Rex Pickett [Interview]

We’ve had writer’s featured on Trainwreck’d Society in the past.  Some damn good one’s too.  But our latest interviewee is definitely in a league all of his own.  He’s the man who created one of the finest novels to have ever been adapted into a screenplay that would rock the world of Hollywood as we knew it.  He also made wine cool again.
Yes, when Rex Pickett turned, for the most part, away from the world of Hollywood to focus on writing I’m certain he had no idea that his work would soon be once again engulfed around the world of modern cinema.  Around the time that movies really started to suck, there was a cultural rebirth of the independent cinema that brought the art back into cinema.  And while Robert Downey Jr and other comic book heroes continuously and desperately try to suck the art out of filmmaking, there is still some love to be had.  Rex Pickett’s book that inspired the film Sideways became the modern equivalent of some of the greatest art house films of all.
The soul intention in glamorizing Rex Pickett is not to focus on the Oscar-winning film that would become of one of his novels, but when something is just so damn impressive it can’t go unmentioned.  All of his work impeccable.  And we all know that a bad book can still make a good film.  But, a tremendous book is going to make a classic film.  Thus is the case with Pickett and his beautiful anti-hero laced and lovable story.  And he hasn’t stopped yet!  The book now as a sequel, and a third installment on the horizon.  As well as a play directly adapted from his book, not just the film.  Yes, Rex Pickett has transformed the way we look at life, wine, and what we once would like to consider decency in the modern times.
Rex was kind enough to chat it up with us for a minute here at Trainwreck’d Society!  So read on to find out what the future holds, why wine is an important social statement, and how Aliens 3 could have been SO much better.  Enjoy!
What was it like watching your words turn into a Hollywood success with the release of Sideways?
 
Nerve-wracking, then electrifying when it started winning awards and wowing audiences.  Nerve-wracking because the material’s so personal.  If it had failed it would have been a personal embarrassment — as some, I might add, predicted.  But to bare one’s soul, and then have audiences and critics loving it, that’s a high I recommend everyone try. 
How do you think Sideways changed the way people observe the world of wine?  Do you believe a new audience was introduced?
 
Sideways made wine drinking hip.  It skewered both the snobs and the cheapskates.  No longer was it okay to show up with a bottle of Two Buck Upchuck Merlot.  But the way Miles and Maya talked about wine made wine snobbery — which is the monied crowd — look like an elitist bunch, which they are.  Without question, a whole new audience was introduced to wine, and there’re a lot of statistics to back that up. 
Easter Egg
What are you actual thoughts on merlot?  Same as the ever so classic scene in the film with an enraged Paul Giamatti?
 
I’ve written about this at length, and had to answer this question at length.  Winemakers had glutted the market with Merlot for a whole host of reasons — largely because of the French Paradox.  They had vitiated a once noble grape — principally from Bordeux, but also Napa — and they deserved the spanking and the loss of revenue.  However, when I wrote the famous line I didn’t know it was going to be made into a movie, nor did I have any control whether the line would make it into the movie.  So, Merlot makers can blame both themselves and Alexander Payne. 
Last year you released Vertical, the sequel to Sideways, and word on the street is that you will soon make it a trilogy.  Can you give us any insight on what will be happening in the third installment?
 
A woman came to my Sideways the Play and said, “Did you know that you’ve written an epic love story?”  No, I did not.  Sideways is a “bromance” — pardon the horrible portmanteau word — about mid-life crisis and failure.  Vertical, my sequel, is about success.  Sideways 3: Chile is going to, perhaps, be about love. 
Not to dig into too many secrets, but…. is there a chance of a theatrical adaptation of Vertical?
 
This has been suggested to me by everyone who is gobsmached that Vertical isn’t in pre-production right now.  And I’m very seriously considering it.  I’ve already done the adaptation with my sometimes writing partner, Pamela Smith, so the heavy lifting, if you will, has already been done. 
You wrote and directed two independent films in the 80’s, then shifted your way to novels and screenplays.  Any thoughts on directing again?  Anything already in the works?  If not, what sort of film would you do?  
 
I optioned a script of mine titled Repairman.  The deal is for me to direct.  I would like to direct one film in the digital day.  Both my features were made in the analog day and they were brutal.  Barbarous.  So, yes, I hope to direct Repairman if the two women I optioned it to can find me the money. 
I heard that you working on a pilot for an HBO comedy series.  Is this still in the works?  
 
A horrible experience.  Not with HBO, who underwrote it, but with a manager at Leverage Management who is the epitome of pilot development ineptitude.  I got out of the deal before I lost my sanity.  And, it’s too bad, because it was a great idea that was slowly being destroyed by a cretin named Michael Garnett. 
I also got word that you were once working with David Fincher on writing Alien 3, but it didn’t seem to pan out.  Have you consider getting into the world of science fiction again?  
 
It’s a long story and maybe some day I’ll blog about it.  I was one of the last writers on Alien 3.  I worked very closely with Fincher on the script.  It was greenlit by Fox, then Walter Hill, a nasty little man, returned and had it shredded and demanded that Fincher make his script or else.  It was all about politics and ego, not whose script was the best.  Hollywood brings out the worse in people.
Your adaptation for the theatre version of Sideways is doing phenomenal.  For fans of the book and film, what is going to make this a different experience for the fans?
 
A great question.  I like to tell the patrons — because, well, I’m at the theater practically every night — that the play is a pure distillation of my novel, whereas the movie is Alexander Payne’s very faithful take on my novel — faithful, yet seen through the lens of his sensibility.  Sideways was written in the first person from the standpoint of Miles.  When Payne read my then unpublished novel we met.  He congratulated me on it, then said, “You know what I love about your novel so much?  Your characters are so fucking pathetic.”  And that’s how he saw them.  I didn’t.  I mean, when I wrote it I (Miles) was going through a rough patch, but I never saw him as pathetic.  Nor Jack.  A 3-time Tony Award winning director, who read the play script, but hasn’t seen the play, said it best, “It’s richer and more emotionally complex than the movie.”  And he’s a huge fan of the movie!  It’s more of a love story, too.  Payne has trouble with emotionalism in films.  I don’t.  The play IS more emotionally complex.  Also, Miles is funnier.  He’s not so down-in-the-mouth as Paul, brilliantly, played him.  I see him as a more self-deprecatingly funny guy.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
 
A 7-iron I hit 7 feet from the cup on the first hole of my first round of golf in half a year.  I used to be a good golfer.  Some days I still have it.
Stay in touch with Rex at his website, RexPickett.com.  And if you find yourself in the L.A. area, be sure to get yourself down to checkout Sideways: The Play.  And tell us what you thought!
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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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