Each of painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel’s three features — Basquiat (1996), Before Night Falls (2000), and now The Diving Bell and the Butterfly — explores an artist’s struggle to create under duress.
What made you feel that the story of a guy who can only blink one eye would make a good movie?
My father had died recently and I needed to figure out how I could deal with his death. I had a huge fear of death my whole life, and now I’m not scared anymore.
What changed your perspective?
It came from making this film. Instead of being stuck inside himself, [Bauby] was able to escape into his imagination. That’s why he became a great artist. He was a regular guy before that.
You said recently that you don’t want your filmmaking to eclipse your identity as a painter. Why?
It’s not like I was a Sunday painter. It’s what I’ve always done and it’s the reason my movie looks the way it does.