Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q: Bill Murray... Inspired casting and youve probably
given the gentleman his best role in years. Was he your first
choice from the moment you wrote the script, or did you have to
go round the houses a little before you came to that conclusion?
A: Yeah, actually I wrote with him in mind because Id
always wanted to work with him. And to see him play a romantic
lead, which combines him being really fun and sweet with a sadder,
more tender side of him. That was one of the things, when I was
writing it, I just wanted to see this big American out of place
in Tokyo and really to have both sides, the humour and the sadness.
Q: How much of yourself is in the character that Scarlett
A: The whole story is personal to me and there is myself in
all the characters, in Scarletts character and Bill Murrays
character. I definitely was thinking about that age, when I was
in my early 20s, and not knowing what I wanted to do with work.
I was just out of school and just in that transition, and in crisis
a little bit.
Id always been interested in this idea of a mans mid-life
crisis and this just seemed like the same thing, have these two
characters looking at the same questions.
Also, I like characters in JD Salinger stories, where you have
young preppie woman having this kind of existential breakdown
and theres something kind of funny and charming to me about
that. So theres definitely aspects of my experience, but
certain sides of it, its not completely.
Q: Presumably, if the film had been a studio movie, there
might have been pressure to make the relationship less internal;
is that why you made it this way?
A: You mean independently? Yeah, it was important for me to
have control over it, editing wise, and to make it exactly how
I imagined. And the only way I could do that was to make it low
budget and do it on our own, so we didnt have a boss telling
us how to make it marketable, or something. So we just chose to
make it this way.
Q: Do you still test screen for audience reactions?
A: Not really. I would invite friends over to watch it, to
get a sense of how it was playing, but no focus groups. It was
more to see if there were certain sections that were slow or not,
so it was more screenings like that. But because it was low budget,
it didnt have to make a lot of money, so we didnt
have to do focus groups because theres not a lot at stake.
Q. Were you intimidated by the language barrier, at all?
A: Ive been going to Tokyo once a year for the past
eight or nine years, and I love going, its an adventure.
I still dont speak any Japanese, the language is just really
intimidating to me. I think its fun, anything like going
to get groceries becomes a big ordeal, because you dont
speak the same language.
Working wit the Japanese crew was definitely frustrating, as you
have to be patient. But, for me, I always wanted to shoot in Tokyo
and film what it was like for me there. And that excitement and
enthusiasm kept me going.
I still think its overwhelming, you know? Its crowded
and really modern and therell be an ancient temple right
next to this intersection and a hotel and the mixture of American
and Japanese culture. I find it strange and wonderful.
Q: Do you feel part of a renaissance of hot young directors.
And, since youve acted in your fathers films, I was
wondering if thered be a part for him in one of yours?
A: My Dads actually a better actor than me, so maybe
some time Ill have a part for him. As for being part of
something, its hard to see yourself like that. I know I
have friends who are directors around my age and I really respond
to what they do and Im really excited by what they do, but
I dont know. You dont really feel part of something.
But I do feel like there are a lot of directors that I like.
Q: Sean Connery once got into trouble for advertising a Japanese
whiskey like in the film. Do you have any experience of Japanese
A: Funny you should say that. You cant walk down the
street in Tokyo without some familiar Western movie star holding
At the vending machine theres the Brad Pitt coffee can,
its just a part of being in Japan and its just really
odd. And American actors, you know its a big pay job, they
get tonnes of money for a days work, and they think nobodys
going to see it, and all the Japanese people I know, they dont
think its cool.
They dont think like, oh, cool Brad Pitts doing
this, they think its cheesy. It was just trying to
think of how to get Bill Murrays character over to Japan
and, having seen all those ads, I though, oh, yeah.
I wanted to do a real brand and I remember my Dad showing me a
still of Kurosawa, who did a Santori ad in the Seventies, so I
just thought, Ill make it Santori; but its not meant
to be disrespectful.
Q: Sophia, why did you decide on Kevin Shields to do the soundtrack,
and did it take much persuading, because he hasnt done much
recording in the past few years?
A: Yeah, I always liked My Bloody Valentine, and I was talking
to Brian Rice, my music supervisor, who is also a musician, and
I think he met Kevin on tour, and we were just talking about the
kind of music we used, and he suggested approaching Kevin Shields.
I thought that would be really exciting, if he might do it. And
Kevin was interested, hed never worked on a movie and he
was interested in doing it. We sent him dailies on tape and he
wrote music to the images and just talked about it. It was really
exciting to me.
Q: Am I right in thinking you had some trouble with the authorities
SC: We did have to move around on the subways a lot because
security was coming and we had to get off and go on another train.
It was sort of fun to shoot in that way, though.
It was just the three of us and the DP, and wed sneak in
and out, or see an officer and go on another train. It was hectic,
at times, and you cant get permission for certain things,
but most of the time it was a fun way to work.
Scarlett Johansson: We could be pretty sneaky because nobody
was ever looking at us.