When it comes to directing, Paul Thomas Anderson is in it for the long haul. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker made it clear during a discussion on “Phantom Thread” that he has no plans to retire from feature filmmaking in the future. “This is what I want to do as long as I’m able to do it,” Anderson said.
Anderson was responding to a question about how long directors can sustain a certain level of artistic dominance. The moderator noted that it’s hard for many directors to put together several decades of notable work, and yet somehow Anderson has managed to never fall off his peak. The director has been making features since 1996’s “Hard Eight,” and 22 years later his prominence has only gotten greater. “Phantom Thread” earned Anderson his second Oscar nomination for direction, among five other nominations this year.
“Apparently there was a kind of health report that went out to Directors’ Guild of America members, and it said something to the extent that the average life expectancy for a DGA member is 57 years [laughs],” Anderson joked about the longevity of filmmakers. “It can take a lot out of you. You’ll see other filmmakers that you like whose best work is here or there and in the middle or at the end.”
Anderson implied that even if his directing career began to wobble, he loves filmmaking so much that he could never be able to put it behind him. His thoughts put him in contrast with one of his contemporary auteurs: Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino has said numerous times in the past that he plans to retire after he makes his tenth feature, but that kind of rationale just doesn’t make sense to Anderson.
“I know Quentin [Tarantino] likes to say, ‘I’m making 10 movies and then I’m quitting.’ But I could never do that,” he continued. “I don’t know how he could say that, or how he could take himself seriously when he says that. This is what I want to do as long as I’m able to do it. As long as I’m able to do it, I’m going to do it. I think things can become peculiar when directors don’t act their age maybe, or seeing them try to keep up with the kids or trying to be hip. That’s never a good look.”
Tarantino is gearing up for his ninth feature, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The 1969-set movie is set to star Leonardo DiCaprio and, if Tarantino sticks to his word, will be the director’s penultimate movie. Sony will release the film August 9, 2019.
Anderson, meanwhile, does not have any concrete plans for his “Phantom Thread” follow-up. The director has expressed interest in working with “Girls Trip” breakout Tiffany Haddish, and he told the Los Angeles Times in February that he has a script he’s been working on with his eight-year-old daughter. You can listen to Anderson’s entire conversation in the video below.