"WE DID THREE MOVIES TOGETHER AND IT WAS GREAT EVERY TIME"
David Koepp was interviewed recently by Collider's Steve "Frosty" Weintraub, who asked him about the critical reception to Carlito's Way...
I wanna jump into another project, you worked on Carlito’s Way right after Jurassic Park and you wanna talk about a back-to-back…
KOEPP: Yeah that was a pretty good year. I thought they’d all be like that.
Carlito’s Way, I don’t know what the reception was when it first came out, but it does seem like since its release the critical reception to the film has only gotten stronger and stronger. Have you noticed that?
KOEPP: Yeah there’s some that age and hold up nicely, and Carlito’s is one of them. I think that at the end of the ‘90s you got in [A La Mod note: it made the list in Cahiers du cinéma of] the best movies of the ‘90s, it was very nice. Because when it came out I think –Brian De Palma is about as savvy of a media observer that you’ll ever meet, then before it came out, before any critic had seen it, he said, “Well, I can tell you how it’s gonna go on this one. You wanna know?” I said, “Sure” and he said, “OK, Al [Pacino] sucks because he just won an Oscar and he’s played a gangster before. I suck because I did a gangster movie before, and this isn’t like it, but it’s enough like it. Sean [Penn] is fantastic because they haven’t seen him for a while and will like to have him back. That’s how it’s gonna go.” And that was exactly how it went. So it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t more warmly-received because I think it’s a really beautiful movie, but it went nicely over time.
What was it like working with De Palma on that, can you talk about that collaboration back then?
KOEPP: When he was predicting he also said, “Oh and the other thing is you suck because you’re ‘dinosaur boy’.” Brian was great, we did three movies together and it was great every time. I had a lot of laughs which and we’re close friends to this day. He’s a rather cynical man, but that’s what I love about him.
When you think back on Mission: Impossible, do you think back on it fondly or do you think back on just the arguments with all the people working on that screenplay?
KOEPP: The arguments and the conflicts fade in time, especially if the movie did well, so now I look back on it fondly, sure. If the movie had not done well, I think the memories would be less pleasant. You can look back on the arguments and the conflict now and find it all kind of confusing. But when you make a movie with people and in turns badly and it’s a flop, it’s weird, it covers your feelings about how the experience went, if it went well you start to remember it poorly, and then you run into the people you made it with and you act like you owe each other money. If it was a hit, even if you maybe had a lot of beefs while you were making it, you run into each other and it’s like, “Hey! It’s nice to see you!” So that’s superficial if that’s what it is.
I think that’s the way it is in real life with everybody. If something’s a success, you’re gonna just deal with ego. I know you’re working on Indy, but what other scripts are you currently working on, or are you just like a one-project-at-a-time person?
KOEPP: I do one at a time. What’s nice is if you –I have a couple of my own things, one or two things that I’m doodling in my down time. But I try to write on specs as much as I write adaptations or things that people ask me to do. And I think I’ve been pretty good at it, I wish it was 50-50 but it’s like 60-40 for things people ask me to do. The problem with specs is that sometimes they get in and sometimes they don’t, they vanish without a trace. But you always gotta have your own stuff going, you cannot stop, even though Hollywood has sort of turned away from original material a little bit, that’s no reason for you to stop.