Photo: Mike Coppola (Getty Images)

You know you’re in for a real treat when, in the first paragraph of an interview, the subject drops a galaxy-brain-inducing life lesson like, “When you’re a very active person and you make movies, shit will happen to you. What I say to film schools is making movies is not all blow jobs and sunglasses.” From Joel Schumacher’s lips to your computer screen. The veteran filmmaker sat down for a quite lengthy interview with Vulture, in which he takes the interviewing journalist on what can only be described as a straight-up odyssey through his life and career—and Schumacher has fucking lived, man. In a wide-wide-wide-ranging interview, Schumacher touches on everything from collaborating with Halston to losing five years in a drug-induced stupor, discovering young actors who would later succumb to tragedy, Michael Jackson, Bryan Singer, Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones, the AIDS crisis, his sex life, and bad reviews.

Throughout the interview, the filmmaker proves incredibly nimble at dancing around touchy subjects like his old pal Woody Allen (with whom he remains friends) and the accusations against Michael Jackson in the Leaving Neverland doc. Schumacher is also wildly skilled at casually dropping opinions and controversial items alike—were this any other interview subject, each of these answers could command sensational coverage independent of the rest. Take this exchange, regarding Schumacher’s collaborations with Tommy Lee Jones and Val Kilmer:

Another one of your talents has always been your respect for actors. You very infrequently said terrible things about them in the press.

No, I said Tommy Lee Jones was an asshole in People magazine.

But you hired him twice, in The Client and then Batman Forever.

He was fabulous on The Client. But he was not kind to Jim Carrey when we were making Batman Forever. And I didn’t say Val [Kilmer] was difficult to work with on Batman Forever. I said he was psychotic.

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The filmmaker goes on to explain that Jones “did not act towards Jim [Carrey] the way an Oscar winner with a star on Hollywood Boulevard, being the oldest member of the cast, and having such a distinguished career and the accolades to go with it, should have acted towards Jim.” At 79, Schumacher clearly knows how to hold a grudge. On the subject of Kilmer, who was famously difficult on the set of The Island Of Dr. Moreau, Schumacher takes on an air of Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights when he says:

I do know Marlon Brando threw Val’s cell phone in the bushes and said, “Young man, don’t confuse your ego with the size of your salary, ever.” Here’s the difference between Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones. I don’t care what state Tommy is in emotionally, when that camera rolls, there is no bad take. Val is a different story. But he was a fabulous Batman.

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There are other peaks in this rollercoaster of an interview, such as Schumacher’s reaction to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s negative review of St. Elmo’s Fire—which the duo despised so much they covered it on their show two weeks in a row. Says Schumacher:

They were in such umbrage about the behavior of these young people. And then they went into, “Well, we both were in college, and nothing like this ever happened in college.” And I screamed at the TV, “This movie’s about people who got laid, okay?”

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But for every peak there is a valley, and Schumacher has his fair share of them. Despite deftly navigating tricky topics earlier in the interview, Schumacher can’t avoid eliciting discomfort when broaching the subject of his sex life—specifically the physical relationships Schumacher had with older men when he was just a teenager:

Listen, I mean, if I say this I’m gonna be killed — there are very seductive children. I was one of them. I was very seductive at a very young age. That doesn’t mean that anybody who was older should’ve said yes or just complied, but I feel in my lifetime I’ve always been a very results-oriented person.

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Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!