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Remembering James Garner, A Maverick On and Off Screen

Thompson on Hollywood By Joe Leydon | Thompson on Hollywood July 20, 2014 at 1:30PM

It is my custom to celebrate lives, not mourn deaths. On the occasion of James Garner’s passing at age 86, I would like to recall the man and his work by sharing this interview.
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James Garner
James Garner

Sometimes, an interview just clicks. James Garner and I communicated directly only once, during an extended conversation for a 2004 cover-story profile I wrote for Cowboys & Indians magazine. But right from the start, I felt like I was conversing with an old friend who was forthcoming and unfiltered.

Maybe it was because we discovered we had something in common – each of us lost his mother at an early age, dealt with an abusive stepmother, and remained forever shaped by those tragedies. Or maybe, just maybe, Garner turned on his irresistible charm for anyone and everyone he ever met. Whatever the reason, he was an exceptionally gracious gentleman, and an absolute dream of an interview subject, while we chatted.

It is my custom to celebrate lives, not mourn deaths. On the occasion of Garner’s passing at age 86, I would like to recall the man and his work by sharing this interview, here. 



This article is related to: James Garner, Obit


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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.