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indieWIRE INTERVIEW: “Edmond” director Stuart Gordon

indieWIRE INTERVIEW: "Edmond" director Stuart Gordon

Starring William H. Macy and Julia Stiles, director Stuart Gordon‘s (“Re-Animator“) “Edmond” is the story of a successful businessman who abandons his wife and family after a fateful visit to a fortune-teller. Following her musings, he leaves on a voyage to New York’s seedy underworld in a quest for self-discovery. Along the way though, he kills a pimp and a wannabe actress, and ends up in jail. “Edmond,” written by David Mamet, based on his play, opens in limited release by First Independent Pictures Friday. Gordon answered questions from indieWIRE about his film and his early yearnings to make the Mamet play into a film.

Please share a bit about your background…

I’m 58 years old. Was born in Chicago. Co-founded the Organic Theater in Chicago in 1970 and was artistic director for 15 years. Joe Mantegna (“The Godfather” Trilogy) and Dennis Franz (TV’s “NYPD Blue“) among the actors in the ensemble. I produced and directed the first professional production of David Mamet’s play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” in 1974.

“Edmond” director Stuart Gordon poses for a shot with the film’s star William H. Macy at last year’s Telluride Film Festival. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE.

What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?

In 1985 I directed my first feature film “Re-Animator” which won a Critics’ Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Based on its success I was offered a three-picture deal and moved to Los Angeles where I now reside.

Did you go to film school? Or how did you learn about filmmaking?

I have always loved films and made 8mm movies with my friends when I was a teenager. In college I tried to get into the one and only film course and it was full, so I took an acting class instead and fell in love with theater (which I pursued for the next fifteen years). I never went to film school but have taught at several.

How did the idea for “Edmond” evolve?

I saw the first production of Mamet’s play “Edmond” in 1982 and never forgot it. It burned itself into my brain. I immediately thought it would make a great film and have been talking to David about this for a dozen years or more.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project?

The biggest challenge was getting “Edmond” financed. We had a script by Mamet, with William H. Macy and Julia Stiles starring and no studio would touch it. After almost 25 years the work is even more controversial than it was when Mamet wrote it. We finally took it to Chris Hanley at Muse and he was able to piece together the financing from half a dozen companies. Gary Rubin of First Independent pictures was the first company to invest and they are now distributing the film in the US. No guts, no glory.

What are your biggest creative influences?

I am a huge fan of Hitchcock, Kubrick and Fellini. Polanski‘s film “Rosemary’s Baby” was my film school. I have also been very influenced by the writings of Artaud and his “Theater of Cruelty.”

What is your definition of “independent film?”

Independent films are a dying breed.

What are some of your all-time favorite films, and what are some of your recent favorite films?

My favorite films: “2001,” “Psycho,” “8 1/2,” “The Wild Bunch,” and “Duck Soup.” Recently I was blown away by “Master and Commander,” “Irreversible,” and “Cache.”

How do you define success as a filmmaker, and what are your personal goals as a filmmaker?

I would define success as a filmmaker as being able to make films unlike any that have ever been seen before. [I hope to] amaze and surprise audiences, [and] to break rules and boundaries of good taste.

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