The acclaimed film-maker discusses brand-new movie Dont Worry, He Wont Get Far on Foot and how he ended up in a hip-hop video
John Callahan, the quadriplegic cartoonist and subject of the new cinema Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, fits right in amongst the free thinkers scattering the filmography of head Gus Van Sant. In a career spanning three decades, Van Sant has systematically tended towards those insurgents and dreamers who go against the grain of mainstream society. That unorthodox fleck can work to their benefit, as with the porter genius of the populist hit Good Will Hunting. Sometimes, it’s to their harm, as with the free-living drug addict of Van Sant’s early arthouse awarenes Drugstore Cowboy. Most regularly, though, it’s a combination of the two. As considered to be in his biopic medications for Kurt Cobain and Harvey Milk, Van Sant’s got a occasion for martyr, for those working able to transmute the agony of their mere existence into great and meaningful projects.
All of which has brought him back to Callahan, and to the famed Phoenix acting dynasty. Van Sant has wrangled for years with the idea of a film about Callahan’s extraordinary life- a gondola gate-crash left him without help of his legs or fine machine skills in his arms, but didn’t stop him from embracing a pen between his hands and summarizing his hilariously pitch-dark, darkly amusing jokes. The campaign was initially imagined as a collaboration with Robin Williams, and rewritten several times as matters of scheduling or financing precluded a start to make. Williams’ death in 2014 have been able to permanently shuttered Don’t Worry, but Van Sant detected an appropriate permutation in a past collaborator.
” I started from scratch again ,” Van Sant says during a curiously brusque interrogation, maybe due to a shaky phone connection.” The other screenplays from 1997 and 2002 were written for Robin, and this time around, it was my first time writing for John Callahan, writing for the book. When Joaquin got involved, I started writing with the idea that he would play it. I still knew he’d have his own spin on it, though. So I wasn’t so much writing it for Joaquin as I was imagining it with him in sentiment .”
A virtuosic performer who could not maybe care less about prosecuting movie stardom, Joaquin Phoenix reverberates a bit like one of Van Sant’s inventions. The duo first linked up in 1995 for the black comical verite-style violation yarn To Die For, in which a then 21 -year-old Phoenix portrayed a student seduced into carnage by psychotically ambitious newswoman Nicole Kidman. Since then, they’ve remained close as their individual profiles have grown.
“[ Joaquin] is intense, it’s true, but I’ve known him all these times and we’ve kept in touch ,” Van Sant says.” We talk about a lot of things we’re working on separately, but this is our first movie together in over 20 years. He’s very hard-working. We went through the entire dialogue, sheet by sheet. He wanted to make sure everything I was expressing in the fib was something he was in sync with .”