Maranda Pleasant: Thank you for making time to do this, I know you’re in Germany right now.
Fisher Stevens: No problem.
MP: What is it that makes you come alive?
FS: Human beings. People’s stories. That’s really what gets me excited. This human condition and people’s stories. That’s what I love. The other thing is traveling. I love to travel, which is sort of why I do documentaries and why I’m in this whole world of movies—you get to meet amazing people and see how other people live. It opens your eyes. That’s what I love.
MP: What is love to you?
FS: Love?! I think love means a warm feeling about a human or a condition, where you feel emotional, and you feel like you want to be around them or it. You want to take care of it or them, the person, and be with them.
MP: What does commitment mean to you?
FS: Keeping your word and being dedicated.
MP: What is it that makes you vulnerable?
FS: Connection. Certain foods—[laughs]—make me vulnerable! I think connection makes me vulnerable. Commitment makes me vulnerable, really.
MP: I’m so excited about your film Stand Up Guys. What was it that got you so excited about creating something like this?
FS: I think the love story between two friends really got me excited. And also the fact that they are loyal and committed to each other in the end. It was a real actors’ piece, and I love actors, obviously. I thought I could get great actors. There was a big challenge in that it was very much written like a play, so the visual style had to be completely created in a way, which they do in most movies but this one in particular. There was no music-type music, there wasn’t that much scene direction at all. It was very much like a dialogue. The guy never wrote a screenplay before, he’s a playwright. And so, I liked all that about it. And I liked the fact that time kind of left these guys behind.
MP: Time left these guys behind. That’s a powerful sentiment. Was there something about this process that was different or special to you? You worked with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin.
FS: It was totally special. We all come from theater. They’ve had these incredible careers. And I was open to just learning from them. At the same time, they looked to me for direction. So it was an interesting opposition, because I also watched them and sucked up any kind of knowledge that I could get from these three masters. It was great. At the same time, I had to be very clear with what I wanted if they asked me. We had rehearsals on the weekends—those were some really great creative times. Lots of storytelling. They were very committed to making this movie as good as it could be, as obviously was I. We kind of all spoke the same language, so that was good. They all did it in a different way but we were all on pretty much a similar page.
MP: You said a lot of it had to do with getting older and how our roles in society are changing, how we have to relate to ourselves differently. What these characters had to go through in the film with aging, did you want to expand on that at all?
FS: It’s such a young society, a young culture. Especially with technology. Technology changing the world so quickly. I think it’s even more difficult for older people to keep up in the world. And that’s a challenge. I mean, I’m not even fifty yet, but I still feel like Instagram and Spotify—I’m trying to stay with it! It’s not easy. The world is going so fast. It’s one of the things we deal with in the movie. The beauty of this old-fashionedness of life—Chris Walken doesn’t have a computer, he doesn’t have a cell phone. He carries quarters, looks for pay phones if he needs them. There’s something really beautiful about that. We try to capture that in the film, as well.
MP: He does that in real life?
FS: Yeah, in real life.
MP: I thought you meant his character. Wow.
FS: And his character.
MP: That’s so great. I didn’t know there were still pay phones.
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