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Moriarty Talks To Sean Penn About INTO THE WILD!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. I’ve been a fan of Sean Penn’s work about as long as Sean Penn’s been making movies. BAD BOYS was a huuuuuuuuge film for me and my friends. Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge. And so was TAPS. And so was FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. And so was RACING WITH THE MOON. He was a big deal to movie nerds, a sort of sneering Kid Bogart with impeccable comic timing and drama chops. He seemed like the one safe bet for superstardom out of all the young actors who were just getting a foothold at the time. And then he zagged. The reason I think he’s an icon, one of the genuine greats in the business, is because he sort of continually, willfully, gracefully zags his way through his career choices. It’s real hard to pigeonhole Sean Penn because he’s perpetually changing as a performer and as an artist. You always get the feeling watching his work that Penn’s real gift is honesty. That when he plays something, whatever it is, he commits to it in a way that makes him honest. He believes everything he plays, and he’s so open... so able to invite you into what he’s feeling from moment to moment... such a great raw nerve. I’ve read profiles of Penn over the years and watched interviews with him, including an Actor’s Studio appearance that was sent to me on DVD. And I think he’s a guarded, engaging interview in the right circumstances. I’ve seen him make some really great appearances over the years and of course I’ve seen the bad press that seems to inevitably pile up on someone like Penn. And all of the personal stuff just sort of seems like white noise at this point. Meanwhile, I get the impression of him from his work that he’s trying to build a filmography of substance while remembering to have fun occasionally and not take everything so seriously. Like, you know, showing up on VIVA LA BAM in one of the most surreal images in that show’s history. That’s like seeing Brando do a CANDID CAMERA appearance. And I sort of think that’s awesome. I wish that had happened, come to think of it. The night I went to see INTO THE WILD, Sean Penn was there, and there was a small reception afterwards. I was introduced to him to chat. Honestly, I don’t remember much of it. It was just so odd being pushed together with this icon so casually at a small table in the middle of this theater lobby. Like speed dating. It seemed to go well enough considering I was just stammering, and mainly we talked about THE INDIAN RUNNER, his first film, a favorite of mine. It’s not just my previous favorite Penn film, it’s also my favorite Viggo Mortensen work ever. We talked about that film’s score and Eddie Vedder’s score for this one, and finally, Penn laughed and shook my hand a few times. “I can’t even tell you... you’re really striking some chords for me. We should definitely talk again.” Knowing his natural reticence to do much press, that seemed amazing to me, and after he left, my friends from Paramount Vantage confirmed it for me. “Sean said he’d like to talk more with Drew from the Internet.” And I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. Finally, the day of the film’s premiere in Hollywood at the Director’s Guild Theater, Penn held a press conference at the Four Seasons with Eddie Vedder, and then they did some round-table interviews afterwards. By the time I showed up at the Four Seasons in the afternoon, the roundtables were just ending, and as I arrived on the second floor, there was a group of people waiting to get on the elevator. I’m sure I totally reacted, too, as I realized that Eddie Vedder was standing directly in front of me. I mean... shit, that’s Eddie Vedder! And that’s about as long as I could think about it, because I had to check in. They asked me to wait for a few minutes and gave me a copy of the new issue of OUTDOOR with INTO THE WILD on the cover. And, honestly, the article they have on it is one of the best pieces of film journalism I’ve read in a long time. Clean, intimate, a great look at the process with this particular team of filmmakers. It was maybe five minutes before a publicist led me down the hall to a room where it had been set up for a quiet one-on-one conversation, and when I walked in, I was struck again by the sheer surreality of his very Sean Penn-ness. I mean, so many filmmakers have gotten so much mileage off that mug of his that it’s really quite odd to sit across from a man-sized version of the movie star. There’s famous... and then there’s Sean Penn famous. His casual manner put me at ease right away, though, and I snapped the recorder on as soon as I stepped in and we shook hands.

MORIARTY: So when I saw it the first time, it was still early days. It really hadn’t played yet. SEAN PENN: Yeah. MORIARTY: And people really hadn’t started giving you feedback. It has to be really gratifying on this side of Toronto and Telluride, on the eve of release, to see that a lot of people are really embracing it. SEAN PENN: Yeah. MORIARTY: I think it’s... there’s just such a generosity to the film. Are you getting that back from the audiences you’ve seen it with? Is the reaction what you expected? SEAN PENN: It’s what I hoped for. I realized at Telluride, there was this thing. They do this... have you ever been there? MORIARTY: I haven’t been to that one, no. SEAN PENN: Oh, man, you hear that this is the festival of festivals, you know? “We’re the only real...” So the first movie I saw there was one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. Julian Schnabel’s film [THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY], and I’m like, “Oh, well, they do have good taste.” So then they start showing the movie, and it’s going great, and they asked if I would approve them doing what they like to do with certain movies, an outdoor free screening against the Rockies, you know? They set up the screen in the park... MORIARTY: Right. SEAN PENN: And of course, this makes sense with this movie in a romantic sense and everything else, but... Finally, I thought, “Chris McCandless wants me to do a free screening. Okay. Go for it.” And now I’ve got the elements, I’ve got people walking down the street who are going to watch ten minutes of it. And that ten minutes, if that’s all they see of it, they’ll never get the flow. There’s all these things you think about, but... let’s go for it. So all these people are camped out, you know, in their sleeping bags or whatever, in this park, and more people showed up for this than for any of the other movies, so it was a big deal. And at the start, it was great, and then... BOOOM! The rain comes falling. Just before the movie’s gonna start, and I mean pouring. And nobody moved. And again, you know, you’re supposed to be happy with that. But I start to think to myself, “You know, if I’d wanted all this sound and wetness and all of this filter of rain in front of it, I’d have put it in the movie.” So now I’m thinking, “This is Birkenstock bullshit. This is a self-celebration.” You know? “Oh, I was at Woodstock. That’s how I saw INTO THE WILD.” But there’s not a meditation between the audience and the movie. It’s just, “Aren’t we cool in the rain?” And then I think, “Well, that’s not a very fair hostility. I don’t like feeling that way. What’s really bothering me here?” And what was bothering me was, for the first time, I was feeling separation anxiety from a movie. As proud as I am of my other movies, I always wanted to have ten people relate to them, so I had to stay in there throughout the life of the movies and be the ten by myself. And with this subject, part of what grabbed me was that this was everybody’s movie in the first place. You know? That wanderlust thing. This was a movie where if it wasn’t shared, it wasn’t shit. So then I kinda got happy with it. And so what the good reaction is, you know, from one who, for good reasons and bad, suffers from feeling misunderstood most of the time, is “Fuck, I’m not totally alien. I’m not all alone here.” So that’s been good. MORIARTY: Well, it’s the first time as a writer/director that you’ve ever worked with a piece of material that had this sort of weight of expectation. The book is beloved... SEAN PENN: Yeah, there’s that, too. MORIARTY: I think it’s a strong choice and, really, the only choice you can make for it as a film, to leave [author of the book Jon] Krakauer out. He’s a real presence in the book, but the film is just Chris and his journey. How early did you know that was the way your film would work? SEAN PENN: From go. MORIARTY: From go. Okay. SEAN PENN: There were a couple of things behind that. For one, I felt like Krakauer didn’t have my camera there, which would bridge my... whatever part of it you want to... I don’t, I don’t want to choose to accept it as autobiography, but whatever part of it demands a personal investment in the hope that your personal experience somehow unifies it in some way, right? What you know is what you know in your heart and your mind, so you’ve got to bring that to it. So my camera would do that. The other thing that it does, just in a practical sense... it had stuck with me for a long time that quote that I think was attributed to Coppola a bout the short story being a much mor reliable form to adapt than a novel to a film... MORIARTY: Absolutely. SEAN PENN: So when you do take Jon’s book and you take out those chapters, you’re down to a pebble between your fingers, and that... you can do the whole thing. MORIARTY: And it really breathes. SEAN PENN: Yeah. MORIARTY: Your film... it takes its time on the road, instead of just being like some greatest hits “this is what I learned here, this is what I learned here” bullshit... SEAN PENN: Right. MORIARTY: You let it have its own pace, and it takes its time, and... one of the very first reviews we were sent from someone who had seen it, he wrote about how odd the structure was at the beginning. You’ve got two or three major scenes, and only then does a “Chapter One” title appear. It’s respectful of laying out the details for you. So was the big question you asked yourself when you sat down to write, “What was it about Chris that led him to live and die like this?” SEAN PENN: Certainly that’s a big part of it. A big part of it is identifying how much of it is flight and how much of it is pursuit. And in terms of script structure and editorially, the idea is that I think it would be sort of generous early on to find some way to establish the language of the movie. I always... I can really name the films that spoke to me offhand, but there were films that didn’t pay attention to... presentation titles and here’s the credits and then here’s the narrative. There were certainly films that spoke to me that were like that. It’s like you wanna say to the audience, “This is a movie that takes its time. Relax in your seat and go with how it goes.” It just evolved naturally that way. MORIARTY: I think the film says some really... I’m a fairly new parent, and I know you’re a dad... and there’s something here that really speaks to me. His journey really encapsulates both the best and the worst of what’s possible with your kids. What you hope for them. What you fear. He pays with his life for something that he chooses to do... but he chooses. He makes strong choices about who he wants to be. He becomes a person of substance in that pursuit... but he makes a few horrendous decisions. Really insanely bad choices. A few. It’s very bittersweet. As a director, taking Emile through that... you, as an actor, have pushed yourself to so many dark or extreme places, and now you’re taking someone else thorugh that experience. What was that process? It’s by far the best thing he’s done, and it’s like you woke something up in him as an actor. SEAN PENN: And I think that Chris’s story and Jon’s book woke something up in Emile. There’s something... he was... that’s what I was looking for. There’s something about the values of him that worked for the playing of the part. Looking the way he does, the experiences he’s had... at this point in his life, he was up for this. And you know, being able to photograph a guy on the cusp of boy to man and see that up onscreen... that’s what I was drawn to in Bertolucci’s film with Liv Tyler. There’s this very brief moment with a young actor, and either you can get it or you can’t. But he was so up for it. I think I helped, but I think that it was inherent in the material. If I helped, it was because I said, “We’re not going to shoot this all in one location. We’re not going to have safety nets. That thing you read? Yeah, we’re really going to do that.” MORIARTY: Well, it’s amazing the places you took him and the things you actually went and did. In an age where we’re almost numbed by what computers can accomplish on the technical cutting edge of film. You went the other direction, and that’s what you can’t help but react to, especially on a good big screen in the theater: it’s real. SEAN PENN: Which is why I did it. You start as an audience member. Someone said to me, “Why did you do the split screens in the film?” (long pause, little shrug) I like ‘em. I find ‘em fun as an audience. And when fun is right, you get to do it. The same thing here... I know this is going to be eight months of our life, so that eight months better count for something. We’re not just going to half-do this. Eddie [Vedder] and I were doing a press conference earlier, and someone asked “What are you going to do next?” And Eddie said, “There’s no point buying a chair if you’re not going to sit in it.” Well, I like to buy and sit in the chair at the same time. That was the wilderness in this movie. I wanted that experience, and I wanted it for the actors and for everybody involved. And I do believe that when you do that, it finds its way up onscreen. MORIARTY: It’s one thing to read it and get an idea of what Chris did. Krakauer is a damn good writer. Seeing it on film, though, and seeing where he went, seeing what he did... I found it almost spiritual. And going to those places for real, it must have influenced and changed your approach to the film even as you were making it. SEAN PENN: There’s no question about it. I tell this story about Eric Gautier [the film’s cinematographer] coming up to my place a few months before we started shooting, and we were just looking at movies, talking about what to do. And I put in a call to a friend of mine, I hadn’t seen in a long time, one of the great visual directors ever... Carroll Ballard. MORIARTY: Oh, man. Of course. SEAN PENN: Among the pictures that really excited me when I was looking forward to making this picture was NEVER CRY WOLF. To this day, there are images in that film that no NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC special can touch. And so I asked if, at the end of this week Eric and I were spending together, getting to know each other, if he and I could come up to Carol’s cabin. Have lunch with him. Just talk with him about... whatever came up. Film. Shooting in Alaska. And we ending up having a very nice talk with him. He was the perfect sage on this thing. As we left, Carroll put his hand on my shoulder, and he said, “Alaska’s gonna change you.” And... today, the way I look at that is, here’s this movie about the pursuit of authenticity, breaking away from the conventional, freedom, rite of passage, learning the great lessons of life... all these things that I’m only in a certain stage of myself. And so do I come into these places loaded with my own fraudulence, my own ego? Yes. But the great thing about the wilderness is that it’s relentlessly authentic, and you are outnumbered. MORIARTY: (laughs) SEAN PENN: And it will strip you. You might have to go back to restrip later, but it’s powerful. And it’s powerful to see how it affects other people. The love that people had on this crew for this story allowed me to really fulfill the assumption that being a director is not a popularity contest. I could be very demanding and... and sometimes ornery... and they never fell out of love with the movie we were making. They might have fallen well out of love with me, but not the film. So even the leadership positions had to be deferred to the wilderness itself. MORIARTY: It’s one of those things where I’m impressed that the family allowed you to tell the story the way you told it. I don’t think it’s especially flattering. You really dig into the source of Chris’s discontent and what it is that he’s specifically rejecting. And it doesn’t flinch. Was it hard for them when they first saw the film? Or in trusting you over the decade you’ve been trying to make this, did they let go of their need to manage... SEAN PENN: (nods) MORIARTY: They did? SEAN PENN: It’s a real tribute to what is ultimately their selfless devotion to their son, who they loved. The one thing I was mindful of when I showed it... when I first showed it to them... if you subtract from it all those things that you called unflinching, they’re still sitting there watching a movie about their dead son. Which I can’t imagine. They’ve been endlessly supportive. They’ve had varied personal reactions to it ranging from sorrow to anger... all sorts of emotional reactions... and they’ve had some ups and downs with it. I’m very grateful to them, and it felt like they knew... somehow... even when they made the decision not to make the movie ten years ago, I always knew they would. I knew they would eventually. Somehow, it just had to be. And then it did happen. And I’m looking forward to... they’re coming to the premiere tonight. MORIARTY: That’s great. SEAN PENN: Yeah, I’m really glad they’re coming. Krakauer’s going to be there... MORIARTY: You know, it’s a great supporting cast. One of the things I love about the film is the way characters drop in and out of Alexander’s experience, and there are two actors in particular where it kind of blows me away what you got out of them. One is Brian Dierker... who is just awesome. He is such a great fin in the movie. So genuine, and with such soul in the scenes he shares with Emile. Um... the other is Zach [Galifianakis]. I love him as a stand-up, but I never would have imagined anyone using him like this. And it pays off. It’s great sort of counter-casting. What was your process in putting this cast together? SEAN PENN: In the case of the two of them, and it’s sort of true of all the actors... with Brian, it was all about making him relax and making him understand what I thought was great about him. MORIARTY: I know you really had to fight for him. Art [Linson, producer of the film] was telling me he resisted that casting all the way up to... SEAN PENN: Did he admit that? (laughs) MORIARTY: He kept saying to you, “No, you can’t use this guy! I’ll fly someone up to test them for you.” SEAN PENN: (still laughing) Oh, that’s such a relief. I’ve been keeping Art’s secret. In front of Brian, I thanked him again. I didn’t say anything. Oh, he’ll regret that. MORIARTY: (laughs) SEAN PENN: Yeah, yeah. And then with Zach... I had seen Zach in some silly comedy that my sons watched about 483 times about a bunch of snow guides with Lee Majors in it. And I wrote his name down. I waited through the credits and wrote his name down, and I had it... so then, when I found myself casting all the guys around Vince [Vaughn], I knew I was going to do some... it’s stupid to hire Vince Vaughn and not do some improvising. And I wanted to make sure Vince had somebody who could bounce. Zach was so grounded that I found I could linger on that guy rather than use him as an off-camera sounding board for Vince. Zach turned out to be such a committed actor...

At this point, Penn’s publicist stepped in to tell us to wrap it up.

SEAN PENN: He was... he... I’ll tell you a very funny story. We’re in Carthage, South Dakota, shooting the harvest stuff and the grain elevator stuff. Zack would come in with his chew in his mouth and his beard and his hat down like this, and he blended irhgt in with all the guys down there. They had maybe 180 people. We had as big a crew as they ahd a town. Because we were. You know, you could make a movie about a crew coming in and being bigger than the town, and this was the perfect one because it’s in the middle of nowhere and just filled with these sweetheart people. Conservative as hell. MORIARTY: Right. SEAN PENN: So we decide that, as gratitude for all the help they’re going to be and all that we’ll be asking of them over the next two weeks of shooting in tow... you know, keeping them up at night with our lights and the noise... we’re going to throw a barbecue with the town and the crew. So we pick an afternoon, and we’re playing beer-cup football, where you’ve got to keep your beer in your hand and not spill it as you play. Everybody’s having a great time together. And there, in the middle of everything, are these two 200-year-old matriarchs of the town, sitting side-by-side, these little spinsters. And there’s Zach. And they asked me who he was because he couldn’t be from Hollywood. They were sure he was one of them, but they oughta know everybody in town. And I kind of confirmed it. “I don’t know. I’ll find out.” So I go over to Zack and I tell him, and I can see that he likes that. I tell him to go talk to them, right? So I see him go over, and I don’t know what Zach says, but I can see the shock on their faces. He tells me later that when he leaned in close, he said, “I have got to find a gay bar.” MORIARTY: (laughs) Thanks, man. I’ve been looking forward to talking to you ever since I saw the movie. SEAN PENN: Oh, and as you know, it’s very appreciated by us, what you wrote. We’re grateful. MORIARTY: Hey, I just wish you well with it as it rolls out. And go, Hal Holbrook! SEAN PENN: (laughs)

And just like that, they had to hustle him out of the room and off to the premiere. It was waaaaaaaaaay too short an interview, but that’s just because it felt like it was really going well. I’ve always heard that Penn was a “tough interview,” and nothing could be further from the truth. I thought he was relaxed, engaging, and genuinely visibly proud of his movie. You could just tell how much he enjoys talking about it, thinking about it, and how he was actually looking forward to screening it that night. Thanks, Paramount Vantage for putting this one together. It was a great opportunity, and he more than lived up to my hopes in person.

Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 1, 2007, 7 a.m. CST


    by Knuckleduster

    Love the Penn.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 7:02 a.m. CST

    "Drew from the Internet"?!?

    by chrth

    Wow. That's some major props you got going there now, Moriarty. Who needs AICN?!?

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Out Cold...

    by Basehead

    funny image thinking of Penn watching that one

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 7:38 a.m. CST

    Yum Yum Johnson

    by thegidson

    hey you fuck. sean penn is your daddy.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:03 a.m. CST

    so he dies then?

    by furryfreak

    ah crap.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:05 a.m. CST

    i actually agree with penn's

    by thegidson

    i actually agree with penn's politics. the thing is i read once that he issued an ad in a paper because he was angry that someone had already taken an internet address with his name. makes me wonder if theres any truth to that or if that he thinks he's above the average citizen.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:06 a.m. CST

    not first

    by ironic_name

    penn had sex with madge

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Um, Mr. Penn

    by misterdude

    Lee Majors is one of our finest young actors...

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:20 a.m. CST

    the title of this should be

    by jivatmax

    "How to Brown-nose Your Way to Internet Fame."

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Moriarty.

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    Nice little interview there.<P>Curious. About how many cigarettes did he wolf down in that amount of time? ;^)

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Short interview because..

    by Internet Thug

    McWeeny is the only interviewer in the world that wants to hear himself talk more than the person he is interviewing..fuck buddy your questions are often twice as long as his answers.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 9:15 a.m. CST

    This movie will rock, Penn loves the book as much as

    by Bean_

    anyone who has read it. Great interview, I can't wait to see this thing!

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 9:48 a.m. CST

    ok- even more of a reason i can't wait

    by AskaniSon2001

    all the flaws and criticism everyone points out about him...he's still an immensely talented guy who apparently made one hell of a film...and i can't wait to see it.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 9:49 a.m. CST

    good interview

    by CherryValance

    I'm still not 100% sure what happens in this movie but apparently he dies. And I guess it's wildernessy. Having said that, it's obvious that he's very proud of it so if I have the opportunity I'll probably see it. When I got The Departed/The Pledge 2 pack home, I watched The Pledge first. I really like that movie. So if he's that happy about how this new one turned out, it must be pretty great.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Saw INTO THE WILD yesterday

    by slone13

    It was a truly amazing movie. Great preformaces and beautiful cinematography with a couple of heeartbreaking moments. I've been thinking about it since I walked out of the theater. Makes you want to give up all your material possessions and go live away from the things of man. Just make sure you don't eat the poisonous plant life...

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Excellent interview

    by Nordling

    And an excellent movie. Way to go Drew!

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10:30 a.m. CST

    screw that humorless douchebag

    by BrowncoatJedi

    It's a shame his hammy overacting is what got him an Oscar. At least he didn't win for his awful performance in I Am Sam.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10:41 a.m. CST

    So the soundtrack has Vedder's "singing"?

    by mr.brownstone

    That's too bad. I hate that shit. Great interview though. It was very strange to read about him talking like a normal guy. He was almost becoming like Salinger or the Yeti for me before that interview.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10:56 a.m. CST

    I know I'm in the minority on this one, but . . .

    by Fuckles

    . . . I hated this movie. Just hated it. Complete and utter venomous hatred of it. It was a glorification of a one-dimensional, narcissistic, and self-absorbed POS whose search for inner happiness involved him breaking the hearts of everyone who ever cared for him. (SPOILERS!) Yes, I know he found happiness in the end but he still never realized all of the people he hurt in the process. Yes, he had fucked up parents and I can totally understand (at least when I was 19) the need to "get away" from those foreboding monsters called "authority, capitalism, and society" (that Vince Vaughn scene was pretty good, though), but leaving his sister behind and never contacting her again was just plain shitty. I mean, this was a well made, nicely shot, confidently directed film and I'm not attacking anyone who liked it. And I'm aware it tried to play both sides of the coin (especially with the C. Keener character always calling him on his shit) but in the end, Penn still had to glorify him. His death scene was dragged out ad nauseum and the final shot with the pic of the real guy simply told me that Penn felt the need to honor this awful excuse for a man, when paying tribute to the innocence of his ideals would have been enough. Had it been a movie that episodically focused on these peripheral characters with this guy weaving in and out of the narrative and the effect he had on THEIR lives, then that would have been a hell of a movie. Just felt that Penn's empathy/sympathy were in the wrong place with this one. The film making was strong but the context by which it unfolded its subject was emotionally hollow. Thank God for Hal Holbrook who gave the film an emotional anchor when it needed it most but then also points out how much of a waste this Alexander Supertramp prick is. SPOILERS! That scene is Holbrook's pickup is devastating. I cried. And this prick, who can't see beyond HIMSELF getting to Alaska, then smashes Holbrook's heart to bits (I defy anyone not well up during that scene), hops out of the truck and is on his merry way. And, yes, I know that's the point of the scene but you look back at the structure of the film, that's all it is, a checklist for this guy to hurt others on his quest for his own maligned happiness: hurt my sister - check, hurt my parents - check, hurt Keener - check, hurt Kristen Stewart - check, hurt Holbrook - check, realize I'm lonely - check, die! The film was always about the search for his own happiness; even in the end during his revelation that his happiness is contingent on his relationship with others he never even realizes, hell, he never even considers that he may be an integral part to other people's happiness as well. If this film was an accurate portrayal of the real person, then he was nothing more than a one-note train wreck. And I don't mean to speak ill of someone in death, I'm just saying that I completely disagree with how he conducted his life. However, on the flip side, the film must have something going for it to provoke this kind of emotional reaction for me. And, in truth, I'd rather sit through another "Into the Wild" than sit through another exercise in pure mediocrity like Peter Berg's "The Kingdom." Now that film was just forgettable while I don't think I'll forget "Into the Wild" anytime soon. Yes, I vehemently hate the film but I acknowledge the film's power, though manipulative and fucked up that it may be. Now, I'm not trying to incite a TB war here. I admire and respect anyone who loved it (the critics I read did and so did my friends). This is just one man's opinion. Nothing more. But just one more thing (SPOILERS): what kind of unrealistic sci-fi film was Penn making to include a scene with a half-naked Kristen Stewart offering her body to Supertramp and then HE SAYS NO!!!!! What kind of Episode 7, Matrix Redundant, Buckaroo Banzai in Africa, Cherry 2001 bullshit is this? Where are the unicorns?

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10:59 a.m. CST

    I don´t like Eddie Vedder

    by CuervoJones

    It´s personal

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:02 a.m. CST

    Fucking aweseome

    by ErnieAnderson

    Really great interview. Kudos, big guy.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:27 a.m. CST


    by Datascream

    I know nothing of this movie, I've barely heard of it. I wasn't even aware Sean Penn was directing it. But that had to be one of the best interviews I've read in a long time. I was literally pulled into it, job well done man. Very interesting read.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:44 a.m. CST

    "then he zagged" = married Madonna

    by Walterego

    and lost his mind, doing some lousy comedies (shanghai suprise/we're no angels) and the most idiotic Vietnam movie ever, worse than the Green Berets or the Missing in Action series.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:49 a.m. CST


    by maxwell's hammer

    ...I appreciate your opinion of the movie, as it is actually well reasoned and you seem to base it on genuine reactions instead of a bunch of "Penn is a commie liberal bastard so I hate his fucking movie!" So kudos to you, my friend.<BR> <BR> but...i happen to disagree with you. In the interview, Penn said something that I thought stood out while I watched the film: Supertramp's journey walked a line between fleeing from something, and journeying toward something. Through most of his interactions, I think it was pretty clear that he was hurting a lot of the people around him, but he seemed to justify it by proclaiming himself on some profound noble journey. And whether it was a justification after the fact, there was just about enough actual nobility in his quest to make up for all the sacrifices he made (and forced others to make).<BR> <BR> In the end, I think there was a certain ambiguity about if he was in the right or in the wrong, and the inner debate this provoked in me was one of the things I really liked.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 12:14 p.m. CST

    I Am Sam - worse zag ever

    by wash

    Ah, the "play a retard to win an oscar ploy". Just try to tell me that the trailers for that movie weren't the worst form of torture ever invented. If it weren't for Sweet and Lowdown I would have never forgiven him.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Re: Maxwell's Hammer

    by Fuckles

    Ahhhh, to have a diplomatic discussion/disagreement on a TB. Now this is refreshing. Maxwell Hammer, thanks for the respect and likewise to you too. I hear what you're saying. I really do. I just don't find anything noble about hurting others for one's own benefit and not ever realizing it. To me, a noble approach (and a much more difficult decision to make - compelling drama to me) would be sacrifices of people (their feelings, etc.) for the greater good. But Supertramp was always about himself. If he knew he was hurting people and did it anyway, that would have even been more compelling to watch. He still would not have been a very sympathetic character but at least there would be layers to him. To me, he just one note; one terribly out of tune note. I couldn't get beyond that. But hey, we disagree and nothing more. Thanks for your opinion, man. I liked what you had to say, especially what you said/Penn said about the dichotomy of his journey (fleeing away/towards something). It made me think. It didn't really change my mind but it something to chew on and that's good. So if you're ever in Boston, the first round is on me. And then we can get a handle of Jack, drink it while watching the Jane Austen Book Club, heckle the screen the entire time, and then light the print on fire during the closing credits. God, I want to eat a Magnum slug every time I see that trailer!

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Ya did the site justice

    by Aloy

    Great interview. Nice to see the hardass open up when he gets some decent questions. I was listening to the soundtrack last night and I'll wait to pass judgement on it as support for the film but it's a nice unplugged Eddie Vedder listen.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 1:21 p.m. CST

    I think Sean Penn should walk into every interview

    by Garbageman33

    Carrying a pillowcase filled with soda cans. I wonder if he still returns Esai Morales's phone calls.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 1:24 p.m. CST

    i think i'm in love with eddie, and im not even gay

    by HamiltonGeyser

    The man is an icon. fuck the haters

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 1:28 p.m. CST

    But....has he quit smoking yet?


    just curious

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Why didn't you ask him...

    by Vamp-AICNchat

    what Madonna was like in the sack? That's one thing I would love to know, besides that good interview.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Kubrick, not Coppola

    by kwisatzhaderach

    said the thing about short stories being much easier to adapt into films than full length novels.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 3:01 p.m. CST

    From here on out, Moriarty's handle should be:

    by Reynard Muldrake

    "Drew from the Internet". Seriously. And your picture should be the same skinny dude if you want, Mori, but it has to include Penn in some way s hape or form.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 3:18 p.m. CST

    "You're my lawyer!"

    by Garbageman33

    I think a perfect way to end the interview would be to ask him to do that line in fullblown I Am Sam mode.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 3:56 p.m. CST

    you can wear any coloryou want, aslong as its drab gray

    by HamiltonGeyser

    if youre a commie

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 4:14 p.m. CST

    wild man

    by christian66

    good interview. the film is terrific, it has mental staying power and if anything, penn is a superb director of actors. i still think the film is over-directed, i hated the weird font they used and the soundtrack is too much. his death scene should have been shot brutally real instead of spinning and cutting etc. but dierker is a real find and all i could think was, who is that guy? best old hippy ever. and if holbrook doesn't win suporting actor, there ain't no film justice.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Yeah, but what does that have to do with Transformers?

    by Garbageman33

    Is Michael Bay a communist?

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Penn isn't a communist

    by IndustryKiller!

    So move the fuck on. God forbid anyone tries to make a difference.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Moriarty is sucha fanboy

    by Rupee88

    I guess that's the point of this site, just owning up to it and gushing over these filmmakers. Anyway, it worked with Sean Penn...the guy is a real artist, so I can understand your reaction and it made the interview more interesting.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Devil Cat is right

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    Oh, and don't forget we should have had spoilers stating The Titanic sinks.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Sean Penn's communist pillow case of soda's

    by liljuniorbrown

    You hear so much stuff about this man bad and good that I have to weigh in . The Iraq thing and the meeting with communist deal is not my thing. Him beating the shit out of paparazzi, fucking awesome and he should be rewarded for it. Finaly what he did during hurricane Katrina was meaning ful to me having felt first hand the effects of that disaster. I'd say all and all well done sir.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 6:14 p.m. CST

    One more thing

    by liljuniorbrown

    The moment in the movie Mystic River,when he realizes that it's his daughter that the police just found.... I wept man, openly. He might be alot of things,but he ain't short on talent. He owned that Oscar. I'm glad he shaved the rockabilly mustache and chops,they were gettin old.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 6:21 p.m. CST

    which communist ?

    by Prossor

    a follower of karl marx or the dictatorships of the ussr/cuba/china who label themselves as communists?

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 6:50 p.m. CST

    matthooper, when has Penn ever copped to communism?

    by IndustryKiller!

    Because I would like to see that quote. He's left to be sure, it's fucking hard not to be in this day and age when the right wing are literally the most ignorant bunch of reality denying jokes we've seen since the Salem witch trials, but that doesn't make him anything near a communist. Nor does simply meeting with Hugo Chavez, cause I know people are itching to point out that little chestnut. Even if he was a communist it doesn't change the fact that he is one of, if not THE best actors and directors on the landscape today, which is reason enough to give him props.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 7:44 p.m. CST


    by cp

    were THE penn flics that blew me away when i was growing up. just re-read INTO THE WILD, cannot wait for this film, great interview mori! if you ever get a chance to speak with penn again mori, please ask him about, or somehow get him to talk about his brother Chris.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 8:48 p.m. CST

    hollywood and politics

    by damagedinc

    ...or how to make the most pretentious industry in the world a little more frustrating. I'm not saying it's Sean Penn's fault, but the fact that Washington has to pander to Hollywood for votes at an unprescedented level, coupled with siding with communist and socialist figures (cough, CAMERON DIAZ IN A CHE GUEVARA SHIRT, cough, HOLLYWOOD HUGGING HUGO CHAVEZ, cough)and general inappropriate politicking (cough, MADONNA DECLARING HERSELF AN "AMBASSADOR TO JUDAISM" TO ISRAELI PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES IN ISRAEL, cough)shows that our celebrities wield unprecedented power. None of these folks are qualified to deal with these issues. Sean Penn can be a great actor, but nowadays it's hard to see him as "just" being an actor.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Did it hurt when he nailed you with the pillowcase

    by Stuntcock Mike

    full of Pepsi cans at the end of the interview?

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 9:53 p.m. CST

    Mr. Penn's Hugo Chavez biopic

    by Sir Loin

    When does it come out, and who's gonna play Chavez? The real guy? Boy, I can't wait.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 10 p.m. CST

    Mori & Fuckles

    by PotSmokinAlien

    Mori-- great interview. Fuckles--I agree with nearly all of what you say... but sean penn could not direct his way out of a wet paper bag; this movie was directiorially a mess if you ask me. so much unnecessary style (freeze frames in LA, the excruciating Swede-camp scene, split screens for 'fun', etc) in a movie that would have greatly benefitted from space to take a god damned breath once in awhile rather than cutting to his sister's VO every time emile's little episodic journey took a natural break. the fucking thing can't decide whether it is honoring a dead kid's life or making a larger point about the world we live in. you can't have your disgusting, flame roasted squirrel on a stick and eat it too, sean. please stick to acting, as long as the acting you do in the future is not the grandstanding bullshit for which you won an oscar. (an irish-catholic dude would not react like that in public if he learned his daughter was dead, and sean penn was practically foaming at the mouth in that scene for god's sake.)

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:21 p.m. CST

    Get Sean Penn back here

    by Chumkid

    So you can tell him that he had no right to adapt something so poignant.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:27 p.m. CST


    by IndustryKiller!

    given the state of our nation today and the pasts of most of our politicians I don't see how actors are any less qualified to deal in politics than the people who have spent their entire lives making a living off shady dealings and poor peoples backs. Our "qualified" politicians have failed us completely. It has nothing to do with what you do or did do for a living, and everything to do with the integrity of the person. At least when Sean Penn meets with Hugo Chavez he doesn't single handedly infuriate a nation ala that guy from Columbia talking to Ahmedinejad. Well except for this one, but fuck if I was famous I would love pissing off the average right winger whenever possible as well, it means you're doing something right.

  • Oct. 1, 2007, 11:30 p.m. CST


    by IndustryKiller!

    In Mystic River Penn was playing a career criminal from South Boston with a missing daughter and absolutely no answers. If someone like that stumbled upon the crime scene where their dead daughter lies and wasn't allowed access you bet your ass they would react like that.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 12:42 a.m. CST

    A'ight Moriarty, that was cool...

    by Jaka

    ...but now you have to take charge and line up one of the Stallone deals with him. Come on! You can make it happen.<br><br> : ) <br><br> Great interview. I seem to be one of the few that had no idea what iy was about, the book or the film. I'll definitely be seeing this now.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 12:45 a.m. CST

    Everybody is flawed...

    by Jaka

    ....Sean Penn, seemingly, just doesn't believe it's anyone's business what his are. I can't really fault him for that.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 12:53 a.m. CST


    by damagedinc

    While I respect where you're coming from, a) Not all of our politicians are crooked b) We could all do a little better knowing more about Middle Eastern politics... c) and some historical hindsight that shows what seemingly harmless political involvement on the part of well-meaning people can have over the course of many years d) Sometimes it feels like Hollywood will do the polar opposite of of whatever Bush's administration does, and that can't be right e)"diplomatic" celebrities (as opposed to politically active celebrities) maintains the illusion that THEY should be the ones informing and even determining public policy, and they do seem to act like they ought to. In America, people really can have the power and that's a good thing. But to talk to someone like Hugo Chavez as though he can be reasoned with? he pro-actively goes against the US as a foreign, imperial power who supports Israel. And that says nothing for his willingness to align himself with a power that would be happy to obliterate us and Israel. I'm just saying that Hollywood is probably under-informed and just a wee bit over their heads.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Definitely over directed.

    by Wed Vid Guy

    Definitely over directed. Can you imagine what this movie would have been like in Paul Greengrass's hands?

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 2:49 p.m. CST

    That was an anus-cleaner

    by SuckLeTrou

    But still a totally awesome interview. I'm amazed that he opened up like that, which is the ultimate compliment for Drew. Nice Job. Every interview I've ever seen Penn do in his life (even Oprah recently) he looks deeply uncomfortable and upset and gives short one and two word answers to everything. Like DeNiro. When talk show hosts joke about actors who make horrible guests, they are talking about him. So good job having him open up so much.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Potsmokinalien,you must not have kids

    by liljuniorbrown

    That scene was right on. Anyone with kids would react that way if they wound up in that position. Someone with as much power as "Jimmy Markum"put in a spot with his hands tide he's going to act like a caged animal for sure.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 3:43 p.m. CST

    did he whoop Madonna's ass?

    by liljuniorbrown

    In the Ike Turner sense of the word not the way I want to whoop it. I thought she filed charges on him one time or something. Oh well ,I heard Eddie Vedder sucked off Ron Paul during a debate. Thats how rumors get started. Kidding people

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Penn always leaves me conflicted

    by drewlicious

    First of all, great actor. Insightful and remarkably natural on camera. Obviously easily bored by scripts that are by-the-numbers and leans more toward interesting and bold stories no matter what the commercial value. I like that about him. But I often wonder if he's one of those people who mistakes passion for intellect. I know many of his admirers are. Everthing from that one page message in the NYT (self important as hell) to his brave but foolish response to the Katrina disaster (didn't the boat sink? I thought I heard that, could be wrong. Bottom Line: Leave it to the professionals, you might get in the way) has left a sour taste in my mouth. At least he's never boring, I can't accuse him of that but smile for once in your life. The world can't possibly suck that much.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 10:27 p.m. CST

    I was only 1 among my friends who wanted to see this.

    by GibsonUSA

    All my friends think the character is an idiot, and two and a half ours of an idiot walking around thinking he's free is not worth $9.50. <BR><BR> But I had bought the book, and wanted to see it, because of the story in the book and because the character is from my area...and I can't imagine burning my money and walking out of here.

  • Oct. 2, 2007, 10:36 p.m. CST

    Ive said no to a teen girl offerin herself to me before

    by GibsonUSA

    Don't see how that's unrealistic. Some of us can say no.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 11:53 a.m. CST

    The Good Son

    by yumyum

    Chad Michael Murray should have played Christopher McCandless. He's Mayhem. The Good Son.

  • Oct. 3, 2007, 4:40 p.m. CST

    I’ve always heard that Penn was a “tough interview,” ..

    by DoctorWho?

    ... and nothing could be further from the truth." It's only because you knew and openly appreciated his work. If you would have told him you voted for a republican he would have just as likely spit in your face, kicked you in the groin and called your mother a cock sucking whore. Great actor. Intolerent narcisist too. Looking foward to the film though.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 2:34 a.m. CST

    Great Interview Drew

    by Exterminans

    It would be great to have him do a really long in depth interview with you for AICN. I look forward to seeing this.

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 2 p.m. CST

    Sean Penn & Eddie Vedder together

    by BobParr

    Do you think they have contests yo see which one can walk on water? They are both so self important and deep. I liked them better when they weren't so BORING. God forbid Sean Penn is involved in a movie that isn't suicidally depressing and I guess Vedder enjoys mumbling every lyric to stick it to the "man".

  • Oct. 4, 2007, 4:43 p.m. CST

    Fuck Spicoli! Sweeney Todd is on youtube!

    by Gluecifer