After moving to California from Canada in his 20s, Paul Haggis wrote and directed TV shows such as The Tracy Ullman Show” and thirtysomething. His screenplays include Letters From Iwo Jima, and In The Valley Of Elah. He's the first screenwriter to win back-to-back Oscars for screenplays — Million Dollar Baby and then Crash, which he also directed.
Like Crash, his latest movie, Third Person features multiple interconnecting stories. The cast features a lot of heavy hitters in the tortured love stories, including Liam Neeson as a successful author at a hotel in Paris having an affair with Olivia Wilde, who's also a writer. Adrian Brody shows up in Rome as a shady businessman there to steal designs and gets involved with a woman played by Moran Atias, in some elaborate scheme to get her daughter back. James Franco is a data processor in Columbus, Ohio. Kidding! He's an artist in New York, of course, and he's fighting for custody of his son with his ex-wife, played by Mila Kunis.
In San Francisco to promote Third Person, Haggis talked about how vulnerability can be a weapon, his involvement in Haiti and how he isn't happy unless he's miserable.
I read that you came up with this movie after conversations with Moran Atias, who suggested you do something on love and relationships. Why did that appeal to you?
I've had some terrific relationships and some very flawed ones. I think every ten years of my life I know less about love. It appealed to me because there were a lot of questions I had that I thought I could explore about how to love and how to be loved, how to allow someone to love you. That fascinated her and fascinated me.