Hentoff’s Dylan Interview Provides “I’m Not There” Dialogue


It may seem strange but we have a harder time seeing David Cross as Allen Ginsburg than we do seeing Cate Blanchett as Dylan.

Tucked inside Sunday’s sprawling New York Times Magazine cover story on Todd Haynes, the director, and his forthcoming Bob Dylan film I’m Not There was this interesting nugget: Haynes used Dylan’ own words from a famous interview he did with Nat Hentoff for Playboy magazine in 1966 as one of sources of Cate Blanchett’s dialogue.

For one thing, she was negotiating the fact that sometimes she was speaking composed dialogue, other times reciting actual interviews, especially a 1966 interview Dylan did with Nat Hentoff in Playboy. “That’s why it was so tricky to play that scene, because it is from an interview,” Blanchett says. “But Dylan’s obviously riffing, finding that stuff in the moment. And it’s the difference between doing that, and also knowing that this is a reference to something that has already been said. So it was very difficult to play because you were constantly aware that you were in the immediacy of the moment but yet referencing primary, tertiary and secondary sources — the whole Dewey system was crashing in on me.”

Hentoff said he remembered the Dylan interview well, and that Dylan was indeed riffing that day.

It was actually the second interview he did with Dylan for Playboy magazine, Hentoff recalled. Having seen the first interview in galleys, Dylan called him up and said the editors changed his words, Hentoff said.

“I said ‘Well, don’t take that. Tell them that it won’t do and have them change the interview back.’ He said ‘No, we are gonna do another interview right now.’ I didn’t have a tape recorder ready so I just took notes for the next hour and a half, and he just improvised. And it went on to be a celebrated interview. He was wild that day.”