SXSW11 Podcast: Tom McCarthy Talks WIN WIN

Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer in Tom McCarthy's film, Win Win.

Our next SXSW11 podcast is with actor/writer/director, Tom McCarthy (The Visitor, The Station Agent), on his latest film, Win Win. The film stars Paul Giamatti as counseling attorney Mike Flaherty, who’s a high school wrestling coach on the side. He meets a runaway star athlete Kyle (Alex Shaffer, in his first professional acting role) through a bad decision he makes in order to support his family. Just as things start going right in his life for a change, the boy’s mother (Melanie Lynskey) shows up straight out of rehab and looking for money, which causes all the good things to suddenly take a turn for the worse. The film also stars Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale and Burt Young.

In our interview, McCarthy discusses the impetus of the screenplay and why he wanted to make a film about “good people making bad decisions.” Topics we also discussed: the importance of tone in writing the screenplay and how hard it was for him to maintain it through the rewriting process; his casting process and why he went against type for some roles and his discovery of Alex Shaffer, who plays Kyle in the film; and his advice to up-and-coming screenwriters.

Trailer for Win Win:

3 thoughts on “SXSW11 Podcast: Tom McCarthy Talks WIN WIN

  1. P Freeman

    In the interview, Tom McCarthy says, “Story is story, structure is structure, but I think tone is- for me, it’s everything. It’s what keeps an audience engaged with your characters.” Such a good point, so rarely stated. Tone flows from aspects of the storyteller’s personality, crafting away behind the curtain of creativity. Infused with a clear, authentic tone – light, dark, macho, lyrical, pensive, breezy, edgy, whatever – by a storyteller who loves his or her characters, a movie unfolds its own personality and energizes our empathy. Structure presents the movie’s story; tone reveals its soul.

  2. Jeremiah Comey

    What a great interview with Tom McCarthy. I love Tom’s movies. He’s a bright guy who takes gigantic chances as a film maker. He stories seem simple but in the simplicity lies his ability to illuminates the stories with great performances that emotionally move the audience.
    As a acting teacher I loved his explanation about why and how he found Alex Schaffe.
    Thank you