The Director's Chair > Paul Thomas Anderson

Phantom Thread - Interviews

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Mild to medium SPOILERS

A majority of “Phantom Thread” takes place inside the fictional House of Woodcock, Reynolds’ home and designer studio located in a Georgian townhouse in London. In order to successfully capture the atmosphere of a living, breathing London fashion studio in the 1950s, Anderson moved production into one of the actual Georgian townhouses. The director’s hope was that the tight space would create an insular world for the film’s production, but it was a decision that proved to be challenging for everyone, especially Day-Lewis.

“It was awful,” Day-Lewis said bluntly of filming, noting that production started off wonderful in the countryside before becoming difficult when the bulk of filming had to take place inside the townhouse. “We had hoped to find that way of working again where we would be self-contained, beholden to no one, and uninterrupted. We built a world we could create and just stay in and no one could get into it. But in this townhouse, which was very beautiful, it was a nightmare.”

According to Day-Lewis: “We were living on top of each other. It was an enormous unit. There was no space. The way it works if it’s helpful is that these rooms belong to you. These rooms are yours, they are part of your life. But of course these rooms for us become storage spaces. You work in a room then you have to move all that shit into another room, and that space becomes a storage space. That entire house was like a termite nest.”

Krieps echoed Day-Lewis’ thoughts on the matter, saying the crowded rooms even gave her a panic attack on set one day. “Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe,” she remembered. “In every room there were just cables, there’s an energy to it and it’s taking the breath away of your character.”

Day-Lewis is famous for his Method acting tendencies, but clearly staying in character was tough in such a small space. The actor even teased that the crew grew unhappy with the film’s tight-knit production, joking, “You see, it’s hard to work with a crew that really hates you…We must be fairly stupid because we didn’t realize it was going to be like that.”

Anderson agreed the filming of the movie was “hard,” especially because the townhouse required the crew to carry all of the heavy film equipment up long and tall staircases. The layout of the set prevented Anderson from shooting in sequence because it proved too difficult to keep bringing the equipment up and down. But the struggle was worth it for the director, who wanted the close quarters to create an intimacy for the movie that would’ve been lost had he shot on a soundstage.

“They lived like mice, like miniature people in these tiny rooms,” Anderson said of the real designers. “They’re all on top of each other working. Whatever life they had, it’s the same thing as their work. There was nowhere for them to go. It was good. It’s the tradition of all those great films that we all love: ‘Rebecca,’ ‘Brief Encounter.’ They take place in real intimate places.”

“We’re all okay now,” Anderson concluded. “But it was hard, it was really hard. There were struggles, but it was struggles that were worth it.”


--- Quote ---The “There Will Be Blood” director named some of his favorite films with insular confines, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” David Lean’s “Brief Encounter”, “The Passionate Friends” and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “I Know Where I’m Going.” “They all usually take place in intimate spaces,” the filmmaker explained.
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From a W Magazine interview wth DDL, which I'm carefully jumping around in order to seek out quotes, while still avoiding potential spoilers (this has worked out poorly in the past and yet I always convince myself that I can satisfy my curiosity without having anything spoiled; years ago, I ended up accidentally learning the last line in TWBB):

--- Quote from: ---Similarly, for his role as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis learned to throw cumbersome knives with pinpoint accuracy; he built a kitchen table when he played an iconoclast living off the grid in The Ballad of Jack & Rose; and he practically rigged a turn-of-the-century oil well for There Will Be Blood.
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Comments about his process can sometimes vaguely annoy, as they can seem like distractions from the actual nuances of the performances themselves, which are always more interesting than the preparation, or the tiring "you were a...cobbler?!" myth-making. Given the embargo and the nature of the article, though, I can understand having to curtail more specific references to his acting. I just think DDL's legacy should be more frequently framed in terms of the onscreen results rather than the oft-repeated remarks about preparations. It might be an unstoppable cliche at this point.


--- Quote from: Mogambo on November 30, 2017, 09:31:17 PM ---Still waiting on another 2 hour PTA interview with Maron.

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"What does this guy want from me!? Now I have to see it again!"

I wonder if PTA will show up on Stephen Colbert's show. I think Colbert would probably handle that interview in a dull way, but still, I have this hunch that it's more likely than any other show.

That reminds me that he went on Jon Stewart's show during The Master's press tour. I didn't expect that.


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