Producer of American Hustle, George Parra talks movies, James Cameron and the continuing attraction of dark comedy
Producer George Parra began his career as an assistant director in the early
’90s and has worked with Hollywood greats like James Cameron, David O Russell and Alexander Payne. While he was in the spotlight for American Hustle—which was nominated in 10 categories for the Academy Awards in 2014—in the past two decades, he has produced many Hollywood films like Descendants, Silver Linings Playbook and Asylum. In an exclusive interview, Parra shares why working with Cameron was important for his career and the success story of American Hustle.
Which among your movies is a personal favourite?
My first film, Terminator. Every moment was important and every day was a learning. But Descendants is probably my personal favourite.
Why was working on Terminator so important?
James Cameron is one of our geniuses. The original Terminator was a low budget, independent science fiction. During filming, things change inevitably and you need to accept that, think quickly and solve problems. Cameron was so fantastic that if something didn’t work one way, he would find another. He was a good educator to me.
Any projects with Cameron?
I haven’t worked with him in ages. He is a good friend and busy with Avatar 2 for the next five years.
With no godfather in the industry, how difficult was your beginning?
It was difficult, yes. You needed to be resilient. There were days when I never had work. You just learned to put your head to the ground and work hard.
Tell us about your association with American Hustle?
I’d worked with David O Russell in Silver Linings Playbook when he asked me to collaborate with him for American Hustle. The script was well-written by Russell and I think that was the standout point about the movie’s success.
For a producer, how important is it to win an award?
Two years ago, we had 16 nominations for Academy Awards and we won just one. Just being nominated is a huge honour and to win is a step above. I’ve never won an Academy. I would like to have one in my house.
It’s called The Bachelors and it is a black comedy. JK Simmons will star in it and he plays a character dealing with the aftermath of his wife’s loss. We start filming next March.
American Hustle premieres on Sony Pix, December 26, 9 pm.
Need to know
Favourite actor: George Clooney
All-time movie: As a child, and an adult, one movie I have absolutely enjoyed is Wizard of Oz. It’s scary, it’s funny and it’s a great memory for me Best genre: Black comedy. In the last decade, my favourites have been Silver Linings Playbook, Nebraska, Sideways, Joy and Descendants
— Nandini Kumar