"He’s always been conservative without knowing it": An interview with David Mamet

The conversion announcement surprised many admirers of the Renaissance man, but some observers saw it coming for a long time, including political analyst and social commentator Shelby Steele, who said, “I think he (Mamet) has the same values today as he did before. He’s always been conservative without knowing it.”

When I had the pleasure of speaking to David Mamet on the phone recently, the perception that a gulf of dislocation separates Mamet’s early period of plays and film – Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, and The Verdict to name an illustrious few – from his current role as the rightward drifter in Hollywood, arose quickly.

“The left indicts anything that it cannot immediately identify as leftist as political,” Mamet said and insisted that his early plays for the stage and screen, including the aforementioned trio critics called “anti-capitalist”, were “apolitical.”

The ballistic combat of his characters, whether they are real estate salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, petty hustlers in American Buffalo, or a whiskey soaked, broke down lawyer wandering through fields of perdition in The Verdict, comes out of the necessity of drama – an imperative that relates and connects directly with Mamet’s method of viewing, receiving, and in his own way, with words of steel, ideas of electrical surge, and as he is the first to admit, feet of clay, wrestling the world.

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