Friday, November 21, 2014


The year's THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: ROUNDTABLES kicked off with an unusually prepared group of writers!!!

Writer/Actor/Director CHRIS ROCK, 49,  of his own new film, TOP FIVE, used to grill fellow talents on his HBO talk show, The CHRIS ROCK SHOW, and is joined by Actor/Writer/Director JON FAVREAU, 48, who wrote, directed and starred in the food-truck dramedy CHEF, and once hosted DINNER For FIVE; GILLIAN FLYNN, 43, who adapted her own novel GONE GIRL, was a magazine journalist before she became a best-selling author and screenwriter; JONATHAN "JONAH" NOLAN (INTERSTELLAR), 38, and fresh scribes ANTHONY McCARTEN (STEPHEN HAWKING biopic The THEORY Of EVERYTHING), 53, and GRAHAM MOORE (The IMITATION GAME, the story of British code-breaker ALAN TURING), 33, for a lively discussion of "perfect" movies, stinging criticism and what it feels like to get a congratulatory call from JERRY SEINFELD.

Here are some interview highlights:

A lot of your films have autobiographical elements. How do you decide what part of you to put in your writing and what to hold back?

JON FAVREAU I've never written anything that's not autobiographical. But it gets hidden. I remember with Swingers, it was like, "Oh, that's your life." Well, it kind of wasn't, but you accept that because it kind of was, in a weird way. Chef the movie, for me, was kind of like the food truck that the chef was opening up to feel reinvigorated creatively.

CHRIS ROCK The line is basically, "Don't put in anything that will get you sued." (Laughs.) Yeah, I'm a comic, I play a successful comic who has had some bad movies. I can relate to all of that, but I still have the balls to say it's not me.

GILLIAN FLYNN When I was trying to find out who these characters were, I gave Nick, the main guy, a lot of my biography: from Missouri, went to New York with kind of a chip on his shoulder about being from Missouri and got a magazine job. People are always like, "Are you Nick or are you Amy?" I'm more Nick, actually. They assume because I'm a woman I'm more close with Amy, but thank God that's not the case.

ROCK Thank God.

FLYNN (To Rock) Come sit by me. (Laughs.)

FAVREAU It's like a good lie. The more you keep the truth in it, the more believable it is. Writing sometimes is coming up with a good alibi, a good story that is plausible.

Do you guys have that perfect movie? What's the one script that you really wish you had written?

NOLAN Back to the Future is a perfect movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark, another perfect movie. The great moment in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison [Ford had] dysentery, or whatever the crazy story was, so they had to cut out the whole sword fight and he just shoots the guy — the screenwriter was probably sitting there thinking, "f—ing A." But it makes for a perfect moment.

FAVREAU The Bad News Bears is a really well-told story where the good guy seems not to be likable and requires clever storytelling and great performance. It seems like there's a lot of conflict, but really there's a lot of togetherness, and it's one of those where a lot of people remember that they won in the end, but they really didn't.

NOLAN Wait, they didn't?

FLYNN I love unhappy endings, I'm all about the unhappy ending. I will not give you what you want.

FAVREAU But you'll still be happy.

FLYNN It's not the most satisfying, it's the most correct and true. I remember being 5 years old, seeing that movie in theaters and first they lose, and you think, "What's happening now? They lost." And then the team comes over and apologizes, and you expect the Bad News Bears to gracefully accept their apology, and instead the kid's like, "Take your trophy and stick it up your ass!" And I was like, "This movie is great!"

FAVREAU Rocky also. The same era. You could not get that done now, unless it's independent.

MOORE Do you think you could make a movie where he'd lose at the end like that?

FAVREAU You'd be fighting upstream a lot. It wouldn't test well.

ROCK It would never test well. The beauty of Rocky is, Rocky's like life. You think you're watching a boxing movie, and at the very end you realize, "Oh sh*t, I've been watching a love story the whole time." And life is like that. We write and we do all this stuff, but your happiness is going to be found in your relationships. If you talk about school right now, you went to school every day and you learned for six hours a day, but if I ask you about school, you'll remember who you were f—ing, who didn't want to f— you, that's all you remember. And that's what the beauty of Rocky is. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he just got punched in the face a thousand times by this big guy, but it's all about this girl.

MOORE Your work is tricking the audience into thinking they're watching one kind of movie and then actually, through the process, there's something else.

What do you do for inspiration if you have writer's block?

NOLAN Well, I used to ask that question, "What's writer's block?" I don't really get that. Then I realized one day, "Oh, that's every day."

FAVREAU Eat more fiber.

ROCK I always have two books I'm working on [reading].

FLYNN That wakes up your brain.

ROCK Yeah, that wakes up your brain. I should always have two books. I should always have a stack of magazines.

NOLAN When I'm writing, I try to avoid fiction in particular. I tend not to read a lot, because you're worried you'll pick up someone's voice just by watching a great movie. Or read a great book and spend the next day writing like Hemingway.

ROCK I don't have that problem. (Laughs.) (To Flynn) I read your book when I was making this movie.

FLYNN Oh, really? That's pretty awesome. All right.

Who are your movie role models?

ROCK Woody Allen. That's an easy one. It's almost cliche to even say. He's the best.

NOLAN One of my heroes is Ernest Lehman, who wrote North by Northwest and The Sound of Music. If you can write North by Northwest and The Sound of Music, hats off. That's versatility to me.

MCCARTEN When I was growing up in the '80s and working in the theater, David Mamet exploded with a whole new reworking of what dialogue should sound like. It was punchy and raw and repetitive, bursting with dynamic. I remember that switching on a lot of lights for me.

MOORE It's so exciting when you have a writer like David Mamet or Aaron Sorkin, someone who has a voice that you can hear.

MCCARTEN Dialogue is our domain. It's the one area where the viewer doesn't go, "Wow, that's beautifully directed."

NOLAN It can be galling, too. I remember watching The Dark Knight for the first time, and Heath Ledger's incredible in it and there's stuff that I worked on really hard. But his two best lines in the film are "Yeah" and "Hi," neither of which were scripted.

What's the best piece of advice someone has given you about filmmaking?

MOORE I had a moment, right before we shot our movie, I talked to my friend Fred who has made a bunch of movies. "As a writer on set, what's my job?" And he was like, "Well, there's one simple thing you have to remember: You're the writer on set, shut the f— up!"

ROCK [Filmmaker] Reggie Hudlin said, "Eat with the crew." Just eat with the crew. You'll get more out of your crew if you just eat with your crew every day.

Watch the full UNCENSORED NSFW video below.

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