12 Ques­tions

12ques­tions@nzher­ald.co.nz Michael Moore fires back af­ter Trump disses his Broad­way show

The New Zealand Herald - - ENTERTAINMENT - Con­tin­ued from A28 Amy B Wang — Wash­ing­ton Post

pause. In­evitably peo­ple ask what you’ve been in and then it be­comes this weird, awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion. The thing I’ve been get­ting a lot lately is, “So are you fa­mous?” to which the an­swer must be, “Clearly not.”

You’re 30 now. Which roles would you con­sider your ca­reer high­lights?

When I was aged 21, I played my re­al­life grand­mother in a film that my mum made, Home By Christ­mas. It’s a World War II drama in­spired by in­ter­views mum had done with her fa­ther on his deathbed and her mother in War Sto­ries Our Moth­ers Never Told Us. Martin Hen­der­son and I played their younger ver­sions. It was pretty magic to be able to put my­self in my grand­mother’s shoes. I tried to be what I per­ceived as her essence. There were mo­ments of walk­ing through sce­nar­ios she had lived that gave me the tin­gles. Standing on a train plat­form wav­ing off a steam-train full of young soldiers go­ing to war, the enor­mity of that re­ally hit me. It’s not some­thing we can re­ally com­pre­hend now.

What was it like work­ing with your mum?

Re­ally cool. It’s a sce­nario where you don’t take ex­cep­tion to be­ing told what to do be­cause that’s the di­rec­tor’s job. There’s a huge amount of cre­ative re­spect. She’s very em­pow­er­ing to work with be­cause she has a lot of re­spect for ac­tors’ pro­cesses. We also worked to­gether on Hope and Wire about the Christchurch earth­quakes and it was great both times be­cause we have an in­nate un­der­stand­ing of each other and a kind of short­hand lan­guage that al­lows you to by­pass a lot of stuff.

Have you worked with other fam­ily mem­bers?

I just made a short film that I wrote and di­rected with my ex-part­ner Ray Ed­wards, a cin­e­matog­ra­pher. It was a very per­sonal project with our 2-yearold daugh­ter at the cen­tre and I thought who bet­ter to film it than

Like many of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's tweets, the one lash­ing out at film-maker Michael Moore seemed to come out of nowhere. “While not at all pres­i­den­tial . . .” it be­gan, be­fore tak­ing aim at Moore's Broad­way play, The Terms of My Sur­ren­der, which had ended its run the week­end be­fore. “I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broad­way was a TO­TAL BOMB and was forced to close. Sad!” Trump tweeted. It's un­clear what prompted the Trump tweet, though like Moore him­self, The Terms of My Sur­ren­der, did not hold back on its crit­i­cisms of Trump and his pres­i­dency. Of­fi­cially, the play was billed as “a hi­lar­i­ous satir­i­cal Chelsie Pre­ston Cray­ford says her ca­reer was boosted by a meaty role in

Un­der­belly:Ra­zor.

her dad be­cause it was about get­ting those can­did mo­ments with her. I was in the film with her so it was great to have some­body I trust be­hind the cam­era to feed back to me what was hap­pen­ing. The film hasn’t got a name yet. It’ll be re­leased next year. tour through the de­praved new world we find our­selves in since ap­point­ing a mad­man as the leader of the free world”.

Pro­mo­tional posters for the one­man show, which fea­tured a ro­tat­ing band of guests, trum­peted: “Can a Broad­way show bring down a sitting pres­i­dent?”

The New Yorker's Michael Schul­man called it “a cheeky re­buke to the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion that plays mostly as a lib­eral pep rally”.

A few hours af­ter Trump's tweet, Moore re­sponded on Twit­ter to dis­pute claims the show had bombed or closed early. The Terms of My Sur­ren­der be­gan pre­views at the Be­lasco The­atre in New York on July 28 and of­fi­cially opened on Au­gust 10. It was al­ways sched­uled for a 12-week en­gage­ment; its fi­nal per­for­mance was Oc­to­ber 22.

Moore said as much at the week­end, re­it­er­at­ing that the lim­ited run was be­cause of his com­mit­ments to other TV and movie projects.

“On Broad­way, Don­ald, they call it a ‘LIM­ITED EN­GAGE­MENT' — just like we're plan­ning on mak­ing your pres­i­dency,” Moore fired back.

He also posted an un­dated photo of him­self with Jared Kush­ner, say­ing he still had “one fan in the White

House”.

Which role rep­re­sented the great­est turn­ing point in your ca­reer?

Tilly Devine, a no­to­ri­ous madam in 1920s Kings Cross, in Un­der­belly: Ra­zor. That was a great, meaty role, a real char­ac­ter role. I was play­ing op­po­site Danielle Cor­mack. We ac­tu­ally worked to­gether on our au­di­tion tapes for it. I re­mem­ber say­ing, “Imag­ine if we both got this” . . . and then it hap­pened. It was amaz­ing to play op­po­site some­one that’s so good at what she does. We had so much fun.

Did you find the scale of pro­duc­tion dif­fer­ent to New Zealand?

Yes, I did. I think over­all there is a feel­ing of a bit more money and a bit more in­fras­truc­ture, which is nice. It’s amaz­ing to walk on to a job and be handed piles of re­search for your char­ac­ter, which is not so com­mon­place here.

You had your first child at 28. Has that changed you?

Mas­sively. Your pri­or­i­ties com­pletely

In ad­di­tion, Moore claimed The Terms of My Sur­ren­der, was the high­est-gross­ing non­mu­si­cal play of the north­ern sum­mer, “de­spite my of­fer­ing US$29 ($42) cheap seats + free stu­dent tix so ALL could af­ford”. Broad­way League sta­tis­tics showed the show grossed US$4.2 mil­lion, just un­der half of its po­ten­tial gross, with an av­er­age ca­pac­ity of 78 per cent. Play­bill con­firmed it was the high­est­gross­ing non­mu­si­cal play among those that opened this sum­mer, though an­other that had opened ear­lier ( The Play That Goes Wrong) grossed more in the 12-week pe­riod in which Moore's play ran.

The Wash­ing­ton Post's the­atre critic, Peter Marks, gave The Terms of My Sur­ren­der, a lack­lus­tre re­view, call­ing it “less a jaunty ex­cur­sion than an un­var­nished ego trip” and “a slog through cringe-in­duc­ing skits and only oc­ca­sion­ally en­gag­ing anec­dotes about Moore's stum­ble into the life of a po­lit­i­cal gad­fly”.

Moore also ac­cused Trump of try­ing to dis­tract from more-press­ing is­sues, such as the sit­u­a­tion in Puerto Rico af­ter Hur­ri­cane Maria and spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller III's on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether Trump's cam­paign co-or­di­nated with Rus­sians seek­ing to med­dle in the 2016 elec­tion. shift — you’re not the most im­por­tant thing in your world any more. For that first year or two es­pe­cially, you re­ally pour your whole be­ing into your child. That’s nat­u­ral but it’s easy to lose your­self. You have to re­ally work to carve out time and space for your­self, which is very im­por­tant. It’s prob­a­bly only in the last six months that I’ve started to feel like me again but ob­vi­ously a dif­fer­ent ver­sion. I’ve changed for­ever.

How do you jug­gle child­care and act­ing?

My job has pe­ri­ods of in­ten­sity with breaks in be­tween, a life­style that suits my per­son­al­ity. I’m not a per­son that needs to know too much about what’s around the cor­ner. Her dad and I are both free­lancers so we can jug­gle and we have a lot of fam­ily sup­port. Mum splits her time be­tween Welling­ton and Auck­land these days. She loves help­ing out with child­care. Red Speedo, ASB Wa­ter­front The­atre, Oc­to­ber 31 to Novem­ber 15

Pic­ture / AP

Michael Moore de­nied his show closed early, as Don­ald Trump claimed.

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