As you say, it's the characterisation that makes those films so memorable. Which aspect do you prefer, then, in your career? The writing process, producing or directing?
Writing. Definitely writing.
How do you generate your ideas?
You need to have all your senses open. You need to keep yourself in life, real life... . Most of the rich people I've met are boring.
I have so much more fun with my boulanger [baker]. When I go at 6am for my croissants, the guy's so passionate about his croissants. "Oh, you must try this one, because this morning I changed the butter!" The guy's passionate.
Watching old people in the park, talking about their lives. That's where it comes, from food and talking. I sat on the plane over here with a guy who studied cancerous molecules. He talked for eight hours about it, and I was amazed - the science, and how they separate the molecules, you know? That's where it comes from. It's fed from all these people who come from life.
I especially like what he says about the boulanger (which is my new favorite word because "bread" is my other favorite word. I've always said, a character has to be passionate about something. If they're meh about their life and their problems, why should I be anything other than meh about them?
For proof of how passion for something (something not even directly related to the plot) can take a character to the next level of realism, see Robin McKinley's Sunshine. (Ironically, also passionate about baking.)