Sam Mendes Talks to Steven Spielberg, David Fincher and More in Delightfully Revealing Interview
Director interviews are often quite interesting, but as it turns out, it takes a director to really get his (or her) fellow directors to open up. Spectre director Sam Mendes chatted with Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Edgar Wright and more of your favorites, asking some of the best questions — and getting some of the most revealing and delightful answers.
In a new feature for Empire, Mendes spoke with several of his fellow directors on topics ranging from their most-used phrases to whether or not they allow music on set. Some of the answers were a bit expected, while most were rather hilarious and insightful. Here are some of the best responses:
When asked if they’ve ever walked off a set:
Alfonso Cuarón: Yes, only to come back feeling very stupid.
Joss Whedon: Nope. I’ve lost my temper, but not impressively. I’ve walked out of a VFX review in a quiet, blind rage, but only for a minute or so ’til I could see again.
Christopher Nolan: I once tried, but nobody seemed to notice, so I came back.
Steven Soderbergh: No, but I did walk ON to a set with a temper once when an actor showed up late two days in a row.
On the subject of the phrases they use most often:
[Paul] Greengrass: “Fuck the script/lighting/extras etc., let’s shoot!”
[George] Clooney: “What time is lunch?”
Whedon (whiny voice): “Come on, guys, I’m the leader of a whole movie…!” When I want people to fear and respect me. Not wildly effective.
Soderbergh: This year? “Let me have the 18 on a stick.”
[David] Fincher: “Shut the fuck up, please.”
Regarding rules on set, Soderbergh said, “No open-toed shoes.” But perhaps the most interesting question asked pertained to the most takes a director has shot for a single scene. Fincher is well-known for his perfectionist tendencies, so it’s hardly surprising that his response offered the largest number of takes with 107. Spielberg wasn’t far behind with this charming anecdote:
Spielberg: I did 50 takes on Robert Shaw assembling the Greener Gun on Jaws. The shark wasn’t working, so I just kept shooting to make the production report look like we were accomplishing something and to keep cast and crew from going crazy from boredom. It was a strategic indulgence.
There’s way, way more in the full feature, including answers to how many cups of coffee they have a day and stories about each director’s best day on set. We should have directors interview each other more often.