Seth Reiss and Will Tracy interview: ‘The Menu’ writers
“We trusted our taste and what we found interesting,” explains Seth Reiss about writing “The Menu” with Will Tracy. For our recent webchat Tracy adds, “Sometimes it helps to have in your head a version of the movie you don’t want to make. We knew what that version was, where the food and some of the interesting emotional nuances fall by the wayside in favor of something more blunt and violent.” Watch our exclusive video interview with the pair above.
“The Menu” is about a young couple, played by Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult, who go to a remote island to dine at an exclusive restaurant. Once there, the renowned chef, Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) presents his creative dishes. As the courses are unveiled, the customers realize they are at the mercy of this dangerously eccentric chef.
Tracy says, “There’s a resemblance about the way a kitchen works and the way other collaborative processes work. Seth and I are more familiar with the writers room of a show. Damage can be done to your own psyche when you put everything you have into a product. The art you are making in a kitchen is uniquely ephemeral. It literally goes into your digestive tract, then it’s gone. If you are the best cook in the world in 1988, who’s going to know it? Questions of legacy and the value of you art become very complicated in the kitchen. We both sympathize with the chef in the film, but also feel as though he has let his ego lead him to a pretty monstrous corner.”
Reiss and Tracy both contributed to satirical news publication “The Onion.” Since then Tracy has won Emmys for writing and producing on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “Succession,” respectively. Reiss has been nominated for writing on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Reiss reflects how the duo avoided the traps of chef Slowik. “We have been working together for so long that we are aware of one another’s ego.” Tracy continues, “we have opposite insecurities and opposite fears. It’s good to have someone like that. You can switch being the crazy one. We are freaked out by different things at different times. That’s good.”
The film mixes sharp comedy with thrilling horror. However, the vacillating tones are consistently structured around the courses on Slowik’s menu. Reiss admits, “It’s a weird movie! It has the trappings of a typical drama structure, but it’s a weird world. It takes weird turns. And I’m happy for it to be weird.”