Barry Levinson

A lot of people have done things over the years and made fun of people in one way or another. When I was a kid, Vaughn Meader used to do John F. Kennedy. I don’t know if that makes John F. Kennedy less credible. He would do the voice, he’d have some silly situations or whatever. I don’t know if it made him less presidential because of it.

If you test Iron Man and that audience doesn’t respond well, you can be damn sure that there is something wrong with the movie that you have to address. Because they’re expecting a certain amount of action, right? They want a hero. There are certain things that have to be compatible with the way the audience is thinking about it. If you take some other film, like No Country for Old Men, you can end up with all kinds of crazy reactions.

I don’t know what Bruce Willis has done in real life. We know actors have certainly had tirades – that’s for sure. I never had troubles with him, but the big issue is really less about what Bruce is, as opposed to – this behavior has taken place, and sometimes it came out at something that had credibility, as opposed to, “No, I want to be fat and have a beard.” Other people say, “I don’t give a damn about the credibility. I paid $20 million. I want to see a movie star.”

Creative differences are legendary in this movie business, so we’re really not exploring the creative-difference aspect as opposed to the money aspect, or the fact that something can come up in a movie and literally put the whole movie on the line, and this is where producers have to earn their keep.

Everybody’s trying to hold onto some shred of dignity in the process of it all, and, at the same time, never talking about how they don’t have the power. No one has the power. So, you know, producers – we always think, “Well, producers are very powerful,” but producers don’t really have the power.

Different reactions while film test screening doesn’t mean even the audience thinks ambiguity is a bad thing. But if you’re asking them right away to start checking things off, they don’t know what to do. I think at their best, it applies to when the audience knows what it is. Then, when they say, “Oh, well, I thought it was too boring in blah-blah-blah part,” then you better pay attention to it. It’s like going for the hamburger. Better be the good hamburger I went for.