You already know who Max Winkler's father is. He's that guy Henry Winkler aka Fonzie, but those were Happy Days, and it's about time you learned now about who Max is. He's not trying to step into the shoes of who his father is or was, he's just trying to make a name for himself, only behind the camera instead. Winkler's newest film Flower is his second feature and a damn good one to boot. Riding on the strength of a strong lead performance from Zoey Deutch, Winkler has a light and sunny approach, inspired by movies such as Harrold and Maude or Rushmore, there is a refreshing ease to his style. AMovieGuy.com was lucky enough to talk to Max about his newest film, his brief career as an actor, and the strong advice his dad gives him.
AMG.COM: First of all, congratulations with the film Flower, I really enjoyed it.
MAX WINKLER: Thank you very much.
AMG.COM: I read that you got your start with a minor role in your fathers film Cop and a Half with Burt Reynolds, is that something you even remember? You were 10.
MAX WINKLER: Yeah it all comes back to Cop and a Half. I was “boy in bathroom”. One line where I said “I'm history” and it only took one line to realize that I am a horrific actor. I'd never be put in front of the camera again.
AMG.COM: Was that where you caught the movie bug?
MAX WINKLER: I don't know, I've always loved movies. I've been watching movies and writing about them. I wanted to make my own for as long as I could remember. I would have thought that (Cop and a Half) would have put me off of it because I hate being in front of the camera, but I loved hanging out and investigating all of the machinery. Messing with dollies, mics, and the entire aspect of it.
AMG.COM: I am sure you get asked this a lot, but growing up with your dad being Henry Winkler, was that something you appreciate more today? Or are you just tired of hearing Fonzie jokes?
MAX WINKLER: I've always appreciated him as a father, he's been the best person in my life. And I would never tire of Fonzie jokes or comments because they never stop, so we just find it best to embrace it and love it all.
AMG.COM: Has your dad given you any advice that sticks with you on your journey of writing and directing movies?
MAX WINKLER: Yeah, just to wear comfortable shoes and be nice to others. Pretty simple.
AMG.COM: You co-wrote Flower with Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer. Can you tell me about how the three of you got the idea for this script?
MAX WINKLER: The idea is all Alex McAulay, he wrote an original draft that Matt Spicer and I were lucky enough to collaborate on and the character of Erica was in his mind and his brilliance. Matt Spicer and I write together, so we were lucky enough to get to work on it, investigate a couple things that were not in the initial draft, but the spirit of it is pure Alex McAulay.
AMG.COM: Let's talk about your star Zoey Deutch. She delivers one of her best performances here. Can you talk about how you feel about her performance and was she who you had in mind right away?
MAX WINKLER: The thing I am most proud of this movie is her performance. She was as good in the movie as she was in her audition. She was my partner in this and I feel completely indebted to her.
AMG.COM: I read another interview you did that you have been inspired by movies such as Rushmore or Harold & Maude in your filmmaking. Did you have a specific film in mind of making Flower?
MAX WINKLER: Those movies made me want to make movies. For Flower, I was watching Risky Business, a film by Andrea Arnold called Fish Tank, and a film by Lynn Ramsay called Ratcatcher. Those movies inspired me and I was watching them a lot.
AMG.COM: You have a spectacular cast here and it's much larger than the cast you had in your first film. Can you tell me how you went about getting people like Joey Morgan, Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott on board?
MAX WINKLER: Yeah, all of these people are my first choice and who I was thinking of while working on the script. We sent the scripts over and if they responded I would try to take them out to lunch to talk about it. How I want it to feel like, what my intention was. And that whole group, Joey, Kathryn, and Adam all seemed to want to make the same movie, which was a great part about the entire experience of it.
AMG.COM: The tone of Flower is funny, but you are also working with themes of identity, what it means to fight for your parents, and then it does take a bit of a dark turn. Was this a shift you wanted to keep your audience on their toes?
MAX WINKLER: Totally, I think it's important that the movie starts cheery, where the girls are pulling off these things that are extremely dangerous and have no idea how they are having an effect on other people. And later I feel like by the end of it they think through their decisions that the characters are making, the severity of the forces of nature. It's meant to be jarring to the characters and the audience. I like it when a movie goes in a direction where you don't know it will and I always try to do that.
AMG.COM: Oddly enough, both you and Zoey have parents who worked in movies. Do you feel the two of you had a bond because of that connection?
MAX WINKLER: I'm sure it's part of it. I think our parents were similar in the sense that they never pressured us to not do it or to do it. Zoey and I grew up in the same part of California, the San Fernando Valley, which is where Flower takes place. And even though I am much older than Zoey we could connect on our shared sense of place. I think we both have good relationships with our parents which can be rare and we connected instantly.
AMG.COM: You have directed a lot of television and now your second feature, what's next in store for you as you continue to have success?
MAX WINKLER: Hopefully I am gearing up to make another movie sometime soon because I really want to keep making movies, I really enjoyed the experience on this one.
AMG.COM: Last question, what do you hope audiences get from seeing Flower?
MAX WINKLER: I really want fans to capture the brilliance of Zoey's performance. That is one of the things I truly care about. I'm so proud of it, I think she's terrific and I'm excited for people to watch her.
AMG.COM: Well congratulations, I was a fan of Flower and hope audiences enjoy it as much as I did.
MAX WINKLER: Thank you Leo, it means a lot!