Boy, was my nerd alert set to HIGH HAPPY last night!
Did you ever see that play "The Violets Are Blue"? When you mentioned the violets, it reminded me of that. It's about people being strangled on a submarine.
Wallace Shawn said he hadn't seen the film since 1981.
Director Louis Malle approached them after reading the script and told them, if you don't want me to direct, I'll produce. But if someone else directs it, promise me they won't use flashbacks.
Andre Gregory thinks of it as a radio play, where your imagination is forced to do the work.
They filmed in an old abandoned hotel in Richmond that was so cold they both had to wear electric blankets.
Gregory said Louis Malle gave him only one direction: talk faster. Which made the character seem even more manic and maniacal and egotistical and left him with no time to "act." Shawn said Malle told him, essentially, to be less like himself: more critical, more confrontational.
It played for six weeks at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, as the two begged owner Dan Talbot daily to keep it open. It would have flopped entirely had Siskel & Ebert not helped champion it to the world.
Gregory said America is scarier now than when they made the film, yet he's a happier person. Shawn said he's angrier now and more vocal about it. He also said the two of them live their lives, still, connected by "a bizarre unity."
Both of them agreed that you probably couldn't make a film like this today, with no action but talking and two men nobody had heard of, but back then they didn't know it was supposed to be impossible.
p.s. If you could see through the woman in the enormous white cloud parka, you would see that Wallace Shawn is standing in the lobby in a black & emerald green plaid flannel jacket, not unlike something one would wear to, or purchase at, the Kmart in my hometown of Portage WI. Underneath was a zippered fleece pullover, of which: ditto.
If I were gonna go on a trip on an airplane and I got a fortune cookie that said don't go, I mean of course I admit I might feel a bit nervous for about one second, but in fact, I would go! Because I mean that trip is gonna be successful or unsuccessful based on the state of the airplane and the state of the pilot, and the cookie is in no position to know about that!