Roundtable Interview with Tom McCarthy
Director of “Win Win”
March 11, 2011
Not many movies include high school wrestling.
Was this based on any personal experience?
As a matter of fact, yes. I
did wrestle in high school: believe
it or not, at 101 and 108.
How tall were you then?
4”. I grew six inches in college.
It was painful. People
didn’t recognize me.
But that’s how this whole thing was
hatched with me and my friend (and co-writer) Joe, laughing about our
painful experiences. But we met Alex, and he started talking about his
regimen, and what he does is a whole ‘nother sport, right?
Like there’s country club golfers and pro golfers, and it’s two
different games. This kid we cast won
the state championship two weeks after we cast him.
119 pounds. 36-0.
Demolished everybody. A
ridiculously gifted athlete. But his
personal regimen is also incredible.
: How did you develop the script?
come from improv., so I just start talking, and develop the character out
loud. But I think that goes back to
my family, who are a bunch of good story-tellers, and make almost anything
interesting and funny. I had to
cherry-pick from Joe’s life because I never really did suburbia as an
adult. But the pieces came together
over a period of time.
: What about the slap in the face
before the match?
was actually the brother of my own high school coach who initiated that, but
we thought it would be better in the script coming from Alex.
Pumped everyone up, you know?
: Why do we like Paul Giamatti, even
though he embezzled?
think because he’s vulnerable. Because
we see in him what we see in ourselves. We
like to think we’re decent people, you know, but human nature is such that
every day we wrestle, and you think, “I wish I hadn’t done that,” or
“I wish I hadn’t said that.” And
I think Paul sets that up in a really believable way.
He’s a pretty decent guy—family man, churchgoer, has a job that
he actually cares about, he’s not just making money, he’s doing
something that actually serves people, meets a need----but he makes a bad
call. I don’t think we need to
justify it by saying he’s trying to take care of his family.
It’s not noble. It’s
wrong. And what he does affects
everyone else around him. And despite
the “R” rating, because of the bad language, there’s a great message
here about the strength and power of family, and the mistakes we make, in
the name of family, and how we live with that.
: What kind of perspective were you
thinking about when Paul’s wife finds out what he’s doing, and her
reaction to that?
She was angry, obviously, about having the rug pulled out from under
her. She expected better from the man
she loved. And his seeing that from
her was so painful. The person you
love most in the world is looking at you like “Who are you?”
And the next morning is indicative of that, when he kind of creeps
back into his own house, and now, maybe for the first time, feeling that he
doesn’t belong there.
: So you don’t think of her
considering other options, like leaving, or cutting him off, or not
character is in the kitchen the next morning, thinking about this, as she
probably has all night, and it’s “OK. The
damage is done. Now we have to
protect ourselves.” And she’s
right. Her logic is very sound.
I hope this movie is funny, but I also hope people see this important
point about loyalty. And how sins get
passed down in families.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor,
United Presbyterian Church,