For over forty years, he has been so much more than an extraordinary film director. He is a storyteller, a wizard of imagery, a modern-day Georges Méliès and an artisan capable of creating dreams with one consistent feature: quality. Between two film shoots, he talks to us about another of his passions: wine.
You once said that it was Stanley Kubrick who introduced you to wine…
In 1979, I was finishing the shooting of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ in Great Britain, whilst he was putting the finishing touches to ‘The Shining’. At that time, I was using the set that he used but then it caught fire. We had to finish our productions in France and fate brought us together. For years, we wrote to each other on a friendly basis. Then he invited me to his house. We spent hours chatting and he literally harassed me with questions about my projects, my ideas, cinema, children, life, all manner of things. At the end of the day, I felt completely drained. Stanley was like that – he would suck out all that grey matter from your brain until you had nothing left to give. To get the conversation flowing, I remember he got out his favourite wine – an exceptional red wine he’d found somewhere, goodness knows where.
Would you say you know about wine a little, a lot, like crazy?
I am fascinated by wine and its culture but I have to admit it’s a complicated subject. When you meet experts, you are always afraid of looking like a fool. And when you meet people who know nothing, you find it difficult to show off how much you know. Nowadays, I’m happy with a little vineyard just down from my house. I won’t be stealing the limelight from the top French growths but, well, getting your hands dirty and seeing bunches of grapes grow is a sight that I never tire of.
Apart from your wife, who else do you enjoy savouring good wine with?
With Tom Hanks! In my mind, Tom is the number one actor, beyond a shadow of a doubt. In fact, I believe he’s the greatest actor in the world! And if you could choose the two greatest actors in the world, I would add Mark Rylance. Having both of them in ‘Bridge of Spies’ was a huge privilege. Tom and I have known each other for a long time. We have shot four films together but also produced mini-series such as ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Pacific’. We are partners, friends and Tom is also godfather to one of my children, which brings us even closer together. When we work together, I feel like we finally share the same brain.
Interview by Frank Rousseau, our correspondent in the United States
Gilbert & Gaillard Magazine n°31 - Winter 2017