Listen to 2 Solid Hours of Paul Thomas Anderson Discussing Every One of His Films

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the few Hollywood filmmakers who has managed to work within the studio system and still maintain his own very distinct, very unique voice.

And in this excellent sit-down with the Inherent Vice director, stand-up comedian and host of the WTF podcast, Marc Maron, gets to venture inside Anderson's crazy cinematic world, pumping him for information and details on all of his work, as well as his creative process. And although every second of the full 2-hour interview is dynamite, you can scroll down for some quick takeaways -- just in case you're strapped for time.

There's no place like home

I know I'm not alone in thinking, at least at one point in my life, that I should've been born in one of the filmmaking hubs of the world, like L.A. or New York. We romanticize these places, because, frankly, that's where so much of the romance of cinema takes place, and damn it -- no one likes to be a tourist -- we want it to be woven into the same fabric that made us.

However, Anderson makes a great point at the beginning of the interview about how you feel like less of an impostor when you write about what you know, including places. (He grew up in Studio City and explains how the San Fernando Valley is completely different than the rest of L.A.)

"Be paranoid, be protective, and don't trust anyone."

Anderson describes making his first feature Hard Eight -- being "too young," too inexperienced, and bluffing his way through directing the whole thing, but despite that, he was still able to maintain quite a large amount of control over the project (albeit, without much financial backing). Maron asks him what he learned from the experience -- what the main lesson was, "Control?"

I think I went into my next situation thinking that the lesson was to be paranoid, be protective, and don't trust anyone.

He should've followed up with, "…unless you don't have to be, because you can trust some people in the industry," because he finished his story by raving about working with producer Mike De Luca on Boogie Nights.

The meanings behind his films

Anderson talks at length about the processes, inspirations, and meanings behind all of his films, including Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Inherent Vice, sharing stories behind each film and how they were developed. He explains how Punch Drunk Love is about "love, man", how Boogie Nights started off as a "fuck off" short film, and how Magnolia was about the death of his father from cancer. (He describes hearing the news that his father was going to die like someone telling him it was raining frogs -- completely unbelievable and foreign -- which is where the "raining frogs" thing from Magnolia comes from.

American Spirits (Yellows)

Those are the type of cigarettes he smokes -- just an FYI.     

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Your Comment


Awesome window into the mind and thought process of one of the greatest directors working today. I've always admired Anderson's candor and it's great to hear him talk about his own work. Hoping to find enough time to listen to the full two hours sometime this week!

January 5, 2015 at 6:42PM

Oren Soffer
Director of Photography

This was a great interview. I didn't know anything about Marc Maron, short of knowing his name, and for the first several minutes I was pretty skeptical about the quality of the interview, but when they got into their conversation I was pleasantly surprised at its quality, and Marc's knowledge base.

I was also excited to hear that he'll be doing an interview on Thursday with Richard Linklater as well. I loved Boyhood, and have recently gotten into the Before series, so that'll be good to dig into.

January 6, 2015 at 10:43AM, Edited January 6, 10:43AM

Nick Brown

I couldnt hear more than five minutes. The interviewer is extremely boring :(

January 6, 2015 at 4:31PM


This is a great listen. If you haven't listened to WTF before make sure to check out the old episodes; some highlights include - Louis CK, Robin Williams and Judd Apatow.

January 7, 2015 at 8:33AM


Fantastic interview, and i was surprised how funny PTA is.

January 7, 2015 at 6:28PM

Anthony Vescio