Paul Williams Interview

Actor, writer, singer, lyricist, musician, Oscar winner and survivor – for more than five decades Paul Williams has been all this and more. As an actor he’s appeared in everything from Battle for the Planet of the Apes to Smokey and the Bandit and Baby Driver. As a songwriter he penned hits for The Carpenters, Three Dog Night and Hellen Reddy, as well as the Monkees and Daft Punk. He wrote the lyrics to the Love Boat theme, played in Bugsy Malone both on stage and screen, and wrote scores and songs for dozens of films. He’s even the head of ASCAP, the organization for maintaining copyright for songwriters. He’s currently in the early stages of adapting Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth as a musical.

Yet for all his accomplishments, Williams is also one of the most generous, kind humans you’re likely to encounter. He practically exudes humanity, presenting a warmth and ease of affection that’s downright humbling. It’s easy to be swayed in his presence, somewhat cynical that no one can be this kind, yet in speaking with him the feeling deepens even further. We met to talk about a role that for some is his most iconic – Swan in Brian DePalma’s 1974 Phantom of the Paradise. Williams was originally tasked with the musical duties (a set of songs he wrote in his hotel after gigs while in Lake Tahoe opening for Liza Minnelli), but DePalma soon realized he found his Spector-like spectre for his film. The film was a major flop in most markets, but by a quirk of fate the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba embraced the film, and Williams in turn, as a classic.

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At the end of 2012 it was revealed that Guillermo del Toro‘s film Pan’s Labyrinth was being adapted as a stage musical, inspired in part by Paul Williams and his film with Brian de Palma, Phantom of the Paradise. The director wrote the book for the show some time ago, and Jeremy Ungar and Williams were working out the lyrics with composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

We haven’t had an update on the project in quite a while, but that doesn’t mean it is dead. In fact, work continues apace, and Williams confirmed as much this past weekend. So this isn’t a big news break, but confirmation that a really odd and potentially interesting thing is still happening. Williams’ quote is below. Read More »

Guillermo Del Toro is known for being busy, but this past few days have been ridiculous. The director of the upcoming Pacific Rim just signed for his follow-up project, Crimson Peak, agreed to co-write the sequel to Pacific Rim, a trailer is coming out soon, the viral marketing has started, and now he’s revealed one of his most famous films will be turned into a stage musical.

Pan’s Labyrinth,  Del Toro’s Oscar-winning 2006 fantasy about a young girl’s discovery of a secret world, will soon be adapted into a musical. The project has a book (the stage version of the screenplay basically) written by Del Toro and Jeremy Ungar. They’ve hired Paul Williams to do lyrics and Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla to write the songs. Read more after the jump. Read More »