There’s always been an uneasy truce between art and commerce — the notion that somehow monetary gain (read: success) dulls the art and by proxy the artist. The image of the “struggling artist”, working some corporate 9-5 job in between late night gigs or writing sessions or painting fits, tends to be romanticized; but what of the successful artist, the one who’s made it, the one who no longer has to work that crap daily job, that now gets paid millions to paint, write, sing, act, direct… By making money, by becoming successful, is the artist somehow compromised?
Danny Collins is pretty much focused on this central question. The film opens with struggling young musician Danny Collins getting his first big break – a lengthy profile in Rolling Stone magazine. The interviewer informs the burgeoning performer that he’s going to be a huge success; but instead of being pleased by this news, Collins seems sickened by the thought. Cut to 40-some-odd-years-later – Danny Collins (now played by Al Pacino) is a multi-millionaire sellout. He lives in a huge mansion with a twenty-something fiancée, playing to sold-out crowds that one annoying catchy hit (he didn’t even write) over and over again. The nightmare has come true: Danny Collins has become a successful artist.
But does any of that even matter? After receiving a long-lost piece of fan mail from John Lennon of all people, Collins seeks to get back in touch with his artistic roots. Of course in the process of redefining himself as an artist, Collins comes to discover something more important than the merit of a career – his family.
At the film’s press day, Annette Bening (who co-stars as Collins/Pacino’s newfound love interest) spoke to the duality between art and commerce, the best piece of fan mail she ever received and why it’s so hard to get an R-rated drama made today. In addition, she spoke about Warren Beatty’s long-gestating Howard Hughes film, her reaction to the film and whether it will be released this year. Watch the full interview, below.
- Bening on the best piece of fan mail she ever received
- On the duality between art and commerce
- On the lack of R-rated dramas made nowadays
- On Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes film