19th Apr2010

Tony Kaye: The Interview

by Todd

This interview has a preface. When we discussed the idea of approaching Tony Kaye for an interview, we recognized that we were talking about an immensely talented, complex and interesting person. From his early days of directing music videos for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul Asylum and Johnny Cash to his direction of the seminal film, American History X, his contribution to “art” makes him a compelling subject. When you add some of the anecdotal stories of his past, he becomes even more fascinating.
Upon the release of American History X, Kaye has been quoted as saying that he was largely excluded from the cutting process and claims, that co-star Edward Norton re-edited the film to give himself more screen time. The debate quickly escalated. Kaye spent $100,000 of his own money to take out 35 full-page ads in the Hollywood trade press denouncing Norton and the producer, using quotations from a variety of people from John Lennon to Abraham Lincoln. He attended a meeting at New Line to which (to ease negotiations) he brought a Catholic priest, a rabbi and a Tibetan monk. When the company offered him an additional eight weeks to re-cut the film, he said he’d discovered a new vision and needed a year to remake it, and flew to the Caribbean to have the script rewritten by the poet Derek Walcott. He (reportedly) attempted to remove his name from the credits and use the traditional pseudonym Alan Smithee. After the producers, New Line Cinema, told him to pick a different name, he chose Humpty Dumpty. The Directors Guild of America ultimately denied Kaye the right to remove his name from the production, on the grounds that he had placed ads in Variety magazine attacking the film, thus violating Guild rules regarding the right to invoke the Smithee pseudonym.
A quick search of the internet will provide you with many other stories that add to the mythology and piqued our interest further. We spent the next six months exchanging emails with Tony and working to schedule this interview.
Once we actually were able to do this interview, we experienced several challenges that added to the intrigue. As you’ll hear, there were several delays throughout the interview as Tony paused after certain questions (some of which were edited for increased listenability). He also indicated early in the interview that he didn’t want to talk about American History X. In the end, we were able to get him to discuss the film in some detail. We purposely refused to admit any prior knowledge of the difficulties he had with Ed Norton or the studio in the production of the film, in hopes of getting an honest take on his feelings about the subject. While the interview felt like a tightrope walk, we felt like we accomplished our goals and have provided you with a fascinating discussion of his history.
We also felt that this interview had to be “heard” to be appreciated to the fullest. To transcribe it, would have done it a disservice. We certainly hope you enjoy this weeks’ podcast as much as we enjoyed living it.

TonyKaye by thedumbingofamerica.net

2 Responses to “Tony Kaye: The Interview”

  • admin

    Tony personally maintains his own Facebook page. You can send him a message there.

  • Ryan Kappala

    Hi Tony Kaye,

    My name is Ryan, I have a story some of which are inspired by true events and looking for some opportunity to discuss with some well know director, the story is all in my mind and want to write in papers but don’t know how to start. I know you don’t have much time but all i can guarantee you that there is a possibility of you getting nominated for the Oscars again if you make this movie.

    this is a story which i have gathered since 7 years. I hope you can encourage new people like me who has hope but no resource.

    Hope to hear you soon.

    Thank you

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