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Roland Joffe / Director

April 11, 1999|STEVE HOCHMAN

With his fifth film, Roland Joffe, the English director behind "The Killing Fields," "The Mission" and "The Scarlet Letter," turns to a quadruple-indemnity thriller in his new "Goodbye Lover," featuring Patricia Arquette, Don Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres and a Greek chorus in the form of songs from "The Sound of Music." Joffe, 51, is now in Paris shooting "Vatel" with Uma Thurman and Tim Roth.

PUBLIC IMAGE: "I cast Don Johnson and people say, 'But we know what Don does.' But oddly enough, we don't know at all. We only know what we've seen. There's a very shrewd, sensitive and intelligent man inside that. I was very impressed with him. I have a low boredom threshold, and he kept me on my toes."

ONE-HIT WONDERS: "I can find a lot of young directors who have a great first film and [become] everyone's darling, and then the next doesn't live up to that. Movies can't live up to that. They're a learning process, and you have to learn in public, and it's expensive. That can be a danger to people when they're young."

PICK TO CLICK: "One [young director] I've worked with is Zoe Clark Williams. She had a movie called 'Men.' And we've produced a show for MTV for which she shot three pilots. She's going to go a long way, very shrewd and observant."

WANT MY MTV: "The MTV show is 'Undressed,' which we hope will play in the summer. A lot of fun. MTV is in a wonderful position to be able to express things in a much freer way than most. They don't have the huge framework that conventional TV has, and they know the audience is changeable."

NO GOOD GUYS: "The conventional wisdom of cinema is that you need someone to root for--maybe the conventional wisdom of life. But were we all rooting for Clinton? Who was the one to root for in that? In a way, the nation behaved like the character played by Ellen DeGeneres [who] might look at life in a situational sense."

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: "My favorite song [used from "The Sound of Music"] is the one about 'Maria.' In actual fact, no one knows what Maria is--you could look at it as the story of a cuckoo who invades someone else's nest, gets rid of the fascist wife and runs off with the children."

HISTORY MYSTERY: "I happened to read the book 'The Dead Sea Scrolls' four or five years ago and gradually it turned into a movie in my head. I know that eventually I will make it; it's a great detective story."

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