Katharina Kubrick spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the timeless nature of her father Stanley Kubrick’s films, the new ‘Envisioning 2001’ Exhibit at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), Stanley choosing Steven Spielberg to direct A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the Barry Lyndon threats, The Irishman’s de-aging tech, and much more.
It was a great honor for The Natural Aristocrat to interview Katharina Kubrick, daughter of Stanley Kubrick, about her late father’s lifetime of contributions to cinema at the Astoria, Queens based Museum of the Moving Image. New York City’s MoMI will be home of the Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey Exhibition open now until July 19, 2020. Rarely does The Natural Aristocrat get sentimental but to be personally connected to Stanley Kubrick’s family and history in any fashion is truly surreal.
Katharina Kubrick discussed film as an art form, why her father’s work connects seamlessly with generation after generation, her favorite part of MoMI’s Envisioning 2001 Exhibit, Stanley as a family man, and questions film aficionados may be wondering about. Including: Would Stanley have embraced The Irishman’s de-aging technology? What ultimately made Stanley decide to hand directing of A.I. Artificial Intelligence to friend Steven Spielberg? The details of the threats made during production of Barry Lyndon, and the tragedy that made Stanley abandon flying.
Watch the full interview with Katharina Kubrick above or read the transcript below:
Interview with Katharina Kubrick:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: You mentioned earlier at the ‘Envisioning 2001’ presentation that younger fans have come up to you and said, ‘this film is G.O.A.T!’
Katharina Kubrick: (laughs) I’ve only just learned that phrase!
It really makes Stanley’s work timeless. What does it mean to you to have multiple generations always returning to these films no matter how many decades pass?
You know, why do people still listen to Bach? Why do people still look at Van Gogh’s paintings? I think if the art, whatever it is, whatever form it takes, whether it’s a painting or music or film is honest and speaks to people, then it will last. I think a lot of people think that film is a sort of a one view consumer project.
I mean obviously a lot of films are. But if you’ve put a lot of heart and soul, thought and effort, and money into making a movie, to my way of thinking, you should be wanting to make a film that lasts. Why would you make something that you just think, ‘Oh, people are going to forget it by the time they’ve walked out of the cinema’?
Film is one of the great art forms, it involves story and music and acting and design. And it is so all encompassing of all the arts. You have a lot of different artistic disciplines that come into making a film. It’s new, in terms of world art but I think good films make a great contribution to the quality of our lives. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? (smiles)
Were you were heavily impacted by your mother Christiane in pursuing art as well?
Yes, my mother is an artist. She’s a very good painter and has a very good website, ChristianeKubrick.com. Stanley found her when he was in Germany making a film called Paths of Glory, and wanted an actress for the last scene. He was watching television and saw her in a play, called her agent, asked for an interview. And you know the rest as they say, is history.
She had been acting for a living but didn’t really want to be an actress, she always wanted to be an artist. Being with Stanley meant that she didn’t have to act anymore and she could be a painter. So there were two artists living in the same environment and encouraging each other. They were a great team those two. (smiles)
I’ve noticed while listening to you earlier and in general that Stanley always wanted to make his work a family affair. He’d feature you and your sisters in film cameos, utilize family-made paintings and music. Essentially, want all of the family involved in some fashion.
I think if Stanley had his way we would all have worked in the film industry because as far as he was concerned… Why wouldn’t you want to work in the film industry? He was very pleased that I went into the art department and films and had my own career apart from working for him. My late sister Anya was an opera singer, so obviously the film business wasn’t for her. And then my youngest sister [Vivian Kubrick] made a documentary on The Shining.
So, he was very keen for us to be involved because he thought it was the best business to be in. He would involve us whenever he could. We were always together as a family. We always traveled everywhere together. Everything was based from home. And so we were all if not directly involved, we were all there and he would show us drawings or concepts or talk to us about ideas he had. “What do you think about this, and what you think about that?” We were always a team.
One of my favorite movies personally is Barry Lyndon. I’ve read that Stanley received threats for having British soldiers essentially on Irish soil?
No, they were Irish soldiers. Well, what we had is a British film crew and we were in Waterford (city in Ireland) and the soldiers were all Irish soldiers and a lot of the crew were also Irish. But the main film unit was British. We were renting a house and there was a cleaning lady and she said some guys came to clean the windows or paint the house. I can’t remember which way it was. And they said, ‘Oh you know, these people are not who they say they are. We know who these people are.’
There were difficult times in Ireland at the time. And then I think there was a phone call received and it was made very obvious that we needed to not be there anymore. That there was a potential threat against the crew, if not us directly.
I was actually not in Ireland, I was back in England at the time when it happened. They just had to hightail it out of there. Stanley said it’s just a movie, it’s not worth anybody getting hurt for. So he was very pragmatic from that point of view. They moved to England, the whole unit move to England. I went back on the picture and we all started looking for locations again, and we set up the production offices in Salisbury (city in Wiltshire, England).
I’ve always been curious about A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a film that Stanley started being interested in making all the way back in the 70s. From what I’ve read over the years, Stanley really wanted to make this film and it seemed stuck in development limbo. Eventually he asked Steven Spielberg if he would direct the picture.
Why did Stanley feel the technology was never quite good enough prior? I’ve read Jurassic Park had a considerable impact on Stanley decidedly pushing for Spielberg to direct, although Spielberg still wanted Stanley to direct the film. Would Stanley have directed the film after Eyes Wide Shut had he not passed?
No, there were certain sequences in A.I. that CGI hadn’t caught up to at that point. They weren’t very good at doing fur and water. Stanley was very impressed with Jurassic Park. When he approached Steven and said, “I really think you should direct this and I’ll produce,” Steven was surprised obviously. But then I think very encouraged and he didn’t give it back. Stanley was going to do it, after Eyes Wide Shut it was fully his intention to work on A.I.
He told me that he thought he would make it too dark and that it was more Steven’s subject matter. That the two of them would collaborate very successfully. They were really good friends and they talked about it a lot. I think it probably would have been a very good collaboration. I feel is already a really dark film and Stanley thought that Steven’s sensibilities were more appropriate for the subject matter.
I think they more or less agreed that Steven would direct it and Stanley would produce it. I’m very pleased that Steven made it.
How do you feel Stanley would have looked at the de-aging technology recently used in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman?
I haven’t seen The Irishman but Stanley would have loved all the new technology for sure! I think he would have just been finding ways that he could incorporate all the new stuff into a new story. He never knew what film he was going to be making next. Stanley was a voracious reader and he said that finding a good story that he wanted to make and fallen in love with was the most difficult thing for him.
It took him years to decide what to make or to find a good story that would sustain him throughout the filmmaking process. Because you have to really love it and believe in it and trust in your instincts. And then you have to do all the research, which was part of the thing that he liked doing a great deal, was the research. It’s like he cut filmmaking into thirds first third was research, second third was filming it, and then the last third was editing. That was his favorite process of the whole thing, the editing.
Did you personally watch Doctor Sleep?
Yeah, I’ve seen it. Well, I haven’t seen it finished. I saw it a couple of months before it came out.
You mentioned earlier how much Stanley loved New York. I’ve read that after Stanley got his pilot license, he felt that commercial airlines weren’t safe and didn’t really like traveling by flying anymore. Do you feel the choice affected his life in any way?
He did have a pilot’s license and he flew a very small plane himself. What happened was that his good friend was killed in an air accident. Stanley, being his close friend was sent all his personal effects and I think it just freaked him out completely. He just couldn’t cope with it. He just didn’t fly, didn’t have to fly. We always went everywhere by ship.
What’s your favorite part of the ‘Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey’ Exhibit here at the Museum of the Moving Image?
I like seeing all the sketches and the the artwork, actually. It’s good fun. It’s very interesting to see the process, the way people’s minds work in getting to the final result. There’s lots to see!
Be sure to check out the full MoMI Envisioning 2001 Exhibit Press Presentation and The Natural Aristocrat’s tribute article to Barry Lyndon’s use of Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ as a prominent piece overlaying the film.
Ellen Toland spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor and society’s inability to separate job title from human being leading to a culture of objectification.
Ellen Toland’s Emma Taylor in new film Inside the Rain is a quiet looking glass into the day-to-day treatment of commodified human beings. When the fantasy of body sushi and the gentlemen’s club ends and a person trying to resume their regular life off-the-clock begins. Yet, separating the person from their job title appears a distant hope, like spotting individual blades of grass outside. It’s for this reason, among many others, that Emma Taylor finds comfort in another person pre-judged by society. One born with bipolar disorder and treated as such at all times to personal detriment. Even scorned in suspicion for taking their medication due to repetitional bias.
Meet Ben Glass, Inside the Rain’s lead protagonist. Ben is largely defined by one act during Into the Rain, an attempted suicide via overdose. In turn, Ben is later accused of another such attempt when he’s spotted simply organizing his medicine for the week… Leading to an unjust arrest and potential exclusion from university. Thus, Ben Glass decides to make a film about all the events leading up to the arrest as a proactive visual defense. Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill once told Scholarship interviewee Kristy Esposito that, ‘You made a mistake and to them that’s all you’ll ever be,’ and it feels highly applicable to Inside the Rain’s plot. Much like Jimmy tried to drive Kristy to fighting forward even without the scholarship, Emma Taylor feels Ben can be advance forward in his life without going back to a University that preemptively shunned him.
This interview contains spoilers for Inside the Rain.
Interview with Ellen Toland on Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor:Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Nir Regev [The Natural Aristocrat]: A good portion of TV & Film audiences are unable to disconnect the character they see on-screen from an actor in real life. During Inside the Rain, these fraternity looking, rich jocks bother Emma Taylor outside of the strip club she works at. Unable to separate the fantasy of body sushi from a regular person having a smoke after work. I was wondering how you feel about that?
Ellen Toland: Oh, that’s a really, really good question. I think that’s a feminine issue especially and it’s pretty ingrained in masculine culture. To objectify women, having a hard time separating the fact that they are not an object and something to toy with. I feel that’s what that scene really plays upon because those guys definitely don’t see a difference between a human being and their sushi tray.
And I think that’s a real issue with our culture in general.
It’s something that people really need to assess within themselves. I think that happens with people and titles of their jobs in the first place too. We don’t see past the title of what people do, and we make that their entire identity… And then treat them with that sense.
Do you feel Emma’s openness lends itself to accept a bipolar person intimately into her life despite his involuntarily asylum stay? There’s many that would have second thoughts after seeing someone forcibly institutionalized but you decide to donate Ben $5,000 dollars for his student film.
Yeah, I feel Emma’s seen a lot of different types of people and has a deep well of empathy & understanding for people. She kind of sees that with Ben but I also think it’s matched with Ben’s acceptance of her and building her up. Which I don’t think she’s had a lot of in her own life. It’s the perfect combination of both of them meeting each other exactly where they’re at, building each other up, and ultimately eventually move on in their own lives.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
What was it like shooting the scene where Emma’s having dinner with Ben’s parents and mentions she works at a strip club?
I think my choice going into the dinner was that Emma hadn’t been introduced to a lot of parents and treated normally. She’s meeting their possible judgment by just really owning it and trying to almost test them out too and see how they’re going to react. When it’s met with genuine acceptance as well, she’s pleasantly surprised. Shooting that scene was really fun and the restaurant was very sweet to us as well, we ate a huge meal! [laughs] That was great, never bad to get to eat on set, you know?Catherine Curtin as Emma Glass and Paul Schulze as David Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw an interview with you and Aaron Fisher where he said, ‘During auditions it just kept going back to Ellen, Ellen, Ellen!’ What do you think was that X-Factor won you the role?
Ultimately, I feel Aaron and I had a pretty natural chemistry. One that you can’t really manipulate with actors necessarily. All the pieces fell together. We really had a good energy together and you really need that in a romance. (laughs)
Inside the Rain left things a little bit open ended for the ending. Why do you feel the choice was made not to send the audience home feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ with a full happy ending?
I mean I think it was also being realistic to what really would happen in real life. Aaron was also basing the film off of his own life. He wanted to play to the truth of that. And I think they both needed to go and own themselves. They’d been given that confidence, and that’s what’s so good about the flash forward at the end.
It showed that that’s why Ben made that choice, that he really could move forward and ended up with the person he was meant to be with. We have people in our life all the time that are just chapters that are meant to lead us to end of our own story, it doesn’t make those chapters any less important.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Inside the Rain feels so much like art imitating life. I have to ask… Is Emma Taylor the real name of the girl portrayed in the film?
Oh, no it’s not her real name! (laughs) It’s loosely based off of someone but it’s definitely not the same name! There’s elements of Aaron’s life in the film, I’d say 60/40 but the film is loosely biographical. Like the last ten years all stirred around into one movie.
Do you feel being aware that Aaron knew this person impacted your interpretation in any way? Or did you still approach the role in the same way you would any other?
You think about it for sure but you also want to create your own vision of it and own that. Aaron and I definitely talked a ton about Emma but he gave him lots of room to make my own decisions. Aaron’s an actor’s director!
There was kind of a frugal moment toward the end at the fast food joint where Emma is adding everything up on her head. It seemed based on those sexually fueled videos she was making outside of her main job and the $5,000 donation that she’d be rich. How do you feel about that scene?
That scene is trying to say that she’s working really hard to get where she is, and knows the worth of a dollar. Feeling at the same time that Ben hasen’t had that kind of struggle. I think you can be making a lot of money and still be frugal. You remember how hard it was to get there.
Why do you feel that despite ‘red flags’ being present, Emma decides to donate the money for Ben’s film? Did Ben’s dream become Emma’s dream and intertwined at that point?
Yeah it all becomes mixed up. I think it also becomes her dream. Emma sees this person that she cares about and understands how important it is to him. There was no too big of a feat to make that dream come true.
Would you like to reprise the character of Emma Taylor potentially in another film?
I love Emma! She’s so brave and strong, I really adore her. If there is an Inside the Rain: Part 2, sure. I mean Aaron and I are really good buds, I love working with him. I’d love to work with him again, of course!
How much of yourself do you see in Emma as a character?
I think that any person you play, you bring an element of yourself. There’s things that are different, there’s things that are the same but I don’t think it’s necessarily conscious. You just bring as much of your research on their perspective of the world as you can. Whether that’s the way you move or even read things. Maybe there’s pieces of yourself in that. It’s a weird little mixed up bag.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw you studied over in RADA, one of the best acting schools in the world. How do you feel it established your foundations as an actress?
It was amazing! I loved it, some of the best professors I ever had were there. It was something I’d always dreamt of doing and I loved London. It was a really important step in developing my craft. Everything that people say about it… It’s all true! It did not disappoint.
Read more Film and Television interviews in The Natural Aristocrat’s Interview category section. Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat TV with Host Nir Regev interviewing leading talent in the entertainment and sports industry on-camera!
Charlotte Nicdao spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Poppy’s endearing and eccentric personality quirks like a fascination with dinner parties and shovels on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Charlotte Nicdao took a Myers-Briggs personality test in-character as Poppy to get into the role’s psyche on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. Nicdao believes Poppy is the type of personality that can become a “mastermind” at any individual specific thing by being hyper-focused on it… But be terrible at everything else in the process. Hence, Poppy’s insistence on making her early season ideas of in-game dinner parties and a seemingly throwaway item like a shovel work.
During a roundtable press interview in New York City, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the makeup of Poppy’s personality with Charlotte Nicdao and why sometimes ‘a shovel’ is more than a shovel.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Interview with Charlotte Nicdao on Poppy:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Poppy has these unique personality quirks about her like being exceptionally keen on dinner parties or even shovels. I think that says a lot about her character’s backstory. Do you feel it’s true that Poppy has never been to a dinner party before?
Charlotte Nicdao: We did have this idea that she’s incredibly intelligent but just can’t get her head around how to connect people. That’s the thing that Ian, Rob’s character, is really, really good at. And maybe part of the reason that Poppy isn’t able to get credit that she deserves. But Poppy just doesn’t really understand how other people function. I did this thing before we started shooting called a Myers-Briggs test for the character. You know those personality tests? I answered it the way that I thought that Poppy would answer it and it was fascinating what came out.
Poppy has a personality type, and I think this is really accurate to the character, who would become focused on one specific thing and become a mastermind at it. And it could be anything! So, this kind of person could choose to be social and be brilliant at it… But be terrible at everything else. And I think that’s who she is. Poppy’s the most brilliant coder in the world! Everything else is just a mess. (laughs)
Was the use of a shovel supposed to be a symbolic metaphor for always trying to kind of dig yourself out of Ian’s plans?
I didn’t think of it like that but I like that analogy! I think it was a really cool idea for me that Poppy is someone who’s basically been with the game since its inception… And is in charge of creating all these ideas that Ian has, turning them into something that’s playable. The thing that she holds dearest to her in the expansion, her beloved idea, is a tool that allows the players to do what she’s done: create something that’s lasting, that then other players can interact with. I thought that that was quite beautiful, which is not something that you would usually think of in association with a shovel.
There’s a part in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Quest where Poppy tells her boss David [David Hornsby], ‘you know that’s why your wife left you.’ That was pretty brutal! How did it make you feel to say those words?
Megan Ganz (Series Co-Creator/Writer/Executive Producer) came up with that on-set. She came up to me and was like, “When she says this, throw that in!” I love it when Megan is on-set, she gives me really good jokes!
Charlotte Nicdao on Social Media:
The Natural Aristocrat recently interviewed Charlotte Nicdao’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet co-star F. Murray Abraham (C.W. Longbottom) on his role and backstory on the series.
More Interviews at The Natural Aristocrat:
F. Murray Abraham spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the backstory of C.W. Longbottom on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, one of the definitive highlights of the new Apple TV+ series.
Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham’s ‘C.W. Longbottom’ is one of the top reasons to watch Apple TV+’s new gaming focused comedy series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. C.W. Longbottom is a writer still living off the prime of his prose, providing backstories for the show’s ‘faux’ game Mythic Quest… While laying hints to the groundwork that led to ink on paper, including a lost love that led to a lengthy stay at a hospital. If you get the drift!
F. Murray Abrahjam’s uncanny pitch-perfect comedy timing is a driving force on the show’s opening episodes. During a roundtable press interview in New York City ahead of the show’s Apple TV+ premiere, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the mysterious C.W. with F. Murray Abraham and the vital importance of a backstory.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: My favorite part of your character C.W. is the mystery surrounding your own backstory while simultaneously being the giver of backstories. Throughout Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, C.W. peppers in these hints like the girl he had a fling with in Morocco inspiring him. Poppy [Charlotte Nicdao] yells at C.W. around episode 2, “Enough with the backstory!” As an actor, have you ever picked up a script in your career and thought there was too much backstory?
F. Murray Abraham: I could be flip and say everybody else is a back story. (laughs) I’ve worked with Harold Pinter, he directed me in my first Broadway show. That was a play that he bought, we became friends. He became friendly with quite a few people, he’s a good guy. He didn’t look like he was, he was called the Sphinx but in fact he was very funny. Anyway, we had a play of his that was being done in town at the same time, and he was overseeing it. It was an off-Broadway production and there was something wrong with it. We were looking at the script and talking about it… He said, ‘I want to cut this and I want to cut this and try this. It’s not working.’ I said, “You have to try it, you really have to try it and try it and try it before you throw it out.” Because I believe that the discovery is not over until it’s absolutely impossible.
In a time crunch business like this one, you don’t have that much time. So, going into it with a good script which is what these have been so far, is really essential. My backstory, I want to examine that more and more because what he represents when I’m talking about another century, which is what it is, another century. It was kind of the heyday in the 60s and 70s for writers. There was a lot of money being thrown around. So, if I said at that time because I had won a series of awards, my character, ‘Yes, I want to write this book but I want to write it in Morocco. I want to write it in New Orleans. I want to write it there.’ I mean C.W. could do that and it was a style. It was a way of living. It was fun to travel in those days and it was possible to introduce his idea of a back story, his idea of how much it meant.
I think that he was kind of coddled at the time. And he still is coddled in a way in this current situation, he’s looked after, kind of. He’s put up with for certain things. I feel that backstory is essential. Ms. (Ashley) Burch brought this up earlier, fighting for the back story is something that she does because she understands the value of it. I think it’s essential to the success of this series, that each of us starts to reveal their backstories because it’s not enough to see how friendly we are with each other. And we are by the way! We have to start seeing the characters fleshed out a little more. I would like to see something on my character’s tragedy. I would like to touch on that. Or a love. There is much to explore!
C.W. is my favorite character on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, your comedy timing is so precise.
Thank you, I love the character! How can you not like playing this character? I’m a flamboyant actor to begin with. My favorite characters on stage have always been that kind of character. I love Opera and one of the reasons is the gesture. I think that the theatre is suffering because it’s too kitchen sink stuff. I think it’s more designed for a stage as a stepping stone to the movies and television. There’s nothing wrong with that but the essence of the theater, the size of the theater is missing. I think it’s necessary.
Circuses and Opera are fun because of that size. I live for it. But if you were to try to capture what it means to go to a Greek drama. Some Greek tragedy pick one, Oedipus. They really only lasted if you do them, the way they were supposed to be done written. It’s only about an hour long and at the end you’ve come out of this with a cathartic experience… But that can only be accomplished by the screaming and the Sturm und Drang on the sides. And I think this character still is attached to that world.
He’s funny because he’s absolutely sincere about it and I’m sincere too. But also he just has a good time, I think it’s important that he relishes this life. I think it’s one of the things that keeps him alive and keeps him functioning. What it does is keeps him youngish. I feel the same way about myself. I believe that the only way to stay young at least in your mind, in your heart, is to work with younger people and to continue to work. Some of us are not lucky enough to continue to work, to get to work.
I believe you can find the work, whether you are a famous actor or you are still struggling. As an older man in this business, there are so many theaters in New York, you will find a place to work if you put yourself out there. Even if it means reading plays. What I’m suggesting is that in this production, in this series, you have four generations of actors. I don’t think there is another show that can claim that. And it’s not just an old guy who happens to be peripheral. He really has something to say and it’s important to him, and it becomes important to the show.
But more importantly or as important, he has something to learn. And he’s not beyond learning! That’s an interesting aspect of this character, and that’s where Ashly (Burch) steps in because she takes it on herself… Without being snotty and nasty to me, to teach me how to do this. In return, I try to teach her what it’s like to work the classics into her work.
Just wanted to say, I really enjoy your work as Dar Adal on Homeland!
Oh man, those are some great scripts!
Watch Apple TV+’s new gaming development/streaming world comedy sitcom series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet now.