The Batali Inquisition: Paul Haggis

The award-winning filmmaker of ‘Crash’ (2004) and ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2004) makes a mean boiled egg


When is your favorite time of day?

The morning; I just hate having to wake up to see it.

Where do you sleep best?

In a bed. I have tried hammocks, sleeping bags on the ground, and leaning my forehead on a desk, but whoever invented the bed got it right.

What is the best way to recharge your batteries?

Playing cards with friends or having dinner and good conversation. I don’t need to fly to the Caribbean or escape to a spa — a deck of cards, a nice pasta, and a good bottle of wine are perfect rejuvenating tools.

Paul Haggis’ “selfie” snapped while having breakfast in London in the restaurant of Andres Balazs’ new hotel, the Chiltern Firehouse

Where is your energy most successfully applied?

Through the tips of my fingers. I am most fulfilled when I am writing.

Where do you waste the most energy?

Through the tips of my fingers — finding anything to do on my computer or phone but write.

When are you most depleted?

When I can’t find a story that I want to tell.

What is the last thing you ate?

Quiche in the Air France lounge.

When are you hungry?

When I smell something great cooking.

What was the last thing you cooked?

Eggs, boiled for seven minutes. I don’t want to boast, but I am pretty good at it.

If you were a food, what would you be?

Leftovers.

Describe the perfect meal, what and where?

It’s Italian, it’s most likely in Italy. It starts with a black truffle pasta and goes anywhere, as long as it is with people I love — or who can make me laugh. Hopefully both.

What is your favorite Olympic event?

Curling. Seeing it always makes me smile.

What was the last live performance you saw?

Sting & Paul Simon at the Madison Square Garden.

With which artist of all time do you most identify?

I would like to say Van Gogh, because it’s rumored that he was color-blind, as am I. I would like to say Edvard Munch, because he was so haunted or Picasso, for the way he saw a world we didn’t and was brave enough to draw it. But I probably identify most with that guy selling his paintings on any street corner to tourists and neighbors who need something for their walls. I don’t try and make art; I just try and tell a story, one good enough for you to spend ten or fifteen bucks [on]. Hopefully it won’t just be pretty. It may even puzzle you or haunt you for a while; that would make me happy. But I don’t have to hang in the MoMA.

Who is your favorite literary character?

Peanuts. I can’t help but sympathize.

What is your favorite method of travel?

Boat. I just rarely get to take one.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

I hope I haven’t found it yet.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

New York. I would just have a writing area and more closets.

What food do you want served at your funeral?

Anything but Haggis; that would be cruel.

What is your favorite luxury?

Time.

Bonus Question: What’s your favorite car to drive?

Click here to see Paul Haggis’ answer.