JESSE'S OFFICE (Ep #12) "You'll Never Work in this Town Again" with BRUCE WAGNER

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JESSE'S OFFICE (Ep #12) "You'll Never Work in this Town Again" with BRUCE WAGNER

Hi, I’m Jesse Dylan and this is my cohost Priscilla Cohen, and we’re in Jesse’s Office Today we’re talking to the infamous talent, my friend Bruce Wagner We’ll discuss writing and making movies about the extremities of human behavior About nuclear family’s going nuclear, nuclear, and whether writers can escape their own voices We’ll talk about the luminous Carrie Fisher, the brave Selma Blair, the cool David Cronenberg and hot Julian Moore And that will make sense when you hear Bruce talk about it. But first, subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch this and more episodes or subscribe to Jesse’s Office, wherever you stream your podcasts Feel free to leave comments and reviews I try to respond whenever I can I know. We knew. We knew you’d know about stuff like that. How are you brother? I’m good. Yeah, it’s good to see you. It’s good to see you Glad to have you back in the building Nothing has changed in the building Not a single thing. Except. Not a single thing except that we’re all Jerry’s dead. Yeah, Jerry’s dead there is that. Well, Craig’s dead Jerry’s dead. Yeah. J Maloney’s dead. J Maloney? Yeah Maloney But who’d you say before that? Craig. Who used to be here. He was a partner. Oh I don’t think you knew him. You knew him Of course he did. But when did he die? I think I knew about that. Back in the slipstream. Yeah, I knew about that Of course. But Jerry came after I mean Jerry’s death came after. Yeah, poor Jerry. Jerry. Yeah. Jesus. How do you guys know each other? Just through the time. Did you grow up together? Book world or? Maybe. I think we drove an ambulance together I don’t know how we knew, how we knew Now what is this podcast? How long have you been doing this? Very recently. A while. I mean, a little while, a couple, little while, like, like 10 podcasts ago. Wow. We’re doing a bunch. It’s like a cool thing Desperate if you send me an email. Oh, you kidding, we’re excited about you I am excited about you being here for sure. Yeah. Well, we’re, you’re gonna help us figure out actually what it’s about. Well, you know, I mean, you’re a creature of Hollywood You grew up here. One of the few people, like me, who grew up here. Yeah. Yeah But we haven’t started yet. Oh we have Yeah. We started when you sat down. It’s already almost over We’re halfway done. Okay. That’s good Cause I’m going to excuse myself. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, yeah. I’m not a carpetbagger, you know. But I mean, there must be, there is something magical about this place. You know, it’s like you’re a novelist and you write about this place. It’s like, you know, I, I still have on the wall over there, picture of you with, uh, with uh, you know, um, what’s his name? Uh. Be a little more explicit please. Oh, you know, the, the other writer when we did that thing, I have, it’s been on my wall all these years Wait, bottom feeders? No, no, no, no Look right there behind that thing Jeremiah just move that white card right there. Oh, Bob Dylan? No. No, right there. Oh, Ellroy. Ellroy Yeah. Yeah. But you know, Ellroy writes about a certain kind of place and you write about this place So, you know, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot to this. I mean, you think there’s something magical, magical about Los Angeles? Well, yes. I mean there is, um, in, in, in, in shamanistic terms, this person told me that, um, that energetically Los Angeles was very similar to the Valley of Mexico Right. Um, for me, uh, you know, uh, I, my, my father was, uh, a show biz bottom feeder. It really, and we lived, um, South of Wilshire, you know, what then became known as the slums of Beverly Hills. You know, I, I was at the Bel, the Beverly Hills hotel and I ran into, uh, one of the realtors on million dollar listing. Right. Right And he was asking me about my, my hand tattoo, which is a map of, a movie star map from 1931 of Beverly Hills. And, uh, I told him that I lived on these streets, Rodeo and Camden And then, uh, he said, Oh, where? Um, and I said, well, I lived South of the Elbow, you know what I mean? And he said, oh, you lived in Baja? That’s the realtors’ term for where I lived Um, but my father was a television producer. Um, not really a successful one And I early on, um, had a real taste,

intuitive and artistic for the extremities of human behavior You know, so my books are about the extremes. They’re, they’re the spiritual and the pornographic and, and, and heinously violent, you know You know, the, the, it seems like at the center of your work is always a, a dysfunctional family You know, it always, seems like that’s a running theme through your work There’s always some dysfunctional group of people who are trying to communicate and having difficulty, you know, um, uh, is that seem right? Yeah. I, I mean, I don’t know, you know, there, there are many themes that are, um, consistent in my work. One of them is madness. Right. Um, characters losing their minds through, um, a repetitive failure, uh, and embarrassment of failure, uh, or through drugs Right. Or, uh, inherited psychosis. Um, another stalwart, um, part of my work are damaged children, you know. Right Children who are either, um, have a fatal illness, um, an exotic illness, uh, children that are, are sexually molested and, um, are dying in a sense from the, the nexus of that event So you could say that drama one, there is no real drama about families that are um, all, that are all right. You know what I mean? But, uh, I think as a germ in my work, it’s often, my work often includes a nuclear family that has gone nuclear, you know, Um, let’s just look at this for a second I just want to get your opinion on this You remember this of course? That’s from, that’s from Caddyshack. Yes, that’s from Caddyshack actually. Bill Murray was amazing. Oh, hold on. Here she is. She strikes me as a very, this strikes you as a very Bruce moment. I haven’t, Do you mind, Mr. DeMille, if I say a few words? Thank you I just want to tell you how happy I am to be back in the studio making a picture again. You don’t know how much I’ve missed all of you And I promise you I’ll never desert you again, because after “Salome” we’ll make another picture, and another and another You see, this is my life It always will be. There’s nothing else – just us and the cameras and those wonderful people out there in the dark… All right, Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup I mean, she, she really reminds me of a very Bruce Wagner type character You know. She, I always think of Catherine O’Hara now doing in this CTV carryover Yeah. I mean that never gets old for me Yeah. That, that film never gets old How is that Hollywood? Like what is that? How does that, cause it’s been going on since then? Yeah. This, this movie, the idea of, um, of, of aging out and uh, losing one’s footing and, and then the delusions that are required, uh, to reinvent or rebuild one’s facade, you know, um, is something that, that I think all of us can relate to. I mean, now particularly you have, um, Instagram famous people that suddenly, um, are, are brutally injured because they fall from a great height or, um, they metaphorically, no one’s interested in, in them because they make the wrong comment or um, or get too, too ambitious. You know Is that a Hollywood thing? Is that a California thing? No, but you, you specifically in terms of of Sunset Boulevard, this notion, um, of, of embarrassment and shame, uh, where one is, has lost one’s relevance or popularity, I think is, is something that is heightened in Hollywood,

because Hollywood has such a bright light shown on that Right. But it’s, it’s a very human, uh, nightmare, you know, to no longer be relevant. Um, you know, one of the things that is absolutely riveting to me is Selma Blair’s courageous Instagram account where she announced to the world that she had MS and drew, draws you in to the daily, um, drama, uh, sometimes, uh, often in a very lighthearted way, but this, this transformation from someone that was regarded as untouchable Uh, as we all regard ourselves as untouchable, this could not happen to us This could not happen or be happening to Selma, uh, is so captivating and, and there’s a metaphor there. The fall, you know, from the, the elegant, uh, um, movie star who was, uh, so blessed in terms of her beauty that she was working with Karl Lagerfeld and not a, not a, not a huge movie star, but respectable and loved that this should be happening, uh, to her, uh, makes her a kind of sacrificial animal in a way And, uh, that is absolute drama to me and, and um, and captivating and it encapsulates a lot of what we were just talking about, this fall. You know, and how does one, certainly Selma is not delusional She’s the opposite of that. She’s, um, she’s candid Her candor is heroic and, uh, and does inspire people as it should. You know um, so that’s looking back, that’s peering way into the past When you look at something like this, Not pregnant, not pregnant. Oh God You know this is the Kardashians But now I’m like, why am I so nauseous all the time? I almost wish I was, so I could just say, that’s why I’m nauseous. Are you not going to Cleveland? I was supposed to go on Saturday and I couldn’t, you know, I have migraine, until 3:00 AM I was throwing up, throwing up blood and I just couldn’t go to Cleveland I just said it’s too much. You’re going to do MRI and MRI of your brain I am hoping to get just any sort of answer as to why I have been getting migraines so frequently. First to begin with, we got new songs, new outfits, new location and getting location, we You know, and there’s Kanye Also. You know it’s a whole Her nose is different now. She’s got a different nose, that’s old But it’s, but I mean, he’s like a genius, you know, it’s like. You can’t, in terms of the, the mandala of the Kardashians, it’s impossible to, to best it. Right It’s impossible to come up with something more brilliant in a fictive way Right. Um, you have Kanye, who is, I, I agree with you. I, I really adore him. Right. And, and his, the bipolar aspect. Yeah Which is annoying A F, but is also part of the mandala. Yeah. And then, I mean, we can’t forget, um, Caitlyn Jenner. Right. And when, when that happened, it, the impact almost on the culture was, it was a shockwave, you know, and, and so bold Uh, so the, the, the Kardashians, you know, hatched off these new children I mean, it’s just, uh, as long as it’s a, a reality show for me that, um, that’s, it’s a novel that I, I want to read again in the, I mean, forget, um, Karl Ove, you know what I mean? The Kardashians to me have it all. Right. And, uh, you know, so I’m impressed. Yeah To death with, with them, you know I mean, you know, it’s like, does Trump push them to the side or Or is Trump a result of, is he president because of, did they pave the way? Well, I don’t think they paved the way. I don’t know. No, he’s, he’s part of their show. Yeah They’re not part of his show. Yeah Um, uh, these extremes, have you always been sort of attracted to the extremes of these behaviors? Yeah, for me, you know, I think my, my work has been misread or misunderstood often because what we seize on is not

the epiphany and not the spiritual or the transcendent What we wallow in is the darkness and the muddy darkness and, and the malignancy of, um, of, of sides of human behavior. For me, I would rather, um, die than only portray the malevolent, uh, side of what we as human beings are capable of. There’s no, if there’s no redemption, no transcendence, um, then I would take a pass But I think often my work is, is, um, summarized as, um, the bleakest parts of, of, uh, of Hollywood and of human nature, you know, but I don’t see it that way at all I never start a book without knowing that there will be transcendence, that there will be a journey that will be transcendent. So a book like Memorial, like how does that start? You know, how do, what’s the first line of the first page before there’s anything? You know, it’s the same process for me I’m like a stroke victim who, uh, is slowly working his way back in rehab to that day when I leave the hospital and leaving the hospital is that day that I actually begin a book. Right And every time I forget how to write a book, I look at the books in front of me, like an uncle wrote them and sent them to me and I’m saying, how the fuck did my uncle do this? I could never do this. Right And then slowly some themes emerge that are so compelling to me that there’s something so beautiful, um, in the resolution of these themes that I, I am then forced to begin the book So what would be a theme that would attract you? Just, just in a broad stroke? Like when you say a theme, it’s like, you know, oh, I want to deal with violence in this book. I want to deal with, you know, a heartache. I want to deal with regret I want to, you know, what, how do you, what’s a theme? Yeah. Um, you know, I, I’m attracted to the perversions, um, that wealth, um, brings. Right Uh, and I’m also, um, attracted to, um, personalities that are sociopathic. Right? You know. Now, have you met a lot of people like that? I mean, but beyond the normal people we run into in Hollywood, like where you really know they’re sociopathic. You don’t, um, really if you’re fortunate, you don’t get to know someone like that because often there’s devastation in that. But I’m, I’m really attracted to transformation. For example, um, I was watching a, uh, reality, uh, documentary, um, about children who were convicted of violent crimes and given life sentences without the possibility of parole. Right? These were pre 2012 because in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that, um, that is a violation of the eighth amendment. You can’t do that. Right So, um, this documentary, um, was a, uh, a white couple, uh, well-off. Right Who were, um, shot in their bedroom and the, the woman died, her husband survived And it’s, it came out that their daughter was in love with a 15 year old, daughter was also 15, Mexican boy And the parents did not approve of that, did not want her to see him, et cetera. In this documentary, the girl, uh, allegedly asks her boyfriend to kill them, kill her parents. He doesn’t want to do that he said And then the girl, um, concocted the story that she was, is being molested by the father. So manipulates him into actually doing the deed. Right They’re both arrested and now their case being looked at again They’re in their early forties now and they’re both in prisons that are not far from each other. At the time of their, um, uh, imprisonment at 15, the father was so angry at what his daughter had wrought that he absolutely

lobbied for both of them to go to prison and get life without possibility of parole. Right. He, they said he stopped going to church He went into a spiral of depression, very dark The documentary reveals that he has gone to visit his daughter and reestablished a relationship with her, went to visit the, the boyfriend, which of course they’re not in any kind of relationship anymore and allowed the, the, the 15 year old boy, now 42 to begin to forgive himself. Right And, but this is the stunning novelistic part of this story The father said, now, he said the end of his life, that his fantasy is that both are freed from prison He goes and picks up the boy, now a man, first, and they spend a delightful 90 minutes traveling to the other prison to pick his daughter up. And then they come and live with him. Wait, that’s his fantasy? That’s his fantasy. This will never happen. Right Because Texas being Texas said, fuck all of y’all It’s too late. You file. It had to be a year after the Supreme Court decision, an impossible thing. Right But that’s Texas and, but the fantasy of it, you know, um, is something that was so baroque and poignant to me Um, you know, it was, I used a plane crash in one of my books I think it was Still Holding, and I based it on something which was real. Um, it was a, um, a plane that was coming from Puerto Vallarta, and if you read the details of the crash when the pilots called the, the air control tower in San Francisco, they got a pilot over to the air control tower to listen to what the pilot was saying was wrong with the plane Right. Once they made it clear, the pilot knew that there was no way they could fix this. Right And that the plane was doomed Right. All he said was, I’ll see you in San Francisco. Yeah So you’ve got the pilots having a little bit of hope and telling the passengers, let’s say we’re having some trouble So you have these 350 souls truly like, um, a lost ship. You know, the flying Dutchman, their intent is that they’re going to land and they’re thinking of their loved ones. It’s so mythical to me and so powerful So these themes come, but they have to be really significant, Jesse, in order for me to decide, I’m going to drape a novel, you know. You know, you know, good thing to hear the thing about the plane I’m flying in a little bit today Yeah, I was just thinking about that Just thinking. But, um, uh, you’ve had fellow travelers, you know, Buck Henry, Carrie Fisher We’re looking at, uh, the, the, um, you know, a James Ellroy up there. You know, what is it that that makes a fellow traveler, I know you were very close with Carrie, like what would you, you know, which, you know, she was a satirist in a certain sense of the word Did you, I mean, not even in your work, you know, cause you obviously loved her Was there a, um, was there a view on the world that comes through? You know, she’s a special, special case. Right. I mean, she was um, there’s a group of us that are still, you know, will be forever grieving our own flying Dutchman, our own lost plane. Right Um, Carrie having essentially died on a plane. Right. And I know there’s not a, a plane ride I go on that I don’t think of, of my dear sister Um, and she was a luminous creature I mean, I remember seeing Buck, um, he was so angry at God and it was so touching for me to behold, you know, he was, he was violently quaking. Right. Angry that, that, that this soul should have been allowed to be released Um. So what was the magic of her? You know, beyond, you know, we all know her as the Star Wars star and the movies she made, but she was a great writer and she was a, the few times I was with her, she was always just sort of a magical person, in a way. Yeah, truly, I mean, impossible to convey. Um, but you know, uh, everyone that had close encounters with her, I mean more than glancing were, she was like a perfume and it, it was, the scent was different on everyone, you know. So she, she, she was a, a genius, Carrie, not only a, um, cerebral, but, uh,

soulful and, um, You know, usually with people like that, there’s a, because they’re so good at what they do, there’s a, there’s a kindness Is there a deep kindness? Oh, generosity. Yeah. Yeah Absolute generosity. So, you know, but I, I, you know, I don’t talk, this is the first time I’ve ever talked about her. Um, people are always asking me and so many others and it’s something that is repugnant to me, you know? Um, but you’re an old friend. Of course, um, so yeah, I mean, there will never be the likes of her again, that it’s that the ultimate cliche, you know, which, which, uh, I don’t even like to hear that cliche, but it’s the only, it’s what comes to mind with her. You know, I have a question cause themes, you say themes, but then your characters are so vivid So are the characters coming from these people in your life as well? No, not at all Do you, do you know them? You know, ah, Dickens used to say that he knew his characters, you know? Oh absolutely Yeah. Did they, so how, where do they come from? Well, I mean, that’s a, an unknown, you know, but, but the beautiful thing about when, when when you write a book, when I write a book, there comes that wonderful moment when, um, the, the character is writing you, you’re no longer writing the character and it’s a liberation because it’s burdensome when you’re carving and, uh, you’re anguishing over a character and, and then one day it takes hold of you. And that’s, uh, that’s a lovely moment for me because, uh, um, I don’t know then where I’m going Do they hang around, these characters after the book is gone? No. I think it’s probably like an actor doing a movie or something, you know. Um, when did you meet David Cronenberg and, and was it, did you, obviously, he’s one of our great auteur directors, maybe one of the very few that are left. I mean, there’s Quentin Tarantino and a few others, but there’s not many. Yeah. Um, do you remember when you met him and what, and, and what was it? Did you immediately recognize a kindred soul? Well, uh, I, I loved his movies so much, and um, we had the same agent at a certain point, John Burnham, and I knew Burnham from high school, you know, uh, and he, I think had mentioned to me that, that David liked my work, you know, David’s very literary, uh, as famously said or infamously that he was more influenced by books than, than film. Sure. So I, um, I wanted to do something with David, you know, and there was a section of the first book I wrote, Force Majeure called Wild Songs and it was about a Holocaust survivor impersonator, you know, and so I flew to Toronto to meet with David and Like you were going to adapt just that piece. Yeah, I was thinking of that, you know, but it was really an entrĂ©e It was a reason to go and see David and uh, and then we, we, there was a kinship There’s a, a very, something Was it instant though? You know, there’s very, very few, there’s very few of these kinds of people around. You know, there just kind of unusual characters. He was, you know, do you walk in and sit down and know that this is like something special, instant Jewish daddy, Jewish brother, you know, Jewish husband I mean, you know, instant and, um, are, there’s many similarities in our work You know, the, our preoccupations And I think I had written Maps to the Stars, um, and, and showed it to him Not that I, I wasn’t, uh, so presumptuous as to say, maybe you could do this. Shoot this thing Yeah. Yeah, because it was so odd, the piece that I think I was a little gun shy, but I showed it to him the way I would show him a novel or a novella And he, uh, he didn’t say much about it, but he, he somehow it lodged in his head And maybe 10 years later he said, um, I’d like to do this And then it fell apart and then it was another eight years or something like that, you know When you give a movie like that to an artist like that, you know, your, what’s your role on the set? Cause he’s not, he’s not gonna change your words. So what’s his, what’s his, what’s he counting on you for, during the process of making the movie? Well, um, you know, I was just, it was such a privilege for me to hang out on that set, you know? But are you just hanging out or is he asking you questions? Well he, you know, I remember there was a time the script supervisor, um,

would, uh, the script supervisor would literally go up to him and say, this actor or actress said “the”, and there’s no “the” in the script. Right Do you want her to do it again or are you okay with it? Sometimes he would say do it again. Right And it was a certain point where I asked th escript supervisor, um, cause I had some nervousness on the set. Uh, I said, what are you, what are you doing next? And he said, very Canadian, but very earnest. He said, it’s what are we doing next? You know? Right. You’re part of this. Right And that was a lovely moment for me, but David would ask me, um, certain things. I mean, he knew exactly what he was doing. So it was never like So would he say like, well you know, what was your guy thinking about in this moment? No, no, no So would it be like, I mean, what would it be like? Well how big do you think the house is or? No, it would be more, um, like he, he, there would be continuity issues in terms of the script. Right Something that suddenly for him didn’t make sense. Right And I would either agree or disagree. Um, most of the time agree because he’s been doing this for so long or, um, I would say, you know, um, Scientology is, um, going through a controversial period. So this line where, uh, Robert Pattinson says he’s thinking of becoming a Scientologist as a career move. Does that no longer make sense? We would discuss that. You know, so it was things like that, but for the most part I was along for the ride I mean I just had front row seat and, and loving it And what did you see there? Cause you know, you’ve been on a lot of sets So this is somebody different. And you know, I’ve, I’ve been on sets and seen really amazing directors make great choices and you know, there’s something different when you’re sitting with them. We’re, did you, did you feel something different about how he thought about, about making a movie? Because he’s made so many? Well, David, um, is very cool. You know, Julianne Moore said this, there’s, you know, my shit is hot and David’s stuff is very cool So that synthesis, um, was good for me to watch. In other words, he would make decisions You know, my impulse is always to go toward the Grand Guignol and the Baroque, although there was plenty of Grand Guignol in, in Maps to the Stars But David was extremely, um, almost poetically scientific about what he was doing and absolutely fearless, you know. Um, how, how fearless, what do you mean fearless? Well, uh, the, uh, the material that, in Maps to the Stars was confounding to critics at times because it was, um, they couldn’t understand the, the, that there could be a nuance that there could be a collision of genres such as something that is dream-like, which I thought the whole movie was a fever dream and yet satirical, you know? So critics like to say, well, what is it? Is it one or is it the other? Is it children of paradise or is that the player? You know? Yeah And, and it was, it was a Cronen-Bergundian as we put it, um, um, melange, you know, so David was fearless in that sense Does not absolutely, does not give a shit about, um, anyone’s interpretation or critique, uh, and has a very, very clear, uh, almost rapacious vision of what this film or whatever film he’s working on, should look like. You know, You know how, how much do you, when you’re sitting and writing a book, how much do you, do you think back on other books by other writers? Are there writers that you go like, uh, okay, I, I’m gonna look at Dostoyevsky, or I’m gonna look at Gogol or, you know, like, is there, are there writers that are, are breadcrumbs for you? No, you know, I think when I was 15, I read a quote from Norman Mailer and, um, it stuck in my head all these years, you know, 50 years later, he said, when you’re working on a book, it’s like you’re, you’ve got your car up on a rack and, and the engine’s out and you’re just covered in grease You don’t want to look up and see a Ferrari zoom past So you, you stay away. I stay away from any of those, um, writers that are so close to my heart because for better or for worse, whatever book I’m writing is going to be a book by Bruce Wagner

I can’t escape that. I have tried to escape it. You know, I have tried to escape it You know, um, uh, California, it’s such an unusual place, you know, and, and all writers, you know, in poetry, you know, you think about great poets, it’s like they, they always own a place, you know, they always, you know, it’s like you’re not going to read Dante and he’s going to be, you know, talking about being in France, you know, he’s talking about what he, where he grew up. Is, is the influence of California just in, a hidden character in all of your work? I, you know, I, I honestly don’t know. I, I’m, uh, you know, I’m, I’m a California boy through and through, you know, um, I’m obsessed with the Beach Boys, the mysticism and, and, and purity of the Beach Boys, obsessed with the iconography of surfing Although I, I don’t go in the ocean, you know, um, um, uh, enthralled with the astrological chart. Right. You know, um, and yet there is that aspect of me that has an interest, uh, in the murderous and the transcendent, you know, and that end of the world aspect of California and that sunlit aspect, you know, I think of Ed Ruscha so much because he embodies for me so much of, of California and Los Angeles And I would like to say that I have been influenced by California as he has It’s a, what is it exactly? Um, there’s something mystical, something very simple with clean lines, something with a light that is as magical and indescribable, let’s say as Carrie Fisher. You know what I mean? Um, the, the, the idea of the movie industry, which is for me operatic and an absolute laboratory for, um, for transcendence and death. Um, and that’s not just what the movies portray. That is the people that are the, the pyramid, the people that built the pyramid of the movies, you know, and perished during that time, either naturally or unnaturally, you know what I mean? Do you, do you, when you say murderous, how do you study that? How do you learn about the things that you might write about, about sick children or dark things that have occurred? Well, you know I think you have, you’re born with a predilection, you know, um, I like for example, I was, um, reading, um, Denis Johnson the other day, Jesus’s Son. And I came to that quite late And at the end of that book, there is a story about a hospital, well, hospital ward, convalescent, um, hospital that had all kinds of people in it, not just old people When I drove an ambulance, I was in one of those places It was a convalescent hospital that had, um, uh, children in it too, had oversized heads, hydrocephalus It had accident victims, people in their thirties who were quadriplegic. It was a, a ward. Uh, you know, uh, the of of anomalous types because we consider a convalescent home to be a very tidy, uh, there’s a tidy definition It’s where people who are aging go to, to live their lives out in hopefully some kind of peace. So there, here’s something in a bedlam in essence, you know. Um, uh, so I, I came to that because it attracts, it attracted me It wasn’t that I then became attracted to it It found me, you know what I mean? I didn’t find it. And, and this idea, um, of my preoccupation with, with, um, with violence or, um, or the horror of, um, of, of human beings and their phobias, their fears, their, um, claustrophobic nature, their, their, um, people that are, that are afraid of heights, open spaces, flying All of these things are things that I had to confront in myself. Right Because I was neurotic to the core I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I mean, um, the, the artist’s prerogative. I, I have my bad days, but I think, and it’s not that I purged those fears, but I certainly confronted them in my fiction and that was very, that was a very powerful fuel for me I, I confronted my anger, you know,

there’s this lovely quote, um, um, from, um, Christopher Hitchens where, uh, they asked him about his anger. He said, yeah, he wakes up angry and it really is helpful for his work I think I wrote for many years, um, in a rage, you know, and I still do. I still do. There’s so many things that enrage me, you know, um, back to Selma Blair, um, I think she had her hair in, in braids and someone accused her of appropriation I mean, things, things on these micro scales have the, the, I tend to satirically make them much larger, you know, uh, as a way of almost doing chemo on that horrific aspect, that cancer, that, that grows in our society where. uh, fingers are pointed, um, for nonsensical reasons. Um, but these things, um, lead often to, to very dark places. Does it, you know, I always thought of the years that we’ve known you, you would always talk about that dark, the human nature, the vicious attacks And now with really the onset of social media, we see all of that come out more, is, do you think there’s just more opportunity or it’s just the way many people are? Yeah, I don’t see, um, I don’t have a nostalgia for a time that was kindler and gentler Right. I know. Well, there wasn’t really a time. Yeah, that’s what I meant That’s what I meant. I, I don’t, um, you know, you, you, you, you, there was the woman recently that carved a baby out of a, a woman, right? And now that the baby is dead, the woman died. So you could say, well, Sharon Tate lived in kinder, gentler times They didn’t carve the baby out of her, but it would be farcical Do you know what I mean? There is an aspect of, of the darkness of humanity, as I said, it is essential that that aspect is balanced, um, with the absolute truism that there is an, an, an, an element of us that is sacred and, and tender and, um, and, and glorious, you know. You know, is it the, the opposite of these extremes that attracts you, the, the angelic being and the darkest being and how those co-exist between people? Yeah, I would say absolutely Absolutely. You know, and, and what is, what is the Kardashians, or the world of Kardashians, is that just backdrop? You know, uh, I, I can’t, um, I won’t even venture to deconstruct the, the Kardashians. You know, the mandala of the Kardashians. It’s complicated, right? Yeah. It’s a super, like everybody’s super dismissive of it, but it’s Well not everybody is dismissive Yeah, I think at one time, um, it, it was, uh, more common to, to say what are they famous for? You know, which I think is, is so simplistic at this point. Right You know what I mean? Um, you know, uh, those, uh, the bathroom, you know, with the flat sink, I just, I, I love that shit. You know what I mean? And, and he, you know, I watched his interview with, uh, with Letterman. Oh, you mean Kanye? Kanye. Yeah. Um, he, you know, I, I really do have a, uh, an emotional attachment to his music Yeah. Right. And yeah, and then you, you hear these old [bleeping] mother[bleepers], these rockers, you know, say, oh, I don’t get it. You know, you, I mean, you know, because they’re not listening. Right You know, his love of language and, or he has that sacred and profane aspect, which is so attractive to me. Were you, were you shocked when, you know, the downfall, although he hasn’t really fallen really, Harvey Weinstein and the entire kind of disintegration or the ma, things coming around with, with everything that happened in Hollywood recently and then it accelerates? I wasn’t shocked. It’s, it’s interesting to me, um, that, that a, a wave, a tsunami came and, and destroyed, uh, an entire coast, you know? Yeah. Uh, that’s interesting because you never expect that you, you don’t know,

um, something like that’s coming. But you’re in Hollywood your whole life. And certainly we all, I mean we all heard these stories, I mean, people knew this was going on Did you ever expedt? To the extent it’s sort of, always being discovered in different ways when you think about, you know, Eddie Fisher and you know, you know, all the things he went through. I mean, like you just can go back to these sort of, there’s always these rituals of humiliation and. Right, but to this level? I don’t know. Well you know. Were’s Kevin Spacey today, for example? Yeah. Well, uh, I, I think you’ll be back. I think he’ll be, I think he’ll be back. Yeah. But, um, with Weinstein, you know, it is, unless you were really in the trenches, I mean, I, I, you know, I had my thoughts about Harvey Weinstein, but the shit that came out, certainly not, you know, I had no awareness of that. And, um, you know, I had heard one actress that I know said that, um, he, she had been asked to his hotel, but she’s a tough cookie And she told me that years ago and I, it wasn’t, it didn’t register, but. You know, let’s watch this one last clip cause it may have, it may have some, may provide some things This Jack Nicholson getting the Cecil B. Demille award Oh. Right. But it, but I saw this clip and I thought of you because he does this one thing that reminds me of you And, uh, I’ve come to the Golden Globes forever. Before I was invited, before, before it was on television. And you know, but before television, it was wild I saw Joan Crawford, you know, the, the legend Idol of my own mothers and sisters in World War II for chic and a strong woman, probably already the chairman of the CEO of Pepsi Cola, stand up here and go In my day we had em I saw Rita Hayworth comes sauntering down the center stage to some stripper music, you know, turned her Back over. I’ll tell ya. What a sight, I almost wept You know, in a certain sense, isn’t that you watching all these people? No, no, I’ll tell you what’s me. No? Okay. When I watch this. Um, in my head I see Sean Connery pursued on the street now in his eighties, enfeebled. Um, was that Warren Beatty? Yeah. Making that embarrassing flub, appearing geriatric. Oh yeah And, and then the last movie, not making much of an, of an impression. Right And the, the fadeout, Nicholson cantankerous, uh, front row, still Lakers. How much longer? I see in other words the Olympian gods who for, in almost, um, uh, uh, an amount of time that cannot be quantified, are famous and, and wealthy and, and powerful. I remember barely, but watching something like this and it’s so present and now it’s new, it’s, it will become a newsreel and everyone will be dead. So, so is that about impermanence? Yeah. Yeah. In other words, the, the, you know, um. Everything is. Everything is a, is, is, is a dream, is a dream. So this is the, the, the trick of this life is you, you love and you care deeply. Uh, and yet it’s a dream that, that you will awaken from, um, into another dream Uh, and, and so all of the, the, the anguish, the absolute misery, the depths of horror that, that we feel, um, you know, the, the, uh, is, uh, is a, a famous Buddhist quote like the death of a child in a dream Do you know what I mean? Right. So one, one has to somehow keep one’s sanity by, uh, with humility. You know, um, I look at that and I don’t, I don’t say, Oh, these foolish people no, I, I, you know, I love Nicholson in my day as much as, as everyone did Um, and so it’s not that, but you have to have the, the humility when you’re writing about impermanence, um, that fame is, is attractive Uh, you know, there were, there was a story that I’ve often quoted where, um, a, a,

there was a Buddhist monk that wanted to be the most famous recluse. You know, that was his aspiration And, and I, I, uh, it has been written in Buddhist texts that the desire for fame and approbation is the most difficult thing to shake It’s harder than the desire for riches, for revenge It’s the last one to go. Right Do you know what I mean, and, and so we have to realize that in the dream, the, that’s why it so attracts me that the, this dream of Hollywood This dream is impermanence. Uh, uh, this impermanent notion of fame You know, it, it, it, it captures me, you know, that’s why the, the Selma Blair thing is, is so, uh, staggeringly moving and, um, and lovely in its way to me, you know? No, no morbidity about it at all Nothing morbid about it at all. Yeah It’s the truth, you know? Yeah. Bruce, thank you so much for coming in and doing this.Thank you Bruce. It was great Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it was lovely. Yeah, that was great Thanks for watching or listening. Don’t forget to subscribe. Click here, here, for the next episode [inaudible]