Todd Field’s Long Road to Tar

The last time Todd Field had a movie in theaters, the main character, a suburban dad, was debating whether or not to get his first cell phone. In Field’s new movie, the main character, a world-famous commander, is vilified through a viral video. The shift in technology is just one measure of the staggering gap — sixteen years — it took for Field’s name to return to the screen. His first two features,In the bedroom(2001) andyoung children(2006), the acclaimed room drama that earned a combined eight Academy Award nominations, making him a shining light of independent filmmaking. Then he disappeared, at least for moviegoers, until last fall, when he resurfaced with “storehouse,” starring Cate Blanchett as a club-wielding maestro whose world falls apart over allegations that she abused her power.

So, where was Field? One answer is Maine, where he and his wife, Serena Rathbone, raised their youngest son. Another is development hell, which no light or films escape. But none of the answers captured the winding path that took Field, at fifty-eight, to the top of this year’s Oscar race, as Odysseus took the long way home. When I met Field, one morning, he was in New York for a series of award campaigns. It was out of practice, and it was a little bewildering. “I don’t remember being on the road much,” he told me at a hotel restaurant in Tribeca. With his salt and pepper shaker, steel toe, and cap of the Boston Beaneaters—a 19th-century baseball team turned Atlanta Braves—he looked like the father of the Little League (and he is). Not only was “Tár” produced and released – a fact that seemed to confound its writer and director – but it inspired vigorous debate, both around its ideas On sexual assault and cancel culture, or about theory That last act takes place in the mind of the protagonist. “Every director thinks about the intent of what they’re making and the desired reactions, but these are just dreams and hopes,” Field told me. “The idea of ​​having a somewhat robust conversation about this is incredible.” His voice softened. “It unbelievable. “

Even before the movie came out, a curious thing happened: People started talking about Lydia Tarr as if she was a real person. Part of this stemmed from the film’s resemblance to the biopic. Part of it was a Twitter joke. (Inevitably, someone started a satirical account.) But a lot of it stems from the meticulousness with which Field built the character, who, in the movie, has her own Wikipedia page, goes on Alec Baldwin’s podcast, and is interviewed on stage by The New Yorker Especially Adam Gopnik, at the New Yorker Fictional Festival. It’s easy (and fun!) to imagine her traveling the world’s superstar circuit, alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Marina Abramović, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. In his introduction, Gopnik outlines Tarr’s extensive accomplishments, including her early ethnographic fieldwork in the Amazon region and her tutelage under Leonard Bernstein. He also says that she Vanity The winner—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony—a detail that sparked Twitter, which led me to the question I wanted to ask Field: Could you tell me how you got her Tar? Vanity?

he said no”. Not that he didn’t have the answers. He continued, “I keep these things in a box.” “I’m very specific about what she won. Besides, I don’t want to add to this weird conspiracy that she’s actually a real person. It’s definitely not real.” As awards season obsessedI made it clear that I wouldn’t give up easily. I imagined, for example, that Tony was for the incidental music for a play – perhaps an avant-garde revival directed by Ivo van HoveAnother global star? — during a poor season for new musicals. The field looked stunned. “That’s a very good guess,” he said shyly. As in, you right?

admitted “yes”. “It’s Evo.” One completed and three remaining.

“Tár” begins where most movies end: with a full credits roll. When I asked Field about that option, he said it was about a “pyramid of power,” in which someone like Tarr would stand at the top. “What are the main pillars of the pyramid, and how does that support the top?” It is to explain. “Lines of force really matter to me: who enables them, what good does he get from them? Does this mean that he saw in his power a Tarr-like capacity for corruption? “I don’t feel like I have any power at all,” he said. “I work seven days a week. I’m lucky because I sleep five hours every night. I feel like a panicked parent.”

Maidan lived multiple lives before becoming a filmmaker. When he was eleven years old growing up in Portland, Oregon, he went to a baseball camp run by Rob Nelson, the pitching coach for the independent Portland Mavericks. “My sister fell in love with him, they started dating, and the next thing I knew I was the batsman for this baseball team,” Field recalled. The Mavericks were owned by actors Bing Russell and his son Kurt Russell, who was the team’s designated hitter, and with whom Field shared a locker. “It completely changed the way I thought about the world,” he recalled. “You had all these guys who had no business playing baseball anymore, but thought they could. And when they got together, they beat the shit out of all these other guys, who were on their way to the big leagues.”

One day, at baseball camp, he saw young Nelson chewing licorice as if he were chewing tobacco and had a moment from the bulb. He kept asking me, would you chew it if it wasn’t licorice? Would you chew it if it was gum? And I said, “I will, but you have to have the juice.” Three years later, Nelson brought the concept of super baseball gum to former Yankee Jim Button, who showed it to Wrigley. Nelson and Field mixed a prototype in Field’s mother’s kitchen, and it became Big League Chew. “Rob has lived very easily out of it since 1980,” Field said. He didn’t get a cut of the earnings, but said, “If I had that kind of money when I was young, a) I wouldn’t have done anything with my life, and b) since it was the ’80s and ’90s, I’d very likely get myself into a lot of trouble.”

His second life was as a jazz musician. In eighth grade, he and his best friend started sending albums away. “We’d wait six months for them to arrive from Japan or Italy, and then sit down with a parchment paper and transcribe all the solos by JJ Johnson or Freddie Hubbard,” Field recalled. “Then we’ll try to reproduce them, and that’s how we learned to play.” At the age of sixteen, Field joined the Mount Hood Community College jazz band, which played at a local jazz festival that attracted the greats, including the young Wynton Marsalis. While on a full music scholarship to the University of Southern Oregon, Field met Johnson himself, who advised Field, “Don’t do it, kid. I’m probably one of the best guys ever, and I can’t get a gig. That form is dead.” . Within years, Marsalis had helped revive jazz in America, but by then Field had moved to Life No. 3: Film Actor.

He moved to New York at the age of nineteen, around 1983, after acting in college theater productions. One day, he went to Safari Grill, an uptown bar popular with actors, to apply for a bartending job, despite having no experience, and waited an hour. Then Liza Minnelli, who was having lunch with Jimmy Connors, called him, saying, “Young man! Young man!” She grabbed my lapel and said, “I love that jacket!” This caught the principal’s attention, so Field lied and said he had been making martinis for his mother since he was eight; Hired as bar manager. “It was a celebrity hot spot,” Field recalled. “Mike Nichols would come over. Meryl Streep would come over and hand me scripts and say, ‘Can you put those scripts behind the bar?'” So I met everyone.

Cut to 1985. Woody Allen’s unknown fall project was open sag Called for extras, at a church near Lincoln Center, Field was now a bartender nearby. lack a sag Card, he slid in a side door, handed his head shot, and stood under the light. “Todd! Someone shouted, I was trying to find you. It was director Todd Thaler who organized wrap parties at the bar uptown. Field had slicked back hair that made him look like Frank Sinatra, and Allen needed a Sinatra look alike. “Are you coming over and meeting Woody tomorrow?” Thaler asked. Field returned the next day, singing “All or Nothing at All”, landing the part of “crooner” on “Radio Days”.

More roles followed: the western “Back to Back”, the military thriller “Full Fathom Five”, the disaster thriller “Hurricane”. Field moved to California with Serena, but after a year he told her, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I really want to make my own thing.” He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from AFI and planned to give up acting, until Stanley Kubrick saw him in the independent drama “Ruby in Paradise” and cast him in “Eyes Wide Shut.” Kubrick answered his technical questions, and showed him the dailies. Field said it was Tom Cruise who, over dinner, told him, “You’re going to make movies.” Field said he had an idea based on a 1979 short story by André Dubos, but he probably couldn’t get the rights. Cruz put his megawatt attitude to what he could do on him: “You’re just making excuses. Find out. Field wrote the screenplay, acquired the rights, and made the movie In the Bedroom starring Sissy Spacek. He was finally on Life No. 4: The Director.

The film premiered at Sundance in 2001 and was acquired by Miramax. Destroy the field, because Miramax was mean Harvey Weinstein, who became famous for recutting movies into tiny pieces. “I was crying in the bathroom,” Field said. “I called Tom Cruise and said, ‘Something terrible has happened.’ He basically said, ‘This is how you’re going to play. It’ll take six months, and you’ll beat it, but you have to do exactly what I’m going to tell you to do, step by step. The plan: Let Weinstein cut it to strips, wait until it gets tested badly, and then Drag raving from Sundance suggested he release it exactly as it was when he bought it. Field followed Cruise’s advice, and it worked. “In the Bedroom” grossed more than twenty-five times its budget and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *