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Paul Schrader once gave Bret Easton Ellis a pair of mittens to keep him from tweeting after taking an Ambien. He might want them back.
A recent anti-Trump Facebook post penned by the legendary screenwriter prompted a visit from two plainclothes policemen from the NYPD’s Counter Terrorism unit. In a late-night missive, Schrader dubbed the coming Trump presidency “a call to violence” and suggested “we should be willing to take arms. Like Old John Brown.” The Taxi Driver and Raging Bull writer quickly deleted the post but not before law enforcement noticed.
“A couple of cabernets and half an Ambien, and God knows what you’ll post,” he tells THR. “That is something that you have to be careful about because Facebook is not private correspondence.”
Though Schrader regretted the reference to the 19th century abolitionist who called for armed insurrection, he stands by the sentiment that we need to be vigilant in the face of intolerance. “Name-calling, racial profiling, bullying — these are not the hallmarks of freedom,” he adds. “Ten years ago, Trump’s behavior was considered not acceptable. And because we’ve lowered the bar so low, we hardly know where the bar is anymore.”
And while he’s bracing for “a culture of intimidation,” as evidenced by his own brush with the law, Schrader says he will be less “intemperate” in the future (after all, Taxi Driver is said to have inspired John Hinckley Jr. in his assassination attempt of President Reagan).
“This is not my fight anymore. It was my fight in the ‘60s,” he says. “I’m prepping a film now. I don’t have time for calls from the police.”
Still, Schrader said the officers showed equal concern about the director’s safety given an uptick in hate mail he has received after his original post was picked up by Infowars.com. “Before he left, the detective gave me his contact information and said, ‘If anyone harasses you at your building, give me a call,'” notes Schrader, who originally declined THR’s request for an interview only to change his mind when Brando biographer Peter Manso pointed out that silence was the goal of intimidation. (He did, however, decline Tucker Carlson’s request.) “These guys were half apologetic and said, ‘Oh we have to do this,’ and they agreed with me that we were really in a kind of a scary environment.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
realized that for people to accept that it’s a musical, you have to announce it confidently at the beginning,” says editor Tom Cross, who explored different drafts of the film with the director before deciding on that exuberant song-and-dance routine.”]
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