Interview: Edward Zwick
By Ryan Mazie
November 18, 2010
Was there anything you had to tone down to get an R rating?
Only cut nine or ten sex scenes (laughs).
People seeing the ads go, “it’s the Viagra movie,” but seeing the film, the Viagra plays just a part.
Yeah, I mean, I really like cross-pollenating movies. Is Broadcast News about friendship or is it about ethics in journalism? Is Jerry Maguire about sports management or love? Is His Girl Friday about a newspaper or divorce? I just think that those movies I really like are about a number of things.
So how do you feel about the film’s promotion?
Look, it’s hard not to be reductionist when selling a movie on television in 30 seconds, because that’s mainly where the movie is sold. Yes, there is a trailer in theaters that is more complex. I hope and my suspicion is that it won’t be sold as a typical rom-com. It is more than that. It is an unconventional love story. It’s sexy and edgier. The key is for the movie to sell itself. People seem to like it, when they see it and talk about it and I hope it becomes a date movie. Men like it as much as women. That’s a rarity.
Why do you think men like it as much as women?
I think that Jake’s character’s arc of what he goes through is pretty relatable. The idea of trying to succeed and understand what the cost of that is on a relationship is relatable. Also trying to deal with the world in which sex and love are not necessarily synced up.
The movie is fairly long with many different elements tonally and plot wise, so how was the process of pacing it?
I’m told the film is four hours long (laughs). Comedy is a hard thing to talk about. You try things to see if they work or not, but finally it is intuitive. You have to trust your sense of what’s funny. Then when you play it in front of an audience and it falls flat, then you reconsider.
How many takes do you do on average?
Well, I tend to do less rather than more. If it is about the timing in physical comedy, sometimes you have to do more, because if it’s off by that one second then it falls flat. There are stories about Chaplin that are just astonishing about how many takes he took. But, there is a freshness often in the first couple times things happen and when I’m doing that, I often have two cameras to just cover it if it never happens that way again.
How has the response from the Parkinson’s community been?
Those people actually had Parkinson’s in the movie. We were in the Parkinson’s community very much in Pittsburgh and Annie worked very hard with neurologists and support groups. Also Michael J. Fox is someone I know very well. He was very helpful to me while making this movie and said something very important to me, “It can’t be funny enough.” So that’s what we did.