Most memorable interviews this year
LOS ANGELES—These are the folks who did not make us feel like reaching for our BlackBerry while beating boredom during their press conferences. These talents made for fun, engaging interviews in 2011. We begin this three-part series—on their memorable quotes—that runs through Sunday.
“First of all, I’m a little hung over and my mom is here so if you could take it easy on me, that would be great. Mom, can you raise your hand? There she is, back there. She looks like my girlfriend, which is a problem.”
On being cast in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” with Steve Carell, who also produced the movie: “There may or may not have been a casting couch involved, with Steve Carell. I can’t comment on that.”
Keeping a straight face when, as Steve told us, he improvised and fell on Ryan’s private parts in one scene: “What was it like to have Steve Carell fall into my private parts? Is that your question while my mother’s here? Really? I’m sorry, mom. Look, if you’re going to lose your comedic virginity, you want to lose it to Steve Carell. He’s very gentle.”
On George Clooney as his director in “The Ides of March”: “Sometimes he came up to me and gave me direction. It was some of the best direction I’ve ever had. It’s very insightful and specific. He gets you into this serious emotional state. And then he walks away and you realize that he’s been spraying Evian water on your crotch the entire time and now, you look like you’ve wet your pants. Then he says, ‘Action!’ ”
On making “Drive,” one of the best films of 2011: “It’s weird. We tried to make like a violent John Hughes movie. What I love about ‘Drive’ is how it was born. I thought Nicolas (Winding Refn) would be the right director for the film but I wanted to meet him first. We went out to dinner and it was like a really bad date where neither one of us had anything to say to each other, nor was there chemistry. It was clear no one was getting any action that night. I just wanted to take him home so I got the check early.
“I had to give him a ride to Santa Monica. It was really awkward in the car. So I turned on the music. REO Speedwagon’s ‘I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore’ came on and Nicholas started crying and singing at the top of his lungs. He started banging his fist on his knees. He said, ‘This is the movie. It’s a guy who drives around at night listening to pop music.’ I had secretly been feeling that way, too. This was not in the script. It was a miracle to me that he said it. But what I loved was that the movie would never have been made if REO Speedwagon hadn’t come on the radio. I love it when films are born in a way that fit the circumstances that create them.”
“When I was 10 years old, I looked in the mirror and I counted 11 (wrinkle) lines. I still have the 11 lines on my face. I was an old woman then and I’m a young woman now. We all have the whole thing in us all the time. We are the old people that we’re going to be when we’re young. When I made ‘Kramer vs Kramer,’ I wasn’t a mother yet but I was already the mother that I was going to be. You’re who you are and you just have to find it. It’s all in there. I’ve always had empathy for older people, especially old ladies because I love my grandmothers.”
How old is old? “Over 80, I guess, because I am not quite there yet but I’ll probably up it when I get there.”
On her young Hermione character in the “Harry Potter” series who first appeared onscreen with “enormous hair”: “I see that girl and I know that’s me, but I feel as if she’s another person. So much time has passed. It’s as if I almost don’t know her.”
On protecting our environment: “All of us are having more awareness that the earth’s resources are not infinite … We can’t keep going the way we are forever. We have to find alternative fuel resources. We have to harness resources that are sustainable.
“It frustrates me so much to hear, ‘It’s not going to make a difference if I didn’t switch this light off.’ Or, ‘We’re way too far gone, so making an effort now is not going to change anything.’ That drives me insane. If everyone did a little bit, the consequences would be enormous.”
On appearing in another musical (Daniel gives his last performance as J. Pierrepont Finch in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Jan. 1; Darren Criss takes over on
Jan. 3): “I would absolutely love to do another one. I’d love to do a new musical as well. That would be very exciting. My favorite musical, despite the fact that I’ve never actually seen it live—I’ve only seen recordings and listened to the cast album—is Sondheim’s ‘Company.’ ”
At the time of our interview, the actress was about to go to the Congo and make a documentary about the violence against women that’s been going on there for 10 years now.
Her children with Sean Penn now all grown up, Robin said she has more time to devote to her causes: “Before it was like, ‘OK, I can go from Tuesday to Thursday.’ Or ‘I’m going to be there in 48 hours only because I have to get back for my kids’ carpool.’ That was my life for so long. My kids are always going to be around. I’m always a mom. But now, I actually have two weeks to go to the Congo, which is great.”
Robin, who actively supports the Enough Project, a movement to end genocide and crimes against humanity, was going to shoot the documentary in Bukavu, a city in the eastern part of the Congo. “I’m going to Bukavu because that’s where the hospitals are,” she explained. News reports say that thousands of women who are victims of rape and mutilation stream annually into the medical facilities.
“I don’t watch my films except I saw ‘Law of Desire’ 24 years after. I saw the film several months ago because it was showing in a theater in Madrid. It was my second time to see it after
the opening. Twenty-four years is enough distance from your work.
“In the last seven years, I’ve been suffering from photophobia (abnormal sensitivity to light) and migraine. I try not to reflect on that, but that is one of the main reasons for the type of life I lead. This is the company that I always have—dark glasses.
On being a filmmaker with that illness: “My life is a paradox. Since I was a child, I’m accursed with that, but can you imagine a director? I work with light—it is the material that the movies are made of. When I’m shooting, I’m always wearing dark glasses, a hat that doesn’t fit because I have that kind of head. I’m ugly with a hat surrounded by everything in black.”
“I feel a bit embarrassed when I’m compared to Marlon Brando. Marlon Brando is Marlon Brando. It’s a tremendous honor to be compared to him. But I don’t think I’m very good at what I do. I want to work harder at it.”
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