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Cannes Interview: John and Katrine Boorman Talk 'Me and Me Dad,' 'Excalibur' & '70s 'Lord of the Rings'

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood May 22, 2012 at 3:13PM

John Boorman has been in Cannes with daughter Katrine to talk up "Me & Me Dad," a documentary about the "Excalibur"/"Deliverance"/"The Tailor Of Panama" director that Katrine filmed over a period four years and that John jokingly says he hoped would never see the light of day...
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Me and Me Dad
courtesy of cannes

John Boorman has been in Cannes with daughter Katrine to talk up "Me & Me Dad," a documentary about the "Excalibur"/"Deliverance"/"The Tailor Of Panama" director that Katrine filmed over a period four years and that John jokingly says he hoped would never see the light of day. “Did I want to do it in the first place? No,” he says. “I feel very uncomfortable talking about myself. But I endured it.”

While the film offers insights and an overview on Boorman’s 45-year directing career, it’s mostly a Boorman family portrait full of intimate and painful remembrances, including John’s divorce from his first wife (Katrine's mother) and the death of his eldest daughter Telsche in 1997. Katrine parted company with her first editor on the project. He wanted to focus too much on Boorman’s career and incorporate the various talking-head interviews she had shot with actors and other professional colleagues, even though the family element had become the more significant element for her as the shoot proceeded.

“I chopped everybody out and went with the narrative of the family, which mattered to me,” says Katrine, who left County Wicklow with her mother and siblings after the divorce and saw less of John as he remarried and started another family. “The pleasure for me doing this film was being able to steal my father for myself.”

Looking back on their previous collaborations, as actress and director on "Excalibur" and "Hope And Glory," Boorman recounts having to snap at Katrine to slow down her line delivery in the "Excalibur" sequence where Igrayne is forced to give up baby Arthur to Merlin. “When you’re working with family, there’s absolutely no patience,” laughs Katrine, who tells her own story from "Hope And Glory" when she was standing on a paving stone as the other actors stood on the grass, even though they’d been told not to. “Then I heard this scream from my father, ‘Get off the fucking grass, Katrine!’... You have to take it on the chin.”

Boorman’s worked with some illustrious actors over the years, including Richard Burton although their collaboration came on an unhappy sequel, "Exorcist 2: The Heretic." Stories abound that Burton was drunk for most of the shoot, although Boorman insists it's not entirely true. “I’ve worked with a lot of drunks. Lee Marvin, for instance, was never drunk when we were shooting and nor was Burton, really,” he says. “The problem I had with Burton is that it was all voice and head. He never learnt how to use his body in acting.”

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Interviews, Directors, Documentary, Documentaries


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.