I read in another interview that you had to cut out a character’s scenes in order to streamline the movie more. Given that you have been working in the industry for some time now, have you gotten used to making hard decisions like that at this point? Or is it always a difficult decision to remove scenes from a good story?
It is always hard to lose scenes that you love or that make you laugh. Unfortunately, you often have to make the difficult decision of cutting a scene that you like a lot. However, you always have to be mindful of keeping the story interesting and shaping the big picture. There were many great moments in Can You Ever Forgive Me that we had to drop.
Going off that, what are your thoughts on extended editions/director’s cuts that incorporate previously cut scenes into a film? There have been many cases, especially in comedies, where these longer versions end up making the product actually worse (The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Bad Santa), such as by pointlessly drawing out scenes or adding stuff that was not needed. However, there have also been a lot of cases where having a longer run-time made the film objectively better.
I think people like seeing scenes that were deleted or sometimes it is interesting to see the director’s intended version. Most of the time though, there’s a good reason for cutting something out. It’s not always because a performance was bad but because the movie is just too long and drawn out and it was less entertaining with every scene in.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? has gotten several award nominations at the next Golden Globes, including ones for Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. I remember Joaquin Phoenix once talking about how he didn’t feel right being nominated for an award because he thought of acting as a collaborative process of multiple departments. I’m wondering, how important do you believe film editing is to an actor’s performance (assuming that the film is properly put together and ignoring deviations like an editor deliberately making scenes out of context)?
I think editing is key to help the shaping of story and performances in a movie. It is an opportunity for another rewrite of the film and a way to bring out the best in the performers.
In Can You Ever Forgive Me, we did a huge amount of reordering and shaping beats and performances and scenes in the cutting room. However, even if you are the best editor in the world – if there is no good performances or story or savvy direction there is no movie. Editing is a collaborative field. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work with such talent as Marielle Heller, Anne Carey and to edit the amazing performances by Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant and all the other wonderful actors in Can you Ever Forgive Me. Thanks for the opportunity!
Last question, I understand filming is still going on for the Mr. Roger’s biopic You Are My Friend, starring Tom Hanks. Is there anything you can tell us about the project, or anything we should expect? Like many people, I grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, so this movie is of particular interest to me.
I can’t say a lot about the project at this point in the process but I can say it’s definitely different from Mari’s other two movies in a very imaginative and emotional way. The performances are incredible!
Flickering Myth would like to thank Ms. McCabe for sitting down with us.
Special thanks to Britney Thai of Impact 24 PR for making this interview possible!