|Photo by Bob Enger|
Arquette kicked things off with her memories of shooting with Scorsese. “It’s fun. I like the film. We shot it entirely at night. When you shoot at night, there’s a kind of energy—you’re kind of exhausted and it adds to it,” Arquette said. “He is such an incredible cinematographer and has such an incredible energy on the set,” Arquette said of Scorsese.
Similarly, Carmen spoke highly of her time working with Cassavetes. “He said ‘jump and I’ll be there,’” she said of the director. “I saw the way John worked with Gena and he had so much love for her,” Carmen recalled of Cassavetes and his star and wife Gena Rowlands. Seeing their relationship on the set helped Carmen to trust Cassavetes, she said.
“Sometimes things just drop out of the sky. I didn’t really do anything to get it,” Carmen said of being cast by Cassavetes. A friend set up a cold read and Cassavetes said, “It’s yours.” Carmen was incredulous. “I just did a McDonalds’ commercial and he offered me Gloria! I think he just liked my type.”
“He’s the most caring director I ever worked with,” Carmen continued. “I felt very safe with him. He wanted the audience to be in Gena’s dilemma, not just watching it. I think that was the turning point. It became a landmark film.”
“John gets the results. When he was working with the little boy, he would manipulate him in a compassionate way to get the performance he wanted. There’s a little leprechaun in him. Sometimes he would do things. We didn’t know what would happen or why. He had a clear idea of what he wanted. It grew and evolved in layers,” Carmen explained. “I got the impression it didn’t go through his brain. It went from his gut to his heart to you.”
“Scorsese and John Sayles were both inspired by Cassavetes. He made everything very real,” added Arquette.
“Cassavetes cast real gangsters!” interjected Carmen. Then, on a more serious note, Carmen said, “He just came from a place of love and we got that and it made me want to work triple hard to get close to my subconscious. It’s never been as great, as good a time. The entire experience—I’ve never been able to top that.”
Arquette echoed that sentiment. “For me, it was the best experience I had, working with Scorsese. Marty likes to do a lot of takes. He continues until he gets exactly what he wants. I grew up around theatre. My whole family comes from that.”
“I could see the black humor in it,” Arquette said of After Hours. And Griffin Dunne “has such a great sense of humor. He tells the best stories. He makes me laugh.”
Asked how filmmaking in the 1980s differed from today, Arquette commented that “the '80s were different because there were a lot more filmmakers who really loved the art. Less greed and more love for cinema.”
Carmen said that now in the film industry, as opposed to in the '80s, “things are a committee decision. You have to audition for everything. In your own room. In front of a camera and it’s a committee decision. An algorithm on a machine shows where the heat is—which performance has the most followers and cast them.”
Judith Resell is a volunteer for the American Cinematheque.