Several years ago I had the opportunity to interview Horton Foote. He was lovely and gracious and warm in a subtle and indescribable way that put us both at ease. You may not recognize his name but you certainly will his work. He won Academy Awards for his screenplays To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies, and was nominated for The Trip To Bountiful. He was a highly regarded playwright and also adapted works by Steinbeck and Faulkner for television and received the National Medal of Arts in 2000.
The story behind the story is that upon our arrival my husband and co-producer Tony Dec realized that we had forgotten our mic stands. We had been nervous and excited all morning and simply overlooked grabbing them on our way out the door – something we’ve never done before or since. We decided that Tony would go back to our home and get them, which meant that I would be left alone with the great Horton Foote for over 40 minutes.
One would think that it might have been a stressful experience but I found it to be quite the opposite. Determined not to speak about anything privately that we wanted to discuss on tape (I’m dating myself here), we found ourselves forced to have a silly and fun conversation about anything except his work and life. Every time we started to touch on a subject that might be interview appropriate we’d laugh and immediately change course.
What I didn’t realize then but certainly know now is that our time together, chatting and laughing at the awkwardness of the moment, allowed us to have a deeper connection during the actual interview because we came into it comfortable with each other after having had this shared experience. I will always be very grateful to him for his time and interest and wisdom and good cheer.
Tony and I produced and edited this interview and he mixed the sound. We recently re-mastered it and thought it would be wonderful to post it here as Horton Foote was one of the most courageous thinkers I’ve ever known. Meeting him was a dream for us.
Enjoy. . .