Alexander Payne Q&A: ‘Downsizing’ director
During our recent video chat (watch the exclusive video above), Alexander Payne reveals he first conceived of “Downsizing” as a followup to “Sideways.” He explains, “I thought it would be fun to do something more ambitious, and maybe something with a kind of political, social satire bent.” After a decade of “getting a bunch of ‘no’s’ and having it coalesce and fall apart,” the film is finally making its way to the big screen. This Paramount release opening December 22 stars Matt Damon as an ordinary man who decides to improve his lot in life by shrinking himself.
The idea began with Payne’s co-writer Jim Taylor, whose brother joked about how if you were of almost microscopic size “all the dynamics of your life would change.” After Taylor brought the idea to Payne, “I said well, probably the way that would come about is as a proposed solution for overpopulation and climate change. We weren’t setting out to make a climate change movie at all, but we wanted to do some kind of satire. But that was our entry point, and then we saw that this idea was going to be a very useful prism to see a lot of things.”
Payne won Oscars for writing “Sideways” (2004) and “The Descendants” (2011). He also contended for writing “Election” (1999), directing “Sideway,” “The Descendants,” and “Nebraska” (2013), and producing “The Descendants.” In fact, all of his films except for his debut, “Citizen Ruth” (1996), have competed in major categories at the Academy Awards (“About Schmidt” garnered noms for Jack Nicholson as Best Actor and Kathy Bates as Best Supporting Actress in 2002).