Paul Schrader made one of the year’s best films in First Reformed, a searing, contemplative exploration of religious purpose evoking the transcendental style of Yasujiro Ozu and Robert Bresson. He’s also kicked everyone’s ass at Words With Friends, the multiplayer puzzle game that he apparently boots up whenever he’s got a free moment.
In a new interview with A24, the Taxi Driver scribe reveals his strategy, as well as some of his favorite opponents, which include Irish soccer player Robbie Doyle and Game Of Thrones creator David Benioff. Schrader, however, is apparently more familiar with Benioff’s novel The 25th Hour than he is the writer’s immensely popular TV show.
Have you played any interesting people?
I only play people I know. I play Robbie Doyle the Irish soccer player. What’s the name of the guy who wrote The 25th Hour? I play him. Spike Lee adapted that novel.
Yeah, I play him.
He’s one of the Game of Thrones creators.
As for his strategy, Schrader describes it thusly:
In Words With Friends, you have all the time you want and you can make all the mistakes you want. You can sit there and try out ten or twelve words that might not even be words, you’re just guessing. There are plenty of online aids to tell you how many words can be made from the letters you have, so if you’re playing someone and you suspect that they’re using online aids, then you have to be extremely defensive, and make sure that you don’t open up anything that they can pounce on. So often you’ll choose a word with fewer points, but that simply keeps the board constipated.
Constipated. Great word.
Keep reading, though, as the interview also allows Schrader to dig into his scripting process, as well as First Reformed’s debt to Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.