Page Two: "I Got Vision, and the Rest of the World Wears Bifocals"
A conversation with Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Louis Black: excerpts
SXSW 2016 begins next week. Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some is having its world premiere, Ethan Hawke plays Chet Baker in Born to Be Blue and stars in In a Valley of Violence, a spaghetti Western. Richard Linklater: dream is destiny, Karen Bernstein and my American Masters documentary on Linklater, will have its Southwest premiere. Rick and I are also presenting a restored version of Eagle Pennell's Last Night at the Alamo – more on that in next week's column.
Also coming next week: Inside our regular issue will be a whole additional issue, a 50-odd-page preview of the first week of the festival. (We'll do the same thing for SXSW Week 2 in our March 18 issue, out on stands early on March 16). Part of our film preview includes a round-robin interview that Ethan Hawke, Rick Linklater, and I conducted. Here are three excerpts.
Linklater and Hawke: Working Together
Louis: Now with you two, do you, when you're working on projects without each other, will you call each other up to talk about whether a director's a pain in the ass or working with actors –
Rick: Yes, we're always aware of what's going on. It's always fun to hear, about what's happening ...
Ethan: It's fun for me to understand a director's point of view about the business. Also to get Rick's advice about – you know, it's such a dance. With a director, you're working on a movie for a long period of time ...
My life works in trimesters.
Every year, I'm forced to call up Rick and say, should I do this movie? "It's a horror movie, but the part is kind of great, and the director says it's going to be like The Shining or Rosemary's Baby."
Rick says, "Every director says their stupid horror movie is going to be like The Shining or Rosemary's Baby and none of them are! He's gotta get better answers than that!" It's wonderful and it's true. They all say it's going to be like Rosemary's Baby. Yes right.
It's like any friendship, the more friends you have the wider your vision is, you know that you can see more of the world from your friend's point of view ....
Louis: Well, you know, you two are kind of unique in that you're both at the top of your game at the top of your field.
Rick: It's a little different. Ethan has more going on. My movie takes that year. [To Ethan] So I have less that I'm doing without you. But you have a lot of plays and movies that I have no part in. Just the way the numbers work.
Ethan: If I just waited to get a part from you, I mean, I would have to spend years ...
Rick: But you're in like ... what? How many times have we worked together?
Rick: Nine? ... If you're in the next one you'll be right [at half].
Sex, Death, and Sports
Louis: At one point I kept looking for drama in Rick's story, which is hard to find because he's a filmmaker, he makes films. I thought, "Oh, this is going to be a great question. So what would have happened if Boyhood failed?" Rick was basically, "I don't understand the question. I would've made another movie." It was one of those moments –
Rick: I'm sorry I don't have a wagon to fall off of ...
Louis: Actually, a very funny side story was, we were at my house one night. Jonathan Demme was there, Rick Linklater, Ron Mann, and a lot of young film people, so we were talking film.
Towards the end of the evening a bunch of them ended up in the corner talking baseball. Jonathan went home and then Ron. It was just Michael Hollett – who publishes NOW, the weekly in Toronto, he's the editor and publisher – and Rick talking.
Rick goes, "Yeah, you know, I got to throw out a ball at an Astros game." And quite innocently Hollett goes, "Did you get it across the plate?" And Rick looked at him like, "What ... The guy disrespected me, he didn't have a glove, I was going to throw it nice but I threw it hard." I never saw Rick like [that]. I should've gone the jock route with the questions. I was like, "What about Newton Boys?" "Oh, it didn't get the reception, but I made the film I wanted." "What about Me And Orson Welles?" "Yeah, I made a film with which I'm happy."
But Michael Hollett going, "Did you get it across the plate?"
Rick: Yeah, can I throw a baseball 60 feet?
Rick: Should've asked about pingpong. "How did you feel when you didn't win the Oscar?" Actually, I was more nervous, I put more psychic energy into winning a pingpong match against this hotshot Rice athlete two weeks ago than I did any of that bullshit.
Ethan: I can testify that's true.
Rick: Now that I care about.
Coda: Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola
Ethan: But you know Last Tango in Paris is another one of those that it's so good, and it's so effortless, that it makes everybody think they can make a movie like that. Kinda like Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, everybody thinks "I'll make a horror movie," they think "I'll make an erotic movie, it'll be like Last Tango in Paris," and nah.
Rick: And no one has.
Ethan: For me, as an acting student, it's interesting, there really are two movies that are extremely important in the movement of performance, and one is On the Waterfront, which is the full embodiment of everything Stanislavski and Chekhov started and Kazan. It's moment-to-moment acting. ... And then, [Marlon Brando] upped it with Last Tango ...
Rick: The mid- to late Sixties weren't great for Marlon Brando, he had fallen out of currency.
Louis: But then the later career – Last Tango, The Godfather ...
Ethan: And weren't they within 18 months of each other? They were all really close. Well, Apocalypse Now was a little bit later but ...
Louis: God, I always think what a run for Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, and One From the Heart. I would argue strongly for One From the Heart, which I think is an amazing movie.
Ethan: Yeah, we were just talking about it yesterday.
Louis: You guys have to come back soon –
Ethan: So we can ask you some more questions!
Headline hat-tip to William Goldman and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.