I ask Burton what he makes of the comparisons between Margaret Keane’s art and his own. “It gets panned,” he replies instantly, with feeling. “That show they had here at the MOMA, critically, it was completely ‘this isn’t art…’ And at the same time, it had the attendance ratings of a Picasso show.”
“The worst thing you can do is sing Happy Birthday,” Eastwood says. So on the day he turned eighty-four, he started shooting a movie.
“It is a place where you can be anything. It’s a place where you can say anything, write anything, paint anything.” But not for long.
A few days after the execution date was confirmed, I received a message: Swearingen wanted me to watch him die.
“The idea is immortal, it is without class and it doesn’t care anything about wealth,” he says. ” I could get my horn and play for you, and believe me, I would play something.”
The phone rings. Would I mind if he takes it? His daughter in California is worried about forest fires. “Well how far away is the smoke? I’ll buy you another house if it burns down, honey, OK?”