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Paul Schrader, Travis to Ernst, & Letter to Leonard Schrader


  • (“First Reformed” directed by Paul Schrader)

    On casting Ethan Hawk (Spoiler alert!)

    “There’s a certain physiognomy in playing a man of the cloth, be it Montgomery Clift in ‘I Confess,’ Belmondo in ‘Leon Morin’ or Claude Laydu in ‘Diary of a Country Priest.’ So, you’re thinking about actors who have that physiognomy, maybe Jake Gyllenhaal, Oscar Isaac, but Ethan was 10 years older than them and his face was getting some very interesting wrinkles. I started thinking he’s just right for this. I sent him the script and he responded right away.”

  • Shooting fast, took only 22 days of filming.
    Budget $3.5 million. (Investers got their money back)

    Richard Brody on first reformed – (The reckless passions of Paul Schrader)

  • On naming the Pastor “Ernst Toller” –

    Yup. I did. I came across the name years ago in a poem by W.H. Auden, but there were two things about the name I liked. One was the “tolling” of the bells. The other was the playwright who escaped Nazi Germany to come to America and then committed suicide

  • Willem Dafoe 1aaPaulDafoe
    (The Light Sleeper)

    Dafoe and Schrader have collaborated many times, The Light Sleeper, The Affliction and Auto-Focus etc.

  • Light Sleeper, American Gigolo etc. (Mishima, Patty Hearst and Auto Focus were incredible biopics, and Schrader directed late Natasha Richardson twice – she played Patty Hearst and was also in the Comfort of Strangers, scripted by Harold Pinter based on a short novel by Ian McEwan.)

  • Polygon Interview – (First Reformed, Taxi Driver filmmaker Paul Schrader will change how you think about movies)

    Which modern, American filmmakers have mastered leaning in?
    Paul Schrader: In America, [Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff director] Kelly Reichardt works that way. Gus van Sant did that three film trilogy [Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days].

  • 1AAmishima06
    Paul Schrader directing Mishima, A Life in 4 Chapters, his sister in law acted as his interpreter with Japanese crew and actors.
    (Philip Glass composed the soundtrack, Eiko Ishioka designed the set, Mishima was Schrader’s most theatrically stylised film.)
    His brother Leonard knew Mishima.

    On Mishima.. ( His Final Performance, the Suicide of Yukio Mishima )

  • Read his letter to his brother Leonard Schrader (His visit to Jean Renoir in Beverly Hills )

    I spent the afternoon at Jean Renoir’s home in Beverly Hills, and was very entertained. Jean (as we friends call him) is shooting four short stories for French TV. During some continental business haggles he decided to come back to L.A. for two weeks. He told Max Laemmle, manager of the Los Feliz Theater, that my article on Boudu was the best he had ever read. He then sent me a letter to thank me, enclosing an autographed photo, asking for a tear sheet for Michel Simon, and inviting me to his home.
    So Joel and I (Joel is an old friend of the Renoirs) were there this afternoon. This is an exceedingly kind, gracious, and fragile person. Just like his films: you can’t help but love him. We had a very interesting conversation about Bresson, Simon, Moreau, Magnani, Chabrol, Truffaut, but I remember the afternoon primarily as an experience, like a warm bath. His home is covered with original paintings by his father, Picasso, Cezanne, Braque, etc. In his living room hangs a larger-than-life-size portrait of Jean at 17 painted by his father: he is young and handsome, has a shotgun and hunting dog. Jean, now past 70, bald and pink-faced, was sitting in a chair in front of that painting. I think I’ll always remember that view. He is, as he describes Picasso, “a force of nature.” I think he is a greater artist than his father, for he invented the vocabulary before he embellished it. You think my head’s swelling. Peut-être.


  • (Robert Mitchum and Keiko Kishi in Yakuza)
    Sydney Pollack directed Yakuza, scripted by Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader and Robert Towne.

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