Stuart Gordon interview

Stuart Gordon, 59, started out as a controversial director on the Chicago theatre scene: in 1968 his Screw Theater company produced ’The Game Show‘, the sole purpose of which was to force the audience to leave the building by turning up the heating. In the 1980s, he made the transition to cinema by directing several gruesome adaptations of HP Lovecraft‘s horror novellas, including the cult classic ’Re-Animator‘ (1985). His new film, ’Edmond‘ is an adaptation by David Mamet of one of his own plays and revolves around Joe (William H Macy), an average New York wage-slave, who leaves his wife and embarks on a violent journey through the city.

Edmond.jpg
Telling it straight: Stuart Gordon (centre) on the set of 'Edmond'

With elements of violence, racism and misogyny, ‘Edmond’ is tough to stomach. Was it hard to get made?

It was, because I went to the studios and said, ‘I've got a David Mamet script and I’ve got William H Macy,’ and they’d go, ‘Fantastic, we’ll read it over the weekend,’ and I would never hear back from them. It was the racial stuff that scared people. Macy’s character says things that people think but are afraid to say, so nobody wanted to touch it in case they were seen to be endorsing Edmond’s opinions.


The character says some awful things but at times he talks sense. Did you relate to him?

Very much so. I think that as you get older you start wondering what the hell life is all about… What am I doing and why am I not happy? It’s amazing to me that Mamet wrote this when he was in his early ’30s because he’s captured that midlife crisis feeling that a lot of us have.

You don’t think that Edmond is simply mad?

No, I don’t think he’s crazy. I think he wants the same thing that everybody wants; he wants people to be honest with each other; he wants to live in a world where people do their work and are kind to each other, and what’s crazy about that?

What’s it like to work on one of Mamet’s scripts?

It’s a great pleasure, because the words are gold. It’s like Shakespeare, it really is. Macy says that he think Mamet is more difficult than Shakespeare because he writes in this weird, repetitious way, so it can get very confusing trying to memorise the lines, and Mamet is very particular that you have to really say every word.

Violence and horror run through your career, why is that?

I think that I enjoy shocking people. We go round in a kind of daze most of the time, and I like to wake people up. We all want to feel something. When you go to a movie, 99 per cent of what you see makes you feel nothing at all, it’s almost like you walk out and you’ve completely forgotten it.

One film that certainly made people feel something was your ‘Re-Animator’. Is it true that you’re planning a sequel?

Yes, we are talking about doing a new one called ‘House of Re-Animator’ which takes place in the White House. The Vice-President has a heart attack and keels over, so they invite Herbert West to bring him back to life. Things don’t go well, and eventually the President has to be reanimated.

Not that different to the Bush White House, then?

I’d like to make it as clearly about the Bush White House as possible. The thing about that administration is that they’re such death-dealers, all they seem to be successful at is killing people. The tag-line for this is ‘Government of the dead, by the dead and for the dead’.

Are we likely to see it soon?

Well, again, it's one of those things like ‘Edmond’ where people go, ‘Sounds good, sounds funny, don’t call me, I’ll call you.’ But Bill Macy wants to play the President and I’m hoping George Wendt will play the Vice-President, so we’ll see. Edmond’ opens on Friday. To download the trailer, click here.

Author: Chris Tilly





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