Q&A: Lee Daniels on San Francisco, Filmmaking and 'The Paperboy'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack star in "The Paperboy."

    'The Paperboy,' directed by Lee Daniels, who also directed the award-winning 'Precious,' is a thriller film depiction of the questionable innocence of a man on death row (John Cusack) in the 1960s.

    His illicit and pen pal lover, Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), convinces Miami Times reporter Wade Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) to investigate the violent crime. Zac Efron plays Wade’s younger brother (Jack Jansen).

    We conducted a phone interview with Daniels about the film.

    Q: Do you feel any strong affinity to the San Francisco Bay Area?
    A: I love the City of San Francisco. I grew up experiencing her charm, warmth, culture, friendliness, and sophistication.
    Q: Did you feel a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver another outstanding film after the huge success of Precious ?
    A: I would be lying if I had said, ‘No’. I kept passing movie offers because of this pressure to come up with another hit. I was too afraid, but I also knew that I cannot turn my back away on something that I am very passionate about, and that is filmmaking.
    Q: Did you find it difficult to transition from being a producer to being a director of a movie or how do you even juggle the act so effectively between the two responsibilities?
    A: Being a producer to becoming a director is a natural evolution.  I do get that sense that they circle back to each other. My experience in the theater production has definitely helped me navigate through the high tides of the two different responsibilities.
    Q: Which scenes you think were the most difficult to film in 'The Paperboy'?
    A: First was the squatting position by Nicole on Zac; the second one was the scene with John and Nicole on the washing machine; and third one was the bed scene with Nicole and Zac. I was very protective of Nicole and Zac in this scene.
    Q: I heard that you initially had doubts about Zac Efron portraying the role of Jack Jansen? Is it true?
    A: I had doubts about Zac , but it only happened on Day 1. I had this preconceived idea that he was just a Disney Kid. However, after he had auditioned, I found him to be an incredible actor. I just fell in love with his talent.
    Q: I also heard that you requested Nicole Kidman to gain 15 pounds for the role of Charlotte Bless? Is it true?
    A: Yes, it is true. I also asked her to do her own make – up?
    Q: How did she take it?
    A: I almost lost her, but Nicole, along with Matthew, Zac, John, and the rest of the crew, understood as to why I did make these special requests. In my world of filmmaking, there is only one ego, and that is the ego of the story. The cast members and the whole production team are like one big family. I do not pretend to have big money.  Zac and Matthew even helped out with the catering. It is through this trust, love, and support that we all develop strong ties and bond.
    Q: What was the most moving scene for you in the movie as a director?
    A: It was the scene where Nicole and Zac start dancing in the rain. The rain was not part of the original screenplay. When we were filming it, it started raining by accident, and what happens next is very emotional for me. I was crying while filming it because this magic just happened by accident. 
    Q: We are out of time, but I must ask you this last question:  The San Francisco Bay Area has many aspiring filmmakers. What is your advice to all of them?
    A: Do not take ‘No’ for an answer. Be persistent.

    Rated R
    107 minutes
    Beau’s brief review: A ‘MUST SEE’ Film. Forget about the milieu of its trashiness. It is exactly this element that makes it outstanding both in direction and performances.


    Beau Behan's claim to fame is that his last name being the same as that of the Irish novelist, Brendan Behan. He is the former California Independent Film Festival's Program Director, and is the co-founder of the Jazz Festivals in Orinda and Moraga, Calif., east of San Francisco. He is currently writing a romance novel, and he sees himself as a romantic Rudolph Valentino type, but realizes you probably don't.