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Whedon, Abramovic, Gerwig, Cumberbatch & More: 20 of Indiewire’s Favorite Interviews So Far This Year

Whedon, Abramovic, Gerwig, Cumberbatch & More: 20 of Indiewire's Favorite Interviews So Far This Year

With today officially kicking off the summer season, we thought it was high time to look back at the best interviews we’ve run over the past six months on Indiewire. Among the talent who spoke with Indiewire during the first half of 2012: “Glee” star Chris Colfer who impressed with his screenwriting debut, “Struck By Lightening”; the incomparable subject of “The Artist is Present,” Marina Abramovic; Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch; HBO’s newest darling, Lena Dunham; this year’s ‘king of the world,’ Joss Whedon; and many more. Below check out 20 of the best profiles (in alphabetical order) Indiewire has run so far this year. [Click on name to access full interview.]

Marina Abramovic
Profession: Artist
Film: “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”
Why We Chose This Interview: It’s not very often that Indiewire gets the chance to sit down with folks like legendary performance artist, Marina Abramovic. But thanks to the documentary “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” we did. In Park City, Indiewire caught up with the titan to discuss being the subject of Matthew Akers’ fascinating film, and what she thinks of Lady Gaga.
Best Quote: “I remembered every person; I had such an intense relationship to every person. I still see people on the street and we lock eyes, and say “Oh my god!” and we just kiss and stay like that and sometimes cry.”

Chris Colfer
Profession: Writer, actor
Film: “Struck By Lightening”
Why We Chose This Interview: Chris Colfer has already proven himself singing, dancing and acting his way into the hearts of fans worldwide in Fox’s hit TV show “Glee.” During this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Colfer proved himself to be a quadruple threat after world premiering his snappy and ambitious screenwriting debut, “Struck By Lightning” to a standing ovation. Indiewire sat down with the elated Colfer the day following the premiere.
Best Quote: “Well, the whole blackmailing came from me from when I was in high school and I did a show called “Shirley Todd” which was a spoof of “Sweeney Todd.” None of my friends wanted to be in it so I kind of blackmailed them into being in it. There was a vegetarian, a die-hard vegetarian, and I found a hamburger receipt in her car. I was like, ‘You’re going to be in my show.'”

Benedict Cumberbatch
Profession: Actor
Show: “Sherlock”
Why We Chose This Interview: Benedict Cumberbatch is already a bona fide star in his native Britain where his take on Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s “Sherlock” revamp has made him a household name. This year saw the thesp blow up stateside as well, thanks to the show’s stellar second season and news that he has been cast as the main villain of the upcoming “Star Trek” film. Unsurprisingly, man makes for one fascinating chat.
Best Quote: “I’ve had asexuals come up to me and thank me for representing asexuals. I don’t know how that came about. I mean, the man’s too busy to have sex.”

Lee Daniels
Profession: Director, producer
Film: “The Paperboy”
Why We Chose This Interview: A day before getting some of the worst reviews out of Cannes after premiering his follow-up to “Precious,” “The Paperboy,” at the festival, we ran this informal chat with director Lee Daniels who addressed his critics and teased us about a potential reunion with Mariah Carrey, who he worked with in “Precious.”
Best Quote: “It’s important to tell your kids that they can do anything. I tell my kids that every day. That you can be president, that you can be an astronaut. Because my dad told me early on that I would be nothing. That you’re a faggot who will be nothing. So I revert back to that when I get negative criticism for the work that I do. It takes me right back to what my dad told me.”

Xavier Dolan
Profession: Director, writer, actor
Film: “Laurence Anyways”
Why We Chose This Interview: It’s been four years since Xavier Dolan first came to the Cannes Film Festival. Only 19 at the time, he quickly gained international admiration after his film, “I Killed My Mother,” swept the awards of the festival’s Director’s Fortnight section. After making a quick return trip in 2010 with his well-received follow-up — love triangle-centered “Heartbeats” — Dolan took a year off to focus on what is clearly his most ambitious film to date, “Laurence Anyways,” which premiered in the Un Certain Regard lineup at this year’s edition. The wunderkind caught up with Indiewire to discuss his love for all things Hollywood, and the making of his latest.
Best Quote: “You know, most of the time — to be honest — when I go to the movies I need a break.”

Lena Dunham
Profession: Writer, actor
Show: “Girls”
Why We Chose This Interview: Back in 2010, Lena Dunham came to Austin’s SXSW Film Festival as a relative uknown with her semi-autobiographical comedy, “Tiny Furniture.” Two years later, Dunham returned to the festival to premiere her new HBO show, “Girls,” while at the same time seeing “Tiny Furniture” finally get released on DVD/Blu-ray via the Criterion Collection. Talk about a great kickoff to 2012. Dunham took some time out of her packed schedule to talk with Indiewire about delivering on the hype, why Criterion approached her and why she joined forces with HBO.
Best Quote: “I try not to read too much blogroll. I’m on Twitter all the time, and I’m very aware of what people are saying about me on there, so when Criterion announced the DVD, a small but ardent group of people said, “This will not happen.” People were really pissed. I was like, ‘You don’t have to buy it! Calm down!'”

James Franco
Profession: Actor, writer, director, jack of all trades
Film: “The Broken Tower”
Why We Chose This Interview: Is there really anyone busier in the business than James Franco? IMBd lists that the actor has over 10 films (!) in pre or post- production, and this spring saw him release his narrative directorial debut, “The Broken Tower,” in New York at The IFC Center. Indiewire sat down with him in Manhattan to get all caught up on what he has in the works, and figure out how he does it.
Best Quote: “I know I might face critical response, or won’t have much commercial success, like if I had made a romantic comedy. But I’ve been involved in the biggest commercial movies, movies that broke box-office records. I’ve been in movies that won Academy Awards. To me, neither of those things were goals — the critical praise or the commercial success. It was about making something as true to the subject as I could, but not being reckless about it.”

Greta Gerwig
Profession: Actor, writer, soon-to-be director
Film: “Lola Versus”
Why We Chose This Interview: 2012 finds Greta Gerwig busier than ever. The actress, who shot to indie fame via her work in the ‘mumblecore’ movement by collaborating with the likes of the Duplass Brothers, Ti West and Joe Swanberg, headlined the Fox Searchlight romantic comedy “Lola Versus,” a mere two months after seeing her last film, Whit Stilman’s “Damsels in Distress,” open theatrically. She’ll be back later this Friday with a supporting role in Woody Allen’s follow-up to “Midnight in Paris” (the biggest hit of his career), “To Rome With Love,” in which she stars alongside a starry ensemble that includes Peneleope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg. And last fall Gerwig found time to shoot and wrap her untitled directorial debut (which she also wrote and stars in), meaning it will probably see the light of day at a festival this year or next.
Best Quote: “Me and Parker Posey. Alliteration — that’s what’s up. But Marilyn Monroe, alliteration, not indie film queen.”

Ethan Hawke
Profession: Actor, writer, director
Film: “The Woman in the Fifth”
Why We Chose This Interview: In discussing his latest release, “The Woman in the Fifth,” Ethan Hawke gave Indiewire a tidbit of news that no other site had reported: a third “Before Sunrise” film is shooting this summer! He didn’t reveal much about the project, but did hint that this one will involve the Internet.
Best Quote: “I like to make everything personal. Performances where I fail to make it personal, to me, that’s when I feel I do the work I enjoy the least.”

Spike Lee
Profession: Director, writer
Film: “Red Hook Summer”
Why We Chose This Interview: No film was quite more divisive at this year’s Sundance Film Festival than “Red Hook Summer,” which marked Spike Lee’s return to a Brooklyn-set story. Before the controversial coming-of-age story premiered to a packed house in Park City, Indiewire caught up with Lee to discuss the drama.
Best Quote: “You gotta make your own way. You gotta find a way. You gotta get it done. It’s hard. It’s tough. That’s what I tell my students every day in class.”

Josh Lucas
Profession: Actor
Film: “Hide Away”
Why Chose This Interview: In the indie drama “Hide Away,” Josh Lucas plays a businessman haunted by his past and unable to make peace with his demons. The character couldn’t be further from the actor Indiewire met for a 20-minute chat in a cavernous SoHo office to discuss his role in the film, directed by Chris Eyre (“Smoke Signals”). Amiable, direct and remarkably candid throughout our conversation, Lucas proves to be the type who’s fearless to confront past experiences (both good and bad) and move on from them. In our talk with Lucas, the actor revealed his passion for independent film, talked about the working conditions of “Poseidon,” explained his move to New York from Los Angeles, and really let loose about his time spent working for NBC.
Best Quote: “”The Firm” was a total extraordinary mistake from day one, honestly.”

Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott
Profession: Actors
Film: “Dark Shadows” (they starred in the ABC show that inspired the movie)
Why We Chose This Interview: In honor of Tim Burton’s take on the TV classic, Indiewire caught up with two of the show’s stars — Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott, best remembered for playing Barnabas’ lover Josette (embodied by Bella Heathcote in the film) — to discuss the show’s enduring legacy and their time spent on Burton’s set shooting their cameo appearances. During our talk, the two shared their fondest memories of Jonathan Frid, who passed away before “Dark Shadows” hit theaters.
Best Quote: “There are two words that Johnny Depp used to describe Jonathan that I completely agree with —  he was “elegant” and he was “magical.”” — Scott

Elizabeth Olsen
Profession: Actor
Film: “Silent House”
Why We Chose This Interview: Just over a year ago, Elizabeth Olsen came to the Sundance Film Festival as a buzzed-about newcomer, mainly thanks to her famous older siblings, Mary Kate and Ashley. Now with several awards to her name, a Spirit Award nomination for her acclaimed performance in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and a slew of promising roles on the horizon, Olsen has come into her own. Olsen was back at Sundance this year with the supernatural thriller “Red Lights” and “Liberal Arts,” a romantic comedy. Up next are “Very Good Girls,” starring Dakota Fanning, Anton Yelchin and Dustin Hoffman; “Therese Raquin,” a period picture in which she stars opposite Glenn Close; and the ensemble drama “Kill Your Darlings.”
Best Quote: “I’m not in a position where I have to do a studio film. I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t have kids. I’m able to do independent films that are just interesting to me.”

Jon Plowman
Profession: Producer
Show: “Absolutely Fabulous”
Why We Chose This Interview: When it was announced that landmark Britcom “Absolutely Fabulous” would make a comeback with three new episodes timed to coincide with the show’s 20th anniversary, fans worldwide shrieked with joy — and for good reason. Since it debuted in 1991, no show has come close to parodying the fashion industry and its aversion to political correctness with such glee and rapid-fire wit. Longtime BBC producer Jon Plowman has been with the show from the very beginning. Before “Absolutely Fabulous” debuted, he was responsible for Saunders’ popular skit show “French and Saunders” and has since gone on to produce a slew of award-winning comedy shows, including “Little Britain” and “Extras.”
Best Quote: “I watched (and probably not many people did), the second “Sex and the City” movie, and it takes place in Morocco. I met the writer afterwards and he said, “You did that.” And I said, “Yeah we did that, but in half an hour.” We were lucky that good people followed us.”

Parker Posey
Profession: Actor
Film: “Price Check”
Why We Chose This Interview: Book a 1:1 with Parker Posey and you’re guaranteed a good time. The indie queen was firing on all cylinders during our interview with her at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where she premiered her latest comedy, “Price Check.”
Best Quote: “I’m trying to work in studio movies, but they won’t hire me. I get feedback from my agent saying, ‘She’s too much of an indie queen.'”

Steven Soderbergh
Profession: Director
Film: “Haywire”
Why We Chose This Interview: For a director who claims to be nearing retirement, Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh shows no signs of slowing down. His action spy thriller “Haywire,” starring MMA superstar Gina Carano (who Indiewire profiled) opens this spring; “Magic Mike,” his all-star male stripper comedy is opening this summer; and he’s set to shoot two films this year — the thriller “The Side Effects” and his long-in-the-works Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra”; — and last September saw him release his answer to the disaster movie, “Contagion.”
Best Quote: “Maybe since “Che,” my interest in and appetite for “serious” movies, making them, has really dropped. I just feel like I want to have more fun as a filmmaker and I’d like to make things that are more fun for the audience. I don’t need to be taken anymore seriously that I am.”

Whit Stillman
Profession: Director, writer
Film: “Damsels in Distress”
Why We Chose This Interview: After a 14-year absence from feature filmmaking, Whit Stillman — the beloved chronicler of preppy, privileged and highly literate youth — made his comeback this April with the release of “Damsels in Distress.” Stillman sat down with Indiewire in New York to talk “Damsels” and how a tale about women in their early 20’s actually hits close to home.
Best Quote: “All of the three films have an element of utopian versions of love. “Barcelona” is a utopian version of being abroad. “Disco” is a utopian version of nightlife. “Metropolitan” is definitely the utopian version of the season. This one is just a full-on utopia.”

Kathleen Turner
Profession: Actor
Film: “The Perfect Family”
Why We Chose This Interview: Kathleen Turner is, more or less, exactly how you’d expect her. You can hear her long before and after you’re in the same room, and she certainly doesn’t suffer fools. Or anybody else, for that matter. We spoke (for much less than our alloted time slot) with the iconic star of “Body Heat,” “Serial Mom” and “Baby Geniuses” about her role in “The Perfect Family,” an ultra low-budget indie about a Catholic woman who is shocked to discover that her family falls short of her ideals.
Best Quote: “We’ve got to wrap this up, kid.”

Joss Whedon
Profession: Director, writer
Film: “The Cabin in the Woods,” “The Avengers”
Why We Chose This Interview: Joss Whedon appeared tired, really tired, when Indiewire met him at the Four Seasons in Austin for a quick one-on-one. Can you blame him? The restless 47-year-old was at SXSW this year with “The Cabin in the Woods,” his post-modern horror blast, co-written and directed by “Buffy” collaborator Drew Goddard. The film opened a month before his blockbuster “The Avengers” obliterated box-office records the world over.
Best Quote: “”The Avengers” really is just “Cabin in the Woods” with capes. If you’re not building a textured human and putting them through some kind of pain, I’m not sure what the purpose of the narrative is going to be. That applies to comedy, too.”

Michael K. Williams
Profession: Producer, actor
Film: “Snow on tha Bluff”
Why We Chose This Interview: Michael K. Williams, the actor best known for playing Omar Little on HBO’s “The Wire,” dons a new hat as executive producer for the first time with the microbudget indie “Snow on tha Bluff,” which world premiered at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival and hit DVD and VOD in June. Indiewire caught up with Williams to find out how and why he came onto the project (directed by Damon Russell), and what Wu-Tang Clan fans can expect of his upcoming turn as Ol’ Dirty Bastard in the biopic of the rapper, “Dirty White Boy.”
Best Quote: “You know, as a producer I’d like to tell more iconic black American stories. I feel that the youth, especially the inner city youth, are so ignorant as to who are our black role models were — it’s like we have no one to look up to. Man. there are a lot of things that Hollywood doesn’t think make for good entertainment. A lot of times we hear they don’t do well overseas, in the overseas market.”

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