With only a number of days until Spike Jonze’s new project HER premieres at New York Film Festival, Vulture sat down with the director to discuss the inner-workings of such a simple – but complex – piece.

Described as ‘the most personal film yet from a director who has long juggled so many personae that his actual identity remains deliberately elusive, even after twenty years in the spotlight’, HER focuses on Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer who falls in love with a high-tech, highly personal operating system on his computer:

‘The result is not just a cautionary meditation on romance and technology but a subtle exploration of the weirdness, delusiveness, and one-­sidedness of love. For all his imaginative conceits, Jonze is, in his way, a realist; he’s less interested in playing with the technologically extraordinary than he is in demonstrating the ways in which it can burrow into our most private selves’.

When it came to casting Phoenix, Jonze details how he originally read for ADAPTATION (2o02), but Phoenix himself didn’t think he was right for the part:

‘When Jonze was writing ADAPTATION, he thought of the main character as being in his fifties, but he came to realize that there were advantages in making Theodore a younger man whose romantic misfortunes had knocked him down but perhaps not out. As soon as he finished the screenplay in 2011, he brought it to Joaquin Phoenix, then 37, whom he had met a decade earlier, when Phoenix read for ADAPTATIONThe actor had spent the earlier meeting saying, “?‘I fuckin’ can’t do this, I’m wrong, you don’t wanna cast me,’?” Jonze tells me. “I loved him.” When Phoenix read HER, “I was astonished,” recalls the actor, who was then prepping for THE MASTER. “I find it hard to focus on anything else when I’m working, so over the next year there were big gaps when I didn’t talk to him at all,” says Phoenix. “But when I was free, we’d talk and he’d make changes.”’

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll recognise that Scarlett Johansson (AVENGERS ASSEMBLE) provides the voice of OS system Samantha. However, that wasn’t always so, as Samantha Morton (JOHN CARTER) was originally cast in the role:

‘For her part, Morton has taken the assignment to play a heard-but-not-seen character seriously. She has spent much of her time hidden away in a four-by-four carpeted soundproof booth made of black painted plywood and soft, noise-muffling fabric. I find it tucked out of sight behind a giant screen and peek in. It’s a less than inviting place to spend more than two minutes’.

You may also be surprised to find out that BEHIND THE CANDELABRA director Steven Soderbergh had a hand in the production:

‘When Jonze is stuck, he often looks to an eclectic group of friends and confrères—“peers,” he says, “that I rely on deeply for their opinions and their help.” Besides Kaufman, Fincher, and his Jackass cohorts, they include Keener, music-video director Chris Cunningham, writer-directors Nicole Holofcener and Miranda July, director Bennett Miller, who cast him in a small role in MONEYBALL, and Steven Soderbergh.

This time, it was Soderbergh he turned to—“He’s the smartest, fastest editor-filmmaker I know.” Jonze asked him if he’d be willing to take a weekend to look at the movie and do his own quick, gut-instinct cut. “He got the movie on a Thursday, and in 24 hours, he took it from two and a half hours to 90 minutes. We basically said, ‘Be radical, shock us,’ and it was awesome. He said, ‘I’m not saying this should be the cut of the movie, but these are things to think about.’’

As soon as I saw the trailer I was sold. Phoenix manages to portray Theodore with such gentle intensity and chemistry that it’s hard to look away. Not to mention the beautiful cinematography and Johnasson bubbly voice acting, I’m sure HER will be brilliant. I highly recommend that you read the full Vulture article to really fall in love with Jonze and his work.

The film will premiere at NYFF on 12th October. It will be released in the UK and US from 10th January 2014.

Source: Vulture