Directors On Chat Shows

Nick Chen

The “look at my shyeet” and Disney-girls-gone-bad madness of Spring Breakers has finally introduced Harmony Korine to the mainstream. Sort of. But America had already met him through three unforgettable Letterman appearances in the '90s, the best of which we've included below.

With Korine and Letterman in mind, we've dug up 10 of our favourite appearances by directors on chat shows. 

1. Harmony Korine discusses film theory with David Letterman (1997) 

“I want to do a minstrel with Tom Cruise. I want him to play it on his knees.”

Only 24, and looking much younger, Korine’s naive body language fools Letterman. In every Korine appearance, the talk show host comes across as someone who didn’t see Kids or Gummo. Korine also proclaims every film needs a beginning, middle and end, just not in that order; it’s an ideology he’d further explore with Julien Donkey-Boy and Trash Humpers, but Letterman can only respond with fake laughter.

2. Martin Scorsese’s mother cooks pizza for Bill Murray (1991)

“Robert De Niro loves it. He says I make the best pizza in the world.”

OK, Martin Scorsese doesn’t really say much in this clip. Those aren’t even his words above. In another Letterman video, the director’s mother reveals the secrets behind a family recipe. She even boasts that Robert De Niro calls it the best pizza in the world – “because it’s made by me.”

3. “Sofia Coppola” interviews the “Beastie Boys” (1995)

“Have you ever shot anyone?”

Did you know Sofia Coppola and Zoe Cassevettes hosted a fake chat show for Comedy Central called 'Hi Octane'? In terms of quality, it’s somewhere between Lost in Translation and The Godfather III.

4. Werner Herzog shot by sniper (2006)

“It was not a significant bullet.”

When interviewed by Mark Kermode around the release of Grizzly Man, somebody fired a gun at Herzog from a distance. Despite bleeding, he continued. I guess it’s nothing for a guy who survived the making of Fitzcarraldo, endured Klaus Kinski, and ate a shoe 25 years before the invention of YouTube. The sniper’s identity is unknown, but maybe it was the ghost of Timothy Treadwell who didn’t appreciate the documentary.

5. Nardwuar vs Michael Moore (2002)

“They see me with all my flaws and my inability to grow a beard.”

If you’ve never heard of Nardquar the Human Serviette, then expect to waste a few hours on YouTube. He usually deals with musicians, but through sheer persistence he hangs onto Michael Moore – even jumping into a car with him. It’s definitely more thrilling than any of Moore’s own documentaries.

6. PTA and Daniel Day-Lewis discuss There Will Be Blood for ages (2007)

“My fraudulence, as far as I’m concerned, would have a certain nobility about it.”

Here's a rare chance to see Day-Lewis as himself, without accepting an award in the process. Extra fun can be had if you assume Anderson was at the time planning The Master and analysing the interviewer’s assertive questioning as a precursor for Lancaster Dodd.

7. Kathryn Bigelow on The Hurt Locker (2010)

“When you’re in the cutting room, you want to have options.”

Bigelow discusses her love of using multiple cameras, in an interview where one single camera awkwardly zooms in and out.

8. Roman Polanski and Clive James dine together (1984)

“I think I was unbalanced.”

In a Parisian restaurant, Polanski is served red wine and awkward tabloid questions. His answers are far more honest that you’d expect. You also discover he learned the English language on the set of Repulsion, perhaps explaining the weight of its visuals.

9. Jim Jarmusch explains vampires to James Franco (2012)

James Franco on WhoSay

“How can you be covered in boners? James Franco, please explain.”

In-between teaching classes at NYU and killing my childhood memory of The Wizard of Oz, James Franco held a part-time job interviewing filmmakers. Jim Jarmusch isn’t too far from the deadpan characters he writes, but his droll delivery sharply contrasts with Franco’s nervous energy. The conversation teases Jarmusch’s forthcoming vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, while spanning his career back to 1984's Stranger Than Paradise.

10. A stranger asks Woody Allen if he’s perverted (1971)

“I really feel like a dunce in this chair.”

This is a bit of a cheat, as Woody was still better known as a comedian than a director. But there’s a whole hour with Dick Cavett, and it’s way better than Vicky Christina Barcelona. I did not get that film at all.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @halfacanyon

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