Pages Navigation Menu


herIn conversation with Spike Jonze

Way back in September, TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto played host to one of today’s most creative and well regarded film writers and directors, Spike Jonze. His latest film, HER, didn’t screen at the festival, but Jonze was on hand to share a few clips from the film, as well as a few tidbits about his illustrious career. Jonze started out making short films and music videos before he made his remarkable debut feature, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. He followed that up with the brilliant, ADAPTATION, and then tackled Maurice Sendak’s classic kids tale, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. HER stars Joaquin Phoenix as a writer who falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. It is being billed as a Spike Jonze love story and it is easy to see why when you see the film. It is meticulously designed, painstakingly precise and surprisingly funny. HER is also Jonze’s most intimate and warm film to date, which is so odd considering the subject matter, but that’s Jonze for you. Only he could explore the very nature of love between two people by making one of those people entirely virtual.


Love him or hate him, one cannot deny Jonze’s vast imagination and his commitment to telling stories that no one else could even think of to begin with. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience when Jonze stopped by Toronto for another “In Coversation” instalment. Jonze was charming and just as insightful as one might expect him to be. Here are a few of the pearls of wisdom from that memorable session.

On his music video days: “I always had the most fun working with artists I was already close with.” His favourites? The Beastie Boys. (HER is dedicated to the Beastie’s Adam Yauch, as well as Sendak, cinematographer, Harris Savides, and James Gandolfini.)

On his process: “It’s very organic. Everything comes out of a feeling to start and then I try to capture those feelings on film.”

On the 14-month editing period for HER: “I didn’t know exactly what I was making. I was trying to find it along the way.”

On getting BEING JOHN MALKOVICH made: “It would have been very hard to do without Malkovich. When we pitched it, people would ask us why it had to be John Malkovich. Why not Being Tom Cruise?”


On his approach to rehearsing: “I do a lot of rehearsal with the actors. Only we tend to talk more about movies and life and the way their lives relate to the film.”

On his influence on newer filmmakers: “I think we all inspire each other. It’s just a matter of not being blatant about it.”

On developing characters: “Understanding who the characters are helps make things feel more familiar. Caring about the characters is more important that over stylizing them.”

On his relationship with technology and how that figures into HER: “I don’t know if I’m in love or afraid of technology. The movie for me is about our desire to connect and our need to connect and the technology both helps and hinders that.”

On which of his movies is his favourite: “To answer your question succinctly, I don’t know.”

HER opens in limited release on December 18 and expands nationwide on January 10, 2014.

Share Your Thoughts