Jim Jarmusch: "Women are my leaders"

His new film, Only Lovers Left Alive, is a great romance between two vampires unanswerable to time. But Jarmusch doesn't want to live forever – unless it's with Tilda Swinton or Patti Smith.

'I've seen my dog dreaming," says Jim Jarmusch over lunch in New York on a snowy December day. His voice is sedate, but excitement pops in his eyes. Other animals have imaginations, too, he thinks. "Once I left a mop outside the window of my apartment, and I saw a sparrow examining it for several days. It kept coming back, and then it started biting through to take away some strands to build a nest. It was thinking, you know?" Jarmusch does a sparrow voice, which sounds identical to his usual voice: "Man, I think this might work..."

Speaking to Jim Jarmusch, it turns out, isn't so different from watching one of his films. His work, like his conversation, doesn't cohere into stories so much as constellations, networks of seemingly isolated ideas which achieve a greater meaning arranged together just so. As a man, he's immediately identifiable: the Lee Marvin face, that shock of white hair that looks like Andy Warhol touched up with a Tesla coil.

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