What’s actually wrong with the Weinsteins? Part Three: Kenneth Lonergan on Gangs of New York

In a series of posts I attempt to tackle the question ‘What’s actually wrong with the Weinsteins?’ and to document instances of their (possibly) negative effect on the film industry. Read the previous parts here.

At a Q&A with Kenneth Lonergan for his latest film, Margaret, about the subject of screenwriting, Lonergan also talked about working on Gangs of New York under the ever watchful eye of Harvey Weinstein.

When I was working on Gangs of New York I had a four hour meeting with Harvey Weinstein to cut ten pages of script and it was fascinating – it wasn’t my responsibility, it was a lot of fun for me because Harvey’s very aggressive and belligerent, (Weinstein impersonation) ‘Don’t you think you should cut this? We only care about the main characters!’ Well, I don’t think so, Harvey, but if Marty tells me to, I will. We have our star and a cipher in the scene. Is that interesting? I don’t think so.

The other thing he said that I strongly disagreed with was, ‘The minute the audience doesn’t understand what’s going on, you lose ‘em! And you gotta get ‘em back!’ It’s insanity. That’s why you’ll find so much nauseating and unnecessary emotional exposition in American movies. ‘I think the problem was that I always let you take care of me when I needed to take care of myself and I finally found that out when I had to save my little boy from drowning. And I had no-one to rely on and I suddenly found that I could swim.’ It’s enough to make you wanna – I don’t know. Be an accountant.

Quote taken from the excellent write up of the Q&A at Mostly Film.