Charlie Kaufman and Catherine Keener Exclusive Video Interview – Synecdoche, New York

     October 22, 2008

Charlie Kaufman is known for his writing. As the screenwriter behind such films as “Being John Malkovich”, “Adaptation”, and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, he’s clearly someone that takes an original path…hence the reason so many people love his work. So for his directorial debut, it’s no surprise that his story and script don’t follow the typical Hollywood rules. Here’s the official synopsis:

Theater director Caden Cotard (Hoffman) is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele (Keener) has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive (Sadie Goldstein) with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis (Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Morton) has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. Worried about the transience of his life, he leaves his home behind. He gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in New York City, hoping to create a work of brutal honesty. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside. The years rapidly fold into each other, and Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece, but the textured tangle of real and theatrical relationships blurs the line between the world of the play and that of Caden’s own deteriorating reality.

I managed to see the film recently and have to say….it’s definitely not for everyone. Some will find the pacing and structure hard to handle, but some will definitely dig what Charlie Kaufman has brought to the screen.

But no matter what you think of the movie, Charlie definitely has an eye for directing and I hope this is the beginning of his career behind the camera.

Anyway, I recently interviewed both Charlie and his leading lady Catherine Keener and it’s below. As always, I listed what we talked about above the interview. Finally, if you’d like to watch some movie clips from Synecdoche, New York click here.

Charlie Kaufman and Catherine Keener

  • I ask if they met on Being John Malcovich and what was Charlie like then and what is he like now – they give me a long answer on what they both felt while working on that movie

  • With the way the film can be interpreted by the viewer, how is it to talk about the film and are they apprehensive of putting too much of their own opinion about the movie out there

  • I ask if we should assume Charlie won’t be recording an audio commentary for the DVD – he won’t be

  • I ask Charlie is this is the beginning of his directing career of if this is a one time thing

  • I ask Catherine to give us a status on Where the Wild Things Are. She has seen the recent cut and calls it “beautiful.”

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