Catching Up With Todd Solondz

8.1.2010

By Barry Walters

Because it's coming from an outsider place?
I don't know -- it's just a feeling I've got. I feared initially with Dollhouse that women would attack me because I'm a middle-aged man talking about an 11-year-old girl getting raped, but they gave me a pass. I'm always nervous because you can't control these things. Who is my audience? With the Internet, and the TV with a thousand channels, and Netflix, it's difficult to still have an audience and make movies, so I just feel lucky. It's hard to know, but I'm sure there are things in the movies that gays will connect to more than straights.

Well, I think that one of the things that make your films gay-friendly is that they have a sensibility in which heterosexuality may be the norm, but the healthiness of its practitioners is being called into question.
Well, the word 'normal,' it's hard to use without quotations. But yeah, maybe you can have more insight than me. I'm not an intellectual here.

Oh, you went to Yale!
(As Zero) Don't hold that against me, OK? I write as a creative process. It's not an intellectual one so much. Things emerge and you think, 'What am I doing? What is this all about?' And it's a process of self-discovery as well. In some sense you could say that it's all an autobiography, even if none of it actually happened. What would be interesting to me -- and I haven't yet come across it -- is a gay analysis of what is going on in my movies that connects with a gay audience. That I haven't quite read and that would be interesting.

I'd love to write that article.
(Zero) Hey, it's up to you!

In this film, there's the constant line of questioning: 'Are you gay?' 'Please tell me you're straight.' 'Thank God.' And in some cases the next question is, 'Are you a pedophile?' as if that one leads to the other.
But that's the father talking to the son who wants the solace that his son will not inherit the same fate. He speaks and it's shocking but given where he's coming from, it makes sense.

Yes, it's completely germane to the story, and yet if you're queer it's unnerving to hear constantly throughout the film, 'Are you gay?' 'I don't want to be gay. I don't want to have a man inside me!'
Right, right, right. With the little boy asking about the nature of all of that.

Are you gay?
(Whispers) No, I'm sorry.

That's OK.
But, you know, nothing's black and white. I don't have, um, I don't have ... I have a woman in my life, and so ... but anything's possible. (Zero voice) I never say never.

Good for you!
(Zero again) I keep an open mind.

Are you comfortable with members of your audience thinking you might be gay?
I think that's fine. (Zero voice) If it'll sell more tickets, I'm happy.

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