First Look: Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

Advocate.com's exclusive first look at Ang Lee's new film Taking Woodstock includes this photo of Liev Schreiber, who plays Vilma, a drag queen who serves as a body guard during the Woodstock festival.

BY Corey Scholibo

April 15 2009 11:00 PM ET

So have you cleared all that music to use in the film?

We've cleared tons of music. But the whole joke of the movie is
[that] even though he's three miles down the road [from the
festival], he never gets there. There's always something that
comes up… He ends up having a three-way with Paul Dano and
Kelli Garner in a van and they end up taking acid, and gets
caught in mudslides and can't get there till the very end, but
you hear it in the background and of course we have a great
soundtrack. So we have everything from Nash and Young to the
Grateful Dead to Jefferson Airplane -- Richie Havens just came
in and recorded a new version of "Freedom" for us. It's
kind of hovering around the edges because it's not about the
concert itself.

So you didn't have the crowds to deal with…

Well, we have thousands and thousands and thousands of extras
in the movie because they were all converging in the crossroads
where his motel was.

Going back to your description of the film, it sounds sort
of like the "post-gay" idea. That phrase gets thrown out a
lot. What do you make of that? Can we just skip past this
issue, in that it doesn't have to be the central focus of a
film anymore? Do you think that gay subject matter derails a
plot anymore in a viewer's eyes?

I don't accept post-gay. I don't think we're there yet. On the
other hand, I think the way we get there is to pretend that we
are. Just like, so what? So on one hand, I think we would be
kidding ourselves if we said that it was a post-gay moment; on
the other hand, I really believe that American audiences, if
they're not ready for just, in a very off-hand way, to accept
that it's just part of the story, and it's just very
natural, and very real, and it's very human, then whatever,
who cares. We're going to act as if that's the case. And I
think in acting, if that's the case, I think it's more the
case.

Not to get off topic, but speaking of a film that really
tried to act as if it was not the case:
I Love You Phillip Morris.

You must have seen and had to consider whether to buy it, or
did that film do it in such an extreme that maybe it didn't
work?

Well, I think the tonality of it was different. What I was
saying was this is a movie in which being gay is not the
problem. It's something that's real that he grapples with
as part of his life, part of his identity he's finding. And the
film really embraces that as part of his journey. It's very
much a part of the story -- nobody's shying away from it -- but
it's like, for every gay character, why does that have to
be the problem? Gay people have a lot of other problems… Like
half a million people showing up in their front lawn. It's
like, "Hey, let it happen." That's kind of the
attitude.

I was talking to another filmmaker who's casting a gay film,
and he said the problem now is not finding an actor to play gay
but to find one who hasn't played gay this year. Did you find
that to be the case?

[
Laughs

] That's awesome. That's fantastic. I always say the same
thing; I've been saying this for years. Everybody's charting
the progress, and the setbacks, and letting every
representation… And is it in them? Is it too political or not
political enough? Did Proposition 8 [win] because… You know,
you could drive yourself crazy. Or you can just get up in the
morning and go, "Hey, another great story." The
on-screen stuff we track, but I feel that really the progress
is going to be when some big Hollywood gigantic action movie,
with the hot babes and action hero, and the star shows up with
his boyfriend on the red carpet. That to me, that's going be
the next moment. In the meantime, we're still going to be
making good movies and selling them, and being unapologetic
about it. But we're also being oddly breezy about this one.
There will be some headwinds against it, like we didn't make it
problematic or central enough, and we'll hear it and engage
that discussion, but it's also important for the LGBT
community to know that we're out there at the front of the
line, and have a sense of ownership of the movie and
characters.

Tags: film

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