Like many filmmakers from the ’70s/’80s heyday of American cinema, Paul Schrader has had a bit of a rough go of it in the new millennium. While he’s definitely one of the most respected writers and directors to grace a film set in the last 50 years, there was a stretch from roughly 2000 to 2017 where Schrader was adjusting to the new era of Hollywood and his films didn’t create the buzz they once did. But that changed with “First Reformed,” where he found himself nominated for awards and the talk of the town, once again.
Now, in a new interview with Metrograph, in which he is promoting a new Criterion Channel short doc about his career (directed by Alex Ross Perry), the filmmaker goes into detail about his upcoming “First Reformed” follow-up, “The Card Counter,” as well as the struggles he’s had bringing his films to audiences in the era of streaming and studio blockbusters.
In the interview, Schrader talked about the status of “The Card Counter” and actually confirmed casting that was previously hinted at on his own Facebook page (but was eventually deleted, as it was likely a bit premature):
“But now, in another week, I’m gonna go back to work. I’ve written a new script and I’m making a new film. We’re cast and we’re financed. It’s an original script, very much in the style I like to do. Nice cast. Oscar Isaac is the main guy. Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish. And Willem [Dafoe’s] in it too. I love Tiffany. I’ve never met her, but I was on the phone with her for an hour. She’s a firecracker. It’s like talking to a live-wire connection. She’s very funny and, of course, she makes you funny. When someone’s sharp, that makes you get sharp because you want to keep up. So that’s all good. In my films, I’ll sort of combine two worlds that seem to have nothing to do with each other. In the new one, it’s the world series of poker and Abu Ghraib.”
Of the actors listed, the one that is likely going to raise some eyebrows is Haddish. However, when you see the comments by Schrader about the comedic powerhouse, it’s clear that he not only understands that she’s a unique choice for his film but also that he seems to have a strong grasp on what she brings to the table. All said, Haddish and Schrader together is an interesting combination and we can’t wait to see what they do.
While the Streaming Wars have opened doors for many new filmmakers, Schrader reveals they’ve turned down everything he’s pitched so far. Sure, Netflix will make sure that 14 bad Christmas movies get released each year, but it doesn’t have time for a film from one of the most iconic writer-directors of our time. Go figure.
“You know, ‘First Reformed’ was turned down at the script stage and at the finished stage by Amazon and Netflix,” the director said. “My new film was turned down by Amazon and Netflix. It’s not a question of, you know, ‘They’ll do anything.’ I’m still outside their system.”
Regardless of his role, still, as a bit of a renegade filmmaker that doesn’t necessarily play by the rules that studios (and streamers) prefer, it’s a good thing to know that Schrader is able to land financing and a great cast for his projects. Because after “First Reformed,” it’s clear that the filmmaker still has a lot on his mind and the ability to make a truly great film.
“The Card Counter” doesn’t have a release date, yet.