Cara Buckley’s New York Times profile of Warren Beatty, “Warren Beatty Wants Six Hours of Your Time. Or More.,” is over 1,700 words long, but fewer than 300 (about 16 percent) of those words are actually spoken by Beatty. The 79-year-old actor, who’s shilling his upcoming Howard Hughes movie, Rules Don’t Apply (“Stop calling it a Howard Hughes movie!” says Beatty), is far from taciturn—Buckley reports that their interview stretched over six hours (hence the name of the piece). Beatty, however, is reluctant to say anything particularly vivid on record, thus tasking Buckley with having to produce what is essentially an advanced write-around.
She accomplishes this with aplomb. Her resulting piece is more insightful and entertaining than your standard profile that overflows with celebrity bullshit. She writes:
We also spent two hours talking before he consented to being recorded. Inquisitive and engaging, Mr. Beatty said he wanted to get to know me. But when he finally did go on the record, the colorful tales vanished, the free-flowing chat dried up, and his speech became so tortuously stilted that I had to ask why he was suddenly talking like a robot. “If you think I am being careful, you are correct,” he said in a slow drip.
Then there were the pauses, some so long that I wondered if he had forgotten the question. He would start a word, then stop, then start again, then sigh. The silence yawned. Planes passed overhead. This seems to be his way: Interviewers have been noting these peculiarities for decades.
Great piece, go read it. Just in case you need more incentive, luxuriate in this utterly bizarre introductory anecdote that occurred during a press screening of Rules Don’t Apply that Buckley attended (Beatty also showed up unannounced):
Halfway through the film, nature called, and as I sprinted past Mr. Beatty, who was still in the lounge, he beckoned me to his side. His hair has silvered, and he walks with the hint of a stoop, but his grin and manner were impish. Had it really been necessary to miss a minute of his movie? Could I come to the next screening to see it in its entirety? “I am very close to someone who has the same bathroom issues as you,” he said in a stage whisper. It was a little strange, a little awkward and I felt a little charmed and also somewhat captive.
He sounds like somebody who’s definitely worth profiling.