“It Could Only Be Charlie”: A Conversation With ‘Anomalisa’ Directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson
Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Anomalisa is one of those once-in-a-lifetime movies. It’s a singular experience, a stop-motion animated drama that slowly reveals why it could have only been told in this style. Simultaneously bleak and brutally honest and genuinely hilarious, directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson have made a movie that touches a nerve. Anomalisa is a stunningly made movie about ordinary people, a visual treat set in the most mundane setting imaginable, and a story that asks you to discover empathy for characters who are painfully human… despite being 3D-printed puppets. As of this morning, it is now an Oscar nominee for for Best Animated Film.
Since it topped my list of the best films released in 2015, I was thrilled to speak with Kaufman and Johnson as Anomalisa expands into more theaters this week. You can read the complete interview, and watch a new featurette delving into the making of the film, below.
That featurette, titled “It Could Only Be Charlie,” offers a quick look at the cast and crew of Anomalisa as they discuss working on the movie. As the title implies, the emphasis is on Kaufman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Anomalisa, his second film as a director after his bleak and stunning debut Synecdoche, New York, is very much one of his movies – cut through the inherent quirk and the stylization and you’ll find something beautiful, moving, and bittersweet.
Anyway, here’s the featurette, which features Kaufman, Johnson, and actors David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh as talking heads.
Since Anomalisa is the kind of movie that gets you in a confessional kind of mood, I’ll admit up front that I was genuinely on edge to be speaking with Kaufman, whose work I’ve long admired, and Johnson, whose stop-motion animated Christmas episode of Community is intimidatingly good television. But as you’ll see in the conversation that begins on the next page, they put up with me well enough, sharing the crowd-funded origins of the film, the secrets to telling a story this personal, and a few tips for filming a great puppet sex scene.