Carnahan Talks the ‘State’ of ‘White Jazz’


I hope you had a chance to read part one before diving into part two of my 45-minute interview with Matthew Michael Carnahan, the writer of Friday’s release The Kingdom, but if not there will be a link at the bottom of the article to check it out. In part one we discuss The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs and things got rather political. Well, part two takes a turn to the criminal side as we discuss the upcoming films State of Play starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton and White Jazz starring George Clooney.

There is a rather sad story that goes along with talking about his work on State of Play involving his 11-month-old daughter that will have you praying for her tonight and if you aren’t excited about seeing what his brother does with James Ellroy’s “White Jazz” after reading this interview then there is no hope for you.

Enjoy part two of the interview:

You’ve got Cruise, Redford and Streep in Lions and now we learn that Brad Pitt and Ed Norton are getting together again to do State of Play, another script of yours. Any chance you can get anymore big names attached to your scripts?

Matthew Carnahan (MC): [laughing] Believe me man, I’m thankful, we just moved from Chicago to Northern Virginia of all places, we live right across the river from D.C., that’s where my wife is from, and I am thankful I live there because I am removed enough from it that it doesn’t enter my daily existence. I am afraid that if I lived in Los Angeles it would be something people were patting me on the back about and heaven forbid I might start believe it. I might start to believe my own press.

I mean it is a Fight Club reunion, you can’t get any more excited about that.

MC: [laughing] Which I gotta tell you is one of my all-time favorite movies. Chuck Palahniuk, those books, I am an avid fan.

It doesn’t get any better and I am sure there is a ten year drought in my immediate future, but for now I’ll take it.

One thing that has been mentioned is that Tony Gilroy is doing a small rewrite on your State of Play script, which certainly says something since they are bringing on the guy that did the Bourne series to do a touch up. That gets me excited about the possibilities considering all involved.

MC: [a heavy sigh] I don’t know if I am speaking out of school here, but I will tell you and do with it what you will.

I have an 11-month-old little girl who has a vascular disorder right smack in the middle of her brain we found six months ago, it’s called a Vein of Galen Malformation and 15 years ago this killed 80-percent of the kids that had it and now there is a 95-percent cure rate. The guy that is responsible for that transformation is this guy, Dr. Berenstein, at Columbia in New York. So we started to go to him for treatment and this all fired up at the time Kevin Macdonald came on to direct. I went to London and he and I sat down for a few days and put some notes together and “this is how we have to change things around” and “this is what I want to do with the script” and etc.

I kind of did a cursory pass at it, but this was right on the eve of our first jaunt to New York to see this doctor and he called back and this is why I love the guy and I will work with him whenever he wants, he said, “I hate to even call you to talk to you about something as silly as a movie script when I know what is going on with your kids. So you tell me do you want to try and do both or we can get somebody to make these changes and you be with your family?” That’s when Tony came on to make those changes.

Now, things are going better with my daughter, a lot better.

Well that’s good to hear.

Yeah, she has had three of these procedures now and all of them have passed beautifully. It’s a different kind of anxiety and hell and blurry when it is this little adorable, precocious and beautiful 11-month-old baby.

Yeah, so that’s when Tony came on, and talk about an upgrade. [laughing] You go to the guy who’s responsible for the Bourne movies, and I am excited to see what it has become now and maybe some point soon here I’ll jump back in and see what’s what.

That script, just the source material, the BBC series was so goddamn good. If you haven’t seen it, it’s six hours and I swear you will watch at least four of them back-to-back. It’s just so great and this wonderful story about whether or not someone is justified in doing a pretty awful thing, if they themselves are doing great things in other areas of their life? It was the question that helped me and made me want to adapt that mini-series. If they can keep that core question at the center of the movie I think it will be hopefully as much of a success as the mini-series was.

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Weekend: Mar. 21, 2019, Mar. 24, 2019

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