Hey folks, Harry here with Quint and his oh too brief interview with Baz Luhrmann. Now here's the thing, he actually got Baz talking a bit about ALEXANDER THE GREAT and like I said when I first heard the news that he was doing that... and that was that I can't even imagine what the historical epic will look or feel like coming from a cinematic stylist like Baz. We shall see though. We shall see. For now, here's Quint and Baz...
Ahoy, squirts! 'Tis I, everyone's favorite crusty ol' seaman, Quint, here taking a break from all sorts of media distractions like the Spider-Man and Fellowship of the Rings: Extended Edition DVDs and the highly addictive GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY to finally get this interview with director Baz Luhrmann out to you folks. I conducted this interview after a screening of his STRICTLY BALLROOM at the Mill Valley Film Festival last month.
Below we talk a bit about MOULIN ROUGE, which was one of my favorite films last year, hands down, and a lot about ALEXANDER, his upcoming epic based on the life of Alexander the Great. Baz is an energetic Aussie, his accent accentuated by his quick, light way of talking. He's very energetic and impassioned, the kind of person who you feel could tell the same story over and over again like it was the first time. The following interview is pretty short, but was a blast for me conduct and I hope it's just as fun for you folks to read. Without any further adieu, here it is:
QUINT: I HAVE TO START OFF BY THANKING YOU FOR "MOULIN ROUGE," WHICH WAS MY FAVORITE MOVIE ALL LAST YEAR UP UNTIL I SAW "LORD OF THE RINGS," WHICH KINDA KNOCKED IT DOWN TO MY NUMBER 2 FAVORITE AT THE LAST MINUTE.
BAZ LUHRMANN: That's alright. I don't mind getting knocked around by Peter (Jackson). (laughs)
QUINT: MOULIN ROUGE HAS KIND OF BECOME A PIECE OF POP CULTURE... I MEAN, A COUPLE FRIENDS OF MINE GOT MARRIED LAST SPRING AND THEY BOTH INSISTED THAT THE FIRST SONG THEY DANCED TO AS A COUPLE WAS "COME WHAT MAY"...
BAZ LUHRMANN: When I was creating the piece COME WHAT MAY the notion was that it had to be a wedding song because even though it's a tragedy, she dies... but it's about an eternal commitment. It's about an eternal love, you know? Those songs or pieces that deal with that become good wedding pieces. You know it's kinda got some validity when people are using it at their weddings.
QUINT: CAN YOU TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT "ALEXANDER," LIKE HOW YOU'RE GOING TO VISUALLY REALIZE THE FILM?
BAZ LUHRMANN: These are the realities: I'm committing to it as the first of the epic film I'm going to do. I'm working with Dino (De Laurentiis), we've got the studio being built in Morocco while I'm finishing up on LA BOHEME. In terms of casting, the rumors about Leonardo (DiCaprio) have validity. I can't go into that because we're doing our own construct at the moment, but I'm already clearly working on the story. We will invent a cinematic style and language that is specific to that job at hand. By the very nature of it it's not going to be the same language as we've invented for the musical works.
QUINT: VERY COOL. WHAT DREW YOU TO DOING A MOVIE ABOUT ALEXANDER THE GREAT IN THE FIRST PLACE?
BAZ LUHRMANN: You know, I have many epic works that I really want to explore, but I've been fascinated by his character. The thing about Alexander is is that we, you and I, would not be sitting here but for him because essentially you got someone who was trained by the greatest military mind of his time, his father... By the sort of Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Ancient World, which is Aristotle. It's a freak situation. His parents are arguing over him, so he's looking for the approval of his father, but his father dies before he can get that love.
It's really just a domestic situation and if they lived in a suburban house it would really be no big deal, but they happened to possess the world. So, in pursuit of that approval of his father, his terrible internal complex becomes an external complex where he just goes beyond the boundaries of the world. He invaded more of the lands better than any general before or after. More extraordinarily, you have to remember that before Alexander the Great... In the same way that perhaps Western Culture is American dominated to a certain degree, and that's no judgment... It was Persian dominated (back then). That's Iraq. The Battle of Gaugamela is exactly in the middle of the No Fly Zone in Iraq.
So, interestingly, the moment at which this thing called "western thought" actually started having an influence on the globe was through Alexander the Great. He had this idea... What if all cultures could live under the one banner? What if East and West could live together? For all those reasons it has great potency.
QUINT: YOU SAID YOU'RE DOING LA BOHEME RIGHT NOW...
BAZ LUHRMANN: I'm doing LA BOHEME right now in San Francisco and it's in New York in December at the Broadway Theatre on Broadway... That's the Dave Letterman place.
QUINT: WHAT DOES THEATRE GIVE YOU THAT FILM DOESN'T?
BAZ LUHRMANN: The reality is that people always say it's so different. I say it's the same. I mean, you can do anything you can do in a cinema in theatre and vice versa, but the singular difference is the fact that it's the living theatre. It's that every night it can be and will be slightly different and that sort of visceral, in the moment experience. It keeps you on your toes, it keeps actors on their toes, it keeps storytellers on their toes.
QUINT: I HAVE ONE MORE QUESTION, IT'S MY STANDARD QUESTION THAT I ASK... IT'S BEEN CALLED MY BARBARA WALTERS QUESTION...
BAZ LUHRMANN: I've been interviewed by Barbara Walters! It better match up to her! (laughs)
QUINT: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE DIRTY JOKE?
BAZ LUHRMANN: Gee... My favorite dirty joke... Oh GOD! I'm not a prude, let me tell ya', but I'm just not a joke person... OK... A dirty joke, a dirty joke... (THINKS)
QUINT: I KNOW YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE, WHAT WITH ALL THE TIME YOU SPEND AROUND THE THEATRE...
BAZ LUHRMANN: Listen! Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something. I can't have a favorite dirty joke... And I'm not backing away from it... Have you got another Barbara Walters question? (laughs)
QUINT: (JOKINGLY) IF YOU WERE A TREE, WHAT TREE WOULD YOU BE?
BAZ LUHRMANN: Yeah! (laughs) My problem is this... To have a favorite you gotta know a few at least. I don't even know one! I just can't think of one. Have you got another question like that? I don't want seem like this... "Oh, that Luhrmann. Couldn't even think of a dirty joke! He's so clean and nice." I'm just not a joke person, really.
There you have it folks. I'll be back soon with some new reviews, interviews and maybe even an unexpected set visit... 'Til that day, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.