[on Diabolique (1996)] It was a chance to do something very, very challenging. I wanted to make a movie that took the original story of the French film, which I thought was a flawed and misogynist film and just by, not changing the story, but changing the point of view, create a feminist story. I wondered if that was possible. So that was my artistic challenge. It was a nightmare. You just never know going in. Did I know what Sharon Stone was like? But let bygones be bygones. Sharon and I began friendly. We were friends before we did it. When the project ended, we weren't speaking. I tried to help her to go through whatever she had to go through to do it. She had her issues with the producer and the studio and used me in her game with them. And used the movie against me. I was trying to make the movie - I wasn't trying to deal with the politics outside of the movie, of which there was a huge amount. Some of what was reported in the press was true, but everyone used it to their own ends and really forgot about the movie. That's what made it so difficult. We'd hired Don Roos to do the script and he's such an amazingly good writer. Don and I worked on the script for about a year and at some point I thought, "Let's make this movie inexpensive in Morocco, in the sun." The studio went, "We want noir. We want noir. We want noir." To this day I love the performances of Kathy Bates and Isabelle Adjani, with whom I became very close. Actually, I love Sharon's performance. I think it's good. But the movie itself was extraordinarily turbulent. It was a very difficult everyday experience. The film turned out the way I wanted it to, love it or hate it. It really did. But I had to battle it constantly and battle a lot of personalities. It was an experience unlike any other but doing the drama was something that I loved. I feel that my movie and the first are flip sides of the same coin. I wanted to see how far I could take a movie perceived as a classic by reinterpreting it, as a man, as a feminist movie. That's pretty bold, in retrospect. Maybe I shouldn't have done it. I wanted to do a movie that was not light. What I ended up with was a movie that was so dark it had no light at all. Which may explain why it was trounced critically - unfairly, I believe. A lot of the critical hostility came from just my attempt to redo it. I think it will be reevaluated, I really do. When there are no issues, no baggage, the movie will be seen in the light that I made it. Probably after I'm dead. The irony is, just recently somebody re-reviewed it and gave it a beautiful review, and I don't say that just because it was a good review, but it was an analytical review that really addressed the intentions of the movie I mentioned earlier.
[on The Avengers (1998)] The development of the script was fun and casting was also interesting because originally it was supposed to be Nicole Kidman and Ralph Fiennes. I had known Ralph and Nicole for a long time before this movie but Nicole was on Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Our wonderful producer, Jerry Weintraub and I had a good time developing it and we went off and ensconced ourselves in London for what turned out to be a couple of years. And what happened is that Kubrick would not give Nicole a start date. I initially asked Warners if we could wait a year, and they said, "We really need this movie. We really want this movie." Warners, at the time, was in great turbulence; there was turbulence in the executive suites. Terry Semel and Bob Daly, who were running the company really loved the script. I loved it and wanted to do it. Artistically, it was a great opportunity. I really wanted to respect the iconic, ironic weird sensitivity which is so much of what The Avengers is. I felt the script really achieved it, but the process moving forward was complicated, because I had to find an actress. Warners wanted me to go with Uma Thurman. I met Uma, she was perfectly nice and charming and talented. But ultimately, her chemistry with Ralph was not there, I felt, at the end of the day. I felt there was something amiss. But you can't focus on it, because you can't let it inform your directing. But that didn't really affect the shoot. I cast Sean Connery and that was a lot of fun to do. He was great. He loved the shoot. It was one of the most joyful shoots ever. We had so much fun. The problem began as we got towards the end of the movie, with what happened at Warners. I'm not going to blame anybody for the fact that it didn't turn out the way it should, because, ultimately, I'm responsible. But what happened is that there were two executives, one wanted to make it and one never wanted to make it. And over the course of shooting the movie, he had been promoted to co-head of production. And as we got close to the end, the executive whose film it was, who was really behind the making of it, was fired. And the person who was against the movie to begin with became the head of production. It began a cascade of disasters for me, because I know then that the studio, by the time I got to the cutting room, politically it was not very supportive. The head of the studio really didn't want it to succeed, I felt, because it wasn't his film. Michael Kamen did a stunning score. It was a dark score and a much more complicated movie. It was 20 minutes longer. All the absurdity of it was connected in its own logic. You could understand it. But by the time the studio was finished with it, they had cut out all the internal logic and it was chaotic and absurd, I thought. Then the problem became that they tested in front of a Mexican audience in Phoenix, who all complained the movie was too English. And it went on and on and on. So, whether the movie would have been good or not, I'll leave to whoever. But the movie that was finally released was not the movie that I made, and the problem finally is that you're in too deep and you're the one who is going to wear it. So, wear it I did. So, post-production was very, very difficult but the production itself was a joy. The failure of that movie changed my life. This movie was not a job for me. This movie was something that I was very, very passionate about. I gave it all. If you look at the movie without the sound, oddly enough, you'll see the visual sensibility of it, that is really rock solid. And if you look at the credits, you'll see who I'm working with. Some of the UK's finest, finest editors, cameramen, art directors, everything. An amazing experience. And so it really broke my heart.