John Wilson on Blowing Up a Car in ‘How To’ and Steven Soderbergh’s Thoughts on The Cheesecake Factory : Making a Scene

After 3 seasons, John Wilson is tired of people questioning the integrity of “How To With John Wilson

Published Time: 07.06.2024 - 23:31:17 Modified Time: 07.06.2024 - 23:31:17

After 3 seasons, John Wilson is tired of people questioning the integrity of “How To With John Wilson.” However, when you spend 18 episodes curating the most unbelievable New York oddities and storylines while sending crews out to film “houses that look like faces” or a “bunch of bottles of urine discarded on the sidewalk” (which are actually pretty easy to find in the city), the public can’t help but wonder if the subjects of his docuseries on HBO are really… real.

The master of weaving seemingly unrelated narratives and anecdotal tangents together into an (often emotional) truth about humanity sat down with Variety‘s Making a Scene to discuss why he was ready to address the disbelievers and unveil his process of creating the final season of “How To.”

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So, for the penultimate episode of “How To,” instead of busting out the receipts, Wilson decided to lean in and stage the fakest episode of “How To” to date. Titled “How To Watch Birds,” the story included scripting a Titanic conspiracy theory (that originally included a nefarious James Cameron lurking in the shadows), hiring a film crew to blow up his car and getting notes from the heist legend himself, director Steven Soderbergh.

“I really wanted to swing for the fences with this last season and do a lot of stuff that I may have been a bit too bashful to ask for in the first two,” Wilson explained. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Steven Soderbergh. He’s just like this legendary action drama filmmaker … I basically just wanted to meet him, and I figured the best way would be to ask him if he wanted to consult on the episode.”

HBO connected the two over Zoom so Wilson could run his third act past the fellow director. But after a brief chat, it turns out that Soderbergh didn’t really have many notes, so he spent the majority of the talk expounding on the merits of the chain restaurant The Cheesecake Factory.

“He was wearing a Cheesecake Factory hat, and I had never been there,” Wilson said. “He just started talking about how it’s just such an efficient operation with such a big menu and all that stuff, which is true. I can see that translating to the way that he makes h -

is work sometimes. After all these years, I think he’s probably has a very efficient workflow, which I really admire. But I went to The Cheesecake Factory shortly after our conversation, I got very sick.”

The story itself was inspired by birders and the strict honor code among the bird-watching community. Looking within and questioning why so many audience members can’t believe “How To” is “real,” Wilson admits in the episode that he did once fake a shot of an exploding toilet in order to secure tax credit. Bereft over this confession, Wilson tries to make a more respectable documentary about the Titanic, which subsequently lands him in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., filming with Titanic conspiracy theorist and novelist Bruce Beveridge.

“So much of the writing of ‘How To’ happens in real-time,” Wilson said. “So as Bruce was telling me about the Olympic and Titanic being these ships that were swapped, I started to think about what it would be like to basically do the same thing, but with my car.”

The plan to blow up a lookalike car staged in front of the local pancake restaurant was set, but now he had to tell Beveridge about the idea. “For a moment. I think he was afraid that it was going to be a murder-suicide that I was about to blow it up with both of us in it,” Wilson joked.

During the big third act, Wilson ultimately realized he also had to come clean to Beveridge about his past faked shot, inspiring the subject to confess a few darker secrets from his past as well in a truly harrowing monologue recorded by Wilson. “This is what’s great about the format,” Wilson said. “I don’t mind setting up strange situations that you don’t realize are set up because whatever is happening within them is real. And that is the most important thing to me.”

Watch the full breakdown above.

Variety’s “Making a Scene” is presented by HBO.

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