After more than a decade of being out of the Hollywood scene, Warren Beatty is marking his comeback with Rules Don’t Apply for Fox, a film two decades in the making. “I’ve been working on this movie for a long time,” Beatty said onstage today at Deadline’s The Contenders event at the DGA Theatre. “I’ve been lucky enough to not have to do movie after movie, to have something in mind but not make concrete plans about doing it, until finally I just do it.” He then told moderator Pete Hammond of Deadline: “I compare making a movie to vomiting. I don’t like to vomit. It builds up and it builds up until something happens and I think, ‘Maybe i’ll just feel better if I throw up.’ And that’s how I make a movie.”

the-contenders-2016-logo
Deadline

Beatty stars as Hollywood bigwig Howard Hughes in Rules (set for release November 23, the day before Thanksgiving), but emphasized that the film is not a biopic. “It’s about sex and romance in the old Hollywood,” he said. “About the comical and sometimes sad consequences of what we have to call American sexual Puritanism, which often has made us the laughing stock of France and other countries.”

He goes on to relate the 1950s-set film to the current political zeitgeist. “American sexual Puritanism — it’s a huge subject, and you can see it in the events of this week. The subject comes up in such an unnecessary way. It’s ludicrous that we spend so much time in denial of things that have to do with love. … It’s a big subject that has always been an obsession in American morality. So I think it’s important to get a laugh out of it.”

The film, which Fox will release November 23, marks Beatty’s first feature writing and directing effort since his 1998 political satire Bulworth. When asked how many years we’d have to wait to the next project, Beatty quipped,  “Oh 18, 20, 25. … I’m pushing 50 now.”