In case you haven’t seen it yet, this little video is circulating teh intarwebs. It’s an interview with Justin Timberlake at the “Love Guru” junket and… it’s wonderfully awkward. Watch, and then we can discuss:
Now, I’m not a fan of junkets, mainly because of the cattle call nature of the endeavor. I don’t think there’s much of an opportunity for anything real. All the actors loved working together, loved working with the director and they get the same questions non-stop all f*****g day. Roundtables aren’t much better, because then it’s a bunch of people asking questions and then all re-fitting the answers to make it sound like they all got some sort of exclusive interview / coverage. Annoying.
Me, I’m partial to real moments; real conversations. The best interviews I’ve ever been a part of have stemmed from relaxed moments in casual settings on the festival circuit. I did a junket for “The Groomsmen” where I talked to Ed Burns about alternative film distribution methods for 5 minutes before they rolled the cameras and… the stuff before the “interview” began was the good stuff, because it was there that he was a real filmmaker talking about filmmaking. And no one got to see that…
I tell you all this because I think you need perspective about the junket process. It is not conducive to anything quality. Most venues don’t give a f**k what the A-List actor says, they just know they have to come back with an interview so their venue can pimp it out. Most actors / filmmakers just need to survive it. They know that they’re not people in these situations, they’re marketing gimmicks, as important as a poster or tv-spot.
That said, the above video clip is full of “how not to do a junket” material. I’m sure Chuck the Movieguy is fine (his YouTube page shows many, many other junket interviews) but he blew it with Timberlake. Why? One, he brought up some insignificant s**t about the past in an effort to ellicit what, exactly? He immediately put Timberlake on the defensive, and then asked him the dumbest f*****g questions ever, all with this fake-ness about him (all that forced joy and energy). Then he ends it with a compliment, that Timberlake actually accepts sincerely, and then says he’s being sarcastic. That, my friends, is a dick move (Justin did get a nice insult in there at the end, and that’s why I had to profess my love in the title of this post).
Now, I wish Chuck’s behavior was unique on the junket circuit, but it’s not. I don’t know when people mixed up humor with sarcastic cruelty and fake-ness, but it’s all over the place. The problem is, if you’ve ever followed a bad interview like that, you know you’re f****d too. A famous critic who shall not be named once preceded me on the “Clerks II” junket and left Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson in such a weird mood… I felt like I walked into a cloud of s**t (and considering how awesome all the other interviews were, it really annoyed me).
Now, to Chuck’s defense, I’ll admit that interviewing actors at a junket is ridiculously challenging. Why? Well, with the filmmakers, I can generally get in questions about filmmaking process, production stuff… the kind of information I like, I guess. With an actor… what do I ask? How did you prepare? What drew you to the role? What was it like working with blah? And, again, you know the answers and what did anyone get out of that?
And I personally miss conflict. I don’t think every interviewer needs to like the interviewee, and I think there’s a place for constructive arguments. You don’t get that anymore because any type of arguments are cut out of the junket process (you can tell Timberlake expected someone to step in a boot Chuck everytime he glanced off-camera). The key to everything, however, should be authenticity. If there’s conflict, if it’s authentic, then I think it’s a good thing. If it’s fake, it’s as bad as false sincerity.