If you're not at all familiar with Tony Kaye, then I suggest reading this new Telegraph interview with the infamous artist/filmmaker/lunatic. In it, they explore Kaye's entire career -- from growing up in an Orthodox Jewish home aspiring to be a painter to suing New Line for $275 million after they wouldn't allow him to credit himself as Humpty Dumpty on the final version of American History X, the man has pulled more elaborate stunts than ... screw it; no one has pulled more maniacal stunts than this man. Some might consider the man a genius (he's won a whopping 23 design and art direction awards throughout his career), but his wild temper and nonsensical actions once brought him to a point where no one in their right mind wanted to work with him.
For example, when New Line wanted to make changes to Kaye's first cut of American History X, the director proclaimed, "I'm fully aware that I'm a first-time director, but I need the same autonomy and respect that Stanley Kubrick gets." And that was him being nice. From there, he spent $100,000 of his own money taking out advertisements in the trades denouncing Edward Norton and the producer, he would show up to studio meetings with a Priest, a Rabbi and a Tibetan monk, and was so upset about the eventual 18 minutes of footage that was added in, he hasn't watched the finished film in 10 years. But that's just the short version; how in the world they found a way to get a great film out of this experience is beyond me, but reading about it is almost as much fun as watching it. The best part is that Kaye is finishing up a documentary about the whole experience called Humpty Dumpty, and guess who's distributing it? Yup, New Line.
But after spending 10 years in Hollywood prison, Kaye is currently prepping his first narrative feature since AHX, Black Water Transit. This time he's older, wiser -- and hopefully he's learned his lesson. Humpty Dumpty is set to get a small theatrical release, and then New Line will put it on the 10th anniversary DVD re-release of American History X next year -- a DVD I will purchase, even though I already own an older copy. Kaye's abortion documentary, Lake of Fire, finally premiered last year at Toronto after the director had been working on it for years. ThinkFilm will distribute later this year. What's your favorite Tony Kaye story?