Damien Chazelle Q&A: ‘La La Land’ director and writer
“It always felt somewhat unlikely and even impossible at times. I just had a hope that the thing I loved about the older musicals could still apply to today, reveals Damien Chazelle, the director and writer of new musical film “La La Land.” In our interview (watch above), he adds, “They’re timeless in a certain sense. There’s still a relevancy to the idea that if you feel enough, you break into song; that simple conceit that drives all musicals.”
The modern day movie is set in Los Angeles and stars Emma Stone as a constantly-auditioning actress and Ryan Gosling as a struggling jazz pianist. The two of them meet, but it’s definitely not love at first sight. The score is by Justin Hurwitz and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. It dominated Sunday’s Critics’ Choice Awards with victories for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Score, Best Song (“City of Stars”), Best Production Design, and Best Editing. The film led all others on Monday with seven Golden Globe nominations and picked up SAG Awards noms for Gosling and Stone on Wednesday.
On choosing Gosling and Stone as the leads, he says, “They have not just a likability but an effortless thing on screen where you almost don’t see the work behind it. You don’t see the sweat. They are effortless movie stars. They are able in this movie to ground the most ungrounded things. The most fantastical situations, they make them seem human and natural. That’s what any cast in this movie had to do.”
Chazelle had a big hit as the writer and director of the 2014 film “Whiplash.” He received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the movie competed for Best Picture (losing to “Birdman”). It picked up victories for Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Editing (Tom Cross), and Best Sound Mixing (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley). For that same film, Chazelle had a Writers Guild nomination and BAFTA bids for directing and writing.