Interview w/ Richard Lawson


Objectively speaking, Richard Lawson is the best person on Twitter – observe my empirically correct cold open to this interview. My fondness of the aforementioned Vanity Fair columnist’s work is shared by many: Billy Eichner, Laura Dern, and Zoe Kazan – Zoe Kazan, I said – all follow Richard on social media. He is a fantastic writer, podcast host, and former Boston College villain. Here, we get down to pressing topics, such as “how overawed can one interviewer be?” and “will Kanye West ever star in a show about Condé Nast?” The future is as mysterious as Paul Schneider doing an English accent.


Rob Patrick: In an interview, the actor Adam Goldberg told me that he thought Andrew Garfield had broken into his home. He quickly then reappraised the situation after noticing that the figure in question was “broader” and more “Finnish”. Do you think there is any truth to his story?

Richard Lawson: On the advice of my attorney, I cannot answer any question involving Andrew Garfield and breaking into homes, lest I adversely affect certain pending legal matters.


Staying on hot topics, do you think that Andrew Garfield and Jim Sturgess will ever play brothers in a whimsically acerbic Whit Stillman movie?

I’d rather they play twins in almost any other director’s movie.


In your mind, what makes a great, thoughtful, and engaging film review?

The critics I like to read, who are all much better writers and thinkers than I am, are capable of taking a movie, any kind of movie, and putting it in the fascinating context of a broader world. The world of cinema, of culture, of politics, of history, whatever. Movies are a reflection of a lot of things—not just the discrete circumstances of their making—and the best critics, the best reviews, capture the sense of a film’s place in the world in ways that are illuminating, funny, inspiring, moving.


Recently, Crispy Crepes in Boston shut down, and all BU students openly wept in a crestfallen spectacle of bereavement. Did this warm your BC heart during the holidays?

It’s as true today as it ever has been: Sucks to B.U. #alwaysbelieveinBC


You’re clever, observational, and incredibly quick on Twitter. What makes a great Tweet?

First, I tweet way too much. Second, I don’t know! I guess a great tweet is something that’s well-timed, while being a little ahead of time; forward-looking somehow. A great tweet is a mix of sharpness and absurdity. It’s almost never earnest. And it appreciates that Twitter should only very rarely be taken seriously. Patricia Lockwood’s “So is Paris any good or not” tweet is probably the most perfect tweet there will ever be.


You and Louis Virtel are the best comedic tandem ever. You two usurp all other people. This is less of a question and more of a statement.

Louis is maddeningly good at Twitter. Which is a silly thing to say, I realize, but he is. He’s just very adept at that kind of thing. He’s also very kind IRL and equally as funny. Everyone follow Louis Virtel.


What do most film critics forget when reviewing movies, and how can those mistakes be remedied?

The worst reviews I read (usually my own) tend to focus too much on plot description and rely too heavily on cliches. Avoiding those two things is hard, because they’re a very easy way to write, but a review filled with either or both of them always reads very canned, and is rarely helpful or instructive in any way. Again, most reviews that suffer from these problems are my own.


Would you ever consider watching a show called “Kanye on Condé”, where Kanye interviews writers at the Condé Nast Building?

I would watch, especially if he was really “on” Condé, meaning the interviews were held on the roof of One World Trade. So dramatic!


What was your favorite thing that a studio sent to you during award season, aside from a shipping envelope with Michael Shannon’s face emblazoned on it (that’s what I received, at least)?

I got a black tote bag with “Straight Outta Vanity Fair” printed on it, in the style of the Straight Outta Compton logo. I Instagrammed it, put it in a drawer, and then just today gave it to a colleague for her birthday. None of us can tell if we like the joke, think it’s gross, or both.


Finally, tell everyone a little about the amazing Little Gold Men podcast, which I find to be absolutely fantastic.

Oh! You are very kind to say that. It’s something that my editor Katey Rich, VF’s digital director Mike Hogan, and I started last September as a way to follow the various oddities and intrigues of movie awards season. The Oscars are big for V.F., with the party and all, so we figured that up-close coverage of the movies and their campaigns would be a natural fit. We managed to get a lot of great guests on the show—Sarah Silverman, Elizabeth Banks, Adam McKay, Ridley Scott, Domhnall Gleeson, the indefatigable Peggy Siegal, et al—and have what I think are some lively discussions. We had so much fun doing it, and enough people listened, that we’re continuing it through the “off-season,” covering spring and summer movies, as well as a little TV and more interviews. We post a new episode every Thursday. Find us on iTunes!!


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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