BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 2. TIM BURTON

HOLLYWOOD – Tim Burton takes a break from spinning Lewis Carroll in his grave to be our second interviewee in the classic series: Breakfast with Assholes.

Poached eggs (x 2), two slices of toast, cup of coffee

Timothy Burton might be a scatter-haired Goth for many but at breakfast he presents himself in a Gucci hairnet, smoking jacket by Valentino and prepares the best poached eggs I’ve ever tasted.

So my first question is simple:

Timmy boy, you are famed as one of the most original and innovative film-makers of our time where do you get your original innovative ideas from?

Well, Batman – my first true hit – was from an old comic book, and Planet of the Apes was from an old film, Sweeney Todd was from an old musical, Alice in Wonderland was from an old book, Sleepy Hollow also an old book, Big Fish was from a new book, Ed Wood was a book and you know real life, Dark Shadows was from an old TV series and Mars Attacks was from a trading card series (I know).

But Betelgeuse was original: where did you get the idea for that?

Someone else’s script. You want more coffee?

No. Okay. Edward Scissorhands?

 Oh yeah, I did that. Well, the story, then Caroline Thompson wrote the script.

Okay so your ideas aren’t necessarily original as such but your treatment of them are. The Tim Burton look. Where does that come from?

Old Sisters of Mercy videos. And Billy Idol. “White Wedding” was a real inspiration to me. You know cobwebs, wedding dresses, that sort of stuff. Or like Wonderland in Alice in Wonderland, I just added a couple of waterfalls, but it was basically Disney.

But the performances are always great in your movies. These eggs by the way are fantastic.

Thanks. Yeah. What I do is I visualize a poster and I think is there anyway I can get Johnny Depp’s big fat face front and centre. Because you know, people would pay to watch Johnny Depp flushing the toilet.

I didn’t see Dark Shadows.

 You didn’t miss much. Then I say “honey do you want to be in the film?” to whomever I’m married to at that given moment. Mostly Helena Bonham Carter these days. And the work’s more or less done. Then I find filming quite peaceful. I like to wear dark glasses so I can just nod off and people usually mistake my confusion for dreamy visionary-ness. Now if you don’t mind, I usually like to take a dump after breakfast.

‘Sure, Tim,’ I say and show my way out. I meet Johnny Depp on the porch his got an armful of Betamax video cassettes and a guilty grin.

‘Beats working,’ he shouts over his shoulder as we pass.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 1. ROLAND EMMERICH

HOLLYWOOD – Roland Emmerich is our first interviewee in the classic series: Breakfast with Assholes.

This town has a long history of taking in immigrants from Europe and using their talent to our mutual benefit. Look at Billy Wilder. Jesus, did that Austrian have cahones! And then there was Fritz Lang, what a massive talent! Dr. Mabuse, M and Metropolis. Michael Curtiz, Erich Von Strohiem, the list goes on and on, I think. And joining that venerable list is Roland Emmerich: the Master of Disaster, the chaos theory himself, the man some people are calling the new Kubrick, and by some people I mean idiots.

Emmerich first made a name for himself with Universal Soldier, an interesting character piece that pitted the talents of Dolph Lungren against Jean Claude Van Damme, a pairing that brought to mind the great acting duel of Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton in Beckett. Following up swiftly with some explorations in ‘science fiction’, Emmerich soon mastered the genre with Stargate and Independence Day and completed his ‘Trilogy’ with Godzilla.

‘It was a technical exercise,’ Roland tells me as he pours skimmed milk onto his Rice Krispies. ‘I wanted to see if I could take this giant monster, from Japanese movies and have it destroying New York, with the military and missiles and what not and yet still be boring. You see Spielberg had done dinosaurs in Jurrassic Park but he had done the obvious thing and made it exciting. Mine was the more difficult task.’

‘You succeeded brilliantly,’ I tell him.

‘Shhhhhh,’ he says. Of course, he wants to listen to the snap, crackle and pop.

‘The casting of Matthew Broderick as an action movie lead was key,’ he says.

And Jean Reno as comic relief.

Having completely dominated ‘science fiction’, Rollie decided it was time to make his mark in period drama. The Patriot – starring everyone’s favourite anti-Semite Mel Gibson – was like David Lean with blood squibs.

In order to give his lead depth, Rollie had him make a chair, and then, to add comedy, Rollie had the chair be crap.

‘He sits down, it breaks he falls on the floor,’ he waves a spoon at me. ‘Hilarious.’

At this point in his career, we couldn’t write contracts fast enough for this boy.

The Day After Tomorrow I would sincerely credit as Rollie’s masterpiece. Perhaps the most politically important film since Conan the Destroyer. After which there was nowhere to go but down. Trust Rollie Emmers to make going down an art form in itself. 2012 was such a pile of horrible steaming effluent that even John Cusack looked embarrassed (and he’ll do anything for a coin that glints). Cusack has since altered his appearance by weirdly disguising himself as a young Nick Cage (pictured).

Having perfected cinema in all its forms, the question was what next?

Rollie licks his spoon thoughtfully.

Everyone talks about Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare. Borrrrring! So I had this idea that how can this little jumped up slap head, you know and the plays and school and stuff? Whereas a noble with the words putting together stuff would be better, the writer be. But there was a problem. How to persuade these great British actors, Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, Rhys Ifans to be in a film which basically trashes the greatest English playwright.

So how did you do it?

Rollie laughs.

Easy. I paid them lots of money. They love money. They didn’t give a shit.

We laugh our asses off. What a great guy!

[This interview was originally published in The New Yorker September 2012]

For more Breakfasts, Click Here.

 

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 28. MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY

HOLLYWOOD – Oscar winner, Rust Cole and former Fool’s Gold fool, Matthew McConaughey sat down with the Studio Exec this morning where the True Detective star, tucked into seven glasses of water and gorged himself on looking at an apple for forty seconds.

‘If I look at it for longer, it goes straight on my hips,’ said the Killer Joe actor. 

So Matthew, what is your take on the McConaissance?

A’right, a’right a’right. Well, you see when I was a young man I used to have to look out and around me to see if there were a role model that I could use, someone who might inspire me. I looked and looked and frankly I could see no one worth more than a lick of paint, but one day I was in the bathroom, jerking off or something I don’t recall, and I happened to catch sight of myself in the mirror. And I thought there he is. That’s the one I’m gonna imitate and try to be like.

You?

Matthew McConaughey in person. 

I see.

I won’t deny I spent some time leaning against Kate Hudson on posters, but it paid the rent. Then Kate taught me how to read and I was able to actually see what the films would be like before they got made via these paper things they call scripts (for more on this Click Here).

 So then you made Killer Joe, Mud, True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club.

That’s a’right, a’right, a’right. I mean I didn’t want to alienate my old fans so I also did The Paperboy for Lee Daniels. Just to give them something dumb. And my Oscar speech of course was what I like to call classic McConaughey. I admire myself from the past as well as looking towards my future self for inspiration. When I need me in an emergency, I check out the Matthew McConaughey of today. Any reflective surface’ll do.

 Yeah. You know I think I’m going to be sick.

Oh really? Water a bit strong for you, huh?

Where’s the bathroom?

It’s just down the corridor and then you take a’right a’right a’right.

For more Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

THE ORSON WELLES DIARIES I

January 19th,1940
 
Around noon Henry Fonda appeared at my door dressed as a minstrel. Still in my pyjamas, I ushered Henry into my hotel room, offered him a glass of sherry and enquired as to why he was sporting such an elaborate costume. He informed me that he had recently ingested a large quantity of a substance called Lysergic acid diethylamide and could he trouble me for a glass of cold water and a suitcase filled with lemons.


I had a rather fine meat pie for supper and two helpings of bread and butter pudding.
 
January 22nd1940
 
My movie is almost finished but I am yet to decide on a title. My current favourites are as follows:
 
The William Randolph Hearst Story
The Randy Hearst Story
Hearst
Citizen Hearst
Get Hearst
& Sleepless in Seattle
 
I’ve just ordered the beef stroganoff and the cook recommended the trifle for dessert.
 
January 24th1940
 
Rita said that my sexual performance is hindered when I consume Sherry so I’ve decided to switch to Brandy. She also demanded that I refrain from quoting Chekov during congress and suggested that some choice passages from Lady Chatterley’s Lover would be more appropriate. When I informed her that I would never stoop so low as to utter a single word written by that talentless hack D.H Lawrence, she became upset and said she was going to stay at her mother’s for a few days.
 
The salmon was a little dry so I had to be over generous with the dill but the profiteroles were majestic.

BREAKFASTS WITH ASSHOLES: 22. KEN LOACH

LONDON – Ken Loach arrives in the dining room of the Ritz, London, surrounded by his massive entourage: security guards, PAs, hair consultants, spectacle polishers and Socialist Worker newspaper vendors.

He’s talking on his iPhone with Bruce Willis while waving his minders to push away the delegation from Venezuela. ‘Ciao, ciao, Brucie, M’Wah!’ he says as he plumps down into the chintzy armchair reserved especially for him and gives me a jaded look over. ‘I suppose you’ll do.’

So Ken, could I just ask…

I say, call me Mr. Loach old boy! One doesn’t do informality. One would think we were at Claridges! The very idea!

I’m sorry Mr. Loach.

Think nought of it, old fellow. Garcon! Garcon! Yes, quails eggs and caviar. Pronto.

So, Mr. Loach how do you feel about being awarded the Golden Bear Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Berlin Film Festival. 

Delighted, obviously. Delighted. T’is a gong and even at my age one feels very humble to be recognized. Plus the Jerries are about as far from those blasted Israelis as it’s possible to get. So there’s that!

You have made a career of making politically challenging films.

It all started when I was passed over for Dr. No and that talentless hack Terrence Young got the gig. I thought it’s the bloody Carry On films all over again. I had been slated to direct Carry On Nurse but that tart Gerald Thomas slipped in. After that Dilys Powell said ‘Do political’. I said ‘Dilys dear, I don’t my Whigs from me Harold Wilson’, but I read a copy of the Morning Star and quicker than you can say Trotsky I’d made Kes.   

And you never looked back.

I was always trying to get something else. I would have loved to have made Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or Sex and the City 2, but by the time my name had got about I was pigeonholed. All I could do was stuff about the grubby working class, workshy layabouts to a man. Sitting around drinking tea, and trying to diddle their betters out of their land and wealth.  

So you’re saying you don’t actually agree with the political point of the view that your films seem to subscribe to?

Karl [addressing one of his security team], Karl, pray, strike this hack roughly about the top of the head.

Ouch.

No, young man. I do not subscribe to the Bolshevik nonsense that some read into my films. My films, for me, represent a social comedy of the stupidity of the hapless lower orders. Raining Stones: idiot wants a dress for his daughter’s confirmation. The Wind that Shakes the Barley: bog thick Murphys knocking seven shades out of each other for who knows what. Land and Freedom: ditto but with Spaniards.

 Some have said that your next film might be your last.

Indeed, though if Sarah Jessica Parker wishes for me to help her with Sex and the City 3 I will be more than glad to proffer my services. 

Jimmy’s Hall will be released in 2014 and Sex and the City 3 in 2015.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 21. RON HOWARD

LONDON – With a new film in cinemas – the Formula 1 racing thriller Rush – I jumped at the chance to sit down with the Angels and Demons director Ron Howard to discuss this project and his career.

Little did I know that he was on a strict color coordinated diet and worse yet today was a blue day.

So Richie, what first attracted you to Formula 1 as a subject for a film?

I suppose it was simply reading Peter Morgan’s wonderful script. You see we’d worked already on Frost/Nixon and… wait a second.

What?

Did you just call me Richie?

No. 

Okay. I think … where was I?  Oh yeah, the script was really good so I latched onto that. 

When you were directing the actors did you have any difficulties?

No, not at all both Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth are very talented actors. And extremely professional, though I am sorry to hear that Chris and Miley Cyrus have split up.

I heard that Daniel at one point during the driver’s meeting scene refused to sit on a stool and you had to tell him ‘to sit on it’.

I don’t remember that incident specifically. As I say, there are times a director has to put his foot … oh wait I see what you’re doing.

What?

You’re just…

I heard the schedule was very tight. What was the typical week?

Erm… Well, it was tight as a matter of fact. It was a lot of shooting and a lot of hard work. We’d start Monday…

Tuesday Happy Days!

Oh this is bullshit. I came here to do an interview. And you’re just trying to make a bunch of lame Richie Cunningham references. 

Best work you did Richie.

I made Cinderella Man, Goddam it! And Apollo 13 and Far and Away. The Da Vinci Code… You know now that you think about it Happy Days was a lot of fun. Okay fair enough. Ask away.

Well, actually that’s all we have time for and these Gorgonzola cornflakes are beginning to repeat.

No come back, seriously. I can tell you what Henry Winkler’s really like. And I got a hilarious story about the time Potsie potsied Joanie. Hey…


For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES 20: WILL AND JADEN SMITH

 MOSCOW – We meet in Russia of all places where Will and Jaden Smith are promoting their new film Another Earth, a (gulp) M. Night Shyamalan eco- Science Fiction Oblivion style thing.

Cornflakes, hot milk, grapefruit juice and half digested Stephen Hawking.

Apparently you believe life can be understood through patterns.


Will:
 I am a student of patterns. At heart, I’m a physicist. I actually have a white coat I sometimes wear. With pencils in the breast pocket. I look at everything in my life as trying to find the single equation, the theory of everything. 
Is there a single theory to everything?
Jaden: D’uh! There’s definitely a theory to everything.
Will:
 You tell him son. When you find things that are tried and true for millennia, you can bet that it’s going to happen tomorrow.
Jaden:
 The sun coming up?
Will:
 The sun coming up, that’ll work. But even a little more. Like for Best Actor Oscars. Same thing, right? Often someone will get an Oscar for like a film and if they don’t do a film then they won’t get an Oscar. Patterns!
Do you see patterns too, Jaden?
Jaden: I think there is that special equation for everything, but I don’t think our mathematics have evolved enough for us to even—I think there’s, like, a whole new mathematics that we’d have to learn to get that equation. We need another symbol which would look like a fried egg being hung from a mountain. 
Will:
 I agree with all of that. Damn you’re smart.
Jaden:
 It’s beyond mathematical. It’s, like, multidimensional mathematical, pscho-matical. If you can sort of (?) understand what I’m saying.
Are both of you religious?
Will: No, we are students of world religion. Like there’s Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed and we like combine all of them. Like Jebumed Chrisha. You dig?
You and Jaden have acted in two movies together, including After Earth. Are you planning on a third?
Will: If you were a student of the ‘pattern’, you’d have to say we’re going to do another one.
Jaden:
 I definitely would do another one, absolutely. You know, how Ingmar Bergman and Max Von Sydow used to always do films together, Martin Scorsese and Robert de Niro? We’ll have a relationship like that, though I’m not sure if those guys were related.
Do you think of that as a separate relationship from your father-son relationship?
Jaden: It’s kind of like father and son, except that we’re going to work together. [Points to his dad.] Like you worked in your family business with your dad. I’m just working in my family business with my dad. Patterns, BOOM.

Jaden, how does it feel to be famous?
Jaden: I think it’s fun, except when people make up stuff about you like those assholes over at Studio Exec. Then it’s not so much fun. But besides that, I enjoy it.
 

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 19. GWYNETH PALTROW

A glass of sand and a corner of damp cotton, served lukewarm. 

I meet Iron Man 3 star and cookie cookbook writer Gwyneth Paltrow at her London home. She answers the door with a cardboard box on her head. ‘Get it?’ she giggles at my no doubt baffled expression. ‘I’m in Seven! Ha ha ha!’


I laugh warmly and , some might say, too loudly.

We settled down in the back kitchen with the beautiful London rain light falling through the tall French windows and turning everything a beautiful shade of posthumous. She offers me a delicious bowl of damp cotton and a glass of freshly squeezed sand.

So Gwyneth tell me about Iron Man 3? Was it fun working with Robert Downey Jr.?

To tell you the truth, I really don’t want to answer any questions about my private life and how I’ve suffered, not exactly like Jesus Christ nailed to a cross, or little children blinded in Bhopal, or starving in the Sudan, but, you know, close.

Right. So Iron Man 3. When can we expect a stand alone Pepper Potts movie? 

I made it very clear to Shane [Black] that I didn’t want to just be tied up and rescued on this one. I wanted to be a protagonist. A strong female role model. And he said okay. How about we tie you up and have you be rescued in your underwear? It was at that point I knew I was in safe hands. As for the stand alone movie it’s the first I heard about it [was when I read your wonderful article in the fabulous Studio Exec]. (CLICK HERE for that story.)

You’ve come in for quite a bit of criticism…

Let me stop you right there. I know exactly what you are going to say. My diets are not crazy and my children, Kiwi Fruit and Elijah Bumpkins, are perfectly normal.  

I was going to say for not being a very good actress.

Oh … well, that’s fair I suppose. Can I top you up there?

Gwyneth’s husbands

I move to put my hand over the glass but Gwyneth has already refilled it with white sand. ‘I insist on white sand and not yellow sand because of Elijah’s allergies,’ she tells me. ‘People criticize me for being too strict but my children – like all children – still eat the occasional bowl of gold flake caviar.’

And so what’s next?

I’m in a new film about Pablo Picasso. And I’m probably going to have another cook book out soon. Oh, and I’m still married to Coldplay.

To Chris Martin from Coldplay?

Yeah he’s one of them. And there’s a small film I did about sex addiction also coming out. Thanks for Sharing is the title I think.

When I say good bye to Gwyneth, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about this complex and intelligent woman, but I did wish she had taken that box off and I couldn’t shake the impression  that her voice had been very manly.

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.


BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 18. JEREMY IRONS

Santa Fe Skillet, coffee and OJ

Comments by leading British thespian and actor Jeremy Irons concerning same sex marriage caused consternation, anger but above all confusion yesterday, so we invited him into the Studio Exec office at Denny’s for a nice breakfast and to try and clarify some of his ideas.

So Jeremy, same sex marriage. Go!

All I said was that I worry about the name marriage and that same sex marriage is really a fight over that name and a father might be able to marry his son and dogs can’t look up.

Okay. But as a thespian surely you should support same sex marriage?

I don’t understand, why? Thespian is just another word for actor.

Is it? I thought it was two ladies who … oh okay.  Onto other issues. North Korea.

Good. Finally, something I have very clear ideas about. First I should say I support the deployment of Chuck Norris to Guam (for more on that story CLICK HERE). However, what are the root causes of this feeling of animosity and indeed bellicosity. I think the real trouble with the situation in North Korea is the shortage of ladders. If there were more ladders then the people of North Korea wouldn’t have to balance precariously on chairs while changing their light bulbs. No wonder they’re agitated when they look at America and see people using ladders willy-nilly. 

The global financial crisis.

Wow, they’re coming thick and fast. Okay. The crisis was initially caused by the fact people don’t wear hats any more. Not wearing hats led to the almost complete decimation of the hat stand making industry. Do you know how many hat stand makers there are in New York today? 23. Just 23. And as little as ten years ago there were 26! So you can see the problem. 

Climate change.

Here we have to distinguish between the words ‘climate’ and ‘weather’ and this is where – especially in America – the debate sometimes gets lost in confusion and cross talk. ‘Weather’ means when it rains and snows, and ‘climate’ we use when it’s sunny or windy. Sort that out and you’ve sorted out climate change.

Thank you Jeremy that was completely…

Hat stand. 

Quite. 

Jeremy Irons will be appearing.

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE..

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 17. DANNY BOYLE

Danny Boyle – director of such an eclectic range of films as Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Sunshine, 28 Days Later and A Life Less Ordinary – is chopping bananas, kiwis, apples, crushing cranberries and dropping them all into a blender. ‘I’m making you one of my famous smoothies,’ he says, scratching himself with a free hand. ‘You have one of these and you can run a mile, chum!’

Once it’s done I taste it and say it’s very nice. Danny runs around the kitchen, punching the air in a victory dance. ‘I’m simply the best,’ he sings at the top of his little lungs.

So Danny what’s all this about Trainspotting 2?

I’m done thinking up new shit. I’m all out of ideas. Think about it. I’ve worked in every genre: science fiction with Sunshine, horror with 28 Days Later, straight drama, Bollywood. I’ve even worked in the shit Cameron Diaz film genre with A Life Less Ordinary. Well, that’s it I can’t do it any more. From now on, I’m just making sequels. Do you want some more?

Yes please. So what do you have planned?

After Trainspotting 2, I’m going to do Sunshine 2, Slumdog Billionaire and 254 Hours. Then I’m going to direct the Olympics 2.

But the Olympics will be in …

Yeah, whatever. I haven’t thought that far ahead. There you go. I put a little of my secret stuff in there. What people don’t understand about the Olympics is I really wanted the Queen to be in it, I mean the actual Queen, but they just gave me some hammy old stand in, not even my second choice Helen Mirren. 

No, that was the actual Queen. 

 Bloody Nora. I made a pass at her. 

What are your plans for Trainspotting?

Ewan MacGregor has given me a lot of input, but he’s a catholic priest now (for more on that story CLICK HERE) so he’s asking we clean it up a lot and cast younger male leads. Other than that I have pressure from Irvine Welsh that he be given a larger acting role. And the Americans want the characters to go to the States. Some have suggested that our heroes accidentally buy a zoo, rather than use heroin. As long as we’re true to the spirit of the original, I’ll do anything.

Abruptly, I need to get to the bathroom and when I emerge Danny is gone and I have lost two stone.

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES 16: BEN AFFLECK

MALIBU – Ben Affleck bounces into the breakfast bar of the Hilton and glances around at the assembled diners before passing through the room stopping to shakes hands and say hello to each and every one.

He calls each one by name and asks after their kids, pets, or various skin diseases. One would think he was trying to win an election, but no, this is just Ben – Big Ben as he prefers to be known – the man who once called himself ‘the Next Sean Penn, but with J-Lo and he had… I want to say Madonna?’

So Fleckers! You’re in a buoyant mood. What gives?

Am I? I suppose I am. No reason. Oh could I have the grapefruit and just a a slice of whole meal bread lightly toasted with unsalted butter. 

The waiter smiles and Affleck tells him to Ar-go fuck yourself. The whole room bursts into applause. Ben jerks up right and suddenly starts thanking his father, mother, Matt Damon, George Clooney for believing in him, before catching himself and sitting down again.

Sorry. Force of habit. Where were we? 

You seem happy. 

I cannot lie it has been a good year. But I can’t take all the credit. George Clooney believed in me and the scriptwriter Chris Terrio, God knows how he dreams up these stories. It’s just like the most incredible imagination.

It was based on a true story.

Get the fuck out of here.

It was.

You’re shitting me. Seriously. Wow! I mean wow. 

Just then breakfast arrives and Ben busies himself with the business end of the toast.

I suppose that’s what all those questions were about. Now it all makes sense. Well, there you go. Wait a minute does that mean… was Pearl Harbor also … was that based…

On a true story, yes.

Motherfucker! Really? Christ, and there’s me thinking how clever these writers are and they’re just copying this shit down from like life. 

That’s an art in itself.

Yeah right. What about Armageddon? No, but seriously, was Armageddon a true story?

No that was a made up story. 

I knew that one. Michael Bay. Now there’s a genius for making shit up. Oh wait. Ben picks up his phone and speed dials Michael Bay. Hey Mike. Got a thought for you Armageddon 2 put this line in: Ar-ma gedding out of here!  Yeah right.

What did he say?

He told me to go fuck myself.

Ar-go fuck yourself?
Ben looked at me with tears in his eyes.
‘No,’ he whispered. ‘Just go fuck yourself.’

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 15. SEAN PENN

Eggs (over easy), bacon, ham, pork sausages, ham, coffee, whisky (drunk from broken bottle)

He has long been one of the most intelligent voices in Hollywood. His obvious talent was sometimes hidden in the glare of the publicity afforded him by his hi-profile relationship with a beautiful pop star and his own occasional excesses. As the years have gone by, he has moved into character acting and directing his own films which each give his own idiosyncratic take on the American dream. Unfortunately Ben Affleck couldn’t make it this morning and at a pinch I just happened to run into Sean Penn.

So Sean Gangster Squad? What the fuck?

The idea was interesting. Mickey Cohen and all that period in LA. I really thought it was time as well to make a new version of the gangster genre and I loved Ruben Fleischer’s work on erm… the Jimmy Kimmel show and … er… Oh Zombieland was good. Wasn’t it?

Are you looking on IMDB?

Fuck you! But yes. 

Okay so, The Tree of Life Sean, what the fuck? 

Now listen, Terry Malick is genius and I’d go to the ends of the earth for him. Of course, when I told him that I assumed he’d realize I was talking figuratively. Instead he actually sent me to the Gobi desert to wander around in an Armani suit.

It must have been hell.

Armani’s suits are a bit tight around the crotch but … oh you mean the desert? Yeah. Plus not a fuck did I know about what I was doing in that film. I mean seriously.

And so Sean, This Must Be the Place, what the fuck?

Oh, come on that was good. I had a ball making that and I really respect Paolo [Sorrentino], he’s an artist. You have to understand  I’m a risk taker and sometimes those risks don’t pay off. I’m the guy who is out there on the edge.

So what’s your next project?

I’m doing Prone Gunmen with the guy who made Taken and Danny the Dog

Seriously? What the fuck!

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

  

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 14: STEVEN SODERBERGH

Rice Krispies, Coco-pops, Cornflakes, Shredded Wheat, Weet-a-bix, porridge, orange juice, cranberry juice, tomato juice, all in unsatisfyingly small portions

Steven Soderbergh looks exhausted. He answers the door in his robe and he’s the ghost of the man I met all those years ago at Sundance, the bright young thing who had just made Sex, Lies and Videotapes. ‘I have some dreadful news,’ he opens before I’ve chosen my weapon from the mini-bar of breakfast cereal he’s arranged from me.
‘Oh, God! Ocean’s 14?’ I ask, trying to keep the terror from my voice.

‘No,’ said Soderbergh. ‘I’m retiring. I’m done. Side Effects will be my last film.’ 
‘Oh what a relief!’
‘What?’
‘I mean that’s terrible.’
‘Yes, it is terrible.’
I munch my coco-pops. ‘It’s like when you retired before Contagion and then again after Out of Sight. What was your favourite retirement?’
‘Probably right after Kafka… No, wait, what do you mean? I’ve never retired before this is the … what are you implying?’
‘No you’re right, this is very sad,’ I make a start on the Rice Krispies. ‘Why are you retiring this time… I mean, now?’
‘The lack of respect for directors is the main reason,’ says Soderbergh.
I hold up a finger so I can hear the snap, crackle and pop. ‘Go on,’ I tell him.
‘Yes, the … er … respect for directors, it just isn’t there any more. When I was making Haywire there were so many people trying to second guess me, like did I want someone who could actually act in the lead? they’d say. As if that was an accident. I mean they were right but still it hurt my feelings. It was The Girlfriend Experience all over again. Other people said I should have put some jokes in The Informant! and Full Frontal, you know, to let the audience know they were comedies.’
‘I see.’ I munch meditatively. ‘So that’s it? You’re out?’
‘Definitely. And it’s such a pity because I had so many projects lined up. Benico was on board for Che Part 3: The T-Shirt and of course I don’t feel I’ve got right to the bottom of the Danny Ocean saga. Maybe I could be persuaded if the terms were right…’
‘No, Steve I think you’ve done the right thing.’
I’m backing toward the door now.
‘If I was deified or a city was named after me … I’ve always wanted to make a porn film in which all the actors were really ugly, and me and Clooney have been talking about remaking Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Making it zippy though.’
‘No, that’s it Steve. Retirement. I got it. Bye.’
He’s running after me down the street, the robe flapping. ‘Wait, wait, I’ve changed my mind.’

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 13: KATHRYN BIGELOW

Bacon and eggs, toast, waffles, grits, grapefruit juice, sleep deprivation and water-boarding.

Kathryn Bigelow invites me in. Her kitchen is full of sunlight and there is a radio on. She looks a little frazzled what with the controversy surrounding her latest film Zero Dark Thirty. ‘Do you think making these films about the military – Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty – have changed you in anyway?’ I ask.
‘Sir, no sir!’ she barks.

To my surprise we continue through the kitchen and into the basement, where Kathryn shows me the way to what looks like a cell. Concrete walls and a small cot. Before I know what’s happened, Kathryn has me changed into an orange boiler suit and a bag is taped over my face.
‘Did you like the film?’ she asks. ‘What did you think of Chastain?’
‘She was great,’ I cried. ‘And Mark Strong’s accent was flawless.’
Before I knew it I was being leant backward over what felt like an ironing board. And something qwas poured over my face. I gasped for breath.
‘What about Point Break?’ she said. ‘What did you think of Swayze?’
‘He’s …’ I gasped. How could I say what I really thought? ‘He’s …’
‘WHAT?’
‘A limited actor with a vague iconic presence.’
The bag is off and I’m gasping for air. She offers me a cigarette. ‘You okay?’
I nod shivering and spluttering.
‘What do you think? Does Zero Dark Thirty advocate torture?’ she asks, as she fetches coffee.
‘Well, there’s definitely an ambiguity there,’ I say. ‘What are those wires?’
When I finish bucking and jerking and the last shivers of agonizing electricity finds its way out of my body, I scream through clenched teeth, ‘You were just objectively trying to tell a story in a very difficult period in history.’
She plays it back. And then has me sign the release. And we go upstairs for waffles.

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.