Warren Beatty, filmmaker

No detail is too big or too small to escape his attentive eye.

A man about town and a citizen of the world, Warren Beatty is an information sponge who draws knowledge from everything around him, like some sort of force field. Getting a beat on his personal views is a challenge, but on the eve of receiving the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s Cecille B. DeMille Award, The Hollywood Reporter's Paula Parisi attempted to do just that.

The Hollywood Reporter: You've created some amazing films. Do you watch a lot of movies?
Warren Beatty: I do watch movies, but I spend probably more time watching news, and I'm enthralled with TiVo. It puts you much more in control of what you're watching in terms of speeding through things, eliminating things. In a sense, you edit them yourself. It's not really very polite to the things we see.

THR: What news shows do you TiVo?
Beatty: Pretty much all of them, but that doesn't mean I watch it all. You can have 60 hours of something and spend 60 minutes watching.

THR: You're very interested in politics. What do you think of California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Beatty: We're acquaintances. Since he has in the past year become more of a Democrat, he's learned a lot and is doing better. He's also a likable guy. I was not fond of all those conservative propositions that he was advocating in that special election. After his defeat on that, I think he's responded in a more constructive way. The bottom line on Arnold as far as I'm concerned is that I don't know quite what his politics are of the moment. I would add one other thing: I remove my hat to his willingness to be in public office.

THR: Would you ever want to be in public office?
Beatty: Tempted, but ultimately never wanted to.

THR: That's a shame because I think you'd be a great addition to the political mix -- especially if you reinvented yourself as a Republican.
Beatty: Well, I'm a Democrat.

THR: We've noticed! You're famously liberal, and Schwarzenegger ran on the Republican ticket yet is very moderate. Do you think the time has come to do away with party lines and just run on smart ideas and common sense?
Beatty: Some people say it takes a Democrat to get a Republican's job done and a Republican to get a Democrat's job done, and I think there's something to be said for that. It's the polarization, which I think is a result of the technological proliferation that seems to require belligerence, or antagonism, to gain or hold people's attention in the public discourse. On television, on computers, the threshold of boredom is lower and lower, and people change the channel if you're not yelling.

THR: What are the world issues you think should be getting greater attention, in terms of the world consciousness?
Beatty: We have to study and decide what, as the world's lone superpower, our functions and responsibilities are in the world at large and what our limitations are, too.

THR: Which contenders are you rooting for this awards season?
Beatty: There's this woman that I hear is amazing ... what is her name? Ben-something? Bening? She was great in (Sony's) "Running With Scissors."

THR: But you must have seen some other films? What about your friend Jack's movie? Did you see Mel's movie? Or Warner Bros. Pictures' "Blood Diamond"?
Beatty: I don't want to start talking about one picture and then not talk about another one and another one -- I don't like to play critic. All these people are friends and acquaintances.

THR: When are you planning to make another movie?
Beatty: I have made so few movies that all along, I've felt like every movie I've made was a comeback because I've had this luxury of being able to go out and participate in other areas of life in addition to making movies. I do movies when I can't avoid doing them any longer. It's hard for me -- because I have this great gift of children and this spectacular wife -- to not indulge myself in that, rather than as Cary Grant once said to me, tripping over cables.

THR: Does the Beatty family decorate the Christmas tree, or do you hire someone to do it?
Beatty: Isn't that the point? On the tree are a collection of symbols that return annually. These things are all rituals, so I think it would be kind of sad to have to cooperate with rituals that are meaningless. Yes, it's a lot of effort, but it's the meaning that's attached to that effort that makes it worth doing.