In his directorial feature film debut "Are You Here," in
theaters on Friday, Weiner wanted to tackle the reality of a
male friendship through actors Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis,
showing two grown men in a state of arrested development.
Weiner, 49, spoke to Reuters in his Los Angeles office, decked
out with props from "Mad Men," about concluding Don's journey,
the Emmy awards and his future plans.
Q: What did you want to explore about the "bromance"
through two childhood friends in "Are You Here"?
A: They think they're in a stoner comedy together, and
then all of a sudden you realize Owen's character has a
substance abuse problem and Zach's character is mentally ill. As
the reality starts to sink in, it's not like there's no jokes
throughout it, but you get stripped away to what I hope is a
more poignant and slightly emotional examination of what holds
Q: Why choose comedy staples Owen Wilson, Zach
Galifianakis and Amy Poehler for this much darker take on life?
A: You can't teach people to be funny, they either are or
they aren't. And these are three deeply funny people to the
bone, and the fact that they could use that and change the tone,
you feel the poignancy because you feel them losing something.
Q: With "Mad Men" wrapping up, are you looking at more
A: I'm not withdrawing from show business, but I am using
this period, at least until the show goes off the air, to
replenish and find out what's on my mind. I know I'm allowed
that, but there's also the thing where you're like, 'Will
everybody forget you? Will you be scrambling when you get back
to work?' ... You don't want to disappear.
Q: How do you feel about "Mad Men" nominated for four
Emmys next week, including best drama again?
A: I am thrilled that we are included in this again. The
fact that none of the actors on our show (have won), I have all
of the chauvinism I can possibly have about the fact that these
are, and I think will remain recognized, as some of the great
performances of their era and this era in television.
[to top of second column]
They are nominated, it's not like they're being ignored and the show
has been recognized, but every year there's a story about why Jon
Hamm was beaten by someone else, or about Elisabeth Moss and why she
wasn't nominated. You just don't want the lack of recognition to be
a reflection on the quality.
Q: Fans are already discussing how Don's journey will end
next year. Does that put pressure on you?
A: I am constantly interested in the audience, I want them to
work a little bit because they get pleasure out of putting things
together ... but when it comes to the ending of the show, the
audience has so many voices and it changes over time. I keep my
solicitation of opinions to my wife, my incredible writing staff,
the people I work with and the actors. They are the audience that I
am interested in pleasing, and none of them have ever withheld
honesty from me.
Q: You showcased New York in "Mad Men," but you grew up in
Los Angeles. Would you explore L.A.'s history in future projects?
A: I don't even know if I know yet what Los Angeles is
necessarily. Los Angeles to me, the best version of it is
"Chinatown." I'm a little bit intimidated by the concept of it, it's
hard, it doesn't reveal itself immediately, it has to be looked for,
and maybe that's something to think about. Maybe you gave me an
(Corrects error in film title from "You Are Here" to "Are You Here"
in paragraph 4)
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and G Crosse)
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