Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

How Isabelle Huppert Deals With On-Set Stress

Thank you, David Poland and Defamer, for the video link of the week: the recorded-off-the-monitor horror movies from the set of I HEART HUCKABEES.
And you thought your workplace was stressful. Check out the quick-to-boil comments of actress Lily Tomlin, who’s baffled and pissed off by the directions of screamer boss – writer/director David O. Russell (whose Mr. Spacely of Spacely Sprockets demeanor was extensively chronicled by Sharon Waxman in TK). As Mark Lisanti recalls, Russell, who’d given Waxman the run of his set, promptly went apeshit on the ace New York Times reporter when her account of the making of Huckabees appeared in a seasonal film preview issue. His main complaint was that the material would appear only in book form. As if he’d have come off better there.
While I can’t help but feel sorry for everyone who’s seen and heard in these clips, there’s something really admirable in the way the other crew members and the three actors — Dustin Hoffman, Mark Wahlberg, and Isabelle Huppert — deal with what’s going on.

The crew members either try to do their jobs or (when the shouting gets out of control) make themselves scarce. In the automobile scene, the trio of actors are trapped. Hoffman, seated in the middle, is quiet without seeming annoyed — then attempts to be the peacemaker/professional, urging Tomlin to “just shoot it [the scene – the take] – this take is blown. Just move on. You’ve got the adrenaline now.”
Watch Huppert as the argument goes on. She plays with her hair, then checking her makeup in the rearview mirrors. Is my foundation too shiny? Is my lipstick smudged? Am I looking gorgeous and cool and mysterious? If we could read her thoughts, they might go like this: “Oui. Pas de problemme. In my last few movies, I sliced my privates with a razor, slept with my son, and killed a few people. Surely I can sit in an American car wait for this small argument to end.”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon