In 1976, I was a junior in high school. It was the year I discovered Kurt Vonnegut. After reading Breakfast of Champions I knew I would have to read everything he had written. I remember reading his third novel, Mother Night, first published in 1961. After finishing the last page, I took a contemplative moment, then slowly closed the book. I said to myself (quite possibly out loud) "Someday, I'll have to make a movie based on this book." Twenty years later, I did exactly that.
In his final novel, Timequake Vonnegut refers to "five men half my age who made me want to keep going in my sunset years because of their interest in my work." He then names "Robert Weide, who in this summer of 1995 is making a movie in Montreal of Mother Night." Although he was rounding off the ages (among the five he mentioned, our ages covered a fairly wide gamut), in my case the math was exactly right. While we were shooting, I was 36. Vonnegut was 72. These numbers are incidental, but this guy who was older than my own father had become one of my best friends, and with Mother Night, a collaborator.
Another one of my best friends was (and is) Keith Gordon who directed Mother Night. In this regard, the production was quite literally a dream come true. Making a movie with my close pal, based on one of my favorite books by my favorite author. What was that great line that Fats Waller would shout when he was really cooking at the piano? "Somebody shoot me while I'm happy!"
For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mother Night, I direct you to the piece The Morning after Mother Night which I originally wrote for Paul Krassner's The Realist (Autumn, 1997).
I would also direct you to The Boys of Mother Night, written by Nancy Kapitanoff for Written By magazine (June, 1997). Nancy's piece focuses on how I made the transition from Vonnegut fan, to friend, to collaborator.
If you're paying attention, you'll notice that both of our articles begin with the same incident. I can assure you that neither of us plagiarized the other. Nancy was at the film's premiere in Montreal and witnessed the scene described in the limousine. Coincidentally, we both chose this moment to open our pieces.