Charlie Kaufman on Reviews, Structure and Fame

On the strength of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I’d put Charlie Kaufman in the same box as Hemingway.


“I tend to not only read reviews, but also every little stupid thing online. It’s a very bad idea, and there’s a lot of angry people in the world. And it’s weird to absorb all that weirdness.”


“There’s this inherent screenplay structure that everyone seems to be stuck on, this three-act thing. It doesn’t really interest me. To me, it’s kind of like saying, ‘Well, when you do a painting, you always need to have sky here, the person here and the ground here.’ Well, you don’t. In other art forms or other mediums, they accept that it’s just something available for you to work with. I actually think I’m probably more interested in structure than most people who write screenplays, because I think about it.”


He insists the Oscar means little: “I like having the trophy, but only on a very surfacey level does it mean anything. It’s just kind of a… Kerouac has a line about fame being a newspaper. You know that line? When I read that when I was a teenager, I didn’t know what it meant, but now… Fame doesn’t really fill you up in any way.”

A few days ago, I heard that Robert McKee’s Story is available as an audiobook. I read it as a teenager, thinking I’d be learning the ropes, and in a sense I did, but rather more because the points at which I disagreed with McKee forced me to think about what we mean by an act, or a scene. I’m still not sure.

Laura Barton meets film director Charlie Kaufman | Film | The Guardian

Published by Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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