Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Spike Jonze on Developing 'Her' and Shooting a Sex Scene Between a Man and His Operating System

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire December 19, 2013 at 11:52AM

Since first premiering at the New York Film Festival, Spike Jonze's future-set love story "Her" has gone to snag a slew of awards including the National Board of Review's Best Picture and Director honors, and accolades. Indiewire's Eric Kohn called it "one of the best studios movies of the year," while New York Magazine's David Edelstein proclaimed it to be "one of the best films in years" (it also topped his 10 Best Movies of 2013 list).
1
Spike Jonze, Her, set photo

Since first premiering at the New York Film Festival, Spike Jonze's future-set love story "Her" has gone to snag a slew of awards including the National Board of Review's Best Picture and Director honors, and accolades. Indiewire's Eric Kohn called it "one of the best studios movies of the year," while New York Magazine's David Edelstein proclaimed it to be "one of the best films in years" (it also topped his 10 Best Movies of 2013 list).

For Jonze, the adulation is nothing new. Since making his feature film debut with "Being John Malkovich," the director -- best known up to that point as one of the most innovative music video directors around -- has continued to impress critics and audiences, while staying true to his voice, with his follow-ups "Adaptation" and "Where the Wild Things Are." What is different this time around: "Her" marks his first solo writing credit.

In the film, Joaquin Phoenix gives a soulful performance as Theodore, a man living in Los Angeles who has a job writing cards and letters for other people. Following the disintegration of his marriage to Catherine (Rooney Mara), the lonely Theodore takes an especially personal liking to his new operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). What follows is a love story couldn't be more of the moment.

Jonze sat down with Indiewire in New York to discuss "Her," technology, love, and sex with a computer.

It's been well documented that you were inspired to write "Her" after reading an article about our interaction with technology. Was it also inspired by some heartbreak you've experienced in your life?

Her, Spike Jonze, Joaquin Phoenix

Yeah. That initial idea was like 10 years ago, just that a guy has a relationship with an artificially intelligent operating system. I didn't really think about it that much for a few years until I started thinking about it more terms of it being a relationship movie. Then it went from being a cool idea, that's like a paragraph idea, to being this thing that kept growing and growing. My notes were extensive.

Can you break down your creative process on this film?

That's a good question. I should look at my notes and see. I think it's easier to talk about it after -- not easier, but I feel like you can make yourself look smarter after the fact because you're describing what you were doing. But when you're doing it, it's A), instinctual; B), you're discovering it; C), it's evolving the whole time.

I start with what the movie feels like to me. Then I'm always trying to stay true to that and that's the thing I go back to. I think one of the things you're pointing out is that I've realized more in hindsight; I always went towards the intimate. Now in hindsight I think I was using technology and society and the speed of our lives and the ways we use technology to connect or not to connect, I was using that as the setting for the story as opposed to what the movie is actually about. As you were pointing out, I think I was much more making a movie about relationships and the way we relate to each other and the things in us and the things in me that prevent intimacy or prevent connection. I think that is much more of what the movie is about.

Even in those initial notes before I wrote the script, there are probably a lot more things about operating systems in society. It was a super fun thing to write about. An operating system that was a character on a sitcom, all these different ideas that as soon as I started writing on page one I just realized, "Man, these ideas are never going to fit in this movie. That's not really what this movie is about." I just started with Theodore.


This article is related to: Spike Jonze, Her, Interviews, Academy Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More