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.