We sent Mandy in with the New York Press Corps to talk with Darren Aronosfsky about “The Wrestler,” now nominated for two Oscars. Here’s a sampling of what was said back when they first did some press for the film.
Press: There has been lots of press about the comeback of Mickey Rourke and you have a mustache on your face and that is something else that is making a comeback? I’m just curious.
Darren: Probably because Brad Pitt has that moustache. I bumped into him a couple weeks ago and I was making fun of it but what happened is I was just screwing around and I had been on the road promoting the film and I had come back and was scruffy. Rachel, my partner was like, go shave right now and I shaved and I was going to come out messing with her and she loved it. She is like, never ever shave. Totally stuck with it for a while so hopefully eventually she will grow out of it. It was a prank gone bad.
Press: How much of a fan of Wrestling where you before you did this?
Darren: Not really. I went umm well some guys my age had an 8th month romance with Wrestling when we were kids it was pre-HulkMania, though in fact I went to one match in Madison Square Garden and Hulk was the bad guy and he was wrestling against Tony Atlas and he tried to drop Tony Atlas on his balls on the top row and he missed. Tony Atlas pulled down Hulk Hogan’s pants and he dropped Hulk Hogan on his balls and the crowd just went crazy. I lost my voice for three months. So that was my one for instances, it is something you cant escape growing up here in the states because it was such a big phenomenon as it was in Japan and the UK and a few other places but it was so big here yet no one has done a serious film about it. No one ever did a serious look at what this world is and I think that is why most people think it is fake and a joke and then they write it off. When I started to look at it and you jump in ten feet off the top row and your three hundred pounds your going to feel it and your opponent is going to feel it. So suddenly there seemed to be some drama. Then when we started to go to some of these independent leagues and met these guys like Tony Atlas and did research and the guys that you to sell out the LA forum or Madison Square Garden 20 or 50 thousand people now they are out there working for 200 bucks a night just to make ends meet. There is something dramatic about that. These guys were huge huge famous people.
Press: In terms of the cinematography choices, one of the things that impressed me was that you did not go really slick like when people think of your narratives, but you didn’t do that why?
Darren: Once again I just wanted to really do something different than my first three films. Which the first three films were very very formal…every single shot was shot listed and most of them were story-boarded and I just wanted to do something radically different. I went to set without a shot list and I knew what the scenes were and what was happening and what they were about. I was very prepared but I really wanted to try from a completely different approach and I heard directors do that. I think Clint Eastwood does that. He has been making films a lot longer than I have, but I wanted to try a different attitude and also working with someone like Mickey, I wanted to be as unpredictable as Mickey. I wanted to just basically be free to allow him to do anything he wanted and for my camera to be able to receive it any way it could.
Press: (Mandy) How quickly did you know that Robert was the perfect person to screenwrite this film?
Darren: Well he wrote a script that actually is about the New York Giants fans and Philadelphia Eagles fans. Its kind of weird …he just shot it and it got into the Sundance competition. It’s called “The Big Fan.” The kid’s got a lot of talent, but when I read that script it wasn’t called “The Big Fan” back then but I read it and it was great. It was kind of like a Hal Ashby piece. It had a lot of dark humor and a lot of drama and so that was kind of the vibe I thought would work really well for “The Wrestler.”
Press (Mandy) did you take into consideration that he had done something like The Onion for so long?
Darren: NO. If anything that would make me worried but the fact the he delivered a great screenplay made me confident. Then, also that for seven years he edited The Onion and he brought a lot of unexpected things to the table, like he happened to have a huge encyclopedia and understanding of hair metal music. He knew every hair metal song out there in the world so stuff like that that I could have never brought to the table so it was a really good collaboration.