auteur theory

Charlie Kaufman Is Having a Pretty Depressing Existential Crisis: ‘I Wonder If It’s Not Cool or Sexy to Be in Business With Me’

Special Screening Of Paramount Pictures'

Can someone, anyone, give Charlie Kaufman a hug? The critically adored, four-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director — best known for writing Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as writing and directing Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa — isn’t feeling particularly critically adored lately, if his new interview with Indiewire is any indication. In fact, he’s pretty much hit rock bottom in the self-esteem department. “I feel like I fucking blew it,” he said, reflecting on his career. “I don’t feel like I’ve got that cachet that I had at a certain point. I see people seizing the moment when they have the same kind of explosion that I had, and I just didn’t do it. I didn’t know how to do it — I didn’t want to do it. I just thought, ‘Oh, this is good! I’ll be able to just keep working.’”

As if that wasn’t depressing enough, he gets even more existential while speculating on his “failures,” especially in regards to the disappointing box-office performance of Anomalisa last year. “People want to be associated with things that they think are cool, and the business — the indie business, especially — is built on that. I wonder if it’s not cool or sexy to be in business with me,” he continues. “I sometimes see things and think, ‘Oh, that may have been influenced by me,’ and people tell me that they’ve been influenced by me. But I’ve also seen critics say, ‘This is a Charlie Kaufman–type movie, and so-and-so made it.’ And it’s like … why do they get to make Charlie Kaufman movies and I don’t? I think about that all the time.” We think it would be cool and sexy to work with you, Charlie. Hugs.

Why Charlie Kaufman Thinks He ‘Blew’ His Career