By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I’m not sure. Sometimes the idea of nothing has a lot of appeal. Really. I would like to make a movie and see how that goes, and if it does make another one. But if I didn‘t I don’t think it would be the end of the world, where it used to be it would be the end of the world.
What would doing nothing be for you?
I don‘t know. Get a house in France and just . . . walk around the property all day. [Laughs.] Read, listen to music, maybe learn how to paint -- but that wouldn’t work out. I‘m sure I would try to do something else again, try to make a film.
You could be happy not working?
I don’t know. I‘ve never done it. Let’s put it this way -- the idea that I could pick and choose with a little less feeling of dread is a good one. Then again, I‘m a guy who never went freelance. As I said, I always took the money. That’s been my problem.
The Sopranos has put you in the spotlight. Is that a good place to be?
Of course. I‘ve wanted it, who knows since when? Certainly since I was a teenager I wanted to be rich and famous, and I came, I think, much later to the idea of doing something really good. I’m not sure all artists are like that. I know there are artists where the art comes first, and then the a idea that they could be rich and famous comes second. But, you know, I‘m American, so what can you do?
Back when you were playing in a garage band, did that give you a sense of your future opening up, of possibility?
It really did. I learned lessons in that garage band I still use. First of all, I learned the tremendous high that comes from creating -- nothing is like it -- and when it’s really happening, when it‘s going, it’s transporting. It has nothing to do with rich and famous, it has to do with the actual thing itself, with the process, and with what happens to your consciousness, maybe even how it goes away while you‘re creating. I guess I saw somehow that what I wanted to do was to repeat that experience as often as I could.
Do you have those moments writing?
Yeah, and directing is even better, because directing is more like performing -- it happens within a time frame. Between the time you say ”Action“ and ”Cut“ it’s a piece of time, it‘s like a song, and either you’ve gotten it and it‘s really grooved along or it hasn’t, or it had some unexpected peaks or somebody did a really cool solo that you didn‘t expect -- that’s the best, that‘s the greatest.
It’s also social, where writing is solitary.
Exactly. And obviously actors are throwing things back and forth to each other, and watching that take place. It‘s great. And the other thing I began to see in those garage bands was that you would have to say some unpleasant things to people to get what you wanted, which I wasn’t prepared for. You know how when you‘re a kid you don’t like to insult people or ask for things, and in those garage bands at the age of 18, 19 or 20, I realized I‘d have to say something to my best friend like ”I think I can sing better than you and I think I should sing lead on this.“ I began to see that somebody in a creative endeavor has to take a hand. And I guess that’s what we call show business -- exercising power, or trying to achieve what you think it should be, what your vision is.
There‘s also that element of giving up power, in the sense of going with the flow.
Well, that’s the flip side of directing, this is why directing is so good for me. I‘d hear these stories about these guys who screamed and scared all the actors to death, and I thought, ”Well, I’ll never be able to do that.“ Then when I started directing, I began to realize that the thing for me was to let things happen, to go from being a writer, where you control every comma, every period, and obsess about every one of those, to something where it‘s going to happen in real time: You’re gonna say ”Action“ and stuff‘s gonna happen, and you’re gonna ride it.
The most talented of my friends said to me when I was about 21 or 22 -- we were parked in my car in the Village, and I was going to get married and I was thinking of going to film school out in California -- and he said, ”I don‘t think you’re ever going to be anything much more than the drummer in my band. I‘m just telling you that for whatever it’s worth.“ [Laughs.] And that was a big spur. It was very motivating. More motivating than anything my parents ever said to me.
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