Sans the part where it involves sitting across from people who have their faces up on the silver screen, interviewing movie personalities is definitely just part o’ the job. On the movie business end, actors, writers, directors, etc. are sent by the studio to various cities to talk to press members with the ultimate goal of getting publicity. They speak highly of the the movie to press, and with a little in-person character. On my side as one of many upon many bloggers, I try to do my part of the job by attempting to craft unique interviews, both for the sake of my readership, and for the sake of the interview subjects, who are bound to be asked the same questions a thousand times.
Doing an interview, while it may be in person and involve handshakes and a few laughs, doesn’t have to be a personal experience. It can certainly be like having a meeting with someone who has more money than you and isn’t afraid of mini bars, just discussing the product they’re peddling, and then you leave. But for me, as someone who has been hoping to provide entertaining interviews since 2008, I’ve found that my most enjoyable interviews go beyond the marketing aspect of an interview, and instead are more laxly conversational, with the product at hand being used solely as a base. In this manner, I feel I’ve been able to have personal experiences with some of these potential sales folk, without being interested in the buddy-buddy nature that can come with being around “famous” folk (I do not take pictures with them or anything of the sort). Hopefully the genuineness that I’ve perceived from these interactions shows in the interviews as I present them, but at the very least I take pride in at least attempting to make work a bit fun, for both of us.
Here are my TOP 7 Favorite Interviews of 2012 …
7. Channing Tatum, actor for ‘Magic Mike’
Reason: It was a special, humbling thrill to be able to talk to a rising super star like Channing Tatum one-on-one, especially for a film by one of my favorite directors, Steven Soderbergh (isn’t he everyone’s favorite?). I had been very lucky to talk with Tatum and Jonah Hill in a massive group of journalists for 21 Jump Street, but that brought upon an embarrassing moment in which Hill didn’t seem too pleased with a question I had about dicks. However, in an indication of how smooth or genuine Tatum is, he immediately addressed this to me, made me feel better about that weird moment, and then indulged me as I attempted to talk Soderbergh with him without drooling everywhere. With Magic Mike standing as such a crucial moment in Tatum’s filmography, being able to talk to the actor about this film specifically, while keeping in mind the work of his very image-driven director, was simply an extremely lucky moment for me. Maybe Tatum has even taken after Soderbergh himself, as the director insists on only one-on-one interviews.
6. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, writing/directing/acting duo for ‘Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie’
Reason: I am sure that if I had done this interview on camera, or without the high level of preparation (discussing the Tim + Eric canon with a close friend), this interview would not be on this list. But I am proud, and feel lucky to say, that I was able to get what I feel are serious answers from two comedians who usually function entirely on satire, especially if the pressure is on for them to simply play characters. Instead, we talked about topics like Steven Soderbergh’s Schizopolis, the Three Stooges, and Weird Al. While their film would go down in critical infamy in 2012, this interview struck me as an example of the difference between when subjects feel like they want to take interviews seriously, and when they feel it is more telling to just goof off.
5. Gareth Huw Evans, writer/director for ‘The Raid: Redemption’
Reason: The biggest action nerd to equal my excitement for the colossal awesomeness that is The Raid: Redemption was indeed the film’s director, Gareth Evans. And even when I pulled a no-no and started gushing to him that The Raid: Redemption was on level with the first time I saw something like Oldboy, he remained extremely bashful but grateful. Talking with Evans about the technique behind making his film was a giddy joy, but it was also great, and indicative of Evans’ pure roots, when we simply geeked out over action movies.
4. Craig Zobel, writer/director for ‘Compliance’
Reason: Honestly, you watch a movie like Compliance, and you kind of expect the filmmaker who cracked that dark and ballsy idea to be a little intense. Making a movie that dares to frustrate and disturb its audience at the highest psychological level must require a bit of nuttiness in the creator themselves. Well, I was pleasantly wrong this time in my presumptions of personality. Zobel was incredibly down to earth, and most of all, gave me what felt like a very sincere picture of what involvement in this daring film was like; Compliance freaked him out too. At the same time, he too is amazed that he was able to pull off the film, speaking humbly about the film while having a great humor about even its darkest corners.
3. Melanie Lynskey, actress for ‘Hello I Must Be Going’
Reason: This interview happened over the phone, but it was more personable than it probably should have been. As one might surmise from her personable Twitter presence, Lynskey (@melanielynskey) doesn’t seem to let her busy rising star status get in the way of her relation to regular ol’ folk. This includes myself, as Lynskey and I had an extremely amicable chat (some of which too personal for the internet), with her words of advice feeling like they were from a genuinely caring friend, and not just a temporary work mate. Also, I loved how Lynskey owned up to something I figured she had been asked numerous times – though she’s in a movie named after a Groucho Marx song, she hadn’t seen a Marx Brothers movie!
2. Rashida Jones & Will McCormack, writing/acting duo for ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’
Reason: Having written such a personal script, Jones & McCormack continued their honesty in a conversation I feel very lucky to be have been a part of, in which Jones specifically elaborated on the movie’s themes with complete transparency. When the topic of friendship and sexual attraction came up, she provided an answer that made her argument more clear and assured than it ever had been in my understanding. On top of this, I was able to briefly (and hopefully not so obviously) mention my connection of her ex-boyfriend and my hometown. She probably went to my town’s Wal-Mart once.
1. Stephen Chbosky, author/writer/director for ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’
Reason: Reading his book and seeing his film, one would greatly hope that the honesty that Chbosky handles with the storytelling of such earnest themes would be apparent in person. This was indeed the case, as talking to Chbosky quickly elevated from simply interviewing a unique film personality, to having an unforgettable meeting with a legendary one-time-only shrink. On top of this, he was very willing to handle my rapid fire questions about differences between the text and the movie (I had read the book in only a few days just before the interview). While reading and seeing his character Charlie, I gained perspective on my past. But I feel very lucky to have talked to Chbosky, someone who seems to know a lot about many different ages in life, about the supposed excitement of growing up long after high school.