×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Editor Billy Weber Looks Back on His Collaborations With Terrence Malick

Editor Billy Weber has been one of reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick’s preferred craftspeople. Their relationship has spanned 1973’s “Badlands,” 1978’s “Days of Heaven,” 1998’s “The Thin Red Line” and 2011’s “The Tree of Life.”

The most recent picture has now been released in a “director-approved special edition” by The Criterion Collection, showcasing a new cut of the Palme d’Or-winning and Oscar-nominated film, lensed by Emmanuel Lubezki and starring Brad Bitt and Jessica Chastain in a story that melds childhood memories with a meditation on the nature of the universe.

Malick worked for decades on the ambitious film, and Weber treasures his collaboration with the director on the project. The Criterion Collection cut includes an additional 50 minutes of footage, and although Weber was not directly involved on the project, he was able to contribute nonetheless. “Some of the passages I initially cut during production have found their way back in,” he says. “And when Terry was doing sound work on the recut, he was at the same studio where I was working on a separate project, so I had the chance to check in with him.”

Over the years, Malick has built an aura of privacy around himself, but “The Tree of Life,” says Weber, is a kind of culmination for the director, since it’s based so much on his own life. “It was the first time he made a film that directly related to his own experiences,” Weber says, “and I’m so proud of him for doing that.”

Popular on Variety

The film took root many years before it would eventually get made. “We started working on ‘Life’ when we were finishing ‘Days of Heaven,’ so I had 30 years to think about how to edit the picture,” Weber recalls. “And when it finally came time to work on it, my mind-set was still in 1979. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. All of Terry’s films are different, and yet you can tell they were all made by the same person.”

After cutting “Days of Heaven” at Paramount in 1979, Weber got noticed by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who hired him to edit the trend-setting comedy blockbuster “Beverly Hills Cop” for Martin Brest, then paired him with director Tony Scott on the iconic fighter-jet adventure “Top Gun” (1986). “Beverly Hills Cop II” and “Days of Thunder” followed. Weber calls Simpson and Bruckheimer “the best producers I’ve ever worked for.”

The editor has frequently collaborated with directors more than once. He cut Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” “48 Hrs.” and “Extreme Prejudice,” as well as Warren Beatty’s “Bulworth” and “Rules Don’t Apply.” Other credits include “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” “Iceman,” “Miss Congeniality” and Brest’s “Midnight Run.”

Weber recently helped cut Shane Black’s “The Predator,” which he calls “a very different Predator movie.” He remains excited about the future. “I’ve not decided on my next project,” he says, “but I’m hoping to do something small and smart.”

More Artisans

  • chadwick boseman 21 Bridges

    '21 Bridges' DP Seeks New York-Style 'Street' Cred in Philadelphia

    In director Brian Kirk’s “21 Bridges,” Chadwick Boseman plays a very different kind of hero than T’Challa in “Black Panther”: He’s an intense New York cop tracking a pair of killers throughout the city one fateful night, trying to box them in by closing the titular connections between Manhattan and the mainland. Along with Kirk, [...]

  • Two Popes Production

    How 'Two Popes' Production Team Re-Created the Sistine Chapel, Frescoes and All

    When Mark Tildesley read Anthony McCarten’s script for “The Two Popes,” he saw how integral the Sistine Chapel was to the narrative. As the film’s production designer, he knew he couldn’t film inside the Vatican, which meant he’d have to reproduce the location. “We did visit it with a leading expert — [producer] Enzo Sisti. His [...]

  • The Aeronauts Movie

    'The Aeronauts' Production Team Helps Hot-Air Balloon Saga Soar

    For cinematographer George Steel, the key to “The Aeronauts,” director Tom Harper’s $80 million film starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne as balloonist-scientists who soar to 35,000 feet to break records in 1862, was to take the viewer along for the ride. When Variety visited the cast and crew on set in London, Steel was crouched [...]

  • Al Ghouta, Syria - Dr Amani

    Capturing the Sounds of War in National Geographic's 'The Cave'

    When director Feras Fayyad and sound designer Peter Albrechtsen spoke about “The Cave,” Fayyad knew sound was going to be an important element in the documentary. “The Cave” depicts the harrowing and true story of the Syrian War. As bombs rattle the walls of a Syrian hospital and planes fly overhead, Dr. Amani Ballour and [...]

  • De-aging Robert De Niro For Scorsese's

    'The Irishman': A Closer Look at the De-Aging of De Niro in Scorsese's Mob Epic

    Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” hits Netflix today and it stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who meets Russell Bufalino (Pesci). Spanning several decades, the film follows Sheeran as he gets involved in the greatest unsolved mob mystery – the disappearance of union boss Jimmy [...]

  • IRM_DAY032_110117_0719538.raf

    Thelma Schoonmaker on Editing 'The Irishman' With Martin Scorsese (Exclusive Short)

    If anyone knows Martin Scorsese, it’s Thelma Schoonmaker. Schoonmaker has worked with the director since 1980’s “Raging Bull,” which won her the first of three Academy Awards, along with six additional nominations. Most recently, she won in 2007 for “The Departed.” In this exclusive clip, Schoonmaker talks about the ideas for editing her most recent [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content