A veritable legend visits “Happy Sad Confused” this week. The story of American moviemaking and celebrity in the 20th century would be woefully incomplete without a chapter devoted to Warren Beatty.
Beatty has counted John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan among friends. He was trained by Stella Adler and discovered by Elia Kazan; he battled with studio heads, flirted with running for public office, and was perhaps the last person to see Marilyn Monroe alive. A delightful person of contradictions — he’s a self-admitted control freak who talks endlessly about how much he values collaboration — Beatty is a charming storyteller who hasn’t done interviews in nearly 20 years. He’s a quintessential hunky leading man with the soul of a comedian.
Beatty is back in the public eye with Rules Don’t Apply (out November 23), a dramedy he wrote and directed that’s set in the waning days of the studio system and just as the sexual revolution was about to transform America. The film, starring Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, also features Beatty himself as Howard Hughes.
This chat goes everywhere, from Beatty’s uneasy relationship with celebrity and why he turned down such classics as The Godfather, Kill Bill, Boogie Nights, and Superman, to his take on the state of politics and the film business today.