EW.com had a trans-atlantic phone interview with director Paul Thomas Anderson and composer Jonny Greenwood on the film There Will Be Blood, which is opening December 26 and a soundtrack out earlier next month.
Setting aside your new collaboration for a moment, could I ask you both to name a personal favorite of each other’s previous work? Jonny, I was specifically wondering if there’s anything about the way Paul has used music in his previous movies that stuck out for you. And Paul, do you have a favorite piece by Radiohead?
JONNY GREENWOOD: I’m feeling like I’m on Mr. and Mrs. [an English show equivalent to America's The Newlywed Game]… Punch-Drunk Love had such great music in it. I’m a sucker for pump organ. That was really cool.
PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON: What was the last song on Amnesiac, Jonny, was it ”Life in a Glass House”?
GREENWOOD: The Dixieland one!
ANDERSON: The Dixieland one makes me excited and melancholy and really satisfied every time I hear it. I love that song.
GREENWOOD: That’s cool. The guys who played it, they’re 84… and we were only supposed to have them there for two hours, and we kept them there all day and most of the night. [Laughs] It was touch and go. But that was a really fun day, recording a band like that. Yeah, I love that song, too.
Did you ask Jonny to score this film because of his Bodysong score, because of ”Popcorn Superhet Receiver,” or just from being a Radiohead fan?
ANDERSON: I saw Bodysong at a film festival in Rotterdam on a rainy afternoon. I’d obviously been aware of Jonny’s work with Radiohead and tried to follow that as much as I could, and I just fell in love with what he did for that film. It was near while I was about halfway through writing the film, I guess, [that he thought about Greenwood]. Then when I heard ”Popcorn,” I just loved the sounds of it, and I just couldn’t put my finger on what I liked about it. Because I would always hear it when it wasn’t on, like a phantom limb, just the strange sounds of it. I had been listening to it over and over again, and then when not listening to it, would feel like I had left the stereo on in the other room or something.
GREENWOOD: That’s mad, because that’s exactly why I wrote that! That’s really weird, that you saw that in it. The whole [conceptual] idea was about when you think there’s some music playing, and there isn’t. You know, like when you’re doing a Hoover or a vacuum cleaner and you think there’s a radio playing as well, and you turn it off, but there isn’t any music on. That was the starting-off point for that piece, anyway.
ANDERSON: I just saw a report that people are reporting that they feel like their phone is buzzing in their pockets, even though they don’t have their phone in their pockets.
With all this talk about the radical distribution model for the new Radiohead album, Paul, I wondered if what they did might have inspired you to think that maybe you should just put your new movie up on the web and let people pay whatever they want for it… I’m joking. I think.
ANDERSON: God, I mean, it’s every person’s dream, I suppose, to have ownership. Unfortunately, to make a film this size, it would be impossible to finance myself. I’d have to come up with something that I could do on a smaller scale so that I could do that. Because you don’t get pride of ownership when you make a film. You get pride of authorship. And you get paid for it — that’s the switch-off. But movies aren’t far behind [music] in falling apart — I mean, the business itself. One of the films that I have the fondest memory of seeing is Gallipoli, because I knew absolutely nothing about it. My brother said, ”Let’s go see this movie.” And I said, ”What’s it about?” He said, ”I’m not going to tell you.” And I hadn’t seen the poster, I hadn’t seen a trailer or anything, and it was such an amazing experience. [Talking about the Radiohead release] just made me think of it. To be able to just kind of get something as close to the bone as possible, without too much intrusion…
GREENWOOD: I’m a great one for reading movie reviews in, like, one second, and you think Oh, that’s gonna be worth seeing. I don’t know, it’s like looking at the end of a book before you read it. It’s best avoided, really, so you’ve got no idea what’s coming.
Check EW.com for the full interview [thx Justin]