their reply? “F**k off, you middle class c*nt.” I thought, okay…” 

Click here for the full interview with Julien Temple.

StarDirector Todd Haynes of “Carol”

Todd Haynes
Todd Haynes at the 51st Chicago International Film Festival
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Director Todd Haynes is an auteur…you immediately recognize his films once they unspool. In 2015, he made the film “Carol,” which garnered a Best Actress nomination for Cate Blanchett at the upcoming Oscar ceremony. Set in the 1950s, “Carol” could be a companion piece to his previous “Far From Heaven.” His 1987 premiere film was notorious, “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” (currently out of circulation) and he had a perspective on whether it would see the light of day again.

Memorable Quote: I always bring it up to my lawyer every now and then. [laughs]. And another reason we have to revisit it is because there is a restoration going on right now for the film through UCLA and Sundance. I hope it’s water under the bridge, but Richard Carpenter is a complicated individual, and he’s also entitled to his own opinion on how his sister is depicted. The film has lived on and survived, and to me is ultimately is an affectionate celebration of Karen Carpenter. I hope that wins out in the end.” 

Click here for the full interview with Todd Haynes.

StarDirector Jay Roach of “Trumbo”

Bryan Cranston, Jay Roach
Bryan Cranston and Jay Roach On the Set of ‘Trumbo’
Photo credit: Bleecker Street Media

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Like Adam McKay (below), Jay Roach is breaking from his comedy roots (the “Austin Powers” films) and has started to comment on current events (“The Campaign”) and past American indiscretions (2015’s “Trumbo”). “Trumbo” is about the Communist witch hunt of the 1950s, told through screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Bryan Cranston has an Best Actor nod at the upcoming Oscars, and Roach has added another exploration of the “American Nightmare.”

Memorable Quotes:[On Dalton Trumbo] He was obsessed with justice. He always said he fought so many fights, all seemingly different, but all about the concepts of fairness and justice. When something so unjust as the black list happened, he would come to life in a certain way. In his life, Trumbo uses wit and comedy to fight these very high-stakes battles. I hope I can now use my ability to communicate, without being too precious or serious. It’s good to have some levity, even as you’re facing some really dark times, and mix it up a bit.” 

Click here for the full interview with Jay Roach.

StarDirector Adam McKay of “The Big Short”

Adam McKay, Steve Carell
Adam McKay (left) and Steve Carell Discuss a Scene in ‘The Big Short’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: McKay is another comedy director (the “Anchorman” series) who broke out into more serious fare in 2015. He has been nominated for Best Director, and the film he helmed – “The Big Short” – is nominated for Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars. “Short” is a brilliant dissection of the economic meltdown at the end of last decade, and McKay is using his box office power to both cast and produce this new part of his career. This is the second time I interviewed the man, and he never forgets his Chicago roots (in The Second City) and he is serious about his opportunity to comment on current and vital events.

Memorable Quote:The trick with [Steve] Carell is simply that he is one of the most prepared people you’ll ever meet. Whether he’s doing ‘Anchorman’ or ‘Foxcatcher’ he’s a guy who works really hard. And another thing about Carell – he has one of the great noses for B.S. I’ve ever encountered. He knows when the scene is not working or it’s not truthful. I’ve done takes with him that I thought were great, but he’ll say there is more and want to do it again. I’ve learned to trust him on that, he knows where he can get to. It really clicked on this film, the two of us would chase down that truthful moment. ” 

Click here for the full interview with Adam McKay.

StarDirector Noah Baumbach

Noah Baumbach
Director Noah Baumbach
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

Background and Behind-the-Scenes: Noah Baumbach had two major releases in 2015, “While We’re Young” and “Mistress America.” He did a rare promotion tour for “Young,” and it was just endlessly fascinating to probe the background of his great cinema statements like “The Squid and the Whale,” “Greenberg” and “Frances Ha.” I also like the accompanying photograph – Baumbach strikes me as a no-nonsense guy, and the photo seems to capture that.

Memorable Quote:It’s interesting, I court this notion of autobiography whenever I get feedback. With this film, people were assuming I was Ben’s [Stiller] character, and I thought ‘you see me as a stunted filmmaker?’ [laughs] That doesn’t mean that there isn’t elements of me in the characters, but they’re not all extensions of me. I was looking for characters that fit in the narrative and comic form.” 

Click here for the full interview with Noah Baumbach.

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