There was a lot of footage from Joanne’s harder to find projects, her telefilms like “The Stripper,” which many had never heard of. How many of those you were able to actually watch and how did you find them?
Pretty much all of them. The archivist, their job would be to go find me the films. Like, she won the Emmy for this film that I’ve never even heard of. How can I see it? They would send me a link and I just tried to march through them all like that. Some of them were really hard to find. “The Stripper” is particularly hard. What was disappointing for us is a lot of those are lost, or you can’t find a good quality version, like image-wise for “The Stripper.” Whereas a lot of Paul’s movies have really lasted through time. They’re famous movies. So you can get a good Blu-ray of “The Hustler,” but you can’t get a good Blu-ray of Joanne’s TV movies from the ’80s. That’s just the realities of the life of an actor. Sometimes we work on these things, and they’re really successful, and they age really well. Other times you put your heart and soul and all the same fire and passion into something that doesn’t age well, that people don’t care about. But it doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job or you didn’t try your best.
I was hoping for a shot from “A Big Hand For A Little Lady” because that was the first Joanne film I saw. That was my mom’s favorite when she was a kid.
That’s a really sexist movie.
It is, yes.
One of the things that’s weird about the editing room floor is that for a while there were a lot of shots of that movie and I never deliberately cut it out. It’s just those sections of the storytelling didn’t work.
In an interview someone asked Joanne what parts she related to the most and she said all of them are parts of her, that that’s the joy and trauma of being an actor. I was wondering if you found that to be similar for your own self as an actor?
Absolutely. I was so happy when I found her saying that. My feeling is you have to make them all personal. See? That’s my job. My job is to try to put something real in front of the camera for you to watch or else it’s a waste of your time. So I love that she said that.
In those TV clips you and the archivist unearthed of Joanne she was so candid.
She’s so present. She doesn’t ever seem like she’s bullshitting. She’s not selling. I mean, there’s even that amazing moment where the guy says to her, you’re so good for your age, and you just see her just give him ice. You know, she has no comment about that. She’s very Southern. So she doesn’t ever want to be rude. Like when they tell her the thing about “why go out for the hamburger steak at home” and you just see her go, “I’m a vegetarian.”