In 'God's Pocket,' There's A Mad Man Behind The Camera | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

In 'God's Pocket,' There's A Mad Man Behind The Camera

Play associated audio

The 1980s novel God's Pocket, by Pete Dexter, is a story of hapless drunks, construction workers and one washed-up newspaper columnist. The book takes its name from a fictional blue-collar neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Now, it's also a film starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his final movies, and directed by John Slattery, a man best known for his role as the cocksure adman Roger Sterling on the cable series Mad Men. While he has directed several episodes of that show, God's Pocket marks his first time behind the camera on a feature-length film.

When he spoke with NPR's Melissa Block, he confessed to being anxious about it, in a way that Roger Sterling would never admit. "I'm very proud of this film, and I stand behind it," he says. "But I do sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking, 'I hope other people understand it and get it and like it.' "


Interview Highlights

On working with Philip Seymour Hoffman

He's just one of those people that everyone wanted to work with and is very inclusive in the process — you know, puts people at easy and possessing of a good sense of humor. He's an intimidating person, a powerful person physically and vocally, and with all that body of work behind him, people were intimidated. But he would put people at ease very quickly and get right down to work. It was — he is very smart.

On the differences between directing for television and film

Mad Men is Matthew Weiner's vision. So, when you're given a script to direct, you're given marching orders in the form of a tone meeting, which goes on for quite some time. That's where Matt explains why he wrote it the way he wrote it, what it means, the sense of it. You're expected to put your fingerprint on it, but the rest of the DNA is Matt Weiner's.

With the film, I'm making the creative decisions — obviously in collaboration with the other artists. But the trick is, Mad Men is so well-run that if you don't get the shot, chances are you can go back and get it. If you don't get the shot on a small film with 40 people in 28 locations and a 24-day shooting schedule, chances are you won't get another chance.

On the prospect of leaving his signature role, Roger Sterling in Mad Men

Part of the enjoyment of doing a character like this is the length of time it's gone on, but I also wonder if actors worry about being accepted as other characters after playing one for so long. But that's not really in my control, so maybe I could direct something if that's the case. ...

There's so much creativity happening in film and television right now, and so many outlets for it, that I haven't really lost any sleep over it.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

Serial, the hugely popular (and sometimes controversial) podcast spun off from This American Life, wraps up its first season today. NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with Serial creator Sarah Koenig.
NPR

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

The decision to normalize relations is driving all kinds of speculation about American food companies opening up shop in Cuba. But analysts say: Don't expect to see McDonald's there anytime soon.
NPR

In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

In independent review panel calls for changes ranging from a better fence at the White House to a new approach to training and leadership within the Secret Service.
NPR

North Korea Has Invested Heavily In Cyberattacks

American officials have concluded that North Korea was behind the hack of Sony Pictures Company. Melissa Block talks to James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.