Jerry Maguire – Empire Magazine (DVD Talk)

Special Edition DVD Interview: Empire Magazine (UK)

The audio commentary on the DVD is a pretty impressive cast reunion…

I like being able to work on DVDs [of my movies] was the one that I thought would be great to have a reunion with the cast for. It was probably the best cast I’ve ever seen working together, from anything I’d written or directed. Then I thought, “Let’s see if we can pull off having a filmed audio commentary.” So we tried that. It was like no time had passed.

Was it difficult getting them all together? Especially when some stars, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, now demand payment for commentaries?

Does Schwarzenegger really do that? Oh my God! That’s hilarious. Well, nobody demanded anything. It was just about scheduling, as I think we were working on Vanilla Sky, so Tom was around. I think Renee was the big one – making sure she was in the right city. We were all just hanging on to her skirt-tails. But it was remarkably easy.

Tom says he’d only do a commentary for you. Did you ‘have him at hello’?

(laughs) Very good, very good! The only thing that Tom said was that he’d never done this kind of thing before, and I think he thought this was one that commentary was right for, and he had a good time doing it. He has a cameo appearance in the Vanilla Sky audio commentary, but this is the first one where he is there for everything. The question is better than the answer.

Do you feel self-conscious when you’re recording commentaries?

No, I treat them like liner notes. I always write down a few things because I felt pathetic – I read an interview with Oliver Stone where he said he prepares for weeks, and I just felt so ill-equipped. But you don’t want to be the guy who’s out there saying, “Let me tell you about the way we found the wood on the door.” People don’t care. It’s masturbatory.

The infamous Reebok commercial that wasn’t included in the movie, and led to a lawsuit, is on the disc. Why?

At the time it felt like a real violation because I thought that marketing within a movie – unless it’s clearly part of the comedy of the movie – crosses a really important line. I fought very hard but, legally, we lost. It felt like when some people making records decided, “There’s no way a barcode will go on my art,” and then they realised that no stores would stock the thing, so they were like, “Well, let’s make that barcode artistic.” That’s how I felt about the Reebok thing. I thought it was very crass. But now it’s like an extra track on the bootleg.

So you don’t think, “Fuck Reebok” anymore?

(laughs) No, I’ve brandished that barcode now. I don’t wear Reeboks, but they were cool to us when we were making the movie. I just didn’t realise that there was going to be a military action if they didn’t have their commercial attached.

Is there anything on the DVD that you’re proud of?

I always tape auditions and sometimes rehearsals too, and sometimes it’s better than whatever ends up in the movie. There’s a rehearsal where the chemistry between Tom and Cuba exploded when they were working on the “show me the money” exchange. You could see that there was potential magic there in the way that Cuba just beat Tom to a pulp with his ego. Cuba had no respect or sense of Tom as superstar. He would just fucking push him out of the frame. You can see Tom going to a place where he’s playing the guy that Jack Lemmon plays in The Apartment: the kind of beleagured schmuck. That was fun to watch.

There’s also an Easter egg documentary on the making of the commentary which is as postmodern as you can get…

I know, it’s completely inbred…and I’ve been filming our conversation for the new deluxe edition of the DVD. I knew our interview was coming up and I just figured, “I love Empire!” Empire gave me an award for Jerry Maguire, so you have a very warm place in my heart. (laughs) Yeah, I like Easter eggs. It’s like the hidden tracks feature.

What’s your DVD collection like?

I have a couple of hundred DVDs, basically just films I really love. I kind of crave features on movies from the ’50s and ’60s and directors that are no longer with us. At some point I would love to work on a movie of Billy Wilder’s  – going through the tapes of our interviews. We did talk about The Apartment constantly so it would be great to go back and edit together a running monlogue of Billy Wilder talking about The Apartment.

Courtesy of Empire Magazine (UK) – Chris Hewitt – September, 2002