Interview with Brian De Palma
by Geoff Beran, September 26, 2006

It is fitting that the first image in The Black Dahlia shows the main protagonist engaged in the act of thinking, for thinking appears to be where the film’s maker, Brian De Palma, feels most at home. Several times in the following interview with De Palma, which was conducted by phone while The Black Dahlia was in its second week of release, the discussion turns to people thinking, whether they be characters in the film, or the audience trying to figure out what might be going on inside a character’s head. In fact, the moment in the interview that De Palma seemed to have the most fun with was when he was trying to remember a key part of a scene that was cut before it was ever filmed. The scene would have utilized one of De Palma’s favorite cinematic devices: a visual image that would provide a clue to said protagonist.

Throughout the interview, it becomes clear that De Palma has a lot of respect for James Ellroy’s novel, and wanted to be true to the author’s voice. Several aspects of this vision are discussed below. Needless to say, the interview that follows contains several spoilers. If you haven’t seen The Black Dahlia, and you don’t like to know about plot points or other cinematic moments beforehand, you may want to wait until after you’ve seen the film.

Geoff: A couple of articles, specifically in the U.K., have painted you as a “hired hand” for The Black Dahlia, but I really didn’t get that at all. I had the feeling from following the production that you were really personally invested in seeing the film get made, and you really spent a lot of time with it. It seems really kind of harsh to call you a “hired hand” with the film. How do you feel about it?

BDP: Yeah, I would say that was harsh. I mean, I stayed with this project for three years. I read the book about 15 years ago. No, it was a very difficult project. It was difficult to get financed, because of its downbeat noir nature. They don’t like to make movies like this. So, “hired hand” is something like, you know, Mission: Impossible, where you sort of go in and create something in order to create a franchise that makes a lot of money for everybody involved. But we never had those types of aspirations for this project. The fact that we got it made was kind of a miracle.

Geoff: It’s interesting that you mention Mission: Impossible, because that’s commonly seen as really not a personal De Palma film, and yet a few critics, especially in France, have seen and called attention to many of your personal themes in it.

BDP: Well, it becomes personal because I’d created the initial storyline with Steve Zaillian. There were many screenplays before, and I took it in a direction that appealed to me. So it’s very much a story that I wanted to tell. You weren’t just handed a script and told, “figure out how to direct this.” We created the whole Mission: Impossible scenario. It took us many months. So it’s very different than, you know, directing something that’s been pretty much worked out and the script that you accept to do.

Geoff: Yeah. Was Mission To Mars a little more that way?

BDP: Mission To Mars was more that, because the director left because of how large the budget was and didn’t want to make it. I don’t remember what the price was, but it was around $130 million. So I started very much with the script that was there, and had to start storyboarding it from the day I walked onto the project. And I don’t remember if we changed a lot of… Oh, yeah, The Face—that was an idea I had that was not in the script before. There was something there, but it wasn’t, you know, the mythological Face that people have been writing about forever in terms of Mars.

Geoff: Yeah, in fact, just a few days ago, there were new pictures released of The Face from the European Space Agency, so that’s still going on, and the debate continues…

BDP: Yeah, there’s still that legend there. I forget what it was in the original script, but it wasn’t The Face. It was something else that was there, left by the Martians.

Geoff: So, back to The Black Dahlia… Ellroy’s book seems to come complete with some of your themes already integrated. It might be easy to say all you had to do was add water and watch it sprout. Yet I feel you kind of altered it in fascinating ways. For instance, the crane shot that reveals the Dahlia from afar, and kind of links that shootout to the murder that is the centerpiece of the film. For Ellroy, it was kind of the crux of the book, where he called Part II “39th and Norton,” and in a way, you kind of bring that visually to the film, making it the centerpiece, this kind of ominous street corner. Can you talk about how you combined the shootout and the discovery of the Dahlia?

BDP: Well, you know, originally, the shootout and the killing of Baxter Fitch happened at some bar they were in. And I don’t exactly remember when I had this brainstorm of putting both crimes right next to each other. There was a lot of scouting of the locations in Los Angeles, where they kind of track Baxter Fitch, or who they thought was Junior Nash, to this bar. Which was still, you know, Lee making something up in order to assassinate Baxter Fitch. And then, we couldn’t create that long sort of street following. We didn’t have enough of a budget to shoot in L.A., you know, and when you start showing streets, period cars, people in cars watching people on the street, it just became economically impossible to do. So I had to figure out how to do that somewhere in Bulgaria. So we basically created those streets, and that whole sort of neighborhood. Just built it. And then I got that idea of having both crimes happen simultaneously, and linking them together with the crane shot.

Geoff: An early version of the script that I saw had the stag film showing Lorna Mertz and Betty Short together in kind of a more sympathetic light than you’ve done in the final film. Did you do that so we maybe sympathize with Betty a little more, and show Lorna as a little more of an aggressor, even though she is the younger participant?

BDP: Boy, you’re talking about stuff that I don’t even remember, it was so long ago. Well, we obviously, the whole screen test was to make Betty more empathetic, and create a living creature that was “The Black Dahlia” instead of just, you know, dead bodies and people saying terrible things about her. So, Mia and I kind of created these screen tests out of some material that was in a really old script that we had cut out a long time ago. We brought it back, to give the Dahlia some humanity.

Geoff: Obviously it works very well—those scenes are usually cited in the reviews…

BDP: Yes, everybody loves those scenes.

Geoff: Josh Friedman seemed to suggest in an interview that sometime after Fincher left the project, the producers or whoever were adamant that it be a two-hour picture. Is that kind of how it was when you came on?

BDP: Yeah. But I don’t know… I never saw the famous, whatever it is, the 180- or 220-page script. It was well within a two-hours, two-hours-twenty-minutes when the script was ultimately sent to me.

Geoff: And so as you were filming, you always had in mind that it had to be a two-hour film? Or as you were reshaping the script?

BDP: Well, it didn’t exactly have to be a two-hour film, but, I mean I had a two-hour and ten-minute version, but I… you know, there was a big interrogation of Red Manley that I took out. That seems to be the largest scene I actually took out that no longer exists. You see Lee really beat this guy up and terrorize him. The whole thing’s about the confession. But the subplots that sort of came down were, you know, the whole thing where everybody’s confessing all the time. Which… these confessions lead absolutely nowhere. But because it’s such a high-profile case, people are confessing to it all the time. So that went out. And then the whole sort of inner-departmental struggling with the D.A. that, you know, wanted to make a career on the high-profile case… that came down a lot.

Geoff: Were there ever any extra scenes shot with the Cleo Short character?

BDP: Oh, there was another Cleo Short scene. Yes, there was. It was very… very funny, really. Because they would go back to Cleo Short… and… I’m trying to remember now. There was a link there, because one of Cleo’s daughters was there, and she’s looking through a magazine that somehow tips Bucky… and you’re going to have to help me here, because this is in the book… there’s something in the magazine, a picture in the magazine that tips Bucky, I think, back to the Gwynplain, Man Who Laughs thing.

Geoff: Yeah… I was thinking it might be the picture of Mack Sennett and…

BDP: Right—there’s something, there’s a clue in that magazine, and that was in the original script.

[Editor’s note: the clue in the magazine was actually a still from a Keystone Kops movie that featured the same unmistakable background used in the Lorna Mertz/Betty Short stag film.]

Geoff: But you never filmed that scene?

BDP: No. It was on the schedule, but I ultimately cut it out. I never filmed it. No.

Geoff: And how about Amy Irving—did she ever make it out to Bulgaria?

BDP: No, again, that was another… you know, the Gwynplain painting is at the house of this other aristocrat that lives down the street from the Linscotts. And that sequence was ultimately dropped completely, because I said, you know, here we’ve got to have the painting somewhere else, and how did it get here, and she just gives a little more insight into the whole crazy Linscott family.

Geoff: And you also left out a scene at the end, or near the end, where Bucky and Russ burn down the shack?

BDP: Yeah. We shot that.

Geoff: But you just kind of didn’t…

BDP: Well, but there was no, you know, there’s no covering up the crime. Or, you know, Bucky just... I mean he executes Madeleine, and it doesn’t look like he makes any effort to cover up what he’s doing. He’s just like many noir characters. He’s just damned and he’s not looking for any way out.

Geoff: Yeah, and leaving that scene out just seems to drive that point home even more.

BDP: Yeah, it’s like he’s trying to cover up evidence of what?

Geoff: Mark Isham’s score works really well in the film. Did you seek him out specifically based on what you needed for this type of film?

BDP: No, for a long time, we were trying to make a deal with James Horner. And, we just couldn’t make it. They kept on negotiating, and this went on for like a year. And it also had to do with, you know, all the finishing of the movie. They kept on saying, “We don’t have enough money for this, we don’t have enough money for that.” So I had to move the mix to Toronto in order to find a way to mix the movie within the budget they sort of came up with. And Horner was the same problem. A year ago, they said they had closed the deal, and of course it was never closed. And I had to start looking for other composers. And Mark had sent me some stuff that I didn’t feel was right for the movie. And then he sent me another bunch of stuff, with all this sort of mournful trumpet playing. And I said, “This is perfect. This is what we need.” And since he’s Art’s brother-in-law, they were able to make a deal and make it stick.

Geoff: Speaking of Toronto, you were at the Toronto Film Festival this year, as usual.

BDP: Yep.

Geoff: The last couple of years, you’ve done the Talent Lab there.

BDP: Yep.

Geoff: What kind of things do you do when you govern the Talent Lab?

BDP: Well, this year at the Talent Lab, I took a scene from The Last Tycoon. The scene where Monroe Stahr describes to Donald Pleasence, the English screenwriter, how to write a scene, and sort of acts it out. I took that scene from the F. Scott Fitzgerald book and gave it to the kids in the lab. And unfortunately, I wasn’t there the first day, because I was doing a press junket in Los Angeles. And they had a writer and a director and a producer. When I got there, there were two sets of them. And what I wanted them to do was to, you know, we were going to do that scene. And then after they had done it, I was going to show them the original scene as directed by Kazan and written by Pinter, as a way to show how a director can interpret or misinterpret the scene, and use a sort of gold standard to set it against. And we had Don McKellar play the Monroe Stahr part, and we had an actor play the writer, and then there’s a girl they talk about, a secretary coming in and out.

So, the producers of the lab assembled all this, and a location, and a whole camera crew. And by the time I’d gotten there, they had already… First thing I did was explain to them that I don’t see how they could possibly have two groups do the scene in the time allotted. We had about four hours in the morning to shoot the scene on Sunday, or I think it was Saturday morning. So we eliminated, we got it down to one group, and they worked that out. So the screenwriter who had written the scene read it out, and we discussed it as a group, what we thought was right or wrong. They did not want to see the Pinter scene. And I said, “Fine, it’s here if you want to read it or not.” You know, “Interpret the material as you like.”

I could see that they were sort of headed in the wrong direction. They didn’t seem to see the particular dramatic points that were in the scene. I kept directing them, and sort of giving them hints and clues, but they seemed pretty dogmatic on what they wanted to do. And then we went and ultimately shot the scene. Again, the director kind of dug his heels in. I would make suggestions in terms of how the scene would be interpreted, letting the actors sort of feel their way to the material, and the interesting thing was, he sort of just said, “This is the way I want to do it.” Which is what directors can do. And I would have the whole class there watching what he was doing, and I would talk to them, and ask if they had any suggestions, but nobody seemed to want to pick up on them. So ultimately the director shot the scene, and then he cut it together. And we projected his scene, and then we did the Kazan scene, and… he had missed the whole point of the scene.

Geoff: Oh…

BDP: [Laughter] You know, and he’d done some very traditional things that can really screw up the work. And he had gotten kind of arrogant. He’d refused to take people’s advice, and had gone sort of pigheadedly along the way he thought was right. And of course, it ultimately proved to be completely wrong.

Geoff: For some reason, it brings to mind when you worked with Orson Welles in Get To Know Your Rabbit, and I remember that he was actually pleased that you were a strong director, and stood your ground on certain things. But obviously if you’re going in the wrong direction, you want to hear suggestions and pay attention to them.

BDP: Well, there were two things there that I kind of learned. One was, you know, Orson was basically doing this for money, and I’d never been up against an actor that refused to learn his lines. And he thought he could read it off cue cards. And when you see actors reading lines off cue cards, I see it all the time. You know, you can see it with Brando, and you could see it with Welles. So I just leaned into him, and I just kept on shooting the scene until he learned the lines. You know, if you’ve got to learn them on film, then you’re going to keep repeating it.

He was quite helpful with… I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this story, but… we had a very complicated syntax in the way the script was written. And these old character actors that had to say these complicated sets of lines would always be muffing them. And I would go through one character actor, two character actors… I couldn’t get them to do the scene where Welles and Tommy Smothers are in the sack, and this guy comes in and starts talking about how they’re booked here and there, and we’ve got to get on the train to there and here. And they couldn’t do it. I had to replace him, and I had to replace him a second time, and then I had this third character actor, and I just didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get them to get through these lines. And then I finally let Orson rehearse them. And just let him. You know, he has a very charming, benign way of dealing with actors. And Orson rehearsed the guy over and over again, and we finally got it. So, one should always listen to the wiser presence on the set.

Geoff: I wanted to talk a little about voiceover narration, which of course is used all through The Black Dahlia, more so than in any of your films. I think it was in Bonfire Of The Vanities where you first used the device. And you used it very briefly in Raising Cain, in a very interesting, almost surreal way. But that’s the only “personal” film, as we might say “written and directed by Brian De Palma,” where you’ve used the device. Do you feel it’s a good device to use to get the original author’s voice across?

BDP: Yeah, it’s a way of listening to the prose of the original writer, and having the audience listen to the way that the sentences are constructed. And in this case, the voiceover, unlike most voiceovers (which kind of explain everything), this sort of makes all kinds of poetic and metaphorical insights into what’s going on. It doesn’t really help clarify the story one bit. [Laughs] You know, and it’s kind of unusual, but it’s Ellroy, so I kind of really liked it.

Geoff: Yeah, I do, too. The film is filled with great lines that just come straight out of Ellroy. And Hartnett, I think, delivers them really well, too. It’s a really good, strong voice narration.

BDP: Yeah, I rather enjoyed it. I mean, when we were wrestling with the studio about, “clarify this” and “clarify that,” I said, “No, this is the way it is. This is the way Ellroy told the story.” You know, I know how to make this stuff simple and direct, but that’s not Ellroy. You know, so it has all these loose ends, and it has all these poetic and metaphorical thoughts in it. And that’s what you wanted to express.

Geoff: The final scene of the film is really strong. Obviously, you were trying to get across that seeing the Black Dahlia cut up is something you never forget. And bringing that home to the audience, and also showing that Bucky is going to have to live with this. There’s that really harsh light. It’s almost like a black-and-white photo, and yet it’s in color.

BDP: Right.

Geoff: Is that kind of where you got the idea from, like maybe a flash?

BDP: Yeah, it’s a very stark kind of photoflash picture, where the white light is almost bled out completely.

Geoff: With Kay Lake and the film, obviously you had to cut a lot out from the novel.

BDP: Yes.

Geoff: In the book, she is a character that we warm up to, but it seems even more so in the film version, where she obviously has some things going on, but…

BDP: They’re all liars.

Geoff: Yeah, they are.

BDP: But they’re all lies. I mean, nobody tells the truth. I mean, that’s what I think is unique about this. You know, she lies, Hilary lies… [laughing] We don’t know what to think about the Black Dahlia. Everybody’s got a different story about her. But I think that’s kind of, you know, the reality of police investigation. Unlike what you see on television all the time, everybody always lies. And then only when they’re sort of up against a wall where they’re forced to, then they tell something that may be the truth. [Laughter]

Geoff: And I think that’s perfectly captured in that shot where Scarlett Johansson is staring at Bucky, and it’s like she’s trying to figure out what in the world she’s going to say. And you almost see the mechanics going off in her brain, even though all you see is her staring at him.

BDP: That’s absolutely right. I mean, she has that look where you don’t know what’s going on back there. But these sort of non sequiturs that she comes out with, you know, she’s just full of subtext. And she’s got sort of a phony excuse or lie for practically everything, until she really gets kind of shoved up against the wall. And even then, I’m not quite sure if anything she says is the truth. [Laughter]

I remember talking to Ellroy about the scene, you know, when he’s got Bobby DeWitt shoved up against the wall, and poor Bobby DeWitt! I mean, he doesn’t know anything that’s been going on. This is what I find so original about it. I mean, here you have Baxter Fitch, who is sort of setting up this whole thing about, you know, he’s gonna tell Bobby DeWitt. Everybody’s worried about Bobby DeWitt finding out about whatever Baxter Fitch is going to tell him. And of course, Bobby DeWitt knows nothing about this. And when he’s up against the wall, and Bucky’s confronting him with all this stuff that he doesn’t know anything about, he’s as confused as anybody [laughs]. And when he says, you know, “When all those niggers got shot,” uh, shot—What!? What!? What when all those niggers got shot!?! If you look at the book, there is no “what” after that. I mean, does it occur to him… you know, how did Baxter Fitch get killed in the crossfire? Did it ever occur to him that maybe… but why would it occur to him? He doesn’t know that he was set up by Lee. So [laughter], you know, when you see stuff like this, you go, "Okay. Uhhh… okay." I guess that’s the way it’s laid out in the book, and that’s why I think Ellroy likes the movie so much: I left it exactly the way he told it. You know, these things do not all add up. These characters do not see the whole picture. They’re only seeing parts of it. And you the audience is going to have to piece this together, just like you did in the book.

Geoff: Yeah, and it seems like that is a big cause of the backlash, which is interestingly starting to turn around a little bit now already...

BDP: [Laughs] Yeah, the revisionism is starting very quickly. [More laughter]

Geoff: But yeah, the audience’s expectations are not being met. They find that, as you’ve just described, things have no explanation sometimes. And they’re trying to find the explanation, but it’s really not there.

BDP: Something that doesn’t bother you at all in a movie like L’Aventura or Cache.

Geoff: Yeah.

BDP: I mean, there are no explanations. [Laughs] You only have partial explanations. And it’s so much closer to the way life is, rather than all these things that are completely tied up in a neat package. There’re tons of that. I mean, you can watch that stuff all the time. And I love movies like Cache… you know, “what is going on here?” [Laughing] You sit there and sort of mull it over forever. You think about it, you go look at it again. Mulholland Dr.

Geoff: Yeah…

BDP: “What’s going on here?” And it’s endlessly fascinating.

Geoff: People go into therapy trying to figure out Mulholland Dr.

BDP: [Laughs] Exactly.

Geoff: Hilary Swank in the film is wonderful, and her Madeleine is a great throwback to film noir. She’s very sensual in the film, the way she moves, the way she speaks. She seems absolutely natural. And she’s a liar, of course.

BDP: Of course. And some of the things she says are completely insane, like, “I just wanted to make love to someone who looked like me.” What is that!?! [Laughter] I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say that in my life. “I wanted to make love to someone who looked like me.”

Geoff: Yeah, it makes you start thinking… is she saying this just to be theatrical, is she saying it just to be weird or different, or does she mean it?

BDP: It looks like she just means it in earnest there, and she’s fascinated by the idea. But as I mull that over, as I say it again and again, you know, you just kind of ponder it… you say, “make love… to someone…” You know, couples that look like each other… and then, you know, certainly homosexual couples, how they look so much like each other, is that what we’re ultimately trying to do? Find someone that looks like us to make love to? Is this some narcissistic desire in all of us? I don’t know! It certainly makes you think about it.

Geoff: Yeah, her character is kind of an interesting opposite side of the coin to Kay, because where Kay is kind of the warmer side, and yet she’s lying, and Bucky is kind of suckered for most of the film, he is also suckered by Madeleine, and yet part of him seems to not trust her a lot.

BDP: Well, I think he’s very wary of Madeleine all the time. You know, the way he’s introduced to the whole wacky family… I mean, I think he sort of goes on this ride with his tongue firmly tucked in his cheek.

Geoff: Yeah, and that scene we were just talking about, where she tells him she slept with Betty, he just laughs. It’s done so perfectly, with the music and everything, and you’re reading it and you’re hearing it, and you’re seeing her side of it, where she does seem very serious. And he’s laughing because he thinks she must be joking.

BDP: Right.

Geoff: And then when he realizes that she’s totally serious, of course he gets thrown.

BDP: And is he thrown because he’s covering up for her, and the fact that now she’s lied about her interaction with the Black Dahlia, which puts him more in peril because of all the covering up he’s doing for her? Or is he offended by the fact that, you know, she slept with the Black Dahlia, or is a lesbian, or what? [Laughter] Or again, she has lied to him. You know, it’s a combination of things.

Geoff: And then you have Lee, who from the start of the film seems to be finding all these guys in places where there’s a lot going on. And you kind of have a sense of a character who is not giving all on the surface. He’s obviously hiding a lot of things. And you have that great scene at New Year’s, where he’s looking at Bucky and Kay dancing, and we’re wondering, “What is he thinking?”

BDP: Right. What is he thinking, and what’s going on there? I mean, when you don’t sleep together, you know, what is the story between those two?

Geoff: Yeah.

BDP: [Laughing] Never quite answered. I mean, I think that’s the whole tenor of the book. It just leaves these completely unanswered questions all over the place. It suggests things, and then doesn’t give you an answer for them. It does it over and over again. And it’s very provocative. It’s just what Ellroy does in this particular piece of material. It’s very unusual.

Geoff: Yeah, I love also the ambiguity you employed in the boxing scene, where we know Bucky is supposed to be throwing the fight, but we really get the sense that he doesn’t want to, and maybe he’s not going to. And I kind of got the sense that he is not even sure if he has actually thrown the fight or not.

BDP: Well, he does. He does. I made it very clear that he very clearly drops his guard.

Geoff: Okay.

BDP: I repeated that combination. I found a combination, because the thing that always bothers me about fight movies is, they don’t understand the logic of what a fighter is doing. So I had a very specific combination that I wanted to show in slow motion, and showed that Bucky is blocking it all the time. And then he very purposely takes his hand away from his chin and, of course, gets his teeth knocked out.

Geoff: Yeah, it’s a very emotional and powerful scene. And it’s interesting that many people seem to get into these early scenes, and yet they are still sitting there wondering when the Dahlia is going to show up.

BDP: Something the studio remarked on all the time. I mean, you know, “Why isn’t Bucky more overwhelmed, or taken in, or sees the importance of the whole Dahlia case?” Well, that’s not what the book is. I mean, I keep saying, “That’s all great, but that’s not The Black Dahlia.” I was constantly saying, “That’s not in the book.” The whole point is that Bucky thinks the Black Dahlia case is another sensational thing that the D.A. is going to use for some political means. You know, he’s concerned about running down that other guy, Junior Nash. “Where’s Junior Nash?” And he keeps on saying over and over again to Lee, “What are you doing? This isn’t our case. Junior Nash—this guy’s gonna kill somebody.” And sure enough, he does.

Geoff: Yeah, and there’s no reason, at least not for Bucky, to believe that the Dahlia killing is some kind of serial killing, that somebody’s going to do it again…

BDP: No.

Geoff: So, yeah, exactly. Why are we so obsessed with this case?

BDP: And the whole way that the material is done is that, you know, Bucky ultimately becomes obsessed with the case after Lee is dead. He’s more concerned about what’s going on in the triangle than the Black Dahlia case. He sort of perfunctorily goes and interviews some people, and always holds it away from him. It’s not what his concern is until Lee dies. Then, of course, the solution to Lee’s death travels right through the Black Dahlia case. And then he gets on it. Seems pretty clear to me. [Laughs]

Geoff: Yeah. I think that comes across in the film. And I really think some people, as they’re watching it have expectations for whatever they thought the film might be. And maybe this was partially the fault of… I know, for instance, CBS did a show about the real Black Dahlia case where they used clips from your film. Maybe people figured the movie would be…

BDP: Well, the irony here is that, Universal came up with an extremely effective campaign, but it’s all around the Black Dahlia. And that’s what got them excited in buying the movie initially. But the problem is that the movie is not exactly about the Black Dahlia. It’s about the relationship between these three characters. So you’re trying to change a movie to fit the advertising campaign. And I wouldn’t do that. This is the material, and even though they have a very effective campaign in getting people into the theater, you know, when you say from the director of The Untouchables and Scarface, I mean, what’s that have to do with The Black Dahlia? Absolutely nothing. I mean, I’ve always wanted to just say, “James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia,” and don’t even mention me. You know, because that’s again going to get your expectations off. You know, when you walk out of theaters and hear people saying, “Well, that’s nothing like Scarface” [laughter]… you know? It’s kind of difficult, because you get them in the theater, but under false expectations. And of course they say, “Well that’s nothing like what I was sold.”

Geoff: Yeah, and Scarface is probably your most popular film, although many people do see it as one of your least personal works. And yet, the public at large will see that as very De Palma. You’ve said with The Black Dahlia, you’re interpreting Ellroy. Would you say that with Scarface, you’re interpreting Oliver Stone?

BDP: Yeah, very much so. I mean, Oliver’s personality, and the way he created the story, is very much him. Absolutely. But I think it’s important to work as an interpretive director every once in a while. You know, get away from your own obsessions. Needless to say, they’re going to crop up in your work no matter what you do. I mean, if they can look for those obsessions in, I don’t know, Wise Guys and Mission To Mars, I mean, I’m not seeing them.

Geoff: So, you’re going to move on to The Untouchables?

BDP: Yeah, we’re planning to do The Untouchables late next summer.

Geoff: And is Toyer kind of on the backburner for now?

BDP: Well, we’re still trying to work out the schedule with the cast. You know, because it’s been sitting around for such a long time, and people seem to be working. And whether we can get it together for me to shoot. I would have to shoot it in January. I don’t know.

Geoff: Well, best of luck with whichever one turns out to be next.

BDP: Thank you. Yes, on to the next one.