A less scrupulous or honest person might have taken the transcript for this interview with S. Craig Zahler and cut out the comment about how much of their interview time is being spent talking about something Craig clearly did not want to talk about. I’m not that person.
I have feelings about this interview. I’m not sure how easily they can be expressed without making it sound like I’m after Zahler. Read the “major part of your interview time” comment for reference.
- I genuinely don’t think Zahler meant any harm by making his comment. I don’t know how this piece reads to y’all, but he’s a really nice guy, polite, sharp, open, and an all-around pleasure to talk to. This isn’t in the piece, because I cut it, but at the very start of the recording I told him upfront I wanted to talk about Mel Gibson, and that I didn’t want him to feel ambushed. Couched in that, I really can’t read the “interview time” remark, or listen to it on my recording, and think badly of Zahler. I don’t really even think badly of myself. I had a job to do; I tried to do it.
- If Zahler pops up online and says anything that contradicts the above, well, I guess that’s his prerogative. Again, I don’t see that being the case, but you never know, I guess. But you won’t really get me to change my thoughts in section 1) unless I hear directly from him that he did in fact mean to rebuke me, and if he did in fact mean to rebuke me, then honestly, that makes him kind of a baby. If you cast a guy like Gibson in your movie, you have to be prepared to hear about it from moviegoers and from journalists and from critics, and if you’re not prepared, don’t cast guys like Gibson in your movie.
- The thing is, I honestly believe Zahler cast Gibson because he wanted Gibson’s charisma in his movie, and I am not sure how well the movie works with another actor in Gibson’s role. Zahler needs someone with Mel’s complications and his immense presence to hold the movie together. And it works. And honestly? I find the movie more fascinating for casting Mel than I might have without him. (Similar to my feelings on Blood Father. Remember when I wrote about that?)
- If you feel like snarking at me on Twitter because I couldn’t take a hint, knock yourself out, but remember: I was there, you weren’t, I’m a journalist, you ain’t.
Anyways! This was one of the trickier interviews I’ve conducted in my career, and I’m happy with how it turned out even for all of its pricklier moments. You can read the full piece over at RogerEbert.com.