(Corrects error in film title from "You Are Here" to "Are You
Here" in paragraph 4)
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES Aug 20 As the creator of "Mad Men,"
AMC Networks' period TV drama and its brooding, dysfunctional ad
man Don Draper, Matthew Weiner has had some experience in
exploring the male psyche.
In his directorial feature film debut "Are You Here," in
theaters on Friday, Weiner wanted to tackle the reality of a
male friendship through actors Owen Wilson and Zach
Galifianakis, showing two grown men in a state of arrested
Weiner, 49, spoke to Reuters in his Los Angeles office,
decked out with props from "Mad Men," about concluding Don's
journey, the Emmy awards and his future plans.
Q: What did you want to explore about the "bromance" through
two childhood friends in "Are You Here"?
A: They think they're in a stoner comedy together, and then
all of a sudden you realize Owen's character has a substance
abuse problem and Zach's character is mentally ill. As the
reality starts to sink in, it's not like there's no jokes
throughout it, but you get stripped away to what I hope is a
more poignant and slightly emotional examination of what holds
Q: Why choose comedy staples Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis
and Amy Poehler for this much darker take on life?
A: You can't teach people to be funny, they either are or
they aren't. And these are three deeply funny people to the
bone, and the fact that they could use that and change the tone,
you feel the poignancy because you feel them losing something.
Q: With "Mad Men" wrapping up, are you looking at more movie
A: I'm not withdrawing from show business, but I am using
this period, at least until the show goes off the air, to
replenish and find out what's on my mind. I know I'm allowed
that, but there's also the thing where you're like, 'Will
everybody forget you? Will you be scrambling when you get back
to work?' ... You don't want to disappear.
Q: How do you feel about "Mad Men" nominated for four Emmys
next week, including best drama again?
A: I am thrilled that we are included in this again. The
fact that none of the actors on our show (have won), I have all
of the chauvinism I can possibly have about the fact that these
are, and I think will remain recognized, as some of the great
performances of their era and this era in television.
They are nominated, it's not like they're being ignored and
the show has been recognized, but every year there's a story
about why Jon Hamm was beaten by someone else, or about
Elisabeth Moss and why she wasn't nominated. You just don't want
the lack of recognition to be a reflection on the quality.
Q: Fans are already discussing how Don's journey will end
next year. Does that put pressure on you?
A: I am constantly interested in the audience, I want them
to work a little bit because they get pleasure out of putting
things together ... but when it comes to the ending of the show,
the audience has so many voices and it changes over time. I keep
my solicitation of opinions to my wife, my incredible writing
staff, the people I work with and the actors. They are the
audience that I am interested in pleasing, and none of them have
ever withheld honesty from me.
Q: You showcased New York in "Mad Men," but you grew up in
Los Angeles. Would you explore L.A.'s history in future
A: I don't even know if I know yet what Los Angeles is
necessarily. Los Angeles to me, the best version of it is
"Chinatown." I'm a little bit intimidated by the concept of it,
it's hard, it doesn't reveal itself immediately, it has to be
looked for, and maybe that's something to think about. Maybe you
gave me an idea!
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and G Crosse)