Five Favorite Films and an Interview with Harvey Weinstein
We talk to the super-producer about My Week with Marilyn, what drives him to make films, and how he sees this year's Oscar season.
What's your fondest memory of a Marilyn Monroe film?
I'd have to say the indelible movie Some Like It Hot. I don't think I've ever laughed as hard, or watched a movie more times than that. It just absolutely knocked me out. My second Marilyn is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Just look at those directors, by the way -- Billy Wilder, on my favorite, and Howard Hawks, on my second Monroe favorite. And I liked River of No Return, which is Preminger's movie; so it's interesting. When she worked with great directors, she did her best work.
Did you have any hesitation about making a movie in which Marilyn is the lead, given that she's one of the most recognizable icons in film history?
No, because I loved the story. I love those moments in time. I've done movies about the creative process and this is about the making of a movie, one particular movie, which is not one of Marilyn's great movies -- even though her performance is wonderful, Laurence Olivier did not do a good job of directing the film, and you see all that in Colin's story. Along with their romance, you see the making of this movie and everything going wrong. It's a battle between Marilyn and the Method Acting that she did, and Laurence Olivier and the classical acting that he did, and thus there's tons of humor as a result.
You see the production go off track. If you love movies, if you're a behind-the-scenes person and you love the idea of making movies -- besides, you know, promoting my own film [laughs] -- I'm gonna tell you this is one of those essential movies. I always loved the creative process, from Shakespeare in Love to Finding Neverland to Basquiat; whether it's serious, or it's comedic, whether it's the "inside look" at that, it seems to be a theme of what I do. So was I scared of it? No. I thought it was another piece in the canon of my work. Just saying, okay, let's see how this movie was made -- just like we see how Peter Pan got written, or how Romeo and Juliet got written. It's very fanciful, but again, snapshots give us insight. It's funny, one of the great things about this movie was the journey. I met [photographer] Bert Stern, who did Marilyn Monroe's last sitting, and I saw his documentary -- and talk about a snapshot. You watch this documentary, of taking a photograph, and it's incredible the way photographs speak to us; yet I've never really understood that magic until I saw the documentary and how he worked, shooting these amazing photographs. So your word "snapshot," because of the moment in time, it sort of circles everything. And I'll be using it from now on, as if it was my own thought. [Laughs]
You're welcome. This film, as you say, appeals to people who like movies about movies, but it's also the kind of film that the Academy tends to love, too. Do you think these kinds of films have better shots around Oscar season?
I'd like to say that I was that smart in intention, and that's why I made it, but I made it because I liked it. I always find that when I do something that I like, from my heart, then it works. When I do something with my head -- some sort of thing that's not me at all, because I'm saying to myself, "This is so wildly commercial" -- that's generally when I fail, because my heart's not into it; and then I just get so bored of it and I don't put any time into it. I'll tell you what the Academy likes -- it's the biggest secret in the world, and I'm just gonna let it loose -- the Academy likes great movies. [Laughs] If you can do that, you can win a lot of awards. And the great movies? They don't care whether it's about a serial killer, like Silence of the Lamb, or it's about a bunch of kids dancing on New York City streets in the '60s and gang warfare, in West Side Story, or The Hurt Locker. They couldn't be more different.
What do you think your chances are for Oscars this year?
Well I think we're blessed this year. We have The Artist. We have My Week with Marilyn. I think The Artist and My Week with Marilyn stand a really good chance in the comedy/musical category at the Golden Globes. I think it's a great year for movies, and I think that they're so different is a professional testament. I mean, Marty Scorsese's Hugo is amazing. I'll talk about another guy's movie. George Clooney's Ides of March could be the most under-appreciated movie of the year. In 20 years they're gonna go back and say, "Oh, that was American politics in that time period." I follow politics, I love it, and that movie is so authentic. That's what politics is: eating crappy sandwiches in crappy hotel rooms, in crummy makeshift offices. Clooney gets it so right you have no idea. It could have been a documentary, that movie. And you know, the line about "You can do anything in American politics except f--k the intern" is perfect; it's one of the greatest lines. So Clooney's movie is there and I hope it gets recognition. And he knocks it out of the park, Clooney, in Descendants -- that movie's great, and he's great in it. So I don't know. I can't wait. I saw Tintin in Europe -- it is Indiana Jones on steroids. Unbelievable. What a fantastic movie. Steven Spielberg, you rock the house. And working with those young English guys like Edgar Wright, and also Peter Jackson; what a great combination. I mean, I'd heard of Tintin, I'd looked at it, but it's never been my thing, but then I saw the movie, and wow.
Do you think it'll play well in the US?
Yeah. I mean you don't need to know anything about Tintin. It's a Steven Spielberg movie here. Over there, it's Tintin. Over here, it'll be a Steven Spielberg movie. Tintin's like an homage to Indiana Jones. I mean, it's as great as that first experience of watching Raiders. It's ridiculously great.
My Week with Marilyn and The Artist open in theaters this week.