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The "Caught in the Web" interview at Filmscouts requires a Realplayer Plug-in to view.

The interviewer's words are in bold. I tried my best to transcribe the interviewer's questions, she was not miked, and sounded as though she were speaking through water; at times I guessed at what she said. This symbol denotes my confusion. :-x

Transcript:

Campbell Scott: I'm two people, you know, so I, there's part of me, the idealistic part of me does not believe him and the wary side of me does. Yeah, I mean the new clothes on him is good. The one that from Jimmy Dell, is not the way you'd like to think.

Interviewer: :-x

Well, maybe if it's your experience that's what happens over and over again, you might want to prepare yourself. I mean one of the good things about Spanish Prisoner, I guess, is that there is so much to seduce one out there. Everything from the secretary to the finances in the sky ...

:-x

To the trip, to the gorgeous Caribbean island with the seaplane landing and David understands these symbols. But what he's so good at is of course pulling the rug from underneath all of them. And every one, and I don't think anyone does that better than he does.

The other thing about Mamet is I always find the patterns and rhythms are awkward, and that some actors love it, and some actors hate it. I didn't know which camp you fell into.

Well, I mean, I, he has a very stylized way of writing and I think that he certainly encourages his actors not to get in the way of that when they deliver their lines, so I think sometimes when he writes and directs, you get a real stylized performance, sometimes.

You have to be because there's almost a music that's built in.

Yeah, it's a musical, incredibly musical. I think some actors are attracted to that and some aren't. Personally I am attracted to it because it means that something else is going on. I mean, it's just like any great writer, Shakespeare, I'll throw one out, is interested in not only what their characters are doing, not only their plot machinations are, but in the way that those things are expressed. I think David's interested in that too. Whether or not it works on film. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I think I'm happily, I was happily surprised when I saw the Spanish Prisoner because when you're in every scene like this, like I was in every scene, there's no way you could be objective about it, you just try to do as well as you can, and be truthful, and carry on.

But I was happily surprised at how, style or no style, the movies, richness and dankness kind of accelerates as it goes on. Improves, gets more abundant.

The thing that struck me is that as you're watching it, and you see wheels within wheels within wheels, and by the time you get to the end, you're feeling like, "does everybody lie?"

Right. Well, I think that's what he wants you to ask. I don't know if he really has decided the answer to that question or not.
I mean I don't know him well enough.

Have you decided the answer to that question?

Yeah. I don't think everybody lies. Without a doubt. But I do think that everyone, I mean, lying is easy because you could just do it and walk out. It's I think, presenting something different than what you are over an extended period of time.

Maintaining a lie

Is harder. And I think people that do that are more destructive to themselves and to other people.

The other thing that was fascinating was the way of the con evolved where it's not, it's very spur of the moment, so that really where and your poor character is sitting there going "oh, what's happening?"

Well, I mean people, hopefully identify with that. I mean that's part of the reason I haven't seen it with an audience yet, but people tell me that's the way to see it. Part of the reason people really get engaged during this sort. You know, let's face it, it's a dark movie theater, it's a safe place to identify with being on the back end of one of these horrible whirlwinds where people really do get hurt and violence can be a result, whether it's emotional or physical or whatever, it doesn't really matter. It's all violence.

:-x

Yeah, and that's dramatic.

Something about you looking and dressing like Mamet in this.

No idea who said that or what they're talking about.

Me either.

I mean, there's no doubt that, I mean, personally, I think that there's usually always a character, like most good writers, in every one of his pieces that is probably more David than the other characters.

But that's an internal, it's not an ...

Usually, yeah. But I don't know about the dressing thing. That's so funny. I mean he's certainly, David is very particular about what he likes people to dress as. But that's just, he's particular about everything.

I thought it was an odd comment because I didn't see it at all, and I was wondering if you had.

Well I certainly didn't Play it. David is much too complicated to get down in two hours. I just, you know, usually, I'm one of those actors, I try not to think too much about anything really. I just hope that something comes out that's interesting. That comes from, that doesn't mean I don't think about it a lot, but I usually just try to throw it away after a while.

But that's part of the point. I've had I mean part of what I learned was you do all the work beforehand so that when you're when you're up there, you don't think, you react.

I agree with you. I think that's what the best ones do, yeah.

Otherwise you get very perfect technical performance with no heart.

Yeah, I mean it seems that way although I think it's so blurry sometimes. The camera can really change some things sometimes. I mean I've certainly been wowed by amazingly effective performances, thinking this person's brilliant, and then I seen them in something later, or even met them and work with them and thought, this person's completely technical. I have no connect --, you know, whatever, and vice versa. So it's such a weird ...

:-x

It's such a weird area and usually you're hoping you're working with people who are kind of on the same page.

Early in your career you Stoppard in theater. A. I love Stoppard and B. there's a very similar sly convoluted feeling to a lot of Stoppard.

Yeah. Very intellectual, very, I actually did. One of the first plays I was in was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, but ...

Which were you?

I was Guildenstern.

Now wait, I never remember, Guildenstern was the smart one right?

Guildenstern was the seemingly smarter one, yes. The one who's a little more fed up. But that was in high school, and that actually was with Stanley Tucci, who's a friend of mine and we've done some stuff together. That was the first time I've ever acted in my life. But, so I sort of have a love for Stoppard because that's what brought me into this whole

That actually happens to be my favorite Stoppard.

Yeah it's a beautiful, amazing play.

Well also there's. tendency to be all verbal

Yeah, and at one point they're so bored that they discuss making "a short blunt human pyramid." I'll always remember that because there's just two of them. The guy's a good writer, yeah. But strangely enough with Stanley, the professional Stoppard I did was something called Dalliance, which was very successful in Britain with Tim Curry and a couple of people in the eighties and which we completely butchered at the Long Wharf theater.

Why did you butcher it?

I don't know it's just. It was a horrible production from start to finish. And it was a 90 minute comedy in which our biggest laugh, this was the reaction: [cough]. That was the whole story of that.

Ouch.

Yeah, we were so bad. I don't know why. To even confuse. That was actually Stoppard's adaptation of a Schnitzler play, right, called "Liebelei" which means love play and which is actually kind of a cool little play. We destroyed it.We've lost ourselves, believe me.

And the audience as well.

But that was Stoppard, and he is quick and bright, as David is, and very musical.

And sly and cunning.

Yeah, and likes to pull the things out from under people.

It's funny because Mamet himself, a simultaneous mean-spiritedness and almost the exact opposite and I can't think of the word for it, it's not hopefulness. What would be the opposite of mean-spiritedness?

Well I'm not sure, I think there is, there's always both things going on at a time.

But not always. A lot of people can't do both at the same time.

Correct, and that's what they're good at. THere's always the belief in the generosity of something underneath somewhere, you know, in all of them, in something that is anti-cynical and full of belief.

A long time ago I interviewed a Scottish musician. Do you know :-x?

No.

Oh.

No, but I'm Scottish.

Well that's part of the reason I'm mentioning this because I'm talking. because you were talking about optimism and being jaded and being cynical, and I was saying something about, I'm an optimist and I'm cynical, wait, I can't be both, and his response was of course you can.

Course you can.

A cynic is just the same as an optimist quantity-wise.

Right, I think that applies very much and I think, I also think that's why David is, that his writing is so good, because, you know, he's often attacked for being cynical, for being tough, for being mysogynistic. You know, these are things that come out. And I think my only, I don't know him well enough, and I don't know even his works well enough to comment on that but my objective take on that is that if he was only just those things, we wouldn't care about what he writes, and he wouldn't have lasted this long. There's something going on underneath, even just watching that trailer we just watched.

Which is a cool trailer, we all seemed to like it. There's something about it, both attractive and almost immediately like "help!" at the same time. And that's accurate, it seems to me.

Campbell Scott Companion