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Breakfast with the Arts - 01/02/05

Category: Transcripts
Article Date: January 2, 2005 | Publication: A&E Television | Author: A&E (transcript by fieryangel)
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Intro by some boring guy I don't know: Now a look at the latest adaptation of "The Phantom of the Opera."

ALW: People sort of say 'The Phantom' is very personal to me, because they slightly put words into my mouth.

PW: I think this show's probably the closest to his heart.

ALW: Although 'The Phantom' is probably the most successful thing I've ever done, and I'll probably never repeat it, it's still just one of the musicals, and they're all like children really, I'm very fond of all of them.

PW: The scope of all of these songs, taking musical theater and combining it with this pop style so the sound is very specific, this style of singing that came out in the 80’s in musical theater was a very specific sound. It wasn’t a rock and roll style, but it wasn’t an old fashioned legit theater sound, it was the best of both worlds.

MD: They’re pop songs, they are. They’re pop songs that have been orchestrated and arranged in a more classical way.

JS: People love the production on state or else it wouldn’t have lasted this long, cause it seems it still plays to full houses all over the world.

ALW: JS and I had met after I’d seen his “Lost Boys.”

JS: Never done a musical before.

ALW: Which I thought was a great movie and I thought he used music brilliantly in it.

JS: Actually, ALW asked me to do this in 1988.

ALW: And so we met and we were going to go ahead quite quickly with it…

JS: And then I had only made four films…

ALW: But then everybody involved with the theater production, I mean, everybody to a man, begged us not to because nobody knew what the impact—back in 1988-89—we didn’t know some of the things we know now. We didn’t know whether it would basically destroy the possibility of it going round the world as a stage production. So we decided to abandon it. I mean it was about 4 years ago that I thought ‘now the time has come.’

JS: By the time I came back to it I had made 18 films, so hopefully I’ve learned something.

ER: I walked into the studio, and there was a set, and two hours of hair and make-up and a costume and it was the biggest thing I’d ever seen for a screen test.

GB: She’s trained for this moment her whole life, she’s been doing it since she was 5.

ER: 50 people on the crew, a sweeping camera and JS in the corner yelling…(cut to image of JS yelling ‘action!’)

JS: It was as if we ordered her.

ER: So it was quite surreal.

ALW: You have a great advantage, which of course we don’t have in the theater, of being able to cast a girl as young as ER.

ER: I just remember thinking ‘I’m never, ever going to get this part’

ALW: ‘Cause you know, she was only 16 when she made the film.

ER: They sent the tape to ALW.

ALW: We can’t do that in the theater because you’d never be able to get a girl to sing that night after night at that age.

ER: And I got a call that he had said ‘I had not been eliminated.’

PW: ER is the emotional heart of this movie.

ER: They normally don’t give big Hollywood movie musicals to young un-famous girls to carry.

GB: A star is born.

(cut to clip of “You’re part is silent, little toad)

ALW: One of the things we wanted to do with Carlotta was to actually make her quite glamorous, but just over the top.

MD: Everything about her was dramatic, from her make up, her (? Some word I can’t make out--probably 'camp'.), her physical bearing, everything.

ALW: When anybody who’s worked in musical theater knows Carlotta, there’ve been a few of her around.

GB: One of the things that really touched me about the Phantom, was how much he wanted to envelope somebody. And if you can abandon yourself to that romantic notion that you love somebody so much and if somebody loved you that much, you almost want to forget about everything else.

MD: I think they’re story encapsulates so many different folktales, I think it has a bit of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ there’s a bit of ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame.’

ALW: My phantom is very different from all the others because it is a high romance. The others tend to be a horror story, which didn’t interest me at all.

JS: I think his physical disfiguration is a metaphor for parts of, we all have parts of ourselves that we feel are ugly in our psyche, or unlovable.

PW: Everybody wants to find true love, everybody wants to be loved for who we are, not what they look like.

GB: I had this guy say to me once ‘there’s nothing like a badass to make a girl’s heart beat faster’ and I’ve often lived that role myself.

ALW: I think JS has the most amazing visual eye. I think he has an extraordinary eye for composition, I think a lot of his shots alone are works of art.

JS: My job, is to hire people far more talented than I am and JM, who is our brilliant cinematographer, used the candles and the gaslight—and he also invented what he thought they would have in the theater in 1870 to light with—so a lot of those wonderful lamps and colored slides, and the different tricks he used on the stage are a part of his genius.

ALW: I also think he has the unique ability to use music and to trust music. Because a lot of directors I think would have said ‘oh well I don’t think we should have this all through song and some of it should go to dialogue’ or whatever, and JS never worried about that. And I think the proof of the pudding is on the screen.

ER: The sheer scope of the film and really just such an attention to detail that JS had in every aspect, in the cinematography, in the cameras, in the lighting, in the textures of the fabrics, in the gold leaf on the statues, I mean, he has just such an attention to detail at the same time as being so supportive and encouraging to his actors that I think that’s something that for me gave me a lot of confidence.

PW: ER is the emotional heart of this movie and what she does very skillfully and masterfully with JS, is create this character that you follow throughout this movie and really creat an emotional core.

GB: Joel is, without a doubt, very much an actor’s director, he’s also a great man who can keep you entertained and come out with pearls of wisdom that he seems to pull out of nowhere. But you know what he does more than anything is, he lets you get on with it, he gives a gentle guiding hand and really allows you…his main genius, well, he has many genius, but he’s fantastic at casting.

JS: I am aware of the fact that I get a lot of credit for working with unknowns, and so “discovering“ unknowns. I have a different theory about it, I think that you would cast them too. I think that anybody in my position, if these people walked in your office, you would cast them also.

PW: You have to take those characters and push them to the absolute limit. Instead of saying ‘I love you,’ it’s ‘I love you and I’m going to die for you.’

GB: JS is a great overseer of everything. He knows movies like nobody else in every department.

MD: Everybody is included in his filmmaking process, which is, I think, very rare.

GB: Yet he sits back and picks up on things, whether it’s costume or whether it’s a prop or whether it’s a part of your performance or whether it’s something he’s noticed in the music.

MD: That kind of egalitarian spirit is really wonderful to be a part of because you create something that’s a collaboration and you get the best out of everybody.

GB: You always know he’s in control, but it never feel that he is in anyway stressed.

MD: And to me that’s, that is genius, to be able to get people in the right frame of mind so that they give their very best instead of having to pull it out of them. That’s very hard to do and it requires an enormous amount of skill.

GB: And he uses that microphone of his to lethal ability, both for entertaining and to put you in your place when you’re being out of order.

MD: Plus he’s, y’know, he has an incredible artistic vision, has the most exquisite taste.

JS: The way we always approached Christine’s journey to the lair was that she’s so hypnotized, fascinated, and drawn to the phantom that the gold hallway—with the arms, which I stole from “Beauty and the Beast”—and the lair itself—the candles the romance of it—and her transformation are all really in her mind and it gave us liberty to do that. It was fun, it was much more fun that I thought it was going to be. The visualization of it is the fun part, the doing of it is the hard part. It’s easy to sit at home and say ‘we’ll have the biggest crystal chandelier you’ve ever seen in your life and then it’ll just smash and the whole theater will go on fire.’ Well, easier said than done.

 


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