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. Im glad people are responding to it; but even if they hadnt, I probably would have been fine.
This material and your execution meant that people were going to respond to it one way or another.
Its great because you want to make people feel immensely. People that dont like it, Ive been so flattered by the poetry they use to attack me because it means Ive 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 wont 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 thats not the issue. I actually love those movies. I saw Charlies Angels and I thought it was awesome. I thought it was hilarious and great. I wouldnt 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. Were actually now producing it. Its 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 Selbys 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 hed found his draft in his mums 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. Im 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 its working with people and I really like working with actors and playing emotions like a harpsichord.