Thursday, September 24, 2009

My own private Interview..

Interview Magazine, March 1991

My Director and I

interview by River Phoenix

Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho - the title taken from a B-52 song and the story, in part, from Henry IV, Parts I and II - stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as street prostitutes in Portland, Oregon: one a narcoleptic, the other a modern-day Prince Hal to a gay, Falstaffian gang leader (William Richert). The movie maintains the affinity for strung-out rebels that the thirty-eight-year-old Van Sant, a Rhode Island School of Design film graduate and former adman and Roger Corman PA, had demonstrated in his two previous films. Mala Noche, shot with considerable verve on 16mm for $20,000 in 1985, was the story of a convenience-store manager's forlorn passion for a Mexican migrant labourer. Drugstore Cowboy, probably the best picture of 1989, was an agreeably grungy and bitterly funny slice of nostalgia for the low-life junkie culture of the early 1970s that sacrificed neither the jaunty skid-row lyricism nor the raw romanticism of its predecessor.

Drugstore Cowboy's star was the newly wise, swashbuckling Matt Dillon, its patron saint William Burroughs, whose story 'The Discipline of D. E.' Van Sant had filmed in 1977, one of several shorts he made prior to his first, now forgotten featurette, Alice in Hollywood. Van Sant's future films include an adaptation of Tom Robbins's novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and an elliptical biopic of Andy Warhol.

Just before the cast and crew of My Own Private Idaho left Scattle for the final days of shooting in Rome, River Phoenix interviewed his director over the course of a day as they ate, drove and ate again. It was appropriate that the conversation should take place in transit, for Van Sant's films are nothing if not investigations of uprootedness and the spiritual quest for home - 'home', of course, always connoting far more than four walls and a roof.

In a Seattle sushi bar
RIVER PHOENIX: In general, do you have fun ?
GUS VAN SANT: In general? Do you mean when I'm not shooting?
RP: Specifically, do you have fun if you like something that you're working on, or do you just enjoy yourself anyway?

1 comment:

tboy34 said...

Wonderful. Really wonderful. I miss him......