The Fog of Errol Morris

“I was convinced I was going to lose,” Errol Morris, the veteran commercial and documentary director—and now Oscar winner—tells Shoptalk.

The director has been making films (Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line) for 25 years. But The Fog of War, his film about Robert McNamara, earned him his first nomination—and the Oscar for best documentary. Morris says he was “a deer in the headlights” on stage. His prepared speech flew out the window, and he made some politically charged comments instead. “Forty years ago, this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam, and millions died,” he told the audience. “I fear we’re going down a rabbit hole once again.”

Morris has no regrets about the speech. “I’ve heard really positive comments on it,” he says. “That’s the danger you face, you could just shuffle through a litany of names and squander an opportunity to say something that might have some significance.” (He forgot to thank his family, but they understood, he says.) He also has no plans to give up commercial work now that he’s a big-shot Oscar winner. In fact, he’s already at work on his next project, a series of spots for SBC Communications. “I like doing commercials,” he says. “I’ve always found making commercials challenging. … Only one thing changes: I don’t have to worry about winning an Oscar anymore.”