Paul’s daughter Stephanie got very vulnerable. It was really wonderful to see her talk so openly. How many times did you talk with her?
Three or four times. What would happen at first is I would just talk to her and I didn’t even know what were the right questions to be asking. I just needed to know more before I could ask any questions that might be revelatory. Then she started saying hey, interview me again there’s something I didn’t say that I really want to say. She’s a great one. I love her. She called me up and said I forgot to tell you the greatest piece of advice my father ever gave me and it’s just “if you’re going to crash, crash decisively.” I love that.
How did you direct the voice performances? I thought Zoe Kazan’s performance as Paul’s ex-wife Jackie in particular was really impactful.
One of the things about being an actor for this long and knowing good actors is I know not to over direct people. With somebody as talented as Zoe, I want what she wants to do, what she wants to do is going to be more interesting than anything I can think of. The same with Clooney. These people are all really good at my profession, you know? So, really, all I would do is communicate to them the context that these interviews happened in. The fact that they’re talking to somebody they know they’re safe with. They’re not being interviewed on the Charlie Rose show. They’re being interviewed by Paul’s best friend. They’re completely safe. There’s a lot of funny things I had to cut out. But like, oh, you know, people bad mouthing each other. Karl Malden saying, “Why did Paul cast that guy? He should have put me in that movie.”
In episode five, Zoe Kazan asks you how this project made you reflect on yourself and you cut before you answer the question.
I cut before I answer the question, but I cut to their grandkids. That’s kind of my answer. That we make this big deal about accomplishment, but it’s really the living that matters.
That’s what I was hoping you would say. I thought that was a beautiful cut. And thank you for this project. It made me want to find all these rare movies. I’d seen a lot of the big ones, but there’s so many Joanne ones where I was like, what the hell is “Winning”?
I know. That’s what I felt as I was making it. It was always like whoa. Like discovering “WUSA” and going there’s another movie they made together that I’ve never heard of? Or her film “A Kiss Before Dying”.
I’ve seen that one. She’s so good, but that movie is a lot.
It is a lot. Have you seen “No Down Payment”?
No, that one’s on my list. I added probably 15 movies to my Letterboxd watchlist while I was watching this.
Watch that one. That one is great.