Arthur Miller is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of all time.
But according to his daughter Rebecca Miller there was a much different side to the “Death Of A Salesman,” “The Crucible” and “A View From The Bridge” scribe that the public never saw.
That’s exactly what she wants to present to the world with her HBO documentary “Arthur Miller: Writer.” I recently had the chance to talk to Rebecca Miller about the film and her legendary father.
When did you start filming your dad?
I originally was shooting randomly. Then in about 1995 I decided to make it into a film. I wanted to get my father as he was. I knew that no-one else could get that close to my father. I just felt that he was so different in his public persona in interviews than the man I knew.
I was harvesting scenes and information and stories he told that I loved. My first impulse was to capture his personality, and then it became about doing something more serious.
What was the difference in these personalities?
He was much more guarded. And a little bit defensive. He was just very dour to the person I knew. He would make occasional jokes on camera, but he was always very funny and aloof and very unjudgemental. None of those things seemed to come through, and I wanted to show him in that different way.
As a playwright, did your dad talk about his past successes or focus on the future?
He was certainly happy that he had written his past plays, but he was writing for the future. And he was writing like a younger and younger man in some ways. His later work is very free and experimental, not that his first plays weren’t. But it was tough because he was up against himself.
Your dad died in 2005, did you need some time to return to the material you shot of him?
I left it for years and then I went back to it when it felt like it was a boil on my back that I really had to lance off. I needed some perspective. I couldn’t have finished this film when he was alive. It would have been too early, and I just wouldn’t have been free.
What was something that you learned about your dad in this process that you didn’t know?
When you do something like this with your parents you see different elements to their personality. I saw more vulnerability and how wide open he was, and even his romance, all of which I never saw.
I also saw a tremendous amount of self-confidence that he had. By the end of his life he was much more humbler. He was still fascinated and very much in love with human beings. But there’s not that sense that he has to teach them, he is just bemused them.
“Arthur Miller: Writer” will air on HBO on Monday March 19 at 8pm ET.