Why Polanski Almost Didn’t Make ‘Chinatown’

Roman Polanski’s latest film, Carnage, will open the New York Film Festival this Friday. Based on Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed play, God of Carnage, the darkly comedic story follows two couples (Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, and Christoph Waltz) who try to make sense of a brawl their children were involved in. While the film takes Polanski somewhat back to his comedic roots — and the days of Fearless Vampire Killers — one of the director’s more serious efforts seems ripe for a revisit. In this documentary interview, Polanski describes the hardboiled Chinatown — widely revered for its script by Robert Towne, acting, and more — as his greatest achievement. The interview also delves into why the French-Polish filmmaker almost didn’t return to LA to work on the project, his thoughts on Dunaway’s performance, and his disagreement with Towne about the movie’s ending. (“If it ended happily, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this film today.”) It’s a nice little refresher on one of the greatest movies Polanski’s ever made. Hit the jump for the video, and chime in with your favorite moments from the film.