Tom McCarthy won deserved accolades for his directorial and screenwriting work on this year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight. But only months before, McCarthy also wrote and directed The Cobbler, an Adam Sandler-starring dramedy about a shoemaker who learns life lessons by literally walking in others’ soles. The Cobbler was roundly considered one of the worst movies of the year, both for its maudlin tone and its surprising racism.
McCarthy has maybe the largest single-year quality swing of any filmmaker in history, and somebody finally asked him about it. The director’s interview with Jada Yuan in Vulture comes off as defensive, with McCarthy insisting that people actually enjoyed it. But eventually, he offers some wisdom to people having to ride through a failure. “You’re that athlete who’s a good pitcher and gives up a home run, and you might think no one’s ever going to forgive you for it,” McCarthy says. “But you’ve gotta be like, ‘All right! Next season!’ and you go back to work.”
Not everyone gets that opportunity, least of all first-time filmmakers, but the advice is well-taken for anyone facing creative rejection. Sometimes your work will be poor, and you have to push on through to whatever comes next. It probably won’t be Spotlight, though.