I attended a ‘Reel Life’ interview with Brian De Palma yesterday at the Edinburgh Film Festival here in Scotland. De Palma spoke a little bit about The Black Dahlia too, though the focus of the event was mainly the New American Cinema. When asked about his favorite actors (whom De Palma has worked with), he mentioned that he worked with several talented British actors on The Black Dahlia, most notably Fiona Shaw, whom he thinks “can do anything”. De Palma said that he originally read The Black Dahlia about 15 years ago and thought it was a very good novel but would also be very difficult to adapt to the big screen. After seeing L.A. Confidential and how well James Ellroy’s novel was adapted to a script, he regained hope and when he read the script of Dahlia, he thought it was quite good. He mentioned that David Fincher (who was originally supposed to direct Dahlia) and Ellroy worked on the picture for nearly a decade and by the time De Palma got on board, Ellroy was not so involved with the project anymore. But De Palma has the utmost respect for the writer and how multi-layered his stories are.
Over all, Brian De Palma came off as a very confident filmmaker and he was not shy to voice his opinion on the state of contemporary American cinema. He mentioned that he loves to go out and see films and often when he does, he is reminded to go back to work to be able to deliver something good for the audience. But he is very much inspired by film festivals and thinks today’s independent cinema has a lot to offer. He did not mentioned Scarlett Johansson in this interview but a funny co-incidence, he did mentioned a couple of things indirectly related to her. When asked what he thought about Mission: Impossible 3 (a film that Scarlett was supposed to do), De Palma rolled his eyes furiously (he was not shy on mentioning his thoughts on Tom Cruise either and the fact that he did Mission: Impossible for commercial reasons). He also mentioned that he dislikes filmmakers like Michael Bay (director of The Island) and how they shoot action scenes by cutting so fast that you can hardly understand the big picture and the physique of the characters at all.