‘Master’ director Paul Thomas Anderson upbeat about awards-season grind

PTA
Before “The Master” star Joaquin Phoenix told Elvis Mitchell that the awards circuit was “the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life,” I was already talking to “Master” director Paul Thomas Anderson for a separate interview for Variety. So it’s important to understand that Anderson’s comments about awards season are in no way a response to Phoenix’s – that context did not exist.

That being said, I thought Anderson offered an interesting take on the subject. Here’s the excerpt from the interview:

Q: It’s already been about 2 ½ months since you sneaked “The Master” at the Aero at the beginning of August, and there’s still four months to go until the Oscars. What’s it like to live so actively with the movie for so long after it’s completed, to keep speaking about it rather than being able to let it speak for itself?

Anderson: “It’s peculiar. I don’t think – it’s not exactly how you describe it. We’re still working on the film, because we have to finish the DVD transfer, so there’s actual creative work going on that’s very fulfilling and satisfying. And a film’s life is, for this kind of film, this type of release pattern, this type of year, is long and one that’s very spread out, and that’s okay. That’s just part of what it is. It doesn’t take up a large volume of my day at all. And the truth is I live here in Los Angeles, so there’s nothing that’s really that’s invasive to my day-to-day existence.

Q: Have you yourself gotten anything out of the converstations?

Anderson: “I think I’ve a lot more good conversations than I’ve had funky or irrational or irritating ones. I’ve had a few bizarro moments, but quite honestly they were speaking with someone whose English was a second languge, and I was tired. We were at the Venice Film Festival and you just kind of want to go have fun in Venice.

“By and large …  having conversations with people has been really good, really rewarding.”

Anderson added that sometimes “there’s definitely a frustration level when you are asked the same question over and over again, because you know sometimes you are talking to someone who has read the same interview with you,” but he surmised that in some of the cases, the interviewers just needed to get the same answer for their own purposes. 

I then confessed that I had heard Anderson’s interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and seen him on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” so it wasn’t as if I was coming to him as an Anderson interview virgin. It was inevitable that we would hit upon some of the same territory, but at the same time, the knowledge of what he had said also helped inform where I would take our conversation, hopefully in promising directions.  

We don’t pool-report the awards season like it was a war report from Afghanistan. While that can lead to saturation coverage of some films or talent or subjects, it also can lead to new insights, both for interviewer and interviewee. If Anderson finds this at all to be a chore, he did a convincing job of hiding it.  

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