Director Alexander Payne Speaks with TNH on His New Film, Downsizing

December 23, 2017

By Kimon Kalamaras,

Downsizing, the new science fiction comedyfrom the Academy Award-winning film director Alexander Payne, hits theatresjust few days before Christmas, on December 22.

The story begins when a young couple played by Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig choose to downsize, physically, and live in an experimental community. The cast includes Christopher Waltz, Hong Chau,and Jason Sudeikis.

Payne spoke with The National Herald via telephone, and he sounded very happy and excited, while he was, as he said” in a former village, which is now part of Patras, waiting for my car to be repaired.”

What’s so exciting about that, wethought,but I didn’t ask. The reason was neither the car nor the new film of course, but the fact that few months ago he and his wife became parents.

He started speaking Greek impersonating a yiayia’s voice repeatedly saying “Prepei na kaneis ena paidi – You Must Have a Baby” and explained “that’s what everyone told me – it was destiny.”
Does he consider spending more time in Greece a huge change from the United States?  “I am American but I am Greek-American. I grew up with a cultural identity which is Greek, which has a very specific and strong identity of its own, a strong culture and a unique religion.”

He explained that most of his relatives from both sides of his family did not immigrate to the United States, and it was only over the past 20 years that he started visiting them in Greece, more and more often. And though with his success from being one of the most accomplished film directors in the world he can live anywhere, he seems to have found happiness in Greece.

On Downsizing, he told TNH that “this film sums up some of the themes that either consciously or unconsciously my cowriter, Jim Taylor, and I have been thinking about for these last 20 years. The story has a science fiction premise, combining social satirical concerns with the human story. I haven’t done a love story since Sideways; Sideways has many things in it including a very delicate little love story, this one has more of a love story.”

He says he has gotten better at visual effects and overall has become more skilled at directing. “I have thousands of extras in this film and I would like to make bigger films one day, more like epic films.”

Describing his process of filmmaking, Payne said “there is a tremendous similarity between choosing actors and choosing the locations and I put a tremendous amount of time into both. They reflect each other, the characters and the locations they inhabit and I have kind of a documentary approach to commercial fiction filmmaking and I want my films to feel very lived-in and accurate and true, especially to the people who really live in the places where I am shooting. Even Downsizing is a kind of road trip, it’s an episodic movie and it definitely is about a journey of the world and a journey of this manplayed by Matt Damon. As for search for love, well isn’t everything a search for love?”



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