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Henry Jaglom & Tanna Frederick—Just 45 Minutes from Broadway, A Safe Place—7/25/2012


Henry Jaglom has enjoyed a long and varied career, beginning as an actor (gigging on sitcoms like The Flying Nun and Gidget), then proceeding to the sensation of 1971's A Safe Place and a storied career as a director, screenwriter and playwright. Among films including Tracks, Sitting Ducks, Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?, Always, But Not Forever, New Year's Day, Eating, Last Summer on the Hamptons, Déjà Vu, Festival in Cannes, and Going Shopping, Jaglom also directed his friend Orson Welles twice—in A Safe Place and Someone to Love—and appeared in Welles' never-released The Other Side of the Wind. In recent years, Jaglom has showcased his muse Tanna Frederick in Hollywood Dreams, Queen of the Lot and, now, Just 45 Minutes from Broadway. I spoke with the dynamic duo, about their latest film, at San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel.

Groucho: I thought I would start by asking Henry to explain the impetus for writing the play on which the film is based.

Henry Jaglom: The impetus is Tanna Frederick. She needed a play. She wanted a play—we had just finished a movie. It was our third movie together.

Groucho: That’d be Queen of the Lot?

Henry Jaglom: Queen of the Lot, yeah. We had done three plays before as well. And she said to me, "It’s time you wrote a brand new play for me." And she knew that I wanted to write a new play for twenty-some-odd years, but I’d been involved in making films.

Tanna Frederick: Well, I had adapted—I had read through every single one of Henry’s screenplays—adaptations of his films, which actually, while they’re very episodic, they can also easily be translated into plays. So I have Always, But Not Forever and A Safe Place, and they were fantastic. I mean, Henry did rewrites for them, but I wanted him to come up with something brand new.

HJ: She had enjoyed, in other words, performing in plays which I had adapted from my movies. Now she wanted to do an original play. And she’s a very powerful force. She tells me what to do.

(TF and G laugh.)

HJ: But I had no idea when I started writing it what it was going to be about, except that I knew the central character would be somehow someone that she could play. That's all I knew.

G: Well, you had made a couple of films in Hollywood culture, L.A. culture. And this takes a powerful shift into theatrical culture.

HJ: Into theatrical and Jewish!

G: Yes, and Jewish.

HJ: And for the first time in my Jewish life. Though somebody pointed out to me recently that A Safe Place has Orson Welles as a Hassidic rabbi. Telling those old Hassidic stories—I don’t know if you've ever seen my first film.

G: Yeah, I have.

HJ: How I forgot, I don’t know, because I’ve been going around saying this is my first play with a Jewish-themed subject. And—did you see this film?

G: I did, yes.

HJ: You saw it, like it has a Passover seder, for instance.

G: Yes.

/content/interviews/367/6.jpgHJ: So I’d never done something as specifically Jewish. And then, who was it that just the other night started telling me about how New Year’s Day—there was something very Jewish about New Year’s Day, and I don’t remember what the hell that was.

TF: It’s very all confusing to me, 'cause I'm Catholic, so—

HJ: Well, she's not a Catholic. She was born a Catholic.

TF: Yes. So it's very interesting to have been—

HJ: She found Jewish ancestry as so many people say—

TF: Oh yeah, I do have a Jewish—one of the nuns, who’s my great aunt said that actually we had—we are Jewish—.

HJ: Your father’s grandfather.

TF: Yeah. And he actually lived in like Pennsylvania and ran away from his family and joined the circus.

HJ: So, they’re always digging up Jews nowadays.

G: (Laughs.)

TF: Everybody wants to be Jewish.

HJ: Everybody’s got the Jewish family.

G: Everybody wants to run away and join the circus too.

HJ: And join the circus!

TF: Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. I had no idea—

HJ: For a Jew to run away and join the circus is even more interesting.

TF: Somehow I ended up...

HJ: So that's how this play came to be written: I just started writing it, and for some reason this—I’ve always been fascinated by...this Yiddish theatre, which I know nothing about. I’m not steeped in it. I come from a very modern—I don't have a European—but no Yiddish tradition at all. My father comes from Russia, my mother from Germany. Their languages were Russian and German, not Yiddish. So it just started writing out of stuff you’ve read and heard and, you know, create stuff creating this family. And I like them. And that’s how the thing emerged really.

HJ: And now what she’s got me doing—did they tell you what I’m doing now?

G: No.

/content/interviews/367/4.jpgHJ: She just finished a movie that she shot up in Iowa? And she said, "Okay, now I need a play." And we had shot another movie, The M Word, which I’m in the middle of editing. And she said, "I need a play." I said, "Well..." So she started looking for a play—she said, "I’d rather you wrote me one." I said, "Huh?" And she said, "We need a sequel," to—

TF: 45 Minutes.

HJ: To 45 Minutes from Broadway. So I’ve got it in my bag—

TF: Seventy-five pages.

HJ: I’ve got in my bag seventy-five pages, which I’m working out—trying to. Because she said she wants to go into the theatre in December.

TF: I already booked the theatre. So we’re starting rehearsals in November.

HJ: This is called pressure. This is how creative art really works.

TF: This is how I get creative.

HJ: Yeah. But it’s fun for me. It’s fun because I’m diving into—

TF: Pedal to the metal.

HJ: Now I’m diving into this—you saw the film. They’re a sort of retired family and had once had a history. Now they’re suddenly, the son of the family—not the son, the newcomer, played by Judd Nelson, has written a play about—even though he wasn’t a writer...the play he’s written is what we’ve just seen.

G: Yeah.

HJ: That’s their whole story. And they’ve gotten a pre-Broadway tour now—on their way to Broadway with that play, in which she and her parents and the uncle and the lady who’s the guest—they are playing themselves. Two people are not playing themselves: the sister who’s left and the guy himself who’s written the play. So those are two other actors. So it’s a continuing investigation of those people.

TF: But it’s really amazing, because Henry—he hasn’t written any theatre until I—until we met.

HJ: No, no.

TF: No, you hadn’t written a play, and then they said, "I need a play."

HJ: Excuse me, I wrote a play in 1964.

TF: But that’s the first one that I did. And then, it’s amazing how he has these ideas in his head. He has the play in his head, and he’ll write it and, like—he’ll write seventy-five pages in two weeks. Because he knows the characters, because they’re already there. It’s pretty amazing.

HJ: The point is I’ve got her kicking me in the behind. I’ve just made a deal with the theatre. We go into rehearsals in December.

TF: October. (Laughs.)

HJ: And I’m not two-thirds written yet, and I’m carrying it with me here because I figure I better—. [To Tanna:] We haven’t given him a chance to ask a single question.

TF: Yeah. We haven’t. We're chatty Cathys.

G: No, it’s good. Well, I wanted to ask you, too, about adapting the play to the screen. It takes on this kind of bipartite structure where you’ve got a set...that opening scene is marvelous—the theatricality of it, and you get primed for a Chekhovian kind of experience—and this reference to Chekhov, a guy’s name Grisha. And then moving onto location, which is sort of the more familiar Jaglom territory. Can you talk a little bit about that?

/content/interviews/367/7.jpgHJ: Yeah. I didn’t just want to make a filmed version of the play. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were now using film—which can represent real life. And the stage, which represents acting on the stage. And take the theme of what her character has said, which is "I don’t know sometimes if I’m acting or if I’m in real life. And I’m not sure that I want to," which is a theme true to so many actors and many of us who are not—many people who are not actors as well, about having your life: its being your authentic life and yet it also seems in some in some strange way you’re acting; you’re performing this role of yourself in this life. And especially for actors, since the theme of the play was the theatricality of actors and how they create this kind of mythical lifestyle of everything. What’s real? And what’s illusion? So having the two mediums gave me the opportunity, which I love, of deepening the play, I felt. In the play, I only had a little reference at the very end when one character, the David Proval character, says, "I want to play you," and the other character says, "In what?" And he says, "In this"—letting the audience become aware of this is a play. Until then, they’ve just been watching a play but not a reference to itself as a play. So that first scene tells us, well, we’re in a play, but then we’re in the movie, and then as you saw at the end, their having conjoined. And that’s to me an echo of her entire question in life: "is this real or am I acting?" And to me, there was an ideal opportunity just stylistically to use film in a way I couldn’t possibly do in the proscenium situation.

G: I love too—there’s this honest attempt to get into the actor’s psyche, right? And I think anybody who has ever done a play at any level, from children’s theater to school plays to Broadway—can probably look at this and say, "Oh yeah, I get it. I know these people." And anybody who hasn’t had that experience would maybe have their curiosity sort of satisfied by "Well, this is kind of what they go through."

TF: Which is—I have a film festival in Iowa, and we premiered—oh, it was a longer cut just two weeks ago. And—

HJ: No, this cut they have is still not the cut we just—I cut since what you saw six more minutes.

G: Okay, I saw, it looks like 116 minutes or something.

HJ: It’s—but there are about four minutes that are cut out of that first scene.

G: Right. Okay.

HJ: So it’s tighter.

G: Yeah.

HJ: So it’s not just so weird, when we come sooner to the fact that it’s not going to be all a play.

TF: But it was fascinating to show it to this big group of Iowans. Because my film festival has been going on for six years. It’s very possible—it’s –

G: Popular?

TF: Popular, yes. Thank you. And we had sold out for the whole entire night. Like we had to put three hundred seats—

HJ: No Jews.

TF: There are no Jews in Iowa. I mean—and everybody watching in the theatre went, like, "Wow, that’s really incredible." They loved it.

HJ: An anthropological study!

TF: And then I got so many cards and letters from people who are in the audience who not only loved what you said about "Oh, this is what actors go through," but then sort of came around—

HJ: That's what Jews go through.

/content/interviews/367/5.jpgTF: And realized that, on another level, that it’s something that—they feel proud of their lives. Because the Vivien and Grisha character kind of say, you know, it goes beyond just being a theatre actor. It’s kind of what you’ve dedicated your life to—and being proud of that and not apologizing about that. And I think that hit a lot of people. You know, because they’re not in some economic, you know, wonderful extravaganza. They’re poor. Their house is falling down. But nonetheless, they’re proud and they wear that badge of what they’ve dedicated their lives to.

HJ: You didn't tell me they responded on that level; that's interesting. The socio-economic level.

TF: Yeah. It was an audience of civilians, and that’s my favorite part about the film is that it teaches—it doesn’t teach, but it allows people to leave the theatre feeling proud of what they have chosen to do with their lives—on whatever economic level. Whatever—that is their lives. That is their passion. That’s where it transcends, I think, being just a theatre piece.

G: Right. I think it’s interesting, too that, at one point in the film, I looked at this family, and I kind of thought—I never thought this about this movie prior to putting it on, but it’s a bit like Harry Potter or Twilight: it’s this insular kind of community in a way. You know, they talk a little bit about—Proval has a line about—

HJ: I think "It’s a war going on."

G: Yeah, it’s an actual war between civilians and show folk.

TF: Show folk.

G: And t could be like a family of vampires—

TF: (Laughs uproariously.)

G: But in this case it’s actors. But at the same time, it’s bridging that gap between show folks and civilians and showing what actors and civilians have in common.

TF: Mm-hm. And it’s like the civilians, you know, my relatives are farmers, and they have their own insular sort of fraternity, if you will. And so they’ve dedicated their entire lives and generations to farming. So they saw this movie and felt that sort of pride of, you know, this is our pack. You said, it’s like "the wolf pack." It’s like they totally—they related to it, and they walked out feeling really good about having done something generationally over and over, you know, after that.

G: You know, I think I’ve had the thought in the past that actors are kind of a needy lot, and there’s an emotional void that actors are trying to fill through their work or the need for attention or that sort of thing. But really, that’s very universal, too. Actors have just figured out a kind of way to game that need.

TF: They just voice it.

HJ: They voice it publicly. And they don’t pretend—that’s the big difference in my opinion. They just aren’t pretending that that’s not a need. It’s everybody’s need, but they know it’s their need, and it’s their business. That's very true.

TF: Everybody loved when Jimmy came out at the end and said his whole speech about, you know, having the accident, and I think Jimmy is kind of the objective audience member, and once he delves in and gives himself over to the creative life versus the civilian life, the whole audience goes with it. And they’re like—

G: Well, there’s an attraction from outsiders to [the creative life] when they see it, and the only character who isn’t interested in it is the one who felt trapped by it

HJ: The sister.

G: The family dynamic, right?

TF: Yeah.

G: Yeah, the sister--

/content/interviews/367/1.jpgHJ: Well, for me, that’s a reversal of my family, because I came from a straight non-theatrical family with desires and fantasies about being in the theatre. So I thought when I made a play, I would just reverse that. The black sheep, the one who doesn’t want to be in theatre. And create an ideal family for my fantasy of theatre people. So that—two girls are really my older brother and me, who always used to say to me, "You and your phony acting...You were always doing...You don’t know what reality is" and all of that.

G: Yeah. And the film is sort of a family affair, right? Your brother is in the film.

HJ: We he heads up the seder. He’s in the film. And my son is the one who asks the four questions.

TF: And Sabrina.

HJ: My daughter has a small part in it.

TF: But if I can say that’s something that I love that Henry does is exploring all of his emotional cavities in every single play that we’ve done. Exploring past relationships—this one was really a delve into his relationship with his brother. You know, years of his brother being like "What the hell are you doing?" and him being, like, "This is our—" You know, and their butting heads. And so the focus of that, really—that’s what I love about Henry is that he’s very emotionally vulnerable; yet he’s very emotionally brave because he puts that into the work. And I think that was really demonstrated between Betsy and my character (Julie Davis and I) because I—

HJ: It’s nice to make the black sheep the one who in fact were the norm. You know, and turn the black sheep into the norm. It’s just a nice reversal—like dreaming an imaginary reverse situation.

TF: Yeah.

G: And an interesting little detail in the film is the thing about the actor’s relationship with sleep.

TF: (Laughs heartily.)

G: Because it’s been this—it seems maybe revelatory...about you?

TF: No. Not about me!

HJ: Somebody else in the room. This is my issue. So she’s laughing because it’s such a big issue with me.

G: Well, you know, it seems—as outsiders to show biz, we hear these dark stories about the need to find sleep, like Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson and the dangers—

HJ: Nighttime torments.

G: Yeah. So—

HJ: There’s a lighter side to that is my point—it's just like "Where's my Ambien?"

G: Lux Cookies, right? I’d never heard of that before. Tell me about Lux Cookies.

HJ: It’s nothing. It’s just a brand—

TF: Well, no, Lux is like a chi-chi—there’s only two of them, and they’re in in Santa Monica.

HJ: No, but the point is that if somebody’s got a thing, they’ve got a thing. His thing is he can sleep if he has Lux Cookies. It’s something that, you know. It’s just that—the Ambien is what’s doing it.

G: Yeah, I see.

HJ: The Lux Cookies were just a local reference. It was the specificity of everybody I know who's had trouble sleeping, which I’ve had all my life, has a thing: "Oh, lemon on—"

TF: Jelly beans.

HJ: Jelly beans—whatever it is.

TF: Helps you drift off into—

HJ: Calms you down.

TF: But it is true. I love that aspect, too, of his whole Ambien rant because—I mean, every autobiography or biography you read of actors or artists: Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac—it’s like nobody can sleep. Like all artists can’t sleep. It's this weird—

HJ: I used to think that if I wrote an autobiography, it would just be called "Insomnia." I always thought, "That’s a great title. It’s my life."

G: It’s a good way to get work done, though, I guess.

HJ: It is. It’s where I get most of my work done.

G: Can you talk a bit about your use of the zoom lens?

HJ: Yeah.

G: When you first got comfortable with that—

/content/interviews/367/3.jpgHJ: I came of age when the zoom lens was there, and I was guilty of enjoying it. And I’m still guilty of enjoying it. I don’t have the film-purist belief—I think it’s very dated, that you should not be using the zoom lens. I just think it’s a tool, and when it feels right, I should move it just as if I were instead on tracks and moving sideways. I don’t—I know it’s not fashionable in certain circles. I like it. I like it.  I think it’s one of the great inventions, because it allows you to show size and then get intimate within a very close period of time. And to use it for emotions of coming into people and going out of people.

TF: It felt funny 'cause I just found out that you do that and that that’s not popular.

HJ: You didn’t know that?

TF: I had no idea. But when I was a kid—

HJ: When did you just find that out...?

TF: In Iowa. I didn’t know you don’t use a zoom lens, you—

HJ: Move the camera.

TF: Move the camera. I had no idea.

HJ: But for me that’s a snobbism from before the zoom lens was invented.

TF: Mm-hm.

HJ: A snobbism of cinematographers more than directors but influencing directors and saying, "This is the way." Orson would always say, when he talked to his students, "Just use this." And I’d say, "What’s the difference? You can always use track to do this, and you’ve got this, and this is—you were just not born when there was a zoom lens. So you think it’s like almost cheating.

TF: Mm-hm.

G: It didn’t even occur to me that it’s unfashionable.

HJ: Oh, it is unfashionable, in certain film quarters.

TF: I had no idea.

HJ: Especially among older people. And it’s one of the things that I’ve been attacked for in my films from the beginning of my films. Because I like it. And I came of age when the zoom lens was like a wonderful thing. And a comparatively new thing.

G: There’s an awful lot of great films that incorporate the zoom.

HJ: Yeah. But there are a lot of people who have—like I don’t use dissolves. I don’t like dissolves because I’ve never seen in life two images go over each other, with one slowly in. So I just don’t use them, and people—including Orson again, wonderful people—have criticized me, said, "Oh you need—" I said, "I have to find a way to get from that to that and show that it’s later on, but I don’t want to do it by fading out and fading in," because my eye does see a zoom, but it doesn’t see fading out and fading in and all that. And so somehow it seems realer to my eye.

G: Yeah. Tanna, I wanted to ask you about your character in Hollywood Dreams and Queen of the Lot as opposed to your character in this film. How do you see the difference between them and what they have in common with you, I guess sort of too.

TF: Mm-hm.

G: What you lent to both of them from your own acting experiences; there's the scene where we see you in Guys and Dolls, right? There’s always probably some element you’re bringing to that of your acting experience—

TF: Yeah.

G: But they’re two very different characters as well.

/content/interviews/367/11.jpgTF: I mean, I had—like you said, I had two complete separate characters to play. Panda is very, very different from Margie Chizek, you know: the desperate actress, I mean. It’s interesting to me because when I do play a character, I completely put myself into that character. And I’m more comfortable being a character than I am being myself. So I’m able to enter that world and not have anything on it: just be able to be in that world. And you know, Pam is a lot stronger. She’s grounded. She’s trying to be the cement to hold the family together. And that character, to me—you know, she’s defeated yet she’s determined, and that’s a very different color than Margie. I mean, she was a really fun character to be because of her strength. And it’s always interesting to me, and I don’t know why, but after Hollywood Dreams or Queen of the Lot, I would come out of screenings, and men would jump back three feet and be like "Oh, my God! You’re not psycho?" And it’s like, well, no, this isn’t reality TV anymore. This is actually me trying to do my craft and trying to create the character. And I got a lot of "You remind me of my ex-girlfriend." So I did, but I had a year to prepare for Hollywood Dreams and to really study the people around me, the actresses around me, the sort of –

HJ: And you went into history a lot. The movie stars of the past.

TF: And I watched three films from the '30s or '40s a day, and just looked at the desperation around me and the people that I knew. And I didn’t want to make it like a parody or—I didn’t want to make fun of people. I wanted to play a real person.

HJ: Yes, there’s a size to your performance, which makes people think, "Oh, God. She’s—"

TF: "That’s her."

HJ: There’s a size—it’s like that Bette Davis thing, it’s that size.

TF: Yeah. But I don’t mind playing size. I like playing size like Bette Davis—

HJ: But they’re stunned, some people now, to see her do this. Because they thought she was that.

G: Right.

TF: It’s very odd.

HJ: I used to get that all the time. Give a big, strong performance—

TF: I mean, every single performance I do, people say, "Oh my God, this is the best performance you’ve given. This is the best one."And you just wonder, okay, if I didn’t come out of the gate—come running out of the gate, with a completely psychotic character, would people be more blown away now? Or conniving or whatever—would people be more blown away now by Hollywood Dreams if I had done 45 Minutes first?

HJ: And wait until you see her in the next one, The M Word, which I’m editing now, which has—she’s a completely take-charge person who figures out how to save a newspaper. And it’s a whole different kind of character. But people are—they still do that.

G: Typecasting?

HJ: If you put strong performances in there, and you ask an actor to really commit, and an actor is like this—who does not pretend, but just goes there—they think that’s the character, that's the person.

G: Well, it’s a great compliment in a way.

HJ: It is, but it’s frustrating.

TF: It is, but it’s also really frustrating. I mean—and it’s reality TV too. You know? It’s like that melting over into performances. Because, you know, Bette Davis didn’t have to worry about "Are people thinking that I’m really this person?" or not, like in Little Foxes: that’s one of my favorite performances of hers, and she keeps adjusting like one piece of hair on her forehead, and she can do whatever she wants, but people don’t question "Oh, is that her just being her?" you know? She’s playing a role. But with reality TV now, it’s like—

G: Blurred the lines.

"Are you psycho?" I’m like "No, I worked really hard to create this character for you!"

G: Yeah. So, Henry, you mentioned Orson, and I wanted to ask about—you had the privilege of both directing Orson Welles and being directed by him.

HJ: I directed him twice: in my first movie, and then in his last movie.

G: Yeah...So you did maybe one night of filming on Other Side of the Wind? Is that right?

HJ: With Paul Mazursky. One evening.

G: What was your impression of that experience?

HJ: Like having lunch with Orson. It was fun. It was exciting. Our job was to throw Mazursky off—because he didn’t quite get what was happening. We were doing like that thing, Orson and I too: Orson was feeding him little drinks all along. We were blurring the line because I was—have you seen that piece?

G: Yeah. On YouTube I saw it.

HJ: So I’m talking to Orson off camera and attacking him and all of this. And what I’m really attacking is the John Huston character that’s going to be replacing him and that's supposed to be this old, overly macho—

G: Because he hadn’t been cast at that point, right?

HJ: No, but I knew it was going to be him. And this overly macho film director who’s always here, and I saw him challenging all of that. But Mazursky thinks I’m challenging Orson. And is getting drunker and is trying to defend Orson. "What are you talking about?" And that is how Orson and I planned it.

G: That’s funny.

HJ: Yeah, it was fun.

TF: They were like two little sorority girls. They were—they played little tricks, and they came up with little schemes where they could make somebody look—

HJ: There’s a book coming out next year—

G: About the making of it?

HJ: No, I don’t know about that. But there’s a book by Peter Biskind: all my lunches with Orson [My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles].

G: Oh.

TF: He taped all of it.

HJ: I taped my lunches. I taped about four years of my lunches. And Biskind has transcribed them all and then put them into, you know...

G: Yeah.

HJ: So I’m excited because when he sends me little excerpts now, I remember, oh my God, what a great lunch. You know, I forgot the details. It was just a wonderful part of my life. And he was one of my closest friends, so—

G: And when you directed Orson on those two pictures, what was the best and the worst of that?

/content/interviews/367/10.jpgHJ: There were no worst, I swear to God. Everyone thinks that Orson was a monster. And  Orson was just Orson. There was no worst. The best was every single—the best was how he told me how to save my ass when, on A Safe Place, and I hardly knew him, every single thing I asked him, because I was already going away from my script and trying to create things, very influenced by Fellini and by the Europeans. So my cinematographer [Richard C. Kratina], who had come straight from Love Story—not Love Story. Yeah, Love Story, was that the one? Where two people are dying on campus?

G: Yeah.

TF: Mm-hm.

HJ: So he’d come from a traditional Hollywood movie to my movie set, and I had had a script, and then I started violating it and creating what I wanted poetically in A Safe Place. And they kept saying to me, well, everybody kept saying to me, including the cinematographer, "It won’t cut. Where is it? If it’s not in the script it won’t cut." So at the end of the first day, Orson said to me, "How’s it going? You seem to be trying to do something really interesting." I answered, "I hope so, but they’re giving me a terrible time." And he said, "Why?" I said, "They keep telling me it won’t cut. It won’t cut. And they’re arguing every single set-up. Everything I want." He said, "Tell them it’s a dream sequence." Do you know this story?

G: No.

HJ: He said, "Tell them it’s a dream sequence." I said, "Why?" He said, "Just tell them it’s a dream sequence." So we went back after lunch. Sure enough, I said, "I’d like the camera to come down here on Tuesday Weld and Jack Nicholson"—they’re on the roof, and they said, "No, the camera can’t come down here because the last time we’ve seen them—" and I said, "It’s a dream sequence." (Gasps.) "A dream sequence? Why don’t I get on my back?" The guy says, "Why don’t I get on my back, and this will be really"—this was the language of the day—"this will be really psychedelic." Suddenly they were—so I went to Orson, and they were like pussycats. And I went to Orson at the end of the day and said, "What the fuck? Why does this work? This isn’t right." He said, "You see that these are the hard-working union people. They’ve got tough lives. They’ve worked their way to this position. Life is orderly and structured. There are rules. But the one place they know there are no rules are in dreams. Dreams free them because in dreams things happen and then jump through time and place, and they know that. So if you tell them it’s a dream sequence, they are freed to really use their imagination and not to have to just be constrained by their normal concerns about structure and logic and all of that." There’s not a movie since with an actor or crew member or something that I haven’t gotten into trouble, and said "dream sequence."

G: Wow.

HJ: That’s the best advice anybody gave a young filmmaker was delivered by Orson Welles.

G: Wow. I guess I also wanted to ask about, in choosing the music for the film, the film is titled Just 45 Minutes from Broadway. There’s three Al Jolson tracks. I guess the good answer is "Why not?" But why did you choose Al Jolson for—?

HJ: He’s theatre. He’s show business.

TF: And the words are (singing) "The West, so they say,/In the home of the jay—"

HJ: It’s all very show business songs. They’re all songs about theatre folk singing songs. It’s like I can’t use the one I like: "There’s No Business Like Show Business."

TF: But there’s a caustic-ness to his—and actually, the first one, "Only 45 Minutes from Broadway," that’s not actually Al Jolson, which is really interesting. I forget which artist it is.

HJ: No, we switched it now. We’re using Al Jolson.

TF: Are you sure? Because the one that we used in the play—

HJ: Yeah.

TF: Anyway, but the words are so awful. So it sounds sort of sweet, but it’s making fun—

HJ: It’s dismissive. You know what a jay is? Of hicks. Of people in small towns.

G: Right. Right.

HJ: It’s a show-business thing about separation.

TF: (singing:) "You want to see/The real jay delegation—"

HJ: But I use it also—I have him sing a couple of other things.

TF: Yeah, the words—if you ever look at the words, on the internet, it’s like I can’t believe people weren’t completely insulted by those...because it was really bad.

G: George M. Cohan.

HJ: ...I’d like if you can stay a little longer. Into the next—I feel bad.

G: I think we covered it.

HJ: C'mon.

G: (Laughs.)  I appreciate it, but no, I’m good...

HJ: What I mean is: are you covered?

G: I am. I really think I am...I was just going to say [about] Grisha’s thrill of being interviewed in the film, and it turns out so disappointing. I hope this wasn’t like that for you.

(All laugh.)

TF: Are you kidding me?

HJ: You had that set up.

G: Yes. Yes. At least it wasn’t on Skype.

TF: I love that. Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

HJ: No, this was a very nice one...

G: I’m good. I’m good. Thank you. It's wonderful...

[But before I left, Jaglom wanted to share with the interviewer from GrouchoReviews...]

/content/interviews/367/8.jpgTF: "My only intercourse with Groucho."

HJ: This is the only time—this is my only intercourse with Groucho. I was up at a party at Jack Nicholson’s house, and Candice Bergen, who was a great friend, said, "I don’t know why, but I want to introduce you to Groucho Marx." So she took me over to meet Groucho Marx. And she said, "Groucho Marx, this is Henry Jaglom." And Marx said—this is exactly the words: "Jaglom? Jaglom? That’s not a person, that’s an animal." And walked away.

(All laugh.)

G: Pretty good. Pretty good.

HJ: "A jaglom? A jaglom? That’s not a person, that’s an animal."

TF: But Star Trek has Jaglom.

HJ: Star Trek used a character—Jaglom something—somebody doesn’t like me made a very mean character called Jaglom—

TF: Shrek.

HJ: Shrek.

TF: It's something to be very proud of it, though.

HJ: Which if anybody knows anything..."schreck" is a German word for "terrible."

TF: Yeah. But there’s a character on there.

HJ: It means "horrible." Jaglom Shrek. Oh, I forgot all about that.

TF: And it’s somebody you know. He’s a character. And it’s somebody who you offended.

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