The Visitor: A Talk with Writer/Director Thomas McCarthy

Welcome to a conversation with Thomas McCarthy, the writer and director of a new film called The Visitor.

Tarek teaching Walter the drum

This movie is the tale of a middle-aged college professor, Walter Vale, who comes home to his  New York City apartment after an extended abscense.  He is surprised to find a Syrian man named Tarek  and a Senegalese woman named Zainab living in his apartment.  They are surprised to see him as well, because they believed they had legally sublet the place.  After an exciting introduction, Walter takes pity on the now-homeless couple and invites them to stay in his apartment-thus beginning a relationship with the warm drum-player Tarek and the prickly but beautiful jewelry designer Zainab.  Tarek begins to give Walter drum lessons, which offers Walter a sense of passion that had been missing from his life.  One day, while coming home from a drum circle, Tarek is arrested in the subway.  When Walter arrives at the apartment and tells Zainab, he learns that she and Tarek are undocumented immigrants, and that Tarek’s arrest could mean deportation.

Marc caught up with director and writer Thomas McCarthy, who all Wire fans know as the slimy reporter Scott Templeton.  When he isn’t acting, Thomas is writing amazing movies like his first work, The Station Agent, and this more recent accomplishment, The Visitor.  Marc chatted with Thomas about the creative process of writing and directing, how he cast this multicultural cast, and his thoughts on how movies can speak on sensitive political issues like immigration.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think.  Running time is 31 minutes.