I first interviewed him, in fact, in December of 2020, for a book I was writing on Once Upon a Time in America. When I showed him the resulting piece, he expressed his fondness for how it turned out. I then wrote a retrospective piece on his whole career for my magazine, Scenes, which he was also enthusiastic about. In May 2021, I had the idea for embarking upon the full book, and though he said he was totally OK with it, I was totally surprised when he suggested we do some interviews.
And do some interviews we did! We started talking in July of 2021, going through his career film by film. We kept this up for weeks, months in fact, and it was such fun I can't even put it into words. One week we would discuss The Onion Field, the next Salvador. Another time we would group a few films together and talk about them, him sharing memories and thoughts. Stories from the set of Casino, Nixon, Any Given Sunday, The Specialist, Contact, Disney's Hercules, Best Seller, Cat's Eye, Family Guy, The Simpsons, White House Down, Contact, Citizen Cohn, Promise, Vampires, Videodrome, Against All Odds, Another Day in Paradise.... so many great movies, so many cool stories.
The book goes film by film and explores everything from his first ever movie, Elia Kazan's The Visitors, through his earliest appearances on TV in the likes of Kojak and Streets of San Francisco, movies like Night Movies and The Gambler, before going into his iconic era of the 80s and 90s. He told me about every single movie, sharing insights about his performances and each film in question. It was unbelievable for a movie geek like me to be hearing these tales. I should add this is no gossip book, but a book for film lovers. 400 pages of freewheeling chat about cinema.
I also got to interview important Woods collaborators, like Oliver Stone, director and writer Tim Metcalfe, director Harold Becker, Sharon Stone, Debbie Harry, Dolly Parton and Jim Belushi. I am so proud of the book and I cannot imagine ever embarking on a project that will compare to it. James Woods himself has been so kind, giving and generous with his time that I have to salute him. People like him are rare, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to work on this book and write about what I believe is one of the most remarkable film careers of all time.
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