Spike Jonze

At Interview magazine, we occasionally stage interviews in front of a live audience. The following took place on September 16, 2008, at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City. We would like to thank director Spike Jonze and musician Thurston Moore for participating, as well as the audience members who showed up to partake.

THURSTON MOORE: I challenge you to a question-off.

SPIKE JONZE: [nervous laughter] Oh, I didn’t know that this was taking place in that form. I know how good you are at this. I’m scared. All right. What do you got?

TM: I’ll start easy: Did you ever get into trouble as a teen? Like, real trouble? Like, getting-handcuffed-by-the-cops trouble?

SJ: Nice. Were you ever a hardcore kid? Like, really into Minor Threat and Black Flag?

TM: Is the past a grotesque animal?
[A smattering of polite applause from the crowd.]

SJ: If a 10-ton truck killed the both of us, would that be a truly heavenly way to die?

TM: Did you ever go on a skate date with a rad skater girl where both of you just romantically thrashed around on skateboards?
[A couple of chuckles, but there is no clear leader as far as the crowd is concerned. More of a wait-and-see attitude.]

SJ: Are there any books you’ve read that you’d really, really like to do a movie of?
[An audible, collective sigh in the audience. Jonze looks nervous.]

TM: Do you fall in love fast and deep, or do you exact caution and willpower?
[The crowd applauds again. The judges make some notes.]

SJ: What man would you be cool making out with?
[A man seated in the back of the crowd gets up to leave.]

TM: Have you ever had the shit kicked out of you?
[The crowd cheers, apparently liking this one. Audience members seem to be starting to side with Moore.]

SJ: [quickly interrupting the applause] When you first had sex, were you happy or confused or both or what?
[The crowd likes this one too. Jonze is breathing quickly but is slightly relieved that he landed a good one.]

TM: Can you find someone to pay me to draft a script about the lives of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and their intersecting relationship through the countercultural 20th century?
[The museum crowd seems to like this one. Jonze doesn’t know what to say.]

SJ: [blurts out] So what project is next for you?
[A handful of boos from the crowd. A bottle thrown from the back hits Jonze in the face. A drop of blood trickles out of his nostril.]

TM: Spike, will you ever feel so free as to deliver a film to Cannes titled I Love You, where 1,000 participants each take turns looking at your camera and saying “I love you,” nothing less, nothing more?

SJ: [starting to lose traction and getting desperate] What are your plans this Christmas?
[The crowd now starts to laugh at Jonze. He quickly tries another.]
Does flying freak you out?
[The judges scold Jonze for going out of turn and note that they are removing points for this breach of the rules.]

TM: Have you ever thought of shooting an entire film on a plane from LAX to Australia?
[Moore is now on his feet, hurling questions at Jonze. The crowd is standing and screaming.]

SJ: [panicked but defending himself] Who’s better: Radiohead or Led Zeppelin?

TM: [knowing he has Jonze on the ropes] How is your script about the trials and tribulations of an arcane black-metal band from deep in Finland coming?

SJ: Do you like doing talk shows? Would you like to do more?
[The judges can no longer see Moore and Jonze, as the crowd has surrounded them; the crowd’s taunting is deafening. The questions come in a flurry now.]

TM: Do you think goodwill and intellectual discourse are valid forms of deflating terrorist tendencies?

SJ: What kind of toothpaste do you use?

TM: [screaming] Have you ever gotten too high? Or high at all? And if and when you do imbibe, does it alleviate any sense of guilt you may have as a privileged white male with some choice coin, or do you find yourself in cosmic harmony with all races, genders, and intellects?
[Jonze is now on the ground, Moore towering above him, with the crowd roaring and surrounding the two of them.]

SJ: [feebly] Do you like soup?
[The judges call the match because the crowd has killed Jonze.]

Interview magazine would like to send out its deepest condolences to Jonze’s friends and family. He will be remembered fondly. He was a great filmmaker and fought bravely beside us in the Korean War