This is one of the more human, poignant portraits of a cop’s life the movies have given us.
JOHN C. REILLY: I rode with the LAPD out of the North Hollywood precinct and it was a real eye-opening experience, I have to say. I expected this kind of real thrilling thing, like you see watching cops on TV: Action! Drug busts! And what I got was perfect for my character, but totally not what I expected, which was such a sad glimpse at how vulnerable and difficult the life of a police officer is. You hear “domestic disturbance” come over the radio and you think, “Man, this is gonna be cool.” But when we went in, as soon as I stepped into the apartment I thought I was going to start crying. It was just very sad: this 14-year-old girl was accused of hitting her baby, then she got into a fistfight with her mother over the issue, then the police come. And that’s what you see every day, over and over and over, as a policeman.
You’ve been in all three of Anderson’s features. What’s special about your relationship?
JCR: We met at the Sundance new film-makers’ workshop, which is kind of like a boot camp for young directors. We became really close friends as a result of that time. I went through some heavy emotional things right around then and he was right there for it. It’s almost like he was writing for me before he knew me, like he had an instinctive feeling for a lot of the issues in my life. Just one of the things you feel like, it was destined to happen. We were right on the same wavelength right away.
Many have found the emotional intensity and sudden strokes of weirdness in Magnolia hard to take, while others feel that the movie is a masterpiece. What would you say makes Magnolia special?
JCR: Well, when something happens like a man gets hit by lightning, you think, Man, how crazy is that? How random is that? What are the odds of that happening, and why does it happen? And why that guy? But, when I lost one of my family members to cancer, that is the feeling that I had. I would ask the doctor, what is cancer? He couldn’t elaborate; all he could do was tell me that they would try to take it out and hope for the best. It’s kind of like, the randomness of illness and that stuff is just as mysterious as getting hit by lightning, it’s as hard to process in your mind as strange phenomena. One of the points that the movie makes is that strange things happen every day, and everyone’s just trying to find some way to understand it and come to grips with it in their life. Whether it’s something we think of as mundane or something we think of as extraordinary, the craziest things happen all the time. (via)