I’ve been lucky enough to interview some pretty interesting filmmakers and actors for this site, but it’s not very often that one can claim to have talked to a true legend of cinema. Usually the bigger the name, the shorter the one on-one-time you get with them, which is why it was a true honour to speak with Norman Jewison for 40 minutes the other day about a wide array of topics. This is the director of over forty feature films, including classics such as In The Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, The Thomas Crown Affair, Jesus Christ Superstar, …And Justice For All, to name just a few. The only other person I’ve interviewed who comes close to the status of Jewison is Peter Bogdanovich, but Jewison is particularly dear to us Canadians since we can boast that he’s one of us and has done a lot to help the industry here. He happened to grow up just a couple blocks over from where I did, and we even attended the same schools half a century apart.
The main focus of our chat was The Fiddler on the Roof, which Jewison is presenting at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this Sunday as part of their Dreaming In Technicolor series. I didn’t even need to ask a question and he was off talking about the Academy Award-winning work cinematographer Oswald Morris did on the film and how proud he is that the film still has relevance and gets shown in programs such as this. The 88 year old storyteller truly made my job easy by expounding on colorful aspects of his history with very little prompting on my part.
Normally I would transcribe interviews like this, but Jewison is such a pleasure to listen to that I thought it best to just post the audio of the entire interview. Here are some approximate timecodes if you’re looking for something in particular.
00:35-2:30 The cinematography of Fiddler on the Roof
2:30-12:30 Transferring Film to Video and the Digital Age of Filmmaking
12:30-17:40 Watching his own films and John McTiernan’s The Thomas Crown Affair and Rollerball remakes
17:40-21:10 Career mementos and awards (what’s on his Dork Shelf)
21:10- 25:40 Growing up in East Toronto during the depression
25:40-32:30 Getting started in the business
32:30-38:30 His Canadian Film Centre (CFC) legacy