Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. You are a very diverse director. What made you choose
this which, to all intents and purposes, could be referred to
as a chick flick?
A. The decision for me is kind of a simple one about
making a movie. I follow my heart and my head. I don't really
think 'is this a chick flick? Or a cop flick? Or a rap flick?
It's about am I interested in these characters? The people come
first. And am I interested in their issues? Next is the world
in which the story takes place, in which these people live.
Then the third thing is the plot. In some cases the plot is the
first thing which leads to someone doing more similar pictures,
one after the other.
I admire the careers and aspire to the careers of those filmmakers
who mix it up.
It used to be that there were more of them. Filmmakers like Howard
Hawks could do a comedy, like His Girl Friday, and then turn around
and do The Big Sleep, a mystery, and then do Red River. They're
all Hawksian movies, very clearly, but they're very different
There are numerous filmmakers like that - John Huston, Billy Wilder,
etc - and I feel that allows one to grow as a filmmaker. We're
all encouraged - be it filmmakers or performers - if we're lucky
enough to do something that's successful to try and do it again,
or do another version of that.
Q. Shirley MacLaine's name
has been mentioned. We hear stories about legendary figures in
the industry, so what was it like being 'in charge' of her?
A. It's complicated. The casting of Shirley was something
I approached with some caution. Not because of any reputation
in terms of her being difficult but actually because of who and
what she is.
I dealt with this very directly and very bluntly. I had a meeting
with her prior to offering the part.
I said 'I am a fan of yours' because she was in some of my favourite
movies and I said 'you are big, you are powerful and you have
used that bigness and your personality to great effect. But that's
all wrong for this character.
'Ella is someone who is quiet, who is hiding from life. She's
somebody who's living a part. She's a care giver but she's very
separate from everybody. She's living in fear and grief and remorse'.
As I was saying these things to Shirley I could see her eyes flashing
like 'am I being complimented or insulted?' But the more we talked
her eyes got excited because she also knew she was being challenged.
And Shirley, to her great credit as both an actor and human being,
is somebody who rises to a challenge; it's part of what keeps
her young. It keeps her engaged.
I'm so proud of the work she did in this picture because I feel
it's fresh and surprising. When somebody has done the work that
she's done, for as long as she's done it, and can still surprise
us I think that really says a lot.
Q. How long did it take to settle on having Toni and
Cameron for these parts?
A. Well when I first read the script it was with the
knowledge that Cameron was interested in doing it. So I was visualising
her as Maggie. So who better than Cameron to play this character
who has been allowed to cruise by in life because of what she
looks like and because of the way men react to her.
The question in my mind was 'is she prepared to go the distance
with this character and go to the dark side of the character?
Not only play the fear, the insecurity and self-loathing but also
the horrible behaviour that's so reprehensible?'
So as soon as I'd finished reading the script I sat down with
Cameron and we talked about the character and when it was clear
that we both wanted to tell Maggie's story for the same reasons
we said 'let's do this'.
Then casting her sister was easy and difficult at the same time.
Toni was our first thought while we were talking about people
that we admired. So then we explored whether Toni was available
and then I went on a search and thought about anyone you could
think of and a lot of people that you can't and kept coming back
Then we got her over to LA and she got in a room with Cameron
and me and I watched them read some scenes and relate between
scenes and that was the way it happened.
Related stories: Read
Cameron Diaz interview
Toni Collette interview