It's safe to say that legendary auteur Jim Jarmusch has a talented roster of actors at his disposal. Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Tilda Swinton are just a few of the names that would rush to the director's beck and call if summoned. But this fact is not solely due to the director's uniquely wry vision and radiant cool, it's because Jarmusch has never taken the actor for granted.
The relationship between the actor and the director is a collaboration as important, if not more important, than any other on set and some director's seem to forget just how hard the actor's job is. Not Jarmusch. He takes the time to sit down with the actor, recognize their needs, and identify how he can best serve them to get the type of performance they both crave. It's true that over time he's built a shorthand with the actors he's worked with through multiple films (to the point he's even written dialogue with them specifically in mind) but at its root, the basis of their relationship remains the same. Respect.
Respect seems to be the through line in our conversation today. Jim's latest film The Dead Don't Die, is yes a zombie movie, but also a plea for humanity to begin respecting one another and the earth on which they call home. In it, the peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves: a result of reckless fracking which has thrown the planet off its axis.
Even more so, it's evident how much Jarmusch, a true cinematic chameleon in his own right, respects the medium of film and would like emerging filmmakers to do the same. We talk the director's earliest influences, how music and sound effect every aspect of his production and how keeping empathy and an open mind are the two most important qualities a director can possess.