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netribution > features > interview with darren aronofsky > page one
iAfter the great success of Darren Aronofsky's $60,000 debut feature, Pi 2 years ago no one really had any clue where this 28 year old Brooklyn born director would head next. Perhaps unsurprisingly though, he turned to another unflinching, original if admittedly more established Brooklyn storyteller as a source for material. After tremendous critical and festival acclaim, Requiem For a Dream (starring the superb Ellen Burstyn) joins that small group of films which detail addiction with any degree of credibility, and does so with the visual and musical aplomb signalled in it's director's debut. This is another of Steve Applebaum's more insightful interviews and he disects all the themes of the young director's work, the responses are just as revealing but if you are really more interested in the rumours that abound on Aronofsky's forthcoming treatment of Batman 5 - you won't be disappointed.

| by stephen applebaum |
| photos by tom |
| in london |

What sort of pressure were you under going into this project after the success of Pi?
I try to just worry about the movies and not the expectations. If I was worried about expectations, no way I could have made Requiem for a Dream. I make choices by choosing the road that has the least amount of potential regrets; the opposite of that is choosing the road that has the most passion. In this case it was just an obvious choice: this was something I knew I wanted to do no matter how it turned out. I’m glad people are responding to it; but even if they hadn’t, I probably would have been fine.

This material and your execution meant that people were going to respond to it one way or another.
It’s great because you want to make people feel immensely. People that don’t like it, I’ve been so flattered by the poetry they use to attack me because it means I’ve created something positive in getting them to look up some adjectives in the dictionary.

Are you making films like this and Pi now, in this anti Hollywood vein, because Hollywood won’t allow you to make them like this later?
Well, no one will ever let me make another movie (Laughs). But if they do, I just have a real taste for all types of film: art film, European film, Hollywood film, Hong Kong film … So my dream career is to be able to go back and forth between doing Hollywood films and more experimental films.

Kind of one for them and one for you.
Hopefully all for me. I think I have enough of an interest in Hollywood that that’s not the issue. I actually love those movies. I saw Charlie’s Angels and I thought it was awesome. I thought it was hilarious and great. I wouldn’t have a hard time doing that as long as I could come back and do a Requiem for a Dream every now and then.

What kind of films were being offered to you after Pi?
There was a lot of stuff. The main contender we were working on is this movie for Miramax. It was at Dimension. It was a World War 2 monster movie called Proteus. We’re actually now producing it. It’s going to be made here in London, February/March, with David Twohy – Pitch Black – directing it.

What did you specifically want to achieve with Requiem?
Requiem for a Dream was always all about wanting to capture the power of Selby’s writing. When you finish a Selby book, you have a fist imprint right beneath the solar plexus. I just wanted to capture that energy. Basically, the way I read Selby, I wanted to try and present that to an audience and share that experience.

You actually collaborated with him on the screenplay. How did that work?
It was cool. He lives in LA and I live in New York so it was long distance. I read the book, I acquired it – he had written a screenplay of it for a producer like 20 years ago – and I started writing. Then, when I got about two-thirds of the way done, he called up and said he’d found his draft in his mum’s basement. It turned out that about eighty per cent of the screenplay he wrote was exactly the same as the screenplay I wrote. It was slightly different, of course, but the scenes were exactly the same. So I fused them together and then went back forth and traded notes. That was the collaboration.

I wondered because you have said that when you were working on Pi, the writing process was the hardest part for you.
It always is. It just sucks. I’m in a room alone with a typewriter. I have a hard time doing it.

Is the filming process therefore a relief for you in as much as you can get out there with other people?
Not really. It is still very difficult and hard and challenging, but it’s working with people and I really like working with actors and playing emotions like a harpsichord.

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