Q & A with Isa Hackett, daughter of Philip K. Dick

Conducted by Jason Koornick for philipKdick.com (July 3, 2002)

1. Most readers know that you are the daughter of Philip K. Dick. When were you born and who is your mother?


I was born in March, 1967. My mother is Nancy Hackett. My father was a big fan of opera so he chose my name Isolde from the Wagner opera. I use the shortened version my mother gave me, Isa.


2. What are your favorite Philip K. Dick novels and short stories?


Well, I do have some sentimental favorites. A Maze of Death is special because he dedicated it to my sister Laura and me. Ubik is one that I remember him explaining to me when I was too young to read it. The short story Roog also comes to mind because he seemed to really enjoy it and we read it aloud together. I have to say though that I can’t really read his work in the same way that someone else might read it. It’s all very personal and emotional for me. I have chosen not to read certain things for this reason.


3. Tell us about your involvement with the affairs of the Philip K. Dick estate. Do you closely follow PKD activity in Hollywood and in the publishing world?


The estate of Philip K Dick is comprised of my brother Chris, my sister Laura, and me. Our agent, Russell Galen handles the majority of the day-to-day affairs. There are certain legal things however, on which we must all three agree. Our working relationship is very good. I do follow activity both in Hollywood and in the publishing world. I try to keep abreast of the things that are written about my father.

4. Tell us your thoughts and experiences as they relate to the recent surge in interest in your father and his work.


My feelings are mixed. I am of course extremely proud of his accomplishments. It is rather astonishing, actually. The experience has been bittersweet however, because of course I wish he were here with us to experience this tidlewave of attention and publicity. It seems that with the release of Minority Report, people have suddenly put it all together, not only in terms of his relationship over the years with Hollywood, but with his uncanny ability to write with accuracy about the future. It is evident that his devoted core of fans that have loved his work all these years are no longer alone in recognizing his talent. I picture him watching and chuckling about all of the mainstream attention. It would seem preposterous to him that CNN, Time, and The New York Times, amongst others, would be covering him in this way.


5. You recently attended the premiere of ‘Minority Report’ in New York. How did you get the invite?


I went with my brother, Chris. Our agent made the arrangements with the studio for us to attend the premiere and party. We had not previously been involved in any functions related to other movies based on his work. The idea just never really came up. It was a great experience for Chris and me. The people we met, including the stars, were very nice to us.

6. Can you tell us about what happened there?

Well, first we took our walk down the red carpet past all of the screaming fans – for Steven Spielberg of course, who was doing an Entertainment Tonight interview. There was lots of commotion and excitement. Celebrities were scattered throughout the lounge area. (I couldn’t help but think that no one would have been there had it not been for Philip K Dick.) When we were seated and the lights dimmed, I began to feel nervous. I just was not sure what to expect from the movie. I wondered how the short story would translate to the big screen; I was pleasantly surprised. I had the distinct impression that the crowd was thoroughly entertained.


After watching the movie, it was on to the private party (for 500). It was held in a lovely hall that had been decorated in theme. Parked just inside the front door was a replica of the Lexus from the movie. There were three life-sized, neon pre-cogs hanging from the ceiling. It was a very festive scene. We had a chance to talk with Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell, and they were both very enthusiastic about our father’s writing. They wanted to know what we thought of the movie. Film critic Joel Siegel also told us that he had been reading our father’s stuff for years. It was all very nice to hear.


7. Did you like Minority Report? Do you think that it expresses the ideas in the Philip K. Dick short story?


I enjoyed it. I thought it was a good movie. I think that it would be very difficult to capture exactly the way in which my father might have seen that world. The story obviously had to be embellished and manipulated to become a full-length film. It seemed to translate well. There are obvious Philip K Dick themes in it, and the overall tone reminded me a bit of Blade Runner, which I liked very much. I think it’s provocative and leaves a lot for the viewer to contemplate. In addition, Steven Spielberg and other key players have been publicly complimentary of my father’s work, and have given him credit for his role in bringing this story to the screen.

8. Finally, do you think that your father would have been proud of the movie?


I believe that he would be proud of it. The caliber of talent that was involved in making Minority Report is pretty amazing: a major studio, esteemed director, and top box office star – what a credit to his work. If you are to have a Hollywood adaptation, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. Bigger is not always better I realize, but in this case, I think that it is better. While it may be a disappointment to some Philip K Dick fans not to see what they would consider his absolute true essence or vision, in a broader sense, it is a wonderful thing. People who have never read his work may become interested in him through movies like Minority Report. They will then read his stories and discover his essence for themselves.

Thanks for your time and for keeping in touch with PKD fans.

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