Yet he wins
What was it like filming a script you hadn't written?
Well, I did do a rewrite of the screenplay [by Bob Nelson] before directing it. But I did not seek screenwriting credit because I felt the work I was doing was in service to his already fine screenplay. I've written scripts for myself to direct only out of desperation. I never aspired to write everything I directed. Writing is dreadful. I like directing, and I like editing. But it's difficult early in a director's career to have access to decently written material written by others. Also, nowadays they're not making the types of films that used to be made and those writers, the best writers working today are working in television.
You directed the
It was a long gap between "Sideways" and "The Descendants," and I was eager to shoot film and be up on actors, so I accepted to do a TV pilot. And I wanted the experience too; I just thought it would be fun to do.
Did having Nebraska as your home state play any role in wanting to do this film?
Absolutely. It had to play a role in why the script reached me. I'm the go-to Cornhusker director. I like shooting away, out of Nebraska. I love the whole world, I like to shoot all over the place, but I also love shooting in Nebraska, particularly in Omaha.
East and West Coasters will have this stereotype of Nebraska as being very homogenous; did growing up even as third-generation Greek contribute to an outsider feeling for you?
Jews, Greeks see themselves as part of the fabric, part of the whole, but also a subculture. I think it contributed to what I do as a filmmaker, to be a part of the overall fabric of people in America, yet slightly from without. It's kind of how our planet Earth is situated with respect to the rest of the Milky Way, the galaxy. You see the Milky Way, those are a bunch of stars all pressed together and the planets that surround them wouldn't have such a good view. Our sun is apart from it, we can look at it. We have an amazing point of view of the galaxy we're in, because we're in a far-off border.
So Earth is the ….
Earth is the Greek Omaha of the galaxy, that's true.
In a previous conversation we had, you said, "My first six features are études. … These are minor works." So what's the major work you still want to do?
I'll know it when I see it.
It just hasn't crossed your path yet?
Either because I'm slow or because of the period in which we're living. I haven't been able to accrue lots of experience quickly or earlier in life. I'm 52, I've completed only six features.
What holds you back?
Screenplays, the hardest thing. I'm not quick like