What beach was that?
At the Mauna Kea. On the big island.

A white-sand beach?
White-sand beach.

I was curious if you’d seen Knocked Up and the scene where the main character says he loves Munich, because Jews kick ass.
I loved Knocked Up! I called [director] Judd [Apatow] to compliment the movie, and Judd sent me the uncut improvisation, the uncut Munich improv that didn’t show up in the film. They just used about the first third of it, but it goes on another two minutes. So Judd sent me the entire scene to look at, and it was fantastic.

Are you going on with a Lincoln movie or Chicago 7?
I’m developing Lincoln and developing Chicago 7. We’re in the process right now on Chicago 7 of doing a feasibility study of what actors are available.

Does it look like that would be before Lincoln?
I don’t want to say it’s a done deal, but it’s possible that will be ready for me before Lincoln.

I saw that [playwright-screenwriter] Tony Kushner is working on Lincoln.
Not anymore. There’s a strike. All my writers are on the picket line.

You’ve had this dual career of entertainments and very serious movies.
All the films, every movie … If a movie is going to be a reflection of any kind of a real-life situation, it has to have all the sine waves of real stories, meaning there’s absurdity, there’s comedy, there’s tragic loss, there’s huge impenetrable forces chasing you down, and then there’s redemption at the end. Every movie is really just a distillation of a moment in time, a moment in someone’s life, but filmmakers and writers love to shove every possible option into those moments, so the audience gets to experience an entire life in a couple of hours. So every movie strives to achieve that.

It surprised me, re-watching your movies, that A.I. feels almost the most tragic out of all of them.
It is the most tragic—but not out of all of them.

Indiana Jones in Vanity Fair Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, with Shia LaBeouf

The cover story: “Keys to the Kingdom,” by Jim Windolf

Exclusive Q&A;: George Lucas

Video: The Annie Leibovitz photo sessions

V.F. Classic: “Raiders of the Lost Backyard,” by Jim Windolf (March 2004)

Official site: indianajones.com

Even in Schindler’s List and Amistad, there’s some redemption for the main characters in the end.
I never saw redemption for the main character at the end of Schindler’s List. I saw that, at the end of the Holocaust, there were witnesses who could testify to the Holocaust’s existence, and without those survivors there would have been no witnesses to ever speak the truth about the great murders. There wouldn’t have been any eyewitnesses to illuminate for the rest of the world the greatest crime that has been perpetrated against the human race. So I never saw the end of Schindler’s List as being anything other than that, without those 1,200 survivors, there wouldn’t have been anyone to tell the tale. And that was important to me. But in a sense there’s a darker outlook with A.I., because somehow A.I. is about the end of the entire human race that is superseded by the Frankensteins that man has put on the planet in the greedy effort to make a boy who could love you. But the boy himself is not human, he’s next to human. A substitute love child, you know, is almost a crime, and the human race pays for that crime. And so I think it’s a very tragic story, and I think I was as true to Stanley Kubrick’s vision as I possibly could be.

George Lucas tends to write about fathers and sons, and you often write about mothers and sons. The new Indy movie, I assume, is another father-son story.
I wouldn’t say it’s a father-son story. The new Indy movie is about a great quest, an amazing quest—and that’s all I’m gonna say. [Laughs.]

Jim Windolf is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.

James Wolcott's blog
Classic Culture

Jim Windolf on two teens’ shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark

Suzanna Andrews on Arthur Miller’s shameful secret

David Kamp on the return of Sly Stone

John Ortved on the history of The Simpsons

Tina Brown on Princess Diana’s final heartbreak

Peter Biskind on the final season of The Sopranos

Steven Daly on Internet piracy

Leslie Bennetts on the unsinkable Jennifer Aniston

Frank DiGiacomo on Esquire in the 60s

Christopher Hitchens on why women aren’t funny

Rich Cohen on George Clooney

Sam Kashner on James Dean and the making of Rebel Without a Cause

Mary Panzer on Stanley Kubrick, the early years

Peter Biskind on Warren Beatty and the making of Reds

Leslie Bennetts on Teri Hatcher’s desperate hour

Budd Schulberg on Marlon Brando and On the Waterfront

Classic Politics & Power

Sally Bedell Smith on Sir James Goldsmith

Gail Sheehy on Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton

Michael Bronner on the 9/11 NORAD Tapes

William Langewiesche on the Haditha killings

Joseph Stiglitz on Bush’s devastating economic legacy

David Rose on neocons’ regrets about Iraq

Todd S. Purdum on Karl Rove’s split personality

Christopher Hitchens on a soldier’s death in Iraq

Nina Munk on superstar economist Jeffrey Sachs

Bono on V.F.’s Africa Issue

Excerpts from the Reagan Diaries

Nick Tosches on the sushi industry

James Wolcott on Rush Limbaugh

Todd S. Purdum on John McCain

Sebastian Junger on the oil war in Nigeria

Christopher Hitchens on the legacy of Agent Orange

Craig Unger on the yellowcake uranium hoax

Michael Wolff on Steve Jobs

New and recent Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, with Shia LaBeouf

Keys to the Kingdom
Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Shia LaBeouf spill the beans on the upcoming fourth Indiana Jones movie.

Steven Spielberg in Vanity Fair

Steven Spielberg
The director discusses everything from Frank Darabont’s unused Indiana Jones script to how old his kids need to be to see Jaws.

George Lucas in Vanity Fair

George Lucas
The Star Wars mastermind and Indiana Jones co-creator talks about every stage of his illustrious career.

Classic Vanity Fair Jayson Lamb, Eric Zala, and Chris Strompolos, who remade Raiders of the Lost Ark shot-for-shot

Raiders of the Lost Backyard
Jim Windolf on the shot-by-shot Raiders of the Lost Ark remake that two Mississippi boys created in the 1980s.

Christy Turlington in Vanity Fair

2007: The Year in Photos
A selection of great images from the pages of Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair, current issue Vanity Fair cover, February 2008, Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, with Shia LaBeouf

TABLE OF CONTENTS: February 2008


POLITICS: Richard Mellon Scaife’s knock-down, drag-out divorce

VIDEO: The Indiana Jones photo shoots

RSS: Main Feed | What is RSS?


Writers’ Strike Diary
Dispatches from the front lines of the WGA strike, by Emily Poenisch in our West Coast office.