The 5-Minute Interview: Neil LaBute, Playwright and director

'I love conflict on the page, but I'd do without it for the rest of my life'
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The Independent Online

Neil LaBute, 43, directed a new US version of the British cult classic 'The Wicker Man'. It was slated by the critics. He is currently working on a screen adaptation of 'The Danish Girl' by David Ebershoff.

My 'Wicker Man' differs from the original in that ...

Rather than delving into the religious aspect of the piece, my idea was to move away from a patriarchal society in the original to a more matriarchal society - although it wasn't my idea to make the film. It was Nicholas Cage's company that was looking to do something different. Like the original, however, the message is that fanaticism is a road to downfall.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Typing away on some manuscript. I'm a good boss to myself. I do sneak off to the movies.

A phrase I use far too often is ...

"That sucks." I should have read the dictionary more often.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

Their children. I think a lot of people don't let children change their lives.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was ...

I survived drowning. I was a kid and - this is where it comes from - my parents weren't watching me. My relatively short past flashed before my eyes, and an older kid came to the rescue.

A common misperception of me is ....

That people still think I am associated with the Mormon Church. The truth is I resigned my membership a couple of years ago.

I am not a politician and ...

I couldn't be happier about that fact. Watching the political machine at work, it's amazing that anything gets done.

I'm good at ...

Working hard. Whether it's digging, or the perspiration of writing a manuscript.

I'm very bad at ...

I used to be worse at being honest to myself and other people, especially if it helped me from getting into conflict with other people. I love conflict on the page, but I would happily go without it for the rest of my days.

The ideal night out is ...

Wagamama and a show.

In moments of weakness I ...

Succumb. I think I am hugely fallible.

You know me as a writer/director but in truer life I'd have ...

Been drawn even deeper into the world of therapy. I fabricate the psychological history of people as a job, but I find actual people far more fascinating and breathtaking and frightening.

The best age to be is...

Somewhere between your late 20s early 30s. It's when you have to begin life and make some choices.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

I try to think of myself as a humanist but I know that I am a realist so I guess that makes me sceptical, but I remain a very hopeful person.

Sara Newman

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