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Paul Weitz Explains The Title Change From 'Another Bullshit Night In Suck City' To 'Being Flynn'

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist March 4, 2012 at 8:24AM

"Kill your idols," said Paul Dano at the red carpet event for "Being Flynn." The Focus Features release, based on the autobiographical novel "Another Bullshit Night In Suck City" by Nick Flynn, focuses on Flynn's rocky relationship with his self-proclaimed tortured genius of a father. A homeless vagabond who insisted he was purposely seeking material for his unfinished manuscript, Jonathan was a stubborn old man who frustrated Nick in adulthood, but was never present in Nick's childhood, leading to Nick having no idea what to think about this walking myth. A fairly different definition of an idol, but in the directionless young Nick's eyes, the next best thing.
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Paul Weitz Robert De Niro Being Flynn

"Kill your idols," said Paul Dano at the red carpet event for "Being Flynn." The Focus Features release, based on the autobiographical novel "Another Bullshit Night In Suck City" by Nick Flynn, focuses on Flynn's rocky relationship with his self-proclaimed tortured genius of a father. A homeless vagabond who insisted he was purposely seeking material for his unfinished manuscript, Jonathan was a stubborn old man who frustrated Nick in adulthood but was never present in Nick's childhood, leading to Nick having no idea what to think about this walking myth. A fairly different definition of an idol, but in the directionless young Nick's eyes, the next best thing.

Seeing his own father brought to life by a household name like Robert De Niro gave author Nick Flynn pause. He says that, "Character-wise, De Niro was able to embody my father in a creepy way. I might need some therapy!" As De Niro got behind the wheel of Jonathan's taxi, erasing all memories of Travis Bickle, Nick experienced, "The full range of emotions on the set, terror, but also being moved, seeing a great actor act out your life."

"The real Jonathan Flynn considers himself literally one of the great writers of the twentieth century," says director Paul Weitz. "He’s extremely articulate, and would probably think of himself most akin to the Beat Generation, essentially classless, not necessarily thinking of himself as the underclass." In the film, Jonathan is seen as something of a disruptive force in Nick's chaotic life. But don't think this onscreen representation would make the real-life Jonathan think any less of himself. Paul recounts, "In real life, I went with De Niro to meet Jonathan, he looked at De Niro and asked, 'Do you think you can pull this off?' He was a delusional man. But his delusions have now been borne out, and he’s being played by Robert De Niro."

Dano, who plays Nick in the film, thinks De Niro may have understood Jonathan a little bit better than he was letting on. He traveled to meet the real Jonathan and, “He opened the door in his bathrobe. Gave me a big hug, and was so nice, I was immediately disarmed. But the first time I meet him in the film, he's in the bathtub, and I don’t think that was a conscious choice.” As for the overwhelming task of playing a son to Robert De Niro, Dano was thrilled, but professional. “When you first get the part, you’re super excited," he says, noting how big a fan he was of the Oscar-winning legend. "We had some meaty, good scenes together. But you sorta have to lock that away in your brain.”

"Being Flynn" is a title far off from the explicit bluntness of "Another Bullshit Night In Suck City." But while Nick Flynn considers it a straightforward "Commercial decision," Weitz found a way to make logical of the change, even if it wasn't his first choice. "It was a consolation prize title," Weitz shrugs. "I was anxious about changing it. But Nick had told me he always had a very ambivalent feeling about his name, because a name is such a big part of you, but growing up without a dad he didn’t feel on a visceral level where he came from. So that gave me the idea to use his name in the title." From here, it's onto "Admission," Weitz's next effort, a dramedy starring Tina Fey and possibly Owen Wilson, and while the film doesn't have a green light just yet, Weitz says, with a wink, "I’ll know in the next couple of weeks.”

"Being Flynn" is now playing.

This article is related to: Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, Paul Dano, Robert De Niro, Paul Weitz


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