Matt and Adam talk to author Mark Harris about his new book on the life and work of director Mike Nichols.
This week on The Collider Podcast, we’re honored to be joined by author and film historian Mark Harris to discuss his new book, Mike Nichols: A Life. Mike Nichols was a legendary director of stage and screen who had received widespread acclaim by his mid-30s, first for his comedy routines with Elaine May and then for directing the Tony-award winning Neil Simon plays Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple before moving on to Hollywood to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate. However, his life and career were tumultuous, and with a humanistic and thoughtful approach, Harris examines Nichols’ gifts as a director as well as his personal insecurities, passions, and transformation.
Our conversation with Harris is roughly split into three sections. We begin by discussing the process of writing the book, how it differed from his first two books Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back, how what he knew from his personal relationship with Nichols changed during the course of his research, the challenges of revisiting The Graduate without repeating himself, and more.
The second section of the podcast gets into what made Nichols a unique director, why his work is under appreciated because we don’t understand what it means to direct actors, how he brought a more forthright vision of sexuality to Hollywood with movies like The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge, how his approach to movies changed over the course of his career, and more.
Finally, we discuss in detail some of Nichols’ films that flopped at the time but can now be seen as some of his better work including Heartburn and Catch-22.
Also, since Harris is an Oscars scholar, we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to close out this episode talking about this unique year and how it may affect voting on the Academy Awards.
You know what’s really genius? Casting Cynthia Erivo to play Aretha Franklin.
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