The scene in the school theater was a scene I always liked. It's kind of a pivotal scene. Lisa basically realizes she's through with high school and not going to get anywhere with the things she's been trying to do. I was very curious to see whether the movie would work without that. I think it does, but I also think it really adds something to have it. There's something so embarrassingly adolescent about that situation -- her isolation at the end of it works really well.
There's a scene after she sleeps with the Kieran Culkin character. He tries to be nice to her and she's too shaken up to accept it. She's essentially upset about what has happened. Then he gets dressed and leaves. It was nice to put that in as well. On the other hand, there's something good about just having him sitting there. This is the nice thing about not having to make up my mind.
It's nice to see his character fleshed out a bit because he's not just a shit. He actually tries to be nice and she won't have it. She kicks him out. I think I'm the first filmmaker to ever show a guy getting dressed from start to finish, putting his shoes on and having to leave. It's one of the most horrible, awkward moments in life. It just goes on and on.
There are also other scenes I like that I didn't put in this because I didn't want it to be three-and-a-half hours long. I don't think, had everything gone smoothly, it would have been this long to begin with. I was never shooting for a three-hour version. I've read all over the place that I was. I wasn't. That's just repeated gossip that's made the rounds in the press. I like very much the enhanced scenes with the developed relationship between J. Smith Cameron's character and Jean Reno's character. This is the detailed version as opposed to the suggestive version. Which one is better filmmaking? I really don't feel qualified to say.
I think so, as can theater, which is why there's so much talk about theater in the film. I didn't do that on purpose; it just came out that way. I've been asked a lot why there's all this discussion of theater in the film. I don't have an answer except that her mother works in the theater so we see her job. The theater is often seen as comical in the movies; to me, it's not comical, it's my life.
I don't mean that it can't be comical, but it's not only comical. It turns out that there's a thematic and emotional connection between the theater and what Lisa's going through and what they're all going through, this idea of real feelings mixed with a certain amount of showing off. Adolescents show off. That's another way of wanting to connect with people. It's not an aspect of human behavior that we generally consider to be very admirable, but it is, in some way, a means of connecting with someone else and not being alone.
Do you think "Margaret" could work as a stage play?
But I couldn't do it visually. The city shots aren't there just because they're cool-looking. She's being reminded that there are so many other people in the world that don't know or care what's going on with her. That's the big obstacle she's facing. There's something very touching about that sometimes. You live in New York and just to survive you have to cut out a little tunnel for yourself. If you're not open to the environment, you go insane.