“Mad Men” creator and scribe Matthew Weiner comes to TIFF this year with his feature directorial debut, “You Are Here.” The journey from script to screen has taken almost a decade as it wasn’t until the success of his series that he was able to secure funding. The film stars Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis as childhood friends who embark on a road trip to claim an inheritance.
Thompson on Hollywood’s Anne Thompson sat down with Weiner to discuss his foray into filmmaking and the beginning of the end for “Mad Men." Below are the highlights:
How the film overlaps with “Mad Men”
“This was the first thing I wrote after 'Mad Men' so it was the next project I was interested in. I wanted to deal with something contemporary and deal with some other issues in my life that were non Don Draper related, although I suppose there’s some overlap in terms of some main characters that have some issues with their feelings and their drinking and womanizing. “
How and why he cast Owen Wilson
“It was really hard to get the script to him, past his agent and actually what happened was he became a fan of the show, I got a call saying he wanted to meet me. I went and had dinner with him and during dinner I said 'I know we’re supposed to become friends and everything but I have a script I’ve been trying to get you for 8 years, can I send it to you?' It’s a really bold thing to do, it’s not classy. But he was very enthusiastic and he said ‘yes’ right away.
“I think Owen’s an under-appreciated actor. I liked his screen persona which I feel is guiles and there’s a glibness there, there’s a kind of lighthearted comic sensibility but I always saw depth in there.”
Shooting in Zack Galifianakis’ home town
“Part of the reason we shot in North Carolina was because Zach lives there. It’s funny because they kind of made it sound like 'Zach has a farm in North Carolina,' and I thought oh he must want to stay out of Hollywood, maybe that is part of it I don’t know, but then I realized he’s from there, it’s not what I expected. In fact in the movie there are a lot of pictures of Laura Ramsey with the deceased father and it’s Zach's real dad. He came to the set quite a bit and his mom came with him and they’re hilarious, as you might expect, and somewhat unamused by Zach which I found frustrating. I think they think his brother’s funnier.”
On the depiction of male friendship
“Friendship, male friendship in particular, is a very rare thing that is hard to understand. We grew up with movies about Army buddies and things like that and all the fiction that I’ve read the men are pretty solitary at a certain point and you say ‘OK is that because they’ve found a significant other and that’s there confidant or is that you just outgrow that part of your life?’ I thought if that’s the case then what purpose was it serving before that and what if you don’t meet anybody? What’s left of that friendship? And so you have these two characters who are a little too old to be in that situation but they really are friends to the point that there’s not even a question about how that friendship works, it just is.
Weiner has known how “Mad Men” will end for 3 years
“We just started three weeks ago. We’ve mapped out the season and written episode 1. We had our ‘last first day’ as we said. It’s not that emotional yet but I’m getting ready to go through an experience that I’ve never had before. I don’t want to leave anything on the table, I don’t want to pander. The characters are living breathing organisms on some level. I’ve always had things in mind of where they go. David Chase told me if you have something good, and you know it’s good, you can take your time getting there.”