For my next Q&A in the “Don’t Question Stan” series of titillating interviews, I bring to you the world famous Director, Producer and Screenwriter, Joel Schumacher! Don’t ask how. It’s just what Stan does.
Joel has been a very dear friend to Stan and to all of us here at The Standard Hotels, as well as The Mercer and The Chateau, and it was only befitting that he be the next to face the wrath of my interrogation! Well, you know what I mean…
Few people realize that you directed the video for one of my favorite songs, “Letting The Cables Sleep" by Bush. What do you think letting the cables sleep means…because I have absolutely no idea?
Well, Gavin Rossdale and I had become friendly, and we had rooms next to each other at The Mercer Hotel when he had written that song. He came into my room and played it for me. He explained to me that it was about communication.
The band had either a friend or a band member who was gay and had AIDS. The friend would never tell anyone, but they all knew. All the extended friends and family knew, but he wouldn’t admit it. So when he died, Gavin was heart broken because had his friend just talked to him, he would have known that no one would have cared and that there was nothing to hide.
Gavin was heart broken. The song is about communication. Very poetic. Letting the cable sleep seems cautionary….letting communication sleep. The only cables I can connect with communication would be all the cables that we use FOR communication.
I decided to do this video with a Last Tango in Paris meets Don’t Look Now idea, and the only thought that I put into it was an artistic way to show his message…two strangers in a room and having intimate sex and not speaking to each other. And then when he runs after her on the street, she signs to him because she doesn’t have the gift of speech…
You just finished filming Trespass with Nicole Kidman and Nicholas Cage in Louisiana. What was the craziest thing that happened down south, on set and/or off?
The craziest thing to happen…. Hmmm, there is a house that burns in the movie, and we were standing there at night around the cameras, and all of a sudden we see the house go up in flames! Thank God the cameras were ready to film cuz we almost lost our set. The first assistant director gave the go ahead but he was too far away from us for us to hear his go ahead with the special effects team. That’s the craziest thing that can happen. People were running frantically. But fortunately, no one was hurt.
Someone recently informed me that you wrote the screenplay for The Wiz starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson! Who knew?!?! What was your biggest challenge in turning this play into a feature film?
The fact was that when I was signed on to do it, it was already a very successful play by Charlie Smalls. Dorothy, like the original, was a young girl. Stephanie Mills played her brilliantly. When I got to New York City and started working with Sidney Lumet, the director, he told me Diana Ross would be playing Dorothy, and I was surprised. We had discussed a national search for Dorothy. Sydney’s idea was that Dorothy would be a spinster in Harlem who never came out of her house. The snow storm which hits propels her to Oz, which is really Manhattan.
The cast was fantastic…Lena Horne, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson. I think Michael was 17 at the time. It was a huge job for me to get. HUGE. Most expensive film at that time. Quincy Jones was involved.
The movie is beloved in many communities, but for me, it was difficult to make the transition [in the screenplay] from a little girl to an adult spinster. It was not what I had imagined. I hope I did my job okay.
John Parr’s “Man in Motion" from St. Elmo’s Fire, which you directed, is probably one of the greatest 80s songs ever. What 80s song really defines that era for you and why?
So much great music came from the 80s. How can I pick one?? David Foster’s “Love Theme" from St. Elmo’s Fire was also amazing. That movie changed my career. ”Cry Little Sister" by G Tom Mac from The Lost Boys too. The success of those films changed my career. On a personal level, “Slave to Love" by Bryan Ferry would be my favorite.
Your work directing the Batman films was EPIC. Tell me the truth…. Did you ever try on Batman’s cape when nobody was looking? (I would have.)
No, because the Batman cape and the cowl together weigh so much. I can’t even tell you. It was one of the heaviest things. When the actors put it on, it pulled their head back it weighed so much. When I did Batman Forever, that was the first one, all that Val Kilmer did was bitch about how heavy the suit was. It was a heavy rubber, and the cape was so voluminous! So, no, I never tried it on. I also thought it was a bit tacky to try it on.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned during your extraordinary lifetime?
The greatest lesson is to really understand that you’re not the most important person in the world and that small acts of kindness or friendship or compassion towards others is the most important. I’m sure I fail every day but I try.
What’s next for Joel Schumacher?
Well, I’m hoping to do a film called Fatalville which is something like The Shining set on a miltary base….
Uptown or Downtown?
Well, I’m a downtown guy with a lot of uptown nights.
Batman or Robin?
You can’t separate The Dynamic Duo!!!!
Flat or Sparkling?
I mix the two. It’s VERY daring! Flat is too boring. Sparkling is too filling. If you do half and half, you get the best of both.
Lady Gaga or Stan D’Arde?
I LOVE Stan D’Arde, but I think Lady Gaga is one of the great performance artists today. I do love Stan, but I haven’t seen his performance art yet.
[STAN NOTE TO JOEL: I’m in rehearsals now. Watch your back, Gaga!]
Destiny or Free Will?
Both. Life is both destiny AND free will….and totally random.
Bergdorf’s or Barney’s?
Well if you love clothes, you absolutely can’t discount either. A little bit from here and there. A lot from Ralph Lauren. Both men’s stores have great shit, but Ralph Lauren is always my first choice.