JD: Is the authorship of a film a big concern to you?
CK: How do you mean?
JD: The way a film is often attributed to its director: "A film by ..."
CK: Yes; it's not a big concern, but I think it stinks. I wouldn't take that "A film by ..." credit, if it were offered to me as a writer. There are just so many people who contribute to any movie. It should be, "Directed by ...", "Written by ...", "Cinematography by ..."
JD: When you think about films, do you not group them by directors or writers?
CK: You know, I have a tendency to do that, probably as much as anybody, just because that's the culture in which I was raised. But I find it interesting that you don't do that in the same way with plays. Theater's a good analogy, because you have sort of the same grouping of people — directors and actors and so on — but you don't talk about a Eugene O'Neill play like — you might talk about who directed it, but it's still "a Eugene O'Neill play."
JD: In that case, of course, a Eugene O'Neill play could be staged by many different directors, but a particular screenplay is probably only going to be produced once.
JD: It's not exactly the same situation, because we do talk about the plays of O'Neill, or of Ionesco or Shakespeare...
CK: Yes, but if I take my work as seriously as someone who writes plays, and the work is completely realized ... For example, I wrote this script called Adaptation that includes myself as a character in the most unflattering way. It couldn't be more personal, and then I read something online where they talk about "Spike Jonze's Adaptation" — what is that? Spike doesn't do that, he gives credit where it's due, but people want to talk about it that way. It's sort of a romantic vision people have of what a director does.
JD: People want to think of "Scorsese films," even when he's not writing them.
CK: Yeah, though Scorsese, say, with Taxi Driver, is always saying that that's Paul Schrader's film.
JD: With the voyeurism of Being John Malkovich and the Plexiglas cage where Rhys Ifans' character lives in Human Nature — are those images related to your concerns about privacy in your own life?
CK: I don't know why images are compelling to me. Not wanting to talk about my personal life — I just don't like that whole culture of celebrity and I don't want to be put in that position. I'm just a guy, I do my work, and I don't want to be romanticized, I guess. Celebrity stuff just seems like you're talking about how great you are, or how hard your life was, or whatever — but the work is really the interesting thing. That's what I give.