By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
I don’t want to make specious connections, but you’ve had several high-profile drug arrests in the last few years. Before that, you were making supernihilist films in an edgy, frenetic style. I'm wondering if these are all moving parts of the same phenomenon.
I’ve smoked dope and drunk alcohol most of my life, okay? Getting pulled over and arrested is a fault, it’s a mistake — a wake-up call. I did get busted a couple of times. One was at a roadblock, so it’s not like I was endangering anybody’s life. The other time, I got pulled over by a civilian cop; I was actually busted for driving too slow. And when the tests came back, I was below the intoxication level. Nobody knows that, because it never got published that way. I should get a chauffeur is what I fucking should do. [Laughs.]
But nobody cares if you smoke pot. They care if it affects the work, if it’s part of a larger problem.
Okay, but I don’t feel bad. I got heavier, physically, at certain points, and I think that gives the appearance of degradation, like Jim Morrison. But I did have a pre-diabetic condition through my mother, and I was on too much sugar. Any Given Sunday, I love that movie, but it was more effort than you think — it was like a three-ring circus, to make five football games in five stadiums work. It took so much energy. There were some problems with the crew on that film. So by the end of that movie, my doctor said I was too stressed, and at my age it was dangerous. There were some issues of medications and stuff, no question about it. But sports people love that movie. With Alexander, there’s a fan site where there are people who have seen it 50 times. They go to the sites in Macedon. They love the romanticism of it. So it’s confusing to me. I’ve tried every fucking time to get it right, even if I haven’t been in my best physical shape. I will get it right. Not everyone is going to agree with me, but I’m going to get it right.
WithWorld Trade Center, it's your first time to deal with studio financing in a decade; you look better, healthier. Has your life changed? Is this a new start?
Your story is a journalistic narrative, and it’s a good one, about Oliver coming back after Alexander, and how there’s a change in his life. And I’ve somewhat agreed with it, but I’ve also pointed out that my methods have stayed the same. But it is about your storyline, in a way — about life. If you go to film school, and you think about your career traditionally, you arc up, in the sense that your budgets get bigger, the stars, whatever. There’s a nice arc to a man’s life. You make your better films later — it’s horrible if you’re Orson Welles, if you make your best film first. And Alexander was a chance to do something on another level entirely. So I reached a peak of ambition. And the ambition was perhaps not matched by my execution, although there are points in the execution that do match the ambition, I think. So then it died a metaphoric death. Point of view died with it, as it died when Heaven and Earth came out. That [movie] was a very sensitive side of myself that I loved — it was tender, and the woman was tender. And it was ridiculed and killed, and part of me, you know . . . those feelings were hurt and eradicated for a while. Same thing with Nixon. You want to get rid of the person after you finish. You want to go back to being who you are, but you’re no longer the same person, because your journey has changed.
And part of me did die [with Alexander] — that part that was enamored of “my very important storyline,” end of quote. Me being the storyline. I played it out. I did all my biographical figures. I have no need to be John or Will. I had a need to be Ron Kovic. I had a need to be Alexander. I had a need to be Nixon and Morrison and Garrison. That’s the change. So now I can be myself, maybe. I can be more authentic to myself. I think there was an attraction to go from the past into the contemporary world in its most hellish moment. It’s like I dropped out and I couldn’t get back in, until by going back to 2001, I could come back into this era. I feel liberated, in the sense that, not that it would be next, but I feel I could do a movie about those next five years. Not that I think it’s complete yet — I think there’s a lot going on that we don’t know about in the government. But I think there’s something in the air. I smell it, and I feel fresh again, having done something — my new, 24-hour, humble microcosm of that day. Wherever I go with World Trade Center, it’s going to spin off to wherever I go next.
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