For those of us who've been here since The Playlist was a rinky-dink little blogspot, it's pretty exciting that, as we've grown along with our faithful readers, we've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk more and more to the actors, writers and directors of the films we love. And 2012 was certainly our biggest year ever. Both as regular business and as part of the festival circuit (we were at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Karlovy Vary, Cannes, LAFF, NYFC, TIFF, Venice, Marrakech, London and more), we managed to talk to dozens and dozens filmmakers and performers.
So, as things start to wind down for 2012, we've picked out some highlights from those interviews (as well as a couple of key quotes that made headlines from other outlets), and you can find them, and links to our interviews, below. From Spike Lee and Steven Soderbergh to Christopher Nolan and Sam Mendes, we've had some heavy hitters talking into our recorders this year, and below are some of the most memorable moments from those chats and much more. Let us know which is your own favorite in the comments section below.
"Three months after it's started nobody's going to give a shit. The world will move on and the business will move on and nobody will care."
Steven Soderbergh, on his upcoming retirement
"Black audiences like anything that speaks to their community. I think it's a mistake to assume that just because the film doesn't have Big Fat Mommas in it laughing and giggling, and, you know, slap happy jokes, that black audiences won't flock to it.
James McBride, the co-writer of Spike Lee's "Red Hook Summer"
"I felt icky, disgusted, and thought 'I'm not touching that, it's just gross'. And then I forget who I talked to, they were like 'No, dude, it's totally hilarious, what are you talking about?' So I sat back down the next day and read it. It matters when you read, just like it matters when you go see a movie. And then I understood the story a little better, and I had my laughs, which helped me understand it tonally better."
Matthew McConaughey on the first time he read "Killer Joe"
"I hate watching myself. I hate most people and most actors, I hate myself even more."
"Submarine" and "Comes A Bright Day" star Craig Roberts
"And now it’s pro-torture, which is preposterous. The point was to immerse the audience in this landscape, not to pretend to debate policy. Was it difficult to shoot? Yes. Do I wish [torture] was not part of that history? Yes, but it was.” — Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal shoot down the ridiculous claims that "Zero Dark Thirty" is a "pro-torture" film.
"In L.A. you're always living and dying by what's happening with everyone's movies and shit. But most people on the planet just don't care. They're just like 'Oh, I think I saw that. 'Sarah Marshall'? Oh yeah that's that movie with like, what's that, Seth Rogen?' And that's the correct and healthy attitude to have about that stuff.”
"The Five-Year Engagement" director Nick Stoller, on maintaining some perspective
“I feel like my obituary is going to read 'Mr. Solondz collapsed on the third day of shooting,' ”
"Dark Horse" helmer Todd Solondz, predicting his own demise"[The characters] are just very, very messy human beings kind of muddling their way through the most complicated thing you can muddle through, which is romantic love. I think it’s a bit of a disaster zone for all of us. I think we’re all at our best, and at our worst when we’re dealing with being in love or being in a long term relationship. We’re at our most embarrassing and ugly and interesting and dynamic. So I feel like any response to the film is really legitimate.”
Sarah Polley, writer/director of "Take This Waltz"
"I don't like directing. I only direct my own screenplays because there's no other way to protect them. Along the way I've become interested in directing, but I started out doing it to protect the work.”
Kenneth Lonergan, on "Margaret"
"I always say to writers, ‘Don’t worry about writing roles for women, just write it as a man and give it a woman’s name. Let us do the rest.’ ”
Helen Mirren, on how to write great female roles
"Adaptation is not something that's ever really appealed. If I read a great book or comic book or something, the last thing in my head is 'Wow, I want to make that into a movie.' As long as I've got this little window where I'm able to make these things, I'm just gonna keep making original stuff, and see how long I can get away with it."
Rian Johnson reaffirms his commitment to original material like "Looper"
"Yep, Sal left Bed-Stuy. If he would have known it'd be gentrified he would have stayed [laughs]. This was before the influence and so Sal, with insurance money rebuilt his house from the ground up, in Red Hook. And Sal was having trouble with the Mexicans he hired they just couldn't deliver like Mookie. They always get the wrong addresses, pizza's cold, people complaining. So Sal called Mookie who's unemployed at the time and then Mookie said I'll think about it and he said you've got to make sure that me and Pino are straight and then what really made Sal, what really made Mookie take the job is that Sal finally put sisters and bros up on the wall [laughs] They came to Jesus."
Spike Lee reveals what happened to Sal and Mookie after the end of "Do The Right Thing"
"My fantasy after 'Michael Clayton,' was I can write for dough on big movies and then every year and a half I can go make a really make a ‘Clayton’-type small-ish drama. Who knew that that movie business would disappear. It disappeared instantaneously. I don't kid myself at all, I think that movie business is gone and not coming back. It's like complaining about the weather, it's a fact."
Tony Gilroy, director of "The Bourne Legacy"
“I think it’s good that there are some people on screen who still look like the people in the audience. I feel weird when I go to the movies and everybody’s faces are perfect. But it’s hard to be the one person who doesn’t look like that.”
Melanie Lynskey on not being "Hollywood pretty"
"Western audiences are afraid of this. We’re in a period of new romanticism, where emotion is king. Everything has to be emotional or visceral, and people are very afraid of engaging an audience’s critical faculties. That’s somehow uncommercial."
Joe Wright, director of "Anna Karenina" “Families are full of secrets. Their stories are intimate places where you can really get to know people and get to see people with their masks off.”
"Place Beyond The Pines" helmer Derek Cianfrance on the thread that binds his films together
"Photography is the medium in which I feel the most comfortable because there's less of a risk of misunderstanding that you have in filmmaking because of this necessity of storytelling. I find the obligation of telling a story as an obstacle. Whenever people ask me what the story is for my next film, I won't tell and people feel it's because I'm being secretive or something, but it's actually because I'm ashamed to sum up a film in three sentences. I'm sure that true cinema-viewers don't come for the story, it's not about telling stories so why should I sum something up in a pitch? This embarrassment I feel is something that I get rid of through photography."
Abbas Kiarostami on his uneasiness with narrative
"One of our sketches, in Edinburgh, someone shouted from the audience 'This is an outrage!' " That was me wheeling Alice around, she was sort of semi-dead woman, and I was a medical orderly, wheeling her around stage. Doing a sort of sexy dance. And accidentally, she fell out of the chair, and someone found it really offensive. I think we were playing to the wrong audience."
"Sightseers" co-writer/star Steve Oram, on his early collaborations with Alice Lowe
"From day one, I had a belief that it should never happen. I think it's only ever done for money, they're usually awful, and it usually makes the play look shit in the first place, which was probably the case."
Martin McDonagh, on turning plays into movies.
"The three films are one big film. I'm just being honest with people when I say we never intended to make a trilogy. What I'm being honest about is we never sat down and wrote a trilogy. Because I feel that to do it that way, you would be limiting the possibilities. What I wanted to do was live the trilogy with the characters, grow them, and take the time to develop the thing over years from the inside."
Christopher Nolan, on his Batman trilogy
"I feel funny explaining my approach to filmmaking. Everybody's description of it is different. The only way I know how to make a film is the way I know how, you know? I just know I don't want the actors to ever be fake, I don't want them to be full of shit. I want them to be real and I want them to feel alive. It has to feel alive. And sometimes once they keep doing it over and over again a spark happens. I don’t call cut and I run a 20 minute film mag until it’s out. I don't like hair and makeup people coming in. I don't like lighting adjustments. I don't like resetting, you just keep going until there’s life."
David O. Russell, on his style and rhythm
"In 50 years of filmmaking do you know how long the camera was running? Maybe two weeks. So did it make me happy? No…I started out making very simple documentaries, then bigger ones, then I started to dramatize them, and then I found myself actually trapped in this awful profession."
John Boorman, looking back on his 50-year career as a director
"I suddenly realized I had no idea how to do it at all…Then I spent a week trying to figure out how to get out of it, where I got to the point where I was going to have to call up and say, 'I'm too scared because I don't think I'm a good enough actor and I'm a pussy.' I didn’t want to have that conversation."
Robert Pattinson on panicking before making "Cosmopolis"
"I think he's a lot like a sculptor, he brings a lot of clay in, like way more than anyone would ever need, and allows the story to reveal itself to him. Which I think is beautiful, and brave. I think he's just collecting. Collecting great things."
Rachel McAdams, on working with "To The Wonder" director Terrence Malick "We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle. And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Christopher Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in."
Sam Mendes, on being influenced by "The Dark Knight" when he made "Skyfall"
" 'The Dark Knight Rises' I have a weird relationship with – it's like a chemical romance with a toxic ex-girlfriend where I love her to death but there are some things about her that are just fucking wrong."
Kevin Smith, on the third Batman movie
" 'Watchmen' or 'Dark Knight' are like 'We're past the idea of superheroes,' but I'm saying, 'Let's not move past it!' I'm not ready for superheroes to be post-modern."
Joss Whedon, bringing sincerity back to the superhero genre in "The Avengers"
"What’s really important is storytelling. None of it matters if it doesn’t support the story. I thought 'The Avengers' was an appalling film. They’d shoot from some odd angle and I’d think, why is the camera there? Oh, I see, because they spent half a million on the set and they have to show it off. It took me completely out of the movie. I was driven bonkers by that illogical form of storytelling."
Wally Pfister, DOP of "The Dark Knight Rises," on this summer's other big superhero movie.
"I got this script called 'Juno' and since I saw the name Diablo Cody I thought, 'Well, this must be a 12-year-old girl." Who else would have a name like that, right? And I read it and thought, 'Well this is pretty good for a 12-year-old girl trying to imitate 'Ghost World.' So I told my producer, who went on to do it, 'This is a retarded version of 'Ghost World.' I can't do it. I can't stomach it. Sorry."
Terry Zwigoff, on turning down "Juno"
"It was really hard to find the time. Even this was done moonlighting. But John was tenacious and that really helped. He was tenacious – he would show up at my house every Saturday morning and we'd have breakfast and start writing and he'd stay until dinnertime. And Sunday – same thing. During the week I would go over what we'd written and mark up the script and come up with notes and sure enough the next Saturday morning he'd be at my door."
Matt Damon, on his weekend job writing "Promised Land" with John Krasinski
It was a combination of 'I can't do this, I will fail, this will be embarassing' and 'I'm going to kick ass every day and murder this role and show people I can do more than make sarcastic comments and roll my eyes.' "
Aubrey Plaza, on taking "Safety Not Guaranteed"
"Is anything not surreal about being here? It's a sea of weird looking sunglasses and gift bags and a movie about your band that everyone's staring at."
James Murphy, on being at Sundance for the first time
"I had all of these terrible network experiences where I tried to make Seth Rogen and Jason Segel the leads of ‘Undeclared’ and [Fox] just laughed at me like it was the dumbest thought ever that anyone would want to watch a Seth Rogen television show."
Judd Apatow, on his early problems with TV"There's certain sequences, like in the center of the movie, where the two kids are dancing on the beach together. That's only three people on the crew, and a remote spot and it's using these little cameras. If you hand hold a camera, a normal 35 millimeter movie camera you're just practically overwhelming a child. But with the ones we used, you could hold them down at their level, so they were actually ideal for us."
Wes Anderson, on working with kids in "Moonrise Kingdom"
"Money, I've become really interested in it because it's my paint, if you like, and I think that if you want to understand what's going on in any situation, you have to follow the money. It seems like it's really fucking out of control you know? The difficulty is that in a democracy, you have to persuade people and it costs a lot of money. You have to get it from somewhere and the people that have money have their own interests, and how does all of that get balanced out? But that's the price you pay for democracy. In the movie they can just shoot the problem, we can't do that under rule of law."
Andrew Dominik, director of "Killing Them Softly"
"I'm really well versed on a lot of directors' careers, you know, and when you look at those last five films when they were past it, when they were too old, and they're really out of touch with the times, whether it be William Wyler and 'The Liberation of L.B. Jones' or Billy Wilder with 'Fedora' and then 'Buddy Buddy' or whatever the hell. To me, it's all about my filmography, and I want to go out with a terrific filmography. [2007's] 'Death Proof' has got to be the worst movie I ever make. And for a left-handed movie, that wasn't so bad, all right? — so if that's the worst I ever get, I'm good. But I do think one of those out-of-touch, old, limp, flaccid-dick movies costs you three good movies as far as your rating is concerned."
Quentin Tarantino, on why he's planning to retire at 60
"If it’s big enough, if you’re working hard enough, there’s some force that gets created that brings good things into your life and protects you from getting destroyed…You feel like you’re protected when you’re doing it right. And when you’re doing things wrong, things go actually wrong.”
"Beasts Of The Southern Wild" director Benh Zeitlin, on the role fate has played in his success
"When I walked onto that set I’d been in an ashram for a year, learning to separate orgasm from ejaculation."
Terence Stamp, on what he was doing before making "Superman II"
"I shouldn’t say this but I had a meeting at a big studio about 6 months ago, and she said, 'I’ve seen all your movies, I loved you in ‘Alice Creed,’ I love you in ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ so how about the hot girl in' — I can’t say the film, but just the most awful action movie ever. And I said, ‘Are you serious? Are you joking?’ And she was like, ‘Well that’s all we have for you.’ But that’s what the majority of the parts are for somebody my age, you just have to be really strong and not take them, and hope that the great parts come along.”
Gemma Arterton on being a woman in Hollywood
"I had no idea who Marion Cotillard was. When I was in Paris for 'Two Lovers,' a publicist told me, 'A guy named Guillaume Canet wants to have lunch with you.' So we met and had lunch, I found him incredibly funny — I didn’t know anything he had done at that stage, but we sort of bonded because a rat ran across the floor of the restaurant. And then he said, 'Come meet my girlfriend' and I met this woman who looked like a silent film actress like Pola Negri or something. And I said, 'Who’s your girlfriend?' and he said [French accent] 'You don’t know my girlfriend? She won an Oscar, are you stupide?' "
James Gray on meeting his "Lowlife" star Marion Cottilard for the first time