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John Cameron Mitchell directed, starred in and co-wrote, with Stephen Trask, the musical film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), for which he received the Best Director Award at the[…]

For his first “mainstream” film (“Rabbit Hole”), the indie director tried to make the kind of small, quiet art picture that defined the mainstream in the ‘70s.

Question: Do you or your fans worry that your latest project rnwill be too “mainstream”?

John Cameron Mitchell: Well, for me, "mainstream" is not rnnecessarily a negative because when I grew up, mainstream films in the rn‘70s were critically lauded and popular.  You know, in a theater there’drn be "Godfather" movies and "Network" and "Nashville" and, you know, rnthese were popular movies, these were mainstream movies.  "Cuckoo’s rnNest" and "MASH" and these were all very iconoclastic films and often, rnwhat would be considered now art films and independent films on bigger rnbudgets, starring major stars that looked like us.  These people looked rnlike us, as opposed to now where stars are, you know, really kind of rnroyalty or aliens and they look that way.

rnSo, to me, I never separated "popular" from "good."  And, you know, rnbecause of economics I think it has separated and so it’s rare for me torn go to a Hollywood film unless it really got recommendations from peoplern I know, because I'm... just so disappointed usually when so much money rnis being spent, you tend to have a, go for the lowest common denominatorrn in terms of quality.

But there is, you know, doing "The Rabbit rnHole" really is, the budget was less than "Hedwig," it just happened to rnhave major stars in it, and there was no distributor or studio involved,rn putting on commercial pressures, it was just the producers, who have a rnmainstream understanding and how you live in Hollywood, but who rndefinitely had good taste.  So, in a way with "Rabbit Hole" we’re tryingrn to make the kind of film that was a small, a quiet film about real rnpeople that was common in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s as a mainstreamrn film.  You know, like "Ordinary People," or "Kramer vs. Kramer" or rn"Shoot the Moon," or any number of serious-minded-but-mainstream film rnwith mainstream stars, which is unusual right now.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen