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A Conversation With Famously Reclusive Tree of Life Director Terrence Malick*

On the occasion of his latest movie, Tree of Life, we caught up with the interview-abhorring Terrence Malick about the pressing issues of the day.

Hi Terry.
Hi.

It's really an honor to speak with you.
You're very kind.

Did you like American Idol this season?
The warm sense of humor and the sheer innocence of the scene greatly appeal to me.

Some people felt like the judging was kind of bland.
When people express what is most important to them, it often comes out in clichés. That doesn't make them laughable; it's something tender about them. As though in struggling to reach what's most personal about them they could only come up with what's most public.

What'd you think of Scotty McCreery, overall?
He was great. His face glowed with joy and innocence, just like Chaplin, Benigni. He makes you become a child again.

Do you ever do sing? Like, do you do karaoke?
Yes.

What’s your go-to karaoke jam?
I am a big fan of Toto.

“Africa.” Classic. What is it about “Africa” that appeals to you?
It’s the gladness, the innocent quality it exudes … its humor is a celebration of innocence, of the type we don’t really see anymore.

Could you ever see yourself forming a Toto cover band?
I prefer working behind the camera.

Do you watch cooking shows?
Yes.

Did you like Gwyneth Paltrow on that PBS show Mario Batali had?
Yes. She describes what they ate and what it tasted like, as though we might be planning a similar trip and appreciate her experience, this way.

Do you like Ina Garten?
...

Nevermind. Sorry.
I know you're just trying to do your job.

What was it like working with dinosaurs for the first time?
Jokes.

Sorry! What were Brad Pitt and Sean Penn like on the Tree of Life set?
To distinguish themselves, they were always putting on their best clothes.

Like, to go to the club after?
Yes.

Tree of Life's pretty long, right?
Experience it like a walk in the countryside. You’ll probably be bored or have other things in mind, but perhaps you will be struck, suddenly, by a feeling, by an act, by a unique portrait of nature.

Should we bring a sandwich?
Yes. I really do have to go now.

Thanks Terry.
Thank you.

* All quotes Terrence Malick's. From here, here, here, and here.

Photo: BEImages