Interview with Brian De Palma, February 26, 2002, in Paris, France.
By Geoff Beran

Geoff Beran talks with Brian De Palma at the closing night of the Pompidou retrospective.

On the way to interview Brian De Palma at his apartment in Paris, his assistant Sophie alerted me to the fact that Mr. De Palma had already moved past thinking of FEMME FATALE, which had yet to be released, as "the new film." She said to be careful if you say "the new movie" to him and expect to be talking about FEMME FATALE, because he will start talking in terms of the new project that is already in his head. That new project, I had heard before, involved a paranormal thriller that De Palma was thinking about filming in Paris and Italy. I had been told that with this one, De Palma really wanted to scare people.

Meanwhile, there was a retrospective of the director’s work continuing at Paris’ Pompidou museum, where every one of De Palma’s films was being screened to packed audiences. At a press conference on opening night, De Palma was asked why he chose BLOW OUT to open the retrospective with. He replied that he had seen on the Internet where BLOW OUT was chosen by his own fans as being his best film. De Palma was referring to a semi-annual poll of his fans conducted by Canadian Carl Rodrigue and American Tony Suppa, co-Webmasters of a Le Paradis de Brian De Palma, in which BLOW OUT consistently ranks at the top of the list. Finding the fans for the poll is easy: Rodrigue and Suppa simply log on to the "De Palma Forum," located at Bill Fentum’s website, Directed By Brian De Palma, and ask fans to rank their top fifteen or so favorite De Palma films. The two of them add up the tallies, and voila! The press conference itself was transcribed, with pictures, for De Palma’s fans by Romain Desbiens, at his site Brian De Palma: Le Virtuose du 7ème Art. De Palma may have exiled himself in France, but the network created and maintained by his fans around the globe made him seem more universal than ever.

De Palma had come to Paris in March 2000, the same week his MISSION TO MARS opened in America. Even before he attended his first ever Cannes Film Festival that May, where MISSION TO MARS screened out of competition, he had written a screenplay called FEMME FATALE. It wasn’t long before he had adapted the screenplay to a Paris setting and put the wheels in motion to shoot his next film in France, where he found himself living. By the time of the next Cannes Film Festival, in May 2001, he had further tailored the script to suit his new star, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, assembled a mostly-French film crew, and was shooting the opening scenes of FEMME FATALE on the famous steps of the Festival Palais. As the retrospective opened in February of 2002, rumors persisted that FEMME FATALE would make its debut at that year’s Cannes Festival. When asked about this, De Palma replied that he was "not allowed" to reply…

I had come to Paris initially for the retrospective. More than five years earlier, when I started my own De Palma website, I titled it De Palma a la Mod in homage to MURDER A LA MOD, a film so rare it had been rumored that De Palma himself owned the only existing print. Of course, I had never seen it, but I had really wanted to. I needed to. I had developed a theory about De Palma’s work which insisted that his earlier films were key to understanding the complex layers of his later ones. MURDER A LA MOD and several other rarities were part of the retrospective, and I could not resist going. I knew it would be the rarest of opportunities to view these early films, and within the context of such a complete program in a city where the director’s work was truly appreciated… well, I knew it was a situation that may only happen once in a lifetime. And as long as I was in Paris, I figured I might as well ask the man himself himself for an interview.

A few nights prior to our conversation, De Palma had joined Laurent Vachaud, coauthor of Brian De Palma: Entretiens avec Samuel Blumenfeld et Laurent Vachaud, for a question-and-answer session following a screening of his DIONYSUS IN ’69. Vachaud would participate in the discussion, and also act as translator between the mostly French-speaking audience and the filmmaker. Sophie hinted to me that De Palma was getting tired of the same old questions, so before beginning with him, I told him that I had tried to come up with some new ones. That made him laugh.

Geoff Beran: In the earlier days of your career, you seemed a little more open toward talking with people, when there was a more responsive atmosphere to your films. And now, that seems to have come full circle here in Paris, where people here are really appreciating your work. Do you think this frees you up as an artist? Do you feel freer now than you did before to make the kinds of films that you want to make?

Brian De Palma: Well, I just think through your career you go through different phases, and I just got sort of uninspired by the whole studio process of making and releasing films. There’s not much joy in it, even if it’s a success or a failure. And there’s all this pressure to get it done on a certain day, even though it has nothing to do with the realities of the movie you’re making. You know, you’re sort of making a movie for a budget and a release date. And then you go and have these press junkets, you know, where you’re thrown into a hotel suite and doing three-minute television interviews, and they get it all over in maybe two days. Nobody’s really interested in asking you anything really interesting. It’s just stuff to put on television. And in my case, I just don’t think they’re much interested in directors anymore. It’s all a celebrity business. So they’re interested in the movie stars, and you know, what’s the point of going? I have tried to avoid a couple of these press junkets. I managed to avoid the MISSION TO MARS one… and I did some stuff in New York on SNAKE EYES… missed the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE one completely. I just find it sort of… I mean, I don’t mind promoting a movie, or talking to the press if it’s going to be used in some way. But if they shoot television stuff, which is a bore to do, and they don’t use it—you know, because like I said before, they’re just interested in the movie stars—and it’s just this little 30-second blurp on television, then it’s like, come on.

And over here, I came over to do a lot of promotion for MISSION TO MARS when it opened in Europe. And then I sort of said, "Well, why don’t I make movies here?" It’s beautiful, I’ve always wanted to work in Europe again, and that’s why I stayed. I mean, I don’t think there’s any sort of grand design to it.

GB: Just kind of where it led you…

BDP: Yeah, I mean, it’s great working here. It wouldn’t have occurred to me unless I came here and just started to live here.

GB: I understand that you already have plans for a new movie. Laurent Vachaud said you want to make a really scary movie this time.

BDP: Yeah, I had an idea to make a very scary movie, based on a kind of serial murderer that preys on tourists. So, I got a sort of very good idea, and that’s what I’ve been working on. But I’ve written a couple of scripts, and at this stage now, I’m sort of deciding… you know, now you go through a process of reading a lot of material, books, scripts, writing… until you get something that’s going to get you interested enough to make the movie. And as you get older, it just gets harder. And you say, do I want to spend all this time making something I’m not really a hundred percent sure that it’s going to be moving what I’m doing another step. You know, “What am I saying with this movie? Am I involving some kind of cinematic idea I’m working on?” And all these things I kind of ponder all the time.

GB: You say "moving another step"--do you see the whole cinematic process for you as an almost scientific one, a heuristic process? Kind of building on not only what you’ve done, but also the work that others have done?

BDP: Yeah, you’re trying to push the envelope a little bit all the time. And I think in terms of pure visual storytelling, nobody else is doing this besides me. You see it in some other directors occasionally, but… I’ve been obsessed with this kind of visual storytelling for quite a while, and I try to create material that allows me to explore it. I did quite a lot of it in FEMME FATALE. And it sort of put me on a course of, "How can I find visual ideas and work them into stories I want to tell?" So that’s something that haunts me all the time.

GB: At the recent Pompidou screening of DIONYSUS IN ’69, you talked about the energy of the play, and the effect it had on you which inspired you to film it. Did you feel that you and your fellow cameramen were a part of that energy while you were filming? Or did you feel kind of separated from it?

BDP: Well, like any time you’re shooting documentary stuff, you’ve got to be in the moment, and you’ve got to be able to be in control enough to capture what’s happening. I mean, I saw some footage once where a bunch of guys were shooting a rock band touring across the country, and they were as stoned as the rock band. Consequently, what they shot wasn’t very good. So, you have to sort of be there, you gotta feel it, and you’ve got to be able to be detached enough to record it and get it on film and get the camera in the right position when these things are happening.

GB: You seem to satirize that energy in HI, MOM! and PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, almost to the point where up to CASUALTIES OF WAR, there seems to be that same sort of energy in that whole sense of freedom they feel out in the fields. And it seems like there, it becomes almost a moral issue. It could just be my interpretation, but it seems like you did progress to a point where you kind of took a stand on that…

BDP: You mean with that speech of Eriksson’s in CASUALTIES OF WAR, where he says "We’ve gotta be careful about what we’re doing, because we may be dead the next moment?"

GB: Yeah.

BDP: (long sigh) Well, there was a kind of spontaneity there, and a kind of adventurous generation that… I don’t know. I mean, you’re part of the new generation. I don’t know how much we see it anymore. And that’s what’s so inspirational about something like DIONYSUS. It actually records the moment that it happened. Kind of like a document of the period. And it catches the kind of feel of the ‘60s, which is very elusive when you’re trying to tell about this period. There’s a kind of idealistic, revolutionary, anti-establishment, almost absurdist energy. You know, "We want it and we want it now." The establishment has just kind of sucked it all up and made a product out of it, and that kind of destroyed it.

GB: Speaking of CASUALTIES OF WAR—recently on Bill Fentum’s forum, Kai found a copy of OK, the German film version of the story that you’ve always wanted to see. I think Laurent [Vachaud] was going to try and get you a copy from him. Have you had a chance to see it yet?

BDP: No, I’ve never seen it. I had heard about it. Of course, I found it quite ironic that I was at the film festival that that film closed. And I didn’t find out until years later that it was CASUALTIES OF WAR. And I think I found it out from a French friend of mine when I was in Paris. It had to be in the early ‘90s. And then I tried to get a copy of it, wasn’t successful, and maybe now I’ll ultimately see what this very controversial film was.

GB: With FEMME FATALE, you seemed very inspired by Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. What struck you most about her?

BDP: Well, I think I’ve really discovered somebody. It’s always great when you discover someone. I think she’s just stunning, and embodies this part. And I’ll be very excited to see if she’s launched by this film. It’s always great to discover a new star of tomorrow.

GB: I want to talk a little bit about the songs in your films. I haven’t seen MURDER A LA MOD yet, but I understand William Finley has a song at the beginning of that one…

BDP: Yes.

GB: And then there’s GREETINGS…

BDP: Yes…

GB: All the way up to SNAKE EYES, with Meredith Brooks, who wrote the song at the end…

BDP: "Sin City."

GB: Yes. The songs seem to use a lot of lines from the actual films.

BDP: Yes.

GB: Is that something, for instance, when you met with Meredith Brooks, did you go through that with her? Or did you show her the script and ask her to write a song?

BDP: I spent some time with her because I saw her video… one of her videos from her "Bitch" album. And I thought she was remarkable on film. And then I sort of just ran her down in Los Angeles. And I liked her. We got along extremely well. And then I went out on tour with her. And I don’t know when I got the idea for her to write a song. I was thinking of doing something—I’m always sort of fascinated, you know, I have a fascination with watching these kids on MTV videos. I’m always looking for a kind of new musical entity to sort of move into a motion picture venue. And I thought her videos were extremely good, and I really liked her music. Now, how we came up with… I think I showed the movie to her…? And that’s why I think she picked up some of the lyrics. And then she sang the song to me, and I made some suggestions, some of which she took, some of which she didn’t. And that’s how the song evolved.

GB: It’s interesting, because it seems similar to the older songs from your sixties movies where the title is prominent…

BDP: We have two really interesting French songs in FEMME FATALE. One, because we couldn’t get the rights to use the song that Rebecca worked with, which was an old classic rock and roll song that was just too expensive, and we had to all decide whether to use it or not. So we looked around, and the choreographer found a whole bunch of alternate ideas, and came up with a sensational French song by a group called Saez, called "Sex," which is one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever heard and works very well with this strip tease sequence. And then we use a very little bit of an Elli Medeiros song when they’re in the bathroom listening to their MP3 players as they’re sort of making out. I don’t know if there’s much rhyme or reason to this. You know, I listen to contemporary music all the time.

GB: On the soundtrack for CARLITO’S WAY, Patrick Doyle has a music cue for the love scene, but you wound up using the Joe Cocker song, which of course is reprised at the end of the film.

BDP: Right.

GB: Where did the idea come about to use that song?

BDP: Well, it was just something that, you know, you make temp tracks up, and there was always something on the temp track. And I thought the temp track with Joe Cocker’s song worked better than what Patrick had written. Composers hate when you do this. Sakamoto was not very happy about me putting the Meredith Brooks song at the end of SNAKE EYES. And, you know, the Elli Medeiros song, I used just a very little bit in this movie [FEMME FATALE], and she’s a very good friend of mine. But I always have to make these tough decisions. You know, whether people are friends or not. I just look at it and think, this is the best music for this section of the movie. Sakamoto had composed a whole long section for that movie at the end of SNAKE EYES. I just felt we needed a shift of mood. You know, when [Nicolas Cage] says, “What the hell, at least I got to be on television.” I just think that had to shift the whole mood up. It has to have an irony there, and I felt the song reflected it better.

GB: Was Morricone’s score for THE UNTOUCHABLES a conscious reworking of his score for BATTLE OF ALGIERS, as one writer has claimed?

BDP: That I can’t comment on, because I’m not that familiar with that score. I mean I know a lot of Morricone's scores, and I may have heard it on one of the compilation records that I have, but I can’t hum a little BATTLE OF ALGIERS for you. It’s not something like, you know, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, that immediately comes to mind. Morricone wrote a tremendous amount of scores. You know, I was listening to his score for BUGSY the other day, and it’s very similar to THE UNTOUCHABLES.

GB: There’s this book called Afterimage, written by Richard A. Blake, a Jesuit priest. He has separate chapters on Scorsese, Capra, Coppola, Hitchcock, Ford, and you, at the end. His idea of the "afterimage" is how the Catholic upbringing of these directors is still kind of there in the imagery of their movies. And he uses you as kind of a test case, because he says that you’re probably the least Catholic among the bunch. Do you think your Catholic background has affected your movies in such a way?

BDP: Well, both my parents are Catholic, and my grandparents are all Italian-speaking Catholics on both sides. However, ironically, I was baptized Presbyterian, and went to a Quaker school for twelve years. So, that’s why I sort of have all this sort of Catholic imagery, because it was always around me from my grandparents. You know, the funerals, and the church services we’d go to occasionally, and the family gatherings. Just filled with all kinds of Catholic images. However, I spent most of my time in a Quaker school. So you get this whole other sort of very restrained, religious framework that you’re brought up in. And that’s why I think you have this sort of strange mix with me.

GB: Oliver Stone said that as he was writing SCARFACE, he thought of it as a kind of comic Richard III. And in Pauline Kael’s review of the film, she goes so far as to call it slapstick. Were you thinking in terms of comedy at all when you were directing the film?

BDP: No. If anyone’s been around some very long cocaine evenings, there’s nothing that’s in SCARFACE that we all haven’t seen before. Of course, I have a very kind of operatic style, but people on cocaine tend to be a little operatic. So, you know, when one sees that crazy sequence in GOODFELLAS, when he’s running around, he’s cooking, and he’s gotta get the stuff, I mean, it’s so perfect. And I just took it in kind of another direction.

GB: The marketing of SCARFACE seemed to bring to mind THE GODFATHER, which Pacino was well known for. Do you think that by making it a lengthy film along those lines, were you also going for that kind of vibe? A GODFATHER type of feel?

BDP: Well, I think any kind of merchandising, advertising department of a movie company, you know, when they have Al Pacino as a gangster, it’s another GODFATHER because of the success of those films. But I remember specifically looking at the ad campaign, and they had Al in a black suit, holding a gun. And I said, "This is not a black suit Mafia guy. This is a white suit Cuban gangster." So they reversed the suit so it was a white suit, and that was the little effect I had on the merchandising, or the selling of the movie.

GB: A month after SCARFACE was released, in Michigan somewhere, it was reported that some teenager got up in front of the screen before the movie started and kind of tried to rally the crowd, saying something like, “This is a great film. It shows how to get ahead in America, they shoot people good in this film…” That sort of thing. If that happened at a screening where you were present, would you feel compelled to comment to such a person in any way?

BDP: Well, SCARFACE was always in a swirl of controversy. The battle I had with the Motion Picture Association to not have an X rating… you know, some people loved the movie, and it made a lot of people incredibly angry… so, please, nothing would have surprised me in that period.

GB: I’m sure I could go on and keep asking you questions all day, I have so many…

BDP: Well, let’s keep going. Let me ask you a few questions. When did you start your Web site?

GB: That would have been right before SNAKE EYES, probably like a year before, in ’96 or ’97.

BDP: And what inspires someone to do a Web site?

GB: Actually, I was staying at my Mom’s in Colorado. And I was bored one night, and I had never been on the Web before, and I had access to the Internet. And I just got on, and I was looking for information about your films. And I found a site, Angelfire—make a free Web site. And I just decided to gather up all the information I’d found, and just started it like that.

BDP: Wow. And what drives you on?

GB: Well, it just started to… well, Bill Fentum would e-mail me…

BDP: Have you met Bill?

GB: Just once or twice on the phone, and we’ve mailed each other things. But he did an article, and we put it up on my site. And it was just that kind of thing. There were people, like this other guy, Brett, who would e-mail me wanting to discuss SNAKE EYES. And I guess it was really kind of the first site about you, although there was a Canadian site that was never really kept up at the time (not Carl’s, who started his soon after, I think). And it was just kind of a place where people who liked your work could go. And of course, Bill, who is much more technically inclined than I am, developed "Directed by Brian De Palma…"

BDP: Right.

GB: And so he and Carl started the forum, which was very helpful…

BDP: Right, right. Yeah, it’s quite incredible. That’s why I think it’s important for directors to support their forums, or their Web sites. Because, like I said to Bill, this is where we will live and exist, on the Web. All this stuff will ultimately all go on the Web. You know, when people want to get any information, research information, it will all exist on these Web sites. Don’t you think?

GB: Yeah, I agree. I mean, there’s already so much information that someone like me can get at the push of a button.

BDP: Yeah, when I write all the time, the advantage of using the Web is just unbelievable. You know, to find out information. And I especially like working here, just because I can get a very fast modem line. It’s all cable modem lines here.

GB: And of course, there is misinformation…

BDP: Oh, all the time.

GB: Like when my site started out, there was CROCODILE TEARS…


GB: I actually found out more about it recently, because I had e-mail contact with a guy who worked on it. I guess it was made by a guy whose name is similar to yours. And I actually have a copy of it from Hong Kong. It stars Brittany Murphy and Karen Allen, her alcoholic mother. And they’re in Las Vegas, and the daughter just keeps trying to get the mom to straighten up and work. And it’s kind of a teenager coming-of-age movie.

BDP: …that went right to video and nobody saw.

GB: Yeah, not even in America. I had to buy it on Ebay from Hong Kong.

BDP: (laughs) So you just came to Paris for a little vacation?

GB: Yeah, well, like I say, I’ve always wanted to see MURDER A LA MOD, which is why I titled the site after that movie, and when I saw it was going to be here, along with all the others…

BDP: Right… What did MURDER A LA MOD look like? Was it in good shape?

GB: Actually, I haven’t seen it yet. They’re going to show it next week.

BDP: Oh, okay.


BDP: Right, WOTAN’S WAKE… You’ve seen everything else?

GB: Yeah, except for your other shorts and documentaries.

BDP: Yep.

GB: Who knows, maybe you’ll release them on DVD sometime, in fifty years…

BDP: If I can find them. You know, finding those negatives…

GB: Speaking of the old films, there was one called MOD…

BDP: It was never finished. The whole thing was sort of financed with some friends and I think they ran out of money. But I shot a lot of stuff, needless to say. I shot stuff in London, a lot of the rock and roll groups. I shot The Who at the Marquee Club, I shot the Rolling Stones at Fourteenth Street. I shot Peter Gordon. And then I think Bob Fiore went over and shot a lot of the Manchester groups. But we shot all this footage and then I think the producers ran out of money. And that was the end of it.

GB: All that stuff is just kind of sitting around somewhere?

BDP: I have no idea where it is. I think Bill Finley’s got it in his attic somewhere.

GB: Bill Fentum’s been trying to get an interview with Bill Finley…

BDP: I talked to Bill about two weeks ago, and I said, "Bill, talk to Bill!" You know, Bill’s kind of an eccentric character, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with that (laughing).

GB: Among your early influences, you’ve mentioned Godard and Truffaut, of course. Was Chabrol ever an influence, either earlier or later on?

BDP: Chabrol did THE COUSINS? Was that Chabrol?

GB: Yes.


GB: Yes.

BDP: No, I think the basic influence was Godard, mainly because the Godardian manner had a lot of influence on GREETINGS and HI, MOM, going out in the street, improvising. Except we didn’t do so much improvising ultimately because we rehearsed everything so much, and we just didn’t have enough film to improvise. When you figure it all out, the most expensive thing in GREETINGS was the stock, and getting it processed. But that spontaneity, telling stories that are happening to you politically at the time, the people who are your friends, that you went to college with, stuff like that. I’d say Godard was the most influential. And plus he had this very stunning visual style, and was full of ideas. Godard is incredibly brilliant, the things he says. Apparently here in France, the most interesting thing when a new film of his is going to come out are his press conferences, because he’s so brilliant.

GB: He seems to be very anti-Spielberg lately.

BDP: Yes. Yes, I’ve noticed that.

GB: I have a copy of the script for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, and in the big "revelation" scene, the final product is very different from the script. Was that kind of worked out in the editing room?

BDP: Where they’re lying to each other?

GB: Yes.

BDP: I think the scene was always written with them lying to each other, and then I… It’s an idea I’ve used before, where, you know, all the way back to MURDER A LA MOD, really, where you actually have one character completely lie in a retelling of the story, which is something you see in SNAKE EYES. So that, you know, this whole idea that film is truth 24 times a second is, of course, nonsense. You can make it seem true, and you can lie with it just as effectively. And when people see things on the screen they assume that’s what happened. It’s like when you watch television and the news, you think that’s what happened. But of course, you can control it and make it say anything you want it to say.

GB: In your films, as we were discussing before, you strive to go a step beyond every time, to advance the cinema. And yet, especially in the earlier days, the films have a sort of immediacy. And it seems like throughout your career, you’ve kept a certain sort of tension between being visionary, and at the same time, creating something of the moment.

BDP: You know it’s always amazed me—-I think the most startling thing that’s happened in the last couple of decades is that there is no sort of objective reporting anymore. And it’s kind of amazing when you think of how light and portable video equipment is. You know, we were always stunned by the documentaries made in the beginning of the ‘60s, with the lightweight 16 millimeter equipment. And the Drew Associates and the Maysles brothers, you know, following people around, recording what was happening, and we were seeing things we had never seen before. I would assume now that would be infinitely easier. Yet we see nothing like that, ever. Which is kind of perplexing to me.

You know, do you think they could ever get somebody following [Donald] Rumsfeld around with a video camera today? See how the inside of the White House works? It’ll never happen. Even though it’s the easiest thing in the world to do now. So, that’s kind of amazing, that with this new technology, we’re not able to expose the sort of machinations of what’s ever going on with the powers that be. Which means that, of course, it’s all controlled now with all of these infomercials of whatever they want us to believe. Which is the death of truth, in a way. Because, you know, the reporter was always that struggling guy who works for nothing, who fought to get the story. And now, you know, they all have talk shows, and multimillion dollar publishing contracts. So the purity of a guy trying to find out "what happened" is kind of lost.

And we’ve become very doubtful of our information sources, because they’re all controlled by these huge multilateral corporations. And of course, when we see something on television, it’s there because they want us to see it. They’re selling us something. You know, if we’re seeing starving kids in North Africa this week—-they’ve always been there. Suddenly, why are we seeing it this week? And that’s always bothered me a lot about what’s happened in American journalism. The last kind of “ray of light” was during the Vietnam war, when journalists were actually out there, seeing stuff and recording it, shooting it. Not anymore.

GB: I did see a story on the Internet a couple of weeks ago where somebody was trying to release a video or film they shot of President Bush on a plane, in some kind of party atmosphere. But the administration was trying to block the release of it.

BDP: That’s fantastic. I think that’s great. That’s the hope of the Internet, you know, if the government won’t clamp down on it. But absolutely—why aren’t we able to see what goes on in the corridors of power anymore? You know, we’re all surrounded by spin doctors and public relations people, telling us what happened.

GB: I was trying to translate a French transcription of your press conference at the Pompidou, and it looked like it said you were thinking of doing a GREETINGS-like film here in Paris.

BDP: No, I never said I would be making GREETINGS here in Paris.

GB: I thought that sounded kind of odd… I guess it would be…um…interesting…

BDP: (laughs) Why do you think that my fans are so young? What is it about your generation… I saw Romain, the French Web site guy. I mean, he looks like he’s fifteen! Why are my films speaking to this generation?

GB: Well, I know some are drawn in through the cult of SCARFACE, but it seems like somebody like Romain is really attracted to your more personal films. I don’t know. That’s a good question… of course, there are very interesting visuals going on in your films…

BDP: But, well, who are your favorite directors of the younger generation?

GB: I like Tarantino… um…

BDP: Paul Anderson?

GB: Paul Anderson… yeah, I really like MAGNOLIA a lot…

BDP: Coen Brothers?

GB: I love the Coen Brothers…

BDP: Chris Nolan?

GB: Chris Nolan—MEMENTO, yes, definitely.

BDP: (laughs) Sounds like we’ve got the right group.

GB: Around the time that MISSION TO MARS came out, someone on the forum had a question about cybernetics, which you had studied early in your life. Was there any connection between cybernetics and your interest in that film?

BDP: Only in the fact that I was kind of a science wonk in the ‘50s. You know, won a lot of science fairs, built computers. And I always try and get people to understand my attitude about MISSION TO MARS. I tried to bring the sensibility of the kid I was when I went to see DESTINATION MOON. It’s kind of a magical thing. And my experience working with people from NASA is, they have that kind of magical glow. I know people think it’s a very unusual movie for me to make, but one gets tired of this grim cynicism all the time. There are areas where there’s a kind of scientific purity and an idealism, and all those kinds of things that we believed in growing up in the ‘50s.

GB: I understand that part of FEMME FATALE takes place in the near future. Did you get the idea for that because your previous film, MISSION TO MARS, took place in the near future?

BDP: Um… no. It takes place in the present, and then we go forward seven years into the future. But it has nothing to do with MISSION TO MARS.

GB: I see. You know, just trying to figure out where some of your ideas come from…

BDP: From my subconscious.