Interview : Gus Van Sant


He has directed some of today’s finest, but disparate movies – My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, Good Will Hunting – and now Gus Van Sant returns with another film determined to break the cinematic mould, "Gerry". CLINT MORRIS talks to the illustrious director about the new film, as well as his plans to remake "Psycho" a second time.

You seem pleased with “Gerry”, how did you get involved in it?
Yes, it’s very nice. It’s something I got involved in by just talking to Matt (Damon) and Casey (Affleck) one night. We just decided to give it a try. Matt’s great, and I’ve got to know Casey quite well – we live next door to each other in New York.

Matt and Casey wrote the film, right?
We all wrote it. Matt and Casey wrote like all the dialogue, and I worked on the structure.

This seems to be a return to Indepdendent cinema for you…what’s the difference between this and some of your more recent films
Yes I actually haven’t done a film on this scale since “My Own Private Idaho”, which was 10 years ago. There’s probably less pressure, and not as much need for it to make a lot of money. I like to work on limitations.

Have you any favourites?
No, I’m happy with all my films.

Would you ever remake a film again, like you did with “Psycho”?
“Psycho” was great, a huge kind of grand experiment project. Very trial by fire. It met with a lot of criticism – but we managed to keep afloat, I think we broke even. But no, I wouldn’t remake another movie again, however, I’m thinking of remaking “Psycho” again. Doing a third remake. The idea this time is to really change it – we’re talking about doing a Punk rocker setting. Viggo Mortensen suggested it. He was married to Exene Cervenka and knows all the right people to get involved – all the right punk rocker etc – so he would definitely be involved if we go ahead.

Has there been any films you wanted to do, that just fell apart?
Yeah there’s been films that have just fallen apart. We were in pre-production on the John Travolta picture “Standing Room Only” and it came apart – financially it was a bit shaky. We’ll possibly do that again sometime.

Are you still playing music?
Yes, I do all the time. Someday I’d like to incorporate it into one of my movies.

What do you think of Hollywood at the moment?
It’s not healthy. There are all these big companies with divisions who just want to make ‘simpler’ movies. They seem to think that families love the action movie, so that just seems to be everything that they make, action.

What’s next for you?
I don’t know yet, but I’ve another film coming out called “Elephant”, about high school violence. No date for that one yet though.