It turned out in the end to be quite a pleasant experience, because I was surrounded by gifted people. The cast was wonderful; I didn't cast them, they gave me the cast. The conductor was wonderful. It was just a pleasure. And, of course, I was working with a piece of material that's great. It was the first time I directed anything that wasn't mine, and so I could devote myself strictly to directing. I didn't have to write and constantly patch up bad writing. This is what I'm doing all the time in my own films. They're always an original script, and they're all full of mistakes. It's not like it's a Broadway show, where I take it out of town and iron the kinks out. With a movie, this is it, so I'm rewriting all the time and fixing and helping and adjusting. Here, Puccini has a little masterpiece both musically and in terms of the story, so all I had to do was mount it. Now, it's a short opera, and I don't think I could do Aida with the elephants.

Is there anything you can say about the film you are preparing to shoot this summer, other than that it takes place in London again and stars Naomi Watts?

You know the full cast, right? Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas. The cast is great. It's a comedy-drama, I can tell you that. It's a comic film but comic in the way that either Vicky Cristina or Hannah and Her Sisters was. It's not comic like Bananas. This is real, with a serious side to it but hopefully a reasonable amount of laughs. Hopefully.

Read the Whatever Works review.

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