INTERVIEWER: In that vein, while there’s a lot of diversity shown in the animal kingdom, there’s no racial diversity in the cast. Can you speak to that?
ARI HANDEL: From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.
““I think if Dickens was alive today, he’d have been working for the BBC, until HBO offered him much more money.””
— Roddy Doyle discusses television and his short story in this week’s issue of the magazine: http://nyr.kr/1mUhHxZ
I always thought that if Charles Dickens were alive today, he’d work for a hula hoop manufacturer, but in human resources— he’d handle the sexual harassment complaints for the other hula hoop employees. But that would only be during the day. At night, he would dance for money, at an exclusive warehouse populated with a small, select group of sinister men wearing Halloween masks of recently deceased celebrities. Weekends, he would spend with Will Shakespeare, who if Charles Dickens were alive today, would probably also be alive today.
The movies I made, I wasn’t even trying to make them diverse. It’s just when you’re a filmmaker of any ethnicity, you’re going to write from your own experience. So all my scripts started with “Hispanic character…” then I’d be like, “Oh, gosh, now I have to find an actor to play this,” and then I’d find there were no actors in Hollywood. It was puzzling.
When I was doing “Spy Kids,” the Weinsteins asked me — not that they were being jerks at all, they were just wondering — "Why are you making the characters Hispanic? It doesn’t make any sense, isn’t this supposed to be for everybody?" “Well, it’s based on my family.”
They’d just never seen it. Hollywood is very much… no one wants to do it first, because what if they screw up? If someone else does it first and it’s successful, then that’s something we can imitate. It just makes business sense for people not to constantly be putting themselves out there.
[Weinstein] said that, and it really put me on the spot to come up with a reason. “Why not just give them American names? It’s America, it will confuse people.” I said “They are American — they’re based on my family, so they’re Hispanic, but they’re going to be speaking in English. It’s going to be for everybody.” But no one had done it before, so there was nothing to point to.
"But why?” They couldn’t understand why I was doing it that way, and I couldn’t come up with a good answer. And I realized, wow, if I wasn’t Hispanic, I would have folded, I would have changed the name. That’s why there weren’t more scripts like that. Somebody would have asked them at some point “Why are you doing it that way?”
Finally, I came up with the right answer. I said “You don’t have to be British to watch James Bond. Making him British actually makes him more universal because it makes him very specific.” And they were like, okay, that makes sense. And we did it, and “Spy Kids” was a big hit. And those who were Hispanic, it really meant a lot to them. People have come up to me for a lot of years since and said “You changed my kids’ whole life. They see little kids who are Hispanic that are spies and they saw your name as the writer and director and you changed their idea of what their future could be.” The ripple effects of that one movie were enormous.
To me, the core of that attraction is that she is a better reporter than he is. Think about being Superman for a second. The Olympic record for weightlifting is 1,038 lbs., but you could lift more than that as a child. The record for the 100 meter dash is 9.58 seconds, but you can travel over 51 miles in that time. Going to Vegas? You don’t need your X-Ray vision to win at Blackjack, because you can just count the cards while holding down a conversation about nuclear physics. Without really trying, you are better at just about everything than anyone else in the world.
However, (as Mark Waid once pointed out in a podcast with Marv Wolfman) none of that really translates to your chosen profession. Typing really fast does not help your prose. Being able to lift a tank does not help you convince a source to go on record. It is as near to competing straight up with normal people as Superman would ever be capable of. Even then, it comes easily enough to him that you get a pretty lofty perch at a great paper very early in your career. It is just in this one context, there is someone better than you are: Lois Lane.
As mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, you reach up for the first time in your life and she rejects you.
To me, it is an inversion of the Luthor story. Luthor sees someone above him and feels hate. Superman sees someone above him and feels love.
Hi Dan - Community is my favorite television show and Grantland is one of my favorite websites, so when Grantland posted an article about you today I read it. And also the article Alex Pappademas wrote about you a while ago, I read all of its words. I think I am like you, I am the most brilliant amazing person I know. And also an egomaniac asshole. But I'm only 21 years old. What advice do you have for a 21 year old version of yourself?
Skip the cocaine. Best case scenario, you become a bad person for a half hour and then need more coke; worst case, you end up homeless or dead.
Don’t judge things that make you jealous and don’t lie about the jealousy. Just say you wish you had something and figure out if there’s a way to get it.
Good writers hate bad writing but hating bad writing doesn’t make you good. Writing badly does.
Luck and talent are the same thing, and neither of them have anything to do with your value as a human being.
When someone gives you a compliment, and you tell them they’re wrong, you’re not being humble, you’re being rude.
People attempting to prove you’re a bad person will shut up if you admit it, and they’ll leave you alone if you ask them to help you be better.
You’re going to marry Erin McGathy so try to be up front about that with all the women you date for the next 27 years.
You can’t control the outcome of your actions, so make your actions fulfilling. That way, if the outcome is shit, you weren’t a total sucker.
Brush your teeth at night and cut down on the carbs. Gawker and TMZ don’t scour the archives for your only hot photo.