On ‘Licorice Pizza’ in Nashville and Taylor Swift
“Licorice Pizza” – the new film by revered writer / director Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”, “Boogie Nights”) – drops audiences in the San Fernando Valley in California in 1973. After a chance encounter, Teen actor Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and rudderless twenties Alana Kane (Alana Haim) embark on a series of weird, hilarious and heartbreaking adventures through “The Valley”. The journey is littered with jaw-dropping shots, jaw-dropping turns from Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper, and inspired use of era-appropriate pop songs.
Making the movie was also a real splash for its two biggest stars: neither Hoffman nor Haim had ever starred in a movie before. Hoffman is the son of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has appeared in five of Anderson’s films. Haim plays in the rock trio Haim with his two sisters. Critics have praised both actors’ performances, and Haim has just won his first Golden Globe nomination.
After weeks of premieres, “Licorice Pizza” finally opens in Nashville on Christmas Eve. Ahead of the big day, Haim spoke to us about making the movie, his longtime relationship with Anderson, learning to drive a truck, and celebrating his birthday with Taylor Swift.
Congratulations on the Golden Globe nomination. Where were you when you heard the news?
And Critics Choice (Awards), which I’m so shocked about. I never know when these things are announced, and I didn’t really think I was going to get anything. So I fell asleep and woke up with a million calls for my mom. And of course, because I’m me, the first thing I thought about was that there was an emergency and I was sleeping. I call my mom and say, “Oh my God, what’s going on? And she said to me: ‘Critics Choice!’ And I immediately started crying with her. I was so shocked and I am so honored. Every day is a surprise.
Your mother was also Paul’s art teacher in elementary school, and they never forgot each other. You meet a lot of people in the entertainment business, but it seems like a rare and special thing to work with someone who has a connection to you outside of it all.
I feel like I say it all the time, and it’s so weird, but I really felt like my siblings, all my family, and Paul had been circling around each other for so long time. I never thought I would meet him one day. But I knew if I did it would be instant friendship because we have so much in common. Even on a very small scale, our love for the Valley would connect us. And then it happened, and it was like a dream come true, literally. The second that I and my siblings met Paul, we immediately became very close friends.
Speaking of family, I obviously knew your real sisters were playing your sisters in the movie, but it wasn’t until the credits that I realized your parents were playing your mom and dad. How to make a film with your whole family?
I was so happy … He said to me: ‘Who else would play your mother and your father except your mother and your father? We cannot audition someone to be your parents. I liked it so much. The Shabbat dinner scene is a true story that really happened to my family. It was not Shabbat (in real life). It was Passover. And my younger sister brought her boyfriend back then. And during the Passover, you read this book called the Haggadah, which is a story of the Passover. He refused to read, and it was this very awkward family story that we told each other from time to time. I remember telling the story to Paul years ago and then seeing it in the script, it was so funny. I was like, ‘Of course, of all the stories I’ve told Paul in my life, this is the one he wants to put in a movie.’ While shooting the scene, we couldn’t do a single take without laughing out loud. My dad is the funniest human being on this planet. It got to the point where Paul thought, “You have to come to an agreement. “
Do you remember which of his films you saw the first?
The first movie of his that I saw was “Boogie Nights”, of course. This is the Valley, and I’m obsessed with the Valley. I mean, I saw a very modified version of “Boogie Nights”. This on TV, and a lot of the good parts have been deleted for good. But to go back even further, the first time I heard his name was that my sister Este had bought my second sister Danielle the soundtrack to “Boogie Nights”. And I was so obsessed with the soundtrack that I actually thought it was like a “Now That’s What I Call Music” compilation … that’s really where it all started. I just thought he was a guy with really good musical tastes.
Do you have a favorite musical moment in “Licorice Pizza? “
I do. I think that’s when “Let Me Roll It” happens. First of all, this is one of my favorite Paul McCartney songs. I think my siblings and I have been trying to write a song like this for years, and we’re nowhere near it. It’s such a difficult song to capture the same vibe (of). To base a song only on a guitar stroke is like our dream. We do it a bit on “The Steps”, but not anywhere near the epic guitar riff on “Let Me Roll It”. I like this moment. It’s such an epic part of the movie, and it’s unexpected, I think.
“Licorice Pizza” is your first acting role, and in an alternate universe you could have played opposite a super seasoned actor who had made tons of movies and TV. Instead, your co-star is Cooper Hoffman, who has also never starred in a movie before. Was there a benefit to this for you?
100 per cent. I had auditioned with a bunch of young actors who (had been in) many movies and TV shows and were amazing actors. I was reading the script with them and sort of waiting for that overwhelming feeling to be like, “Oh, we’re gonna be able to be Gary and Alana.” And I never had it. I just felt like there was a disconnect. I was waiting for someone to be like my accomplice. I had met Cooper years before, but only once. And when Paul suggested, “How about we make Cooper read (for the role)?” I swear, just with his name mentioned, I was like, “Oh, it’s Gary.” I knew it just from the mention of Cooper.
We flew to New York and read the script aloud together for the first time. I had never read the entire script with anyone before. And I look at him (back) like this like, “Oh, we were amazing. I mean, we were the best actors ever. “And then you ask Paul, and (he would say), ‘They were terrible. (laughs) We were stuttering. I think we were trying to play actors, even though we weren’t even close to being. And we were trying to put on that facade. But Paul saw that we had that kind of mentality. “Us against the world” even reading the script the first time. I knew immediately that Cooper was going to be our Gary. Paul let him sweat a little. We did a lot of camera tests together, and every time. camera test, we just got better and better. And then finally I remember sitting at a table and Paul turned to Cooper and said, “You are Gary Valentine.” We all cried. , and it was very sweet.
What’s the most important thing to remember when driving a really big, really old truck – like you do in a suspenseful part of the movie?
You have to keep in mind, “Don’t get up. That was basically what was on my mind: keep it cool. Me and this truck, it started out as a very tumultuous relationship. You I had to. putting my full body weight in reverse. I’ll never forget the first day I had to drive the truck. The driver’s seat (door () was open. And I was watching the stunt coordinator, Billy .. .a grown man was trying to put that car in that truck in reverse. And then he turned to me, said, “Okay! Your turn!” And I said, “No way. it really took me months. You had to have the perfect touch, and I finally figured out how to do it. I thank Bradley Cooper and Cooper Hoffman for trusting me to lead them around Tarzana. I still don’t know not why, but they did.
I envy the power Paul has as a filmmaker to rebuild a darling restaurant from his childhood – Tail O ‘The Cock – for “Licorice Pizza”. If you had the chance, what would you bring back to life?
A lot of things from my childhood are still there, which is very, very lucky. There is one thing that I really miss the most, that just closed its doors. There was a restaurant within walking distance of my house called Du-pars, and it was on Ventura Boulevard. It was a very old restaurant which was open late. My siblings and I, after seeing a rock show on the east side, would come back to the valley, go to Du-pars and have the best pancakes. When I say “the best pancakes” I mean the best pancakes in the world. And it looked a bit like Tail O ‘The Cock, oddly enough. There were red cabins and dirty carpet. It was the lair in the valley, and now it’s a Sephora, unfortunately.
Happy late birthday, by the way. I saw on Instagram – and in all media out there – that you had a joint birthday party with Taylor Swift. Why did you decide to share a party, and how was it?
Well, we’re both Sagittarians. Taylor is honestly one of the only Sagittarians I know. It’s not a lie that Sagittarians like to have a good time, and we did. I haven’t celebrated my birthday for a few years, obviously, because of the pandemic. So it was really fun having everyone together, blowing out candles and having a dance party.