Q&A

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.

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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.


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