IT’S A STORY CREDIT. Which . . . I never saw a script. I was really just like a consultant. Wayne interviewed me a few times, and that was it. [Laughs.]
NOVELIST AND SOMETIME FILMMAKER PAUL AUSTER WAS ALSO CREDITED AS A WRITER ON THAT FILM, BUT I GATHER YOU DIDN’T HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH HIM, THOUGH? I know him, and he suggested to Wayne that he contact me.
PAUL AND WAYNE HAVE A HISTORY DATING BACK TO PAUL’S SCRIPT FOR WAYNE’S SMOKE, AND THE FREE-FORM FOLLOW-UP THAT HE AND PAUL CO-DIRECTED, BLUE IN THE FACE. Right, yeah.
WHEN DID THE CHARACTER OF PAW-PAW, THE CAT, ENTER THE PICTURE? Oh, I can tell you that. A lot of the ideas came about for a performance, which then evolved into the movie. So, the first idea for Paw-Paw was for that performance, and it was a day when I was feeling quite stuck with writing, and sometimes when I’m feeling that way, I’ll say, “Okay, forget what you’re writing, just try and write from stuck-ness.” Like, what is . . . what does that sound like? How would it talk? And so I started writing this monologue in that voice.
SO YOU ALREADY HAD AN IDEA OF THE CAT’S VOICE THAT YOU PROVIDE IN THE FILM? Yeah, except it had no . . . I didn’t know if it was human, or what. And then, weirdly, later that day, a car swerved to avoid hitting my dog, and it hit a cat — a stray cat — which was so shocking. You know, I had to bury this cat, and then I came back to the thing I’d been working on, and it just merged with that cat in my mind.
INTERESTING. SO YOU HAD THE VOICE BEFORE YOU KNEW IT BELONGED TO A CAT. Yeah, before I even knew who it was. Yeah. And then, for a long time, it was just like a parallel story. It didn’t connect with the couple at all. And then even in making the movie, it was always sort of held in question, you know? People were often suggesting like, “I think you should cut out Paw-Paw.’ [Laughs.] And I’d be like . . well, what I’m hearing from that . . .
OW! In some ways, it would be quite easy, because the couple is in a world into themselves. You never see them with the paws. But that, to me, was sort of like, okay, this really has to work to earn its keep. Because it’s coming off as weird enough that, like, you have to feel something. And then there was sort of a tipping point, because I kept rewriting it, and rewriting it, and I shot it last. I shot the rest of it, and then edited, and then I shot Paw-Paw.
YOU PROVIDED THE VOICE, BUT YOU DIDN’T PUPPETEER PAW-PAW YOURSELF, DID YOU? Well, I’m not going to say how that was done. [Nervous laugh.] ’Cuz I’m so thrilled that it’s not totally obvious, that I’ve just got to leave that. . . .
FAIR ENOUGH. IT’S ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT YOU DID THE VOICE. I did do the voice. And I didn’t actually think I’d do the voice, ‘’cuz it seemed like, I’m Sophie, so I can’t also be the cat, but it. . . .
BUT IT’S A DIFFERENT VOICE. Yeah, but in the end, so many great actors read for that monologue.