What is your feeling about the “A Film By…” credit? When do you feel it is appropriate for a director to take that kind of credit for him or herself? ^ I don’t have much of an opinion on this. I say take what you want. I just wish screenwriters were invited to festivals.
What exactly does the screenwriter do during production? Did you get to hang with any of the actors? ^ I hung out on the set for most of the shoot. It was sublime. It was like walking into my own psyche and fantasy. The set was like the Disneyland version of my life. Amy Danger did an incredible job, especially with the office.
Why would you say that James Spader continues to get involved with films that contain some type of perverse sexual fetish like “sex, lies and videotape” or “Crash”? ^ Cause he’s so hot and sexy. Because he is a phenomenal and complex actor. Because he has an “Ice-stare” that is both sadistic and vulnerable. Because you feel that when he looks at you that nothing else in the world matters. Because he knows that his language is sex. ^ It was very exciting to work with him because though I don’t always write about sex, the language of my work is usually sexual, and James was perfect for this. He plays the object of desire perfectly.
How did the final film compare to the script? Were there scenes that were cut? Tell us about them? ^ For the most part, the dialogue was verbatim. That’s because Steven and I worked on every single word of that script for two grueling years. The other characters’ storylines were slimmed down because the intent became to focus mainly on the two lead characters, to create a very strong inner world for them, and to ultimately invite the audience inside their bubble.
Were there some bizarre aspects of that world of domination that did not make the film? ^ Not many.
The film delves into a kind of master/slave relationship — is this something you have some kind of experience in? Feel free to tell us everything… ^ I have never really related or understood the mainstream commercialized versions of S/M. Mainly because on some level mainstream America makes fun of it, and on another, it always seems to be about leather, big tits, blonde hair and big lips: all things I’m not interested in. What I’m more interested in are the psychological, spiritual, and physical ramifications of a life of submission. I think there can be great power in being weak and in admitting frailty. And there is obviously a long tradition of this in Catholicism and many Eastern religions. I think, as with any form of sexuality, you need to define it for yourself. You do not have to be the commercialized cliché of the sexuality. You can make up your own way. And that is precisely what the secretary does in the film, Secretary.
Would you say that a boss/secretary relationship is at least something like a master/slave relationship? (Please elaborate. In detail. Describing everything, you know, if you are inspired to.) ^ As I said, I don’t know a lot about master/slave S/M stuff. I think the relationship between the lawyer and the secretary in the film is largely the relationship between two individuals who fall in love with each others’ scars, wounds and imperfections. They do not judge one another or blame one another for their weaknesses.
What’s your next project? ^ I’m working with Steven Shainberg on another project that will be the natural progression from our work on Secretary. I have a musical opening off Broadway this season at Playwrights Horizons written with Red Clay Rambler Jack Herrick and Mike Craver. It’s called Wilder. And I’m working on an erotic novel called Photography Lessons.
And finally, master or slave? Top or bottom? What is your preference? ^ I’ve always been an individual rather than a definition. It depends on the day, the chemistry, the mood, the location.

Posted on August 18, 2002 in Interviews by

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