by Lawrence Ferber
In 1999, openly
gay writer-director Bill Condon took a pretty spectacular
tripto the stage of Los Angeles Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion to collect a Best Screenplay Oscar for Gods and
Monsters. Previously, Condon had worked with some less
prolific monsters, directing and/or writing genre pics
like 1980s cult sci-fi titles Strange Behavior and
Strange Invaders, 1995s Candyman: Farewell to the
Flesh (an entry in out horrormeister Clive Barkers
urban boogeyman franchise), 1991s F/X2, and 1987s
gothic Sister, Sister (his feature directorial debut).
Post-Oscar, Condon broke into the mainstream, snagging
a 2002 Oscar nomination for his Chicago screenplay. In
2004s Kinsey, he assumed the directors chair
again and brought the life of Alfred Kinseysexuality
pioneer and creator of the famed Kinsey Scaleto
screen. Two years later, Condon has brought another long-awaited
movie version of a Broadway smash to screen by writing
and directing Dreamgirls. An exuberant, richly
layered tale of a Supremes-style girl group whose members
learn the sometimes cruel price of fame, it made an instant
star of Jennifer Hudson, former American Idol finalist,
as vocal and emotional powerhouse Effie White. Will Condon
or his cornucopia of Dreamgirls cast and crew get to take
another first class voyage to the Oscar stage? While waiting
on that possibility, Condon took time to sit in the VIP
Lounge with us.
Which of your films stars would
make the ideal travel companion?
Dreamgirls Jennifer Hudson, because she could
sing me to sleep on the plane.
Youre a two-time Oscar winner.
Those goodie bags they give out are famously stuffed
with items like free trips. Whats the best swag
youve ever scored?
You dont get a goodie bag unless you present
an award (and I have only been nominated or won). So
it might have been when Ian McKellen was staying at
our house and he left behind some Jet Blue coupons.
We went to New York with them.
What place in the world is on the
top of your list to visit, and what do you want to do
while youre there?
I was just in London for three days and want to
go back and spend three weeks there and see a lot of
theater. I did see Billy Elliott, and thats the
What are the most essential items
in your suitcase?
What is the first foreign country
you ever visited?
Austria, it was in high school, which meant it
was 1971, and the highlight was taking the Sound of
Music tour around Salzburg.
What is first thing you do when you
get into a hotel room?
I wish I could say Im like Ian McKellen and
immediately go rip pages out of the Bible, but there
dont seem to be bibles in the hotel rooms I stay
in these days. So its figuring out how to get
When choosing a hotel, whether for
business or pleasure, what are some of the amenities
you consider absolutely essential?
A DVD player because Im always carrying something
I havent seen or looked at but have to put in
as soon as I get into the room. Were putting together
the DVD of Dreamgirls, and last night I watched a compilation
of the expanded musical numbers on the DVD. In the film,
the musical numbers often cut away to other scenes,
but on the DVD youll get to see the complete numbers
on the stage as they existed in performance.
What is the best or most unique
souvenir you ever brought home, and where is it right
We have the entire curtain from the Dreamgirls
number in our garage because were cutting it up
and are going to give the pieces out at the cast and
If you were the president of an airline
company, what changes would you make to improve business
and customer satisfaction?
They would never let the captain of the airline get
near a microphone because they inevitably interrupt
something important with their inane conversation about
What is the most memorable locale
to which one of your films has taken you?
A swamp in the middle of Louisiana where a murder
took place while we were shooting Sister, Sister, in
1986. A man had shot his wife, I guess. We all had to
leave the swamp quickly and hide in our cars. Thats
If you could meet with anyone from
the past, who would it be, where would you meet, and
Oscar Wilde in jail. So that I could tell him wed
still be talking about him hundreds of years later.
If you were stranded on a desert
island what three things would you hope to find there?
DVD player. A TV set. And a copy of the movie,