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In Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot, Joaquin Phoenix stars as John Callahan, the real-life alcoholic quadriplegic cartoonist whose work entertained the masses while simultaneously offending some oversensitive and thin-skinned readers.
Directed by Gus Van Sant, the film is an entertaining and uplifting character study about living life on the sunny side even in the face of overwhelming tragedy. Boasting an all-star ensemble cast that includes Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill, Jack Black, and Udo Kier, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot is one of 2018's most celebrated films, and one of Amazon Studios' most high-profile releases to date.
While promoting the film's release on Amazon Prime Video, we spoke to director Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Milk). The legendary auteur shared stories, of his own origins as a student filmmaker, to this movie's earliest days as Robin Williams' 1990s passion project, to his unique approach to blocking out scenes.
Before I picked up the phone, I was just thinking about your incredible body of work. I mean, My Own Private Idaho, Finding Forrester – which was hugely impactful to me, personally – and now this movie, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot. Are you a person who likes to look back on your work and reflect on your accomplishments? Or are you someone who leaves that in the rear-view mirror and is always focusing on the next project?
Yeah, I don't really go back and think of that. You know, you leave them behind.
Speaking of reflecting on one's past, do you mind telling me a little bit about, just before we get into the movie, being a young man growing up? I know that you moved around a lot, but you were born in Louisville.
I was born in Louisville, but I moved from there within the first year of my life. I grew up partly in Denver, Colorado.
I know that you were shooting short films when you were in high school. Did you know what you wanted to do, who you wanted to be, from a very early age?
I liked shooting short films in high school, but it was because of teachers showing us films. I started making films because my teacher was really encouraging, not because it was my idea. He showed us Citizen Kane. He was probably the most influential...