Andrew Rossi interview: ‘The Andy Warhol Diaries’
Who is Andy Warhol? That is the central question at the heart of “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” the six-part docuseries written, directed and co-executive produced by Andrew Rossi. The Netflix series, which is based on the dictated memoirs of the famed pop artist, examines Warhol’s life as an artist while also delving into his struggles with his own identity and sexuality. The show has earned four nominations at this year’s Emmy Awards, with Rossi earning nominations for writing and directing, as well as for his role as a producer. Check out our exclusive video interview with Rossi above.
Rossi approached the project like a screenwriter and took on the task of adapting the published diaries– which totaled neary 1,000 pages– into script form. He looked for an arc that would weave throughout the series. Rossi ultimately connected to two specific themes in the diaries. “I connected to the romance and the humanity,” he explains. “I think the way that people love is such an important window into who their true selves are, and it was very humanizing to bring those stories out.”
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In tackling such an iconic figure, Rossi sought to discover the true Warhol rather than the image that the artist displayed for the public. The real Warhol, Rossi says, was a man filled with insecurity and doubt. “You get this sense of not being at ease with his place in the art world, with his romantic relationships. He’s constantly trying to figure it out,” he argues.
The series also examines Warhol’s internal struggles as a gay man in a period where homosexuality was heavily stigmatized, whether it was being classified as a mental illness or as a result of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Rossi believes that the discussion of Warhol’s queerness, and his inability to express it, has a unique resonance in today’s politics. “There are over 300 bills in state legislatures right now that are trying to pull back LGBTQ rights, and there the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws in Florida,” he says. “Very homophobic forces in our society are trying to squelch [the LGBTQ community]. So I hope that the series is entering that conversation in a way to say ‘Look, this is Andy Warhol’s true identity.'”
Rossi ultimately believes that there is a universal aspect of Warhol’s life that fits perfectly with the present day. “There’s certainly the feeling that it’s supporting a queer figure in a moment when we’re under threat,” he argues. “But also I think there’s just an emotional softness to it and a feeling of wanting to figure out one’s place in life that resonates with this time that feel’s like it’s cracking apart.”