Mike Nichols on "Betrayal"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig, and Rafe Spall in hehearsal for Harold Pinter's 'Betrayal,' directed by MIke Nichols Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig, and Rafe Spall in hehearsal for Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," directed by MIke Nichols. Opens Oct. 27 at the Barrymore Theater. (Photo by Brigitte Lacombe/Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

Mike Nichols talks about his award-winning career directing such films as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “The Graduate,” and the stage revival of “Death of a Salesman.” He discusses his latest project, directing Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” on Broadway, which stars Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig and Rafe Spall. 

Mike Nichols talked about what intrigued him about Pinter's play: "I think the fractured nature of it is so brilliant that it, in some ways, is an imitation of what happens in your head – when you look back over parts of your life."

He also described the idea of guilt in "Betrayal": "There are absolutely almost perfect people who experience no guilt, they don’t know what it is. They simply do what they need to do – or want to do – next. They see nothing wrong with it. They feel no guilt. They express no guilt. And it’s not even certain what harm they do. But the fact that they exist and that they can be very good people – sometimes the best – and simply not find guilt useful or interesting is one of the things that I think that play is about. And I think that it’s very interesting in life."

He explained why plays can affect each audience member so differently: "A play, after all, is a mystery. There’s no narration. And as soon as there’s no narration, it’s open to interpretation. It must be interpreted. You don’t have a choice…Each play can become many things."

And Mike Nichols had a very short-lived cameo on "The Sopranos": "I was Mrs. Soprano’s shrink for half a week when I fired myself. I said, 'You need another Jew. I’m the wrong Jew for this particular shrink.' And [creator] David Chase and I became friends through that self-firing." He added, "That should be the title of my biography -- The Wrong Jew."


Mike Nichols

Comments [3]

BigM from Philadelphia, PA

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" is Nichols' greatest film? Not to some of us, buddy. It was his first film, and it would be sad if he never topped it. The Albee play has been compared to Strindberg's, and has a lot of Strindberg feeling about it, but it's not an adaptation.

Sep. 26 2013 07:33 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Interesting that Mr. Nichols doesn't like Strindberg, given that his greatest film "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is based on that Strindbergs' "Dance of Death". The director's candor about his own life and his own sense of betrayal was riveting. What a shame that the business of Broadway commands great actors and directors and then charges astounding prices to see masterpieces like "Death of a Salesman" and "Betrayal"

Sep. 25 2013 03:50 PM
Tony from Canarsie

All this talk about the play, the theatre world and psychology is interesting and all, but what some of us really want to know is: is Rachel Weisz as charming and adorable in real life as she is on the silver screen?

Sep. 25 2013 12:31 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.