Follow Us on Twitter

Date Night - Tina Fey interview

Tina Fey in Date Night

Interview by Rob Carnevale

TINA Fey talks about working with Shawn Levy and Steve Carell on the movie Date Night, switching between TV and film, and her own worst date night experience.

She also talks about her Sarah Palin impersonations and why she no longer has to indulge her hatred of rollercoasters!

Q. We assume you’ve worked together millions of times, but have you? And did you know each other?
Tina Fey: This was the first time we worked together, and now we are nemeses.

Q. Was it interesting working on someone else’s script?
Tina Fey: It was a luxury, to have a script come in that’s in really good shape, that you just get to be an actor for, was a delight. And Shawn was very inclusive of Steve [Carell] and myself, because Steve’s a writer too, in all the drafts so we had input the whole time but didn’t have to do the actual labour.

Q. Is it fair to say that female comedy performers are thin on the ground [in movies], with you and Sandra Bullock…
Tina Fey: That’s how I think of myself, just me and Sandra Bullock…

Q. But there were more in years gone by [such as Goldie Hawn]… why should that be? Is it harder now?
Tina Fey: I don’t know, I work in television also in the Us, and do know that in American television there have always been a lot of women and a lot of comedies centred around women. It does seem maybe in the last 15 or 20 years that it’s not as much in features, but I don’t really know why. I don’t think it’s any kind of institutional prejudice, I think people follow money. That’s why… Sandra Bullock makes a lot of money.

Q. Is there less of a stigma attached to TV success now?
Tina Fey: The barrier between TV and movies has come down and film actors are willing to do TV and vice versa, because they just want to follow what’s interesting. There’s no stigma.

Q. How was the poll-dancing scene to shoot for you?
Tina Fey: It ended up being fun and I was really happy when I saw it finally edited together but it was the kind of thing that in the weeks leading up to it, every time I would remember that that day was coming I would have a little bit of a stomach ache. I was very happy to see how it was finally put together.

Q. Which do you prefer the most – writing or acting, and where do you feel most at home?
Tina Fey: Well, I definitely think of myself still as a writer first, and feel like – with the lucky exception of this – any acting opportunity I’ve gotten is usually because I was writing on it. This is like a wonderful vacation. If you’ve ever sat in a writers’ room it’s the most disgusting, tortuous place, so it’s a treat to be treated like a movie actor.

Q. How genuine was your admiration for Mark Wahlberg’s body?
Tina Fey: My appreciation for Mark’s physical attributes is more of a scientific one… it is empirically superior. You ask was it hard for Steve? Well, it was hard for me too because Mark’s chest is prettier than my face. That’s hard to deal with. It’s probably easier for you.

Q. What rates as your worst date night experience?
Tina Fey: Well, we’ve been asked this so often and suddenly one will come back to you like a flash. I had a gentleman in college tell me, during a date, that I could be really pretty if I lost some weight. On a date!

Q. What lengths did you go to please your partner before you were married… and even now?
Tina Fey: My husband enjoys large rollercoasters, the kinds that spin you up and down, and before I was married I would go on them with him. And then the moment I was married I was like: “I’m not f***ing doing that!”

Q. Can you expand on the term ‘rallying’ that you use for going out on your own date nights with your partner?
Tina Fey: ‘Rallying’… when you’re just exhausted – which is not to be confused with the term ‘boot and rally’, which is when you drink too much and you vomit and you go back to drinking! [It’s] just trying to get the strength to go ahead and go out for the night. Or, in the case of the movie, have sex.

Q. Have you been surprised by the comedy ability of some of the serious actors you’ve worked with, such as Mark Wahlberg and Ray Liotta in this?
Tina Fey: Ray Liotta is a guy who has such a dangerous and menacing persona, and couldn’t be nicer and more jovial. I had done Saturday Night Live with him a few years before this, a while ago, and I remember then how surprised we were at how willing he was to goof around and dress up in ridiculous outfits and play around. So I knew he’d be a good addition.

Q. What was it like the first time you saw a picture of Sarah Palin?
Tina Fey: I just looked at her and thought she has brown hair and glasses, but we don’t look alike. Then my husband said: “No, you guys look alike!” And then it became a flood of e-mails from cousins and calls, and it became apparent that whether or not we did look that much alike, that people thought we looked alike. That’s all.

Q. But it turned out to be a gift to you?
Tina Fey: It did end up being a gift. Every time I played her I made $400, so blammo.

Q. Are you still in touch?
Tina Fey: I just heard from her…

Q. Will you be impersonating Sarah Palin again?
Tina Fey: I’m going back to host Saturday Night Live on April 10, so I’m sure we’ll try, we’ll see. You never know on that show until the 11.30 start what material sticks, but I’m sure we’ll try. And I’m sure everyone will realise that I was never any good at it to begin with.

Read our review of Date Night

Read our interview with Steve Carell