What did you learn by doing Apocalypse Now?
That a guy, having been blessed with the success of Godfather at 32 years old, could go off and make a film about Vietnam and no one would touch it – no studio would help him and none of his actors would join him – and then put up his own money, make a movie, and then be damned by Variety for having done this. It’s absurd. And then everyone applauds Superman – a man in a silly suit flying around. So that’s Apocalypse Now, that’s what it was about. That’s what I learned, that we live in a world of incredible contradictions that everyone accepts. Look at the movie industry: what is allowed to be made into a movie? It’s only a certain kind of thing. When someone goes and tries to make a movie that is personal and different there is barely any interest.
Today you seem to be very calm but sources say that you were much different years ago. Apparently after The Godfather and throughout the shooting of Apocalypse Now you became an eccentric version of Don Corleone yourself.
I was trained as a young person in theater and theater is very much like a family. You go to rehearsal and coffee after the rehearsal, you fall in love with the girl who’s there. It’s nice; you are all together and have lots of affection for the other members of the troupe. When I went to cinema school everyone was alone, they were editing, it was much more separate. So when I was successful after The Godfather I was much more like a theater and I had my own crazy friends like George Lucas or Martin Scorsese. I was very admired. Maybe it came from that.
You once said: “Happiness is happiness.”
I like that.