We asked 24 of our favorite minds—including Robert Pattinson, Dua Lipa, Offset, Desus + Mero, and more—what they’re discovering about art, and about themselves, in this age of isolation. See how they’re all staying creative in the time of quarantine here.
I was prepping The Northman when the quarantine hit. We went on hiatus a week before production began. Now I’m working in the spare bedroom of an apartment. Everyone else went home, aside from a few heads of department. The armorer is working on armor in his apartment. Everyone feels lucky to have work.
It’s easy for me to get absorbed in my work, to let that obsession destroy any depression I’m having. I’m usually depressed for a weekend, maybe a week. I drink and cry, and then I dive into work. But we have a toddler, which changes things. Because my son can’t go to his day care—and you know, we’re enjoying the extra time with him—but it’s harder to work in the way that we’d want to. In a kind of extreme way.
In my work, I write about people behaving badly so that I can behave well in my own life. If I was as dark as the characters in my films, nobody would want to hang out with me. My in-laws think it’s funny—people think I’m walking around all day thinking about human-body decomposition and making sacrifices to, you know, demons and elemental spirits. But I’m cleaning up dirty diapers and taking out the trash. I mean, I do spend plenty of time thinking about human-body decomposition. But that’s in between being a normal person. If you want to learn about loneliness, ask a fucking lighthouse keeper. But also, they would have chosen that job, you know? I did not.
You can go for walks, but it’s strange and melancholy and apocalyptic. Working on the Viking movie makes me feel better. We have a production meeting every week to try to figure out the plan when we come back. We have dates to resume prep and production. But of course, we don’t know.
In the meantime, I’m catching up on movies. The Criterion Channel has been the best thing ever. I’m ashamed to say this—like, David Lynch will take me to task for this—but I was in the grocery store parking lot for two hours, so I watched Klute on my phone. My D.P. was like, “Do you want me to remind you who was in the movie? Or could you actually see on your phone?”
I’m not on social media, but I am aware there’s a lot of Lighthouse news right now. And I’m glad that we could make something that might be helpful in this strange time. I guess The Lighthouse can be a cautionary tale. I hope everyone was like, “I will not attempt Lighthouse levels of drinking turpentine.”
I do wonder what kind of stories are going to come out of this. People have done so many well-imagined versions of the postapocalyptic world. So it’s hard to know how much more informed you could be now that we’ve faced it in reality. What’s the happy postapocalyptic movie? That might be important. But that’s probably not for me to make.
There’s a line in The Northman that the Norns, the fates in Old Norse mythology, “weave a mysterious thread of fate and you cannot escape it.” And that’s what we’re all up against right now, you know? Or as you might say in New York: What can you do? —As told to Zach Baron
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