(PCM) When Nancy Meyers takes on a movie project she seems to have a sure-fire recipe for a hit – witty dialogue, A-list actors, and the ability to make us laugh and cry. Such is the case with her latest movie, “The Intern,” starring Anne Hathaway as Jules Ostin, the founder of an online fashion business, who is having a hell of a time juggling her successful Brooklyn-based e-commerce business, marriage and motherhood. Into Jules’ life comes Ben Whittaker, played by Oscar-winner Robert DeNiro, a 70-year-old widower and business executive, who is bored with retirement. Seizing the opportunity to get back into the game, he becomes a “senior intern” at Jules’ company.
The new Warner Bros. movie has this tagline: “Experience never gets old,” which is something that, during an exclusive interview, writer-director Meyers, 65, says captures the essence of her movie.The multi-generational comedy with a big heart was written and directed by Meyers, who has a stellar track record, which includes “The Holiday,” “Baby Boom,” and Private Benjamin.”
Meyers is best known for the romantic comedies, “It’s Complicated,” (2009) starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, and “Something’s Gotta Give,” (2003) starring Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves. These movies have become classics to their scores of fans because of the multi-layered relationships. They also star A-list actors and actresses, who love to talk about how much they enjoyed conveying Meyers’ love letters to her film audience.
“I think this movie is Nancy’s love letter to us, to our generation, to us guys of our generation,” says Robert DeNiro. “I hope the movie is seen by a lot of people because it is this kind of movie. We do tend to feel that when you’re a certain age, you get older, you’re less relevant in some ways, and that’s just not the case.”
Anne Hathaway, who has starred in “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “Les Miserables,” said she truly loved working with Meyers.
“You look at Nancy Meyers and see this tiny, adorable woman and at first glance, I had no idea the tenacious, uncompromising, inexhaustible powerhouse that she is,” Hathaway said. “I had admired her work before, and now after making this movie with her, it goes beyond that. I’m so lucky that I got to work with her on this.”
Q: What’s the message or takeaway, if there is one for you, or more than one?
Nancy Meyers: There’s probably more than one, because there are several stories that go on during this movie. The central story, of course, is Jules and Ben’s friendship, and the value of this man to the lives of everybody at the startup.
Q: It there was just one message?
NM: I suppose if you handcuffed me and said you can only say one thing the movie’s about, I would say it’s somehow the tagline on the one sheet that experience never gets old. I didn’t write it, but they presented me with lists and lists of taglines, and when I saw that one, I put a big red circle around it. It says it well.
Q: Do you feel strongly about multi-generations being able to interact and help one another?
NM: Yes. People used to live in the same house with their grandparents, and the aunts and uncles, a lot of that’s just going away, like in a place like California a lot of people’s parents aren’t there any more. I am very happy that my children live in the same city as I do, and now I’m a grandmother, and my grandson is going to have me as part of his life.
Q: But this is not the case with families being so spread out.
NM: No, it’s not. I don’t think it’s that common anymore that everybody has elders. So the value of [Ben] this guy, and the value of the kind of man he is, which I see a big disappearing from our landscape, is one of the themes I wanted to write about in the movie. I also wanted to develop, an original relationship between a man and woman. It’s really a love story; it’s not a sexual love story, but it’s a love story.
Q: Your movies find clever, witty and fresh ways to address modern issues. So which issues did you feel strongly about for this movie?
NM: Well, obviously the concept of retirement and that it might happen to you whether or not you’re ready is talked about, as well as somebody’s desire not to be pushed aside.
Q: What else comes to mind?
NM: This is also about the fact that Anne [Hathaway] plays a woman who’s the founder of a company. I was saying earlier to somebody that when I wrote Baby Boom, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to make her the boss, and when I was writing Annie’s character in “The Intern,” it wouldn’t have occurred to me to make her an employee. I’ve been able to make movies over a long enough period of time where the world has changed. I’ve examined the lives of these women who have families and have children, and then I got a chance to look at the stay-at-home dad, [and] the mom who’s running a company, and all that entails.
Q: Your movies speak to everyone, but especially women, mature women who feel that you really get them.
NM: I get them, because I am one. I am a mature woman.
Q: Okay, do you still believe in romance; I mean, you write romantic comedies, and you have some happy endings, even though I would say that they’re not perfect endings.
NM: They’re complicated endings. Well, because as you get older, you’re more complicated. So things aren’t as cut and dry. You don’t jump into things – things aren’t as easy when you’re older. Do I believe in romance? I would say at the age I am now, I think it’s a different kind of romance than it was when you’re so smitten as a young woman, but I do in a way, yes I do.
Q: How long was this film shoot in Brooklyn?
NM: We shot for about 15 weeks. This is about half of what I’m used to, but twice as much as a lot of movies. So for me, I was racing on rollerblades the entire time.
Q: How was this movie different for you?
NM: I didn’t want to really write a romantic relationship. I’ve been writing romantic relationships for so long that for me it was really, kind of eye opening to write a different kind of relationship
Q: Was there something that was going on when the camera wasn’t rolling, in terms of Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro bonding, or spending their off time together, or alone?
NM: You know; what I observed was a mutual admiration society. I think two very strong actors really liking each other’s work, really finding it. They’re very good people, both of these people, they really are. He’s a very good guy; she’s a really good young woman, so there was no behavior on the set; not one minute of one day where anybody was misbehaving. It’s not in their make-up to misbehave. So it was a friendly set, and a warm set, and a kind of a team effort. I felt a team effort; both of them are team players, so I think that all helped.
Q: I met with Diane Keaton last fall at a women’s conference and I told her that “Something’s Gotta Give,” is one of my favorite movies, and she asked me if I thought that movie held up through the years and we discussed that it really was timeless.
NM: I love her.
Q: How does that make you feel when you hear a fan really admire your movies like that? I also spoke to Meryl Streep and we talked about what a pleasure it was to work with you on your movie, “It’s Complicated.”
NM: Well, it means an enormous amount to me. I want them to be happy with the work, because the actors give me lots of choices. They don’t know what I am going to pick. They have a sense of what I like, because they know what I’m going after, but the final performance is one that I put together from all the things they did for me. So you know, at the end, if they’re happy, makes me really happy. It means that we were on the same wave-length, and they trusted me. They trusted me to select from everything they gave.
Q: It is clear that you care for your actors while you collaborate with them, just like you worked with Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro on “The Intern.”
NM: It’s a very trusting relationship, you know, between the actor and director, so the fact that both women are happy with these movies is major. Diane lives in my neighborhood, I see her all the time, and I adore her. Diane has watched my kids grow up. To me, she’s just an extraordinary person. Obviously, both women are so gifted, so it means a lot to me to have them be appreciative and happy about their work, which belongs to all of us. They’re not my movies, they’re our movies.
Q: Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro spoke so positively about making this movie with you.
NM: What makes it easy though, is that these two actors are great people. So, when you’re surrounded by great people, they make you better, and they also allow you to express yourself all the time. And they’re open and they’re safe, you know? That’s what we all want when we make a movie, to feel safe to be ourselves and get what we need. So, they allowed me to do my work in a way for that short amount of time.
Q: How does your own personal story affect what you write about?
NM: Enormously, because I don’t adapt books. I’m writing from, if not my experience, my take on things. So I got to talk about men, I’ve had a chance to talk about technology, the culture, and Millennials, versus the difference in what’s going in with men. To me, women have moved forward in a really interesting way, and men have floundered in the same period of time. So I think about that and I wrote about that.
Q: Did you enjoy the research for the movie?
NM: Yes, I personally really enjoyed the research that I did about startups and their culture. It was really interesting; I really learned a lot. I knew nothing about it before. I mean; how many movies do you want to see that take place at a magazine or an ad agency? This was a big, interesting workplace.
Q: Tell me more.
NM: So, just being able to, you know, I love doing research about things I’m interested in. I’m a big online shopper, but I don’t know what it’s like there. How does that thing get from there to me? I really observed that at a lot of start ups, and to see what goes on, was really, really interesting to learn about that culture; it’s fascinating.
Q: What struck you about seeing the movie recently?
NM: I really enjoyed watching this movie with the audience. It’s a bit of an audience participation movie. You’re surprised when things happen, there are really good laughs, they get emotional, and I hear people tearing up.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the movie?
NM: The relationship of Bob and Anne, that it’s a kind of an unexpected, you don’t really know exactly where it’s going and what it becomes. I like that, so when she shows up at the end of the movie and they’re together, I always get a great sense of relief, and kind of makes me feel satisfied when I get to the end of the movie, of the journey.
Q: Do you know what you’re doing next?
NM: No, I have never been at a press event and had an answer for that, because I never know. I really don’t know; I sort of wait for something to come to me. I wish I was like Woody Allen; someone was just talking about the documentary on him? He opens his drawer in his bedroom, and in it he shows you all his ideas. He’s got like a million little scraps of paper. I don’t have that.
Q: What was the dream of your film career versus like what you thought you might want to do when you were 20, or 30, or 40 versus today? Like, is it better, or different?
NM: I did not, you know, come to Hollywood thinking I’m going to get a chance to make movies for the next 35 years, with really doing the movies that I want to do. I’ve done a couple of movies that weren’t original screenplays of mine, but I re-wrote them. Mostly the movies I’ve done have been original, so the fact that I’ve been able to continue to do it over this length of time has been honestly so rewarding, and gratifying for me.
The post The Intern — Nancy Meyers’ Cinematic Love Letter first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.