Oprah Talks to Julie Taymor
JT: Bono? The most fun, next to my sweetheart. Or equal to my sweetheart.
O: Equal to Elliot.
JT: You know Bono, right?
JT: He's so fun. We would meet in Dublin or at their place in France or here in New York. Edge is the scientist, meticulously writing everything down, and Bono is just a ball. So it's been a blast, because other than Elliot, I've mostly worked with dead composers. And over all these years, we've kept on meeting and working. Through different heads at Marvel Entertainment and through different producers, we stayed, and all our collaborators stayed.
O: And it was delayed and delayed.
JT: The delay was not as big as the press has made it out to be.
O: Well, I don't think you do anything until it's ready. Period.
JT: Exactly. It's just that it's Spider-Man, so it's big news.
O: Does it make you nervous to have so much attention on it? Or is that a good thing?
JT: You know what that's like.
O: You just gotta deal with it.
JT: That's right. Although I hate it. Lion King cost $29 million 14 years ago—which would probably be equivalent to $50 million now. But back then people didn't care about money like they do today. It's the same with movies: Everything is about box-office gross. Just once can we please talk about the film, for God's sake?
O: I know what you mean. On Monday everybody wants to know about the weekend grosses—not about what was good.
JT: Right. Our entire sensibility is gone. To me, this is an enormous tragedy. Because people don't see the movies that would move them or could be interesting.
O: You're right. More important, you can't put this much of your heart, your soul, your energy, your sacrifice—100 percent of yourself...you're not doing all that for a dollar return.
JT: And why would you be upset about the cost when it's not your money? It's not public money. It's the investors' money—and they're happy. They wanted to do Spider-Man on Broadway—of course it's going to be complicated and technically challenging. We're doing stuff that's never been done before. There's a whole rooftop scene on top of the Chrysler Building. There's flying and motors and wires and things that I don't even know how they did them. I mean, what are you going to do—fly like Peter Pan onstage? Mary Poppins—we're supposed to go like that? Is that what the audience wants? So it's up to the producers. Tell me what kind of show you want, and I'll think it up.
O: Watching just the few scenes I saw last night, it feels like an enormous thing to get done on time.
JT: It is. It's a big story. And in this day and age, everyone gets to see you working the kinks out, because we don't go out of town for previews anymore.
O: The previews happen right here.
JT: Lion King had its first preview in Minneapolis, and we actually had to stop in the middle of it. The producers came out onstage—it was very funny—and said to the audience, "Aren't you the lucky ones—you're at the first preview, and guess what? We can't do the scene change without stopping. So just sit in your seats—it's going to take ten or 20 minutes." And they sat there. We spent the rest of that week writing a new scene, downstage, so we'd have time to change the scenery. That's what previews are about.
O: Figuring all that out.
JT: But now there's no point in going out of town, because of the Internet.
O: Because everyone's a critic. So by the time you finish the first preview, whatever happened is already out there.
JT: Right. You know, you asked me once about fear; well, that's a fear we all have—will people see through the technical mishaps that can happen? All we can do is pray that the audience will say, "There's a show there."
O: Listen, I've never cared bupkes about Spider-Man—and I've called four people already. I can also tell you that I left the set yesterday with a greater sense of the possible. I actually had flying dreams last night, for the first time in maybe three years.
JT: That's beautiful.
Next: Taymor on the reaction she hopes to elicit from her audience and what she's proud of