Rennaissance man Steve Buscemi stars in, co-wrote, and directed Interview, a remake of the eponymous 2003 Dutch movie made by Theo van Gogh before he was brutally murdered in 2004. Interestingly, Van Gogh had intended to remake the movie in New York in English himself. Buscemi stepped in, and delivers a taut, stage-worthy confrontation between a political journalist named Pierre and his forced interviewee, Katya (played by tabloid fodder Sienna Miller), a blonde celebutante more famous for who she’s banging than her questionable talent. Turns out, though, she’s more than a mental match for her antagonist.
Buscemi recently spoke with the Current about his new film and the state of entertainment journalism.
Have you ever experienced a journalist as nightmarish as the one you play in Interview?
Usually what happens to me is that after a long day of doing press, I sometimes get tired and spaced out and sometimes hostile — but don’t worry, you’re my first today. But no, I’ve never had anything close to what’s experienced in the film.
Did turning the tables on celebrity attract you?
No, what really attracted me was `the characters’` relationship. When I watched the original, I felt like I was watching the story of a couple that was breaking up and it was fascinating because they had only just met for the first time and were spending only a few hours together. They were two characters from seemingly different worlds, but they had a lot in common in that they were both damaged people. They speak from a place of pain and insecurity, and they’re able to share some of that as well.
So you really had no interest in exploring media’s relationship with celebrity? After all, this has been a blue-ribbon year for celebutantes self-destructing, from Britney to Nicole to Paris.
Um, you know, to me, that stuff, all that stuff about people you just mentioned, I find it just not very interesting and distracting. And yeah, I’m aware the film comments on media and celebrity, but, to me, it’s not why I wanted to do the film. I always like character-driven films about people who have problems and a lot of struggles. This is a movie about two people with a lot of problems and they’re both struggling. That, to me, was my main interest.
What about the opportunity to work with Van Gogh’s director of photography and crew, to actually shoot in his style?
From the beginning, it was understood that I would be using Thomas Kist, Theo’s DP, and his camera crew. I really loved the way `the original movie` was shot and I loved the performances, so I was really interested to see how he did it. He developed this three-camera system so that his actors would always be on camera. He was also fond of shooting close-ups first, which is the opposite of how we do it here. By the time we get to a close-up, the actor is pretty well rehearsed from doing the master and the medium shot. But Theo was interested in getting those unrehearsed reactions.
What do you think of the current state of entertainment journalism?
I just think there’s way too much of it. It amazes me how many entertainment shows there are, but I guess it’s filling some need. I’m not sure I get it. I understand it on the surface and I’m not different, because one does get weary from reading about all the tragedies and what we’re going through in this country with the war and this administration. So yeah, sometimes you see a light piece of entertainment news and it feels like a relief. But I think there’s entirely too much attention paid to Paris Hilton and news cameras documenting her sister going to visit her `in jail`. Why is that even entertainment news? It’s just really weird to me. •