For as long as I can remember I have loved Nancy Meyers movies. I grew up watching Father of the Bride and The Parent Trap on VHS, and that clearly helped shape my adult taste, because I still never miss an opportunity to watch one of her films. It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give are two of my all-time favourites!
So, with that in mind, you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to interview Nancy Meyers in New York, ahead of the release of her latest project. A true triple threat, she wrote, produced and directed The Intern, which stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. It’s a charming story, following a 70-year-old widowers journey back into work as he becomes a “senior intern” at a fashion start-up. And, as you would expect from a Nancy Meyers film, it’s filled with glorious interior inspiration.
Here’s what she had to say about the main talking-points surrounding The Intern…
On Inspiration and the Writing Process:
“‘Where do you get your inspiration from?’ is the question I never have a good answer to, because stories come to me in bits and pieces over the years. It’s a long, long process for me. I’m inspired by what I perceive to be going on in society – or at least how I see things. I’m inspired by truth. I think all of my movies could be dramas in a different incarnation. Comedy just happens to be how I write and how I think. And I don’t believe they would reach as many people if they were dramas, because what’s that song? ‘A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…'”
“When I’m working on a screenplay I write for about 6-8 hours a day. And even if it’s a tough day I sit there. I don’t give myself a reward, like “I did really well yesterday, today I’ll go out to lunch with friends.” I never have a meal with anybody during the day when I’m writing. When you’ve been doing it as long as I have and you want to keep doing it you have to be disciplined. It’s not a part time job; it’s not like I can write at night or in a café. I have a computer upstairs, and I have one downstairs, and I wouldn’t even think of using the computer upstairs to write. I do it at my desk. Sometimes I think, ‘wouldn’t it be fun to get in bed with my laptop and work?’ But it seems inconceivable. I need to be dressed and sitting up.”
On Sexism in Hollywood:
“I think there is a gender problem [in Hollywood], because if you go to a lot of junkets how many female directors do you talk to? And how many male directors do you talk to? And it’s certainly not because we’re less able.”
On the Work/Life Balance:
“I don’t know anybody whose career means more to them than their family. I really don’t. I have very successful women friends, but I’ve never heard any of them put the emphasis on work more than their family.”
“Jules [Anne Hathaway] has it harder than I had it when my children were little, because she has to go to the same place everyday, 12 months a year. As a writer I can write at home. I created a life for myself that worked for my family and worked for me as a mother. I never went to an office, I always had a room in my house where I wrote, so the kids could come running in and out. And then when I would make a movie my kids always came with me.”
“But I don’t have a regular job. I’m in the film business, it’s different, you don’t make a movie sometimes. You’re home a whole lot of the time. I think for any parent in a regular job – mother or father – it’s hard. I have a grandchild now, and my daughter is able to work from home sometimes, but I see what her husband goes through, how he races to get home in time before the baby goes to sleep. I think it’s hard on young parents.”
On Stay-at-Home Dads [Jules’ husband stays at home with their daughter in The Intern]:
“I came upon that idea pretty early in the process of writing. I thought it would be interesting. I see it a lot. And whilst I was writing the movie The New Yorker did a feature on stay-at-home dads. The cover was a picture taken at a playground in Park Slope, Brooklyn – which is where The Intern takes place – and it was all men in the playground. All fathers and children and babies. So I got very excited, because I thought, ‘okay, I’m onto something.'”
On Millennials and the Generation Gap:
“Well, probably not since my generation has a generation been so uninterested in what other people are doing. I mean, we were called ‘the me generation’ – that’s what they called us because we only cared about ourselves. And I’m feeling that again, except now I’m on the other side. So I wanted to talk about that a little bit. I think that because you all grew up with the internet and your hashtag language, it’s like you have your own little code. And God forbid your mother is on Facebook! So the millennials do seem to exclude anyone who’s not them. But I’m not against them. I love them and they’re my kids.
“The Intern is really a loving portrait of an older generation. And I think the fact that all of the kids in the movie like him so much, respect him so much, want to be like him so much, says everything. They don’t resist him. They all embrace him. Jules’ life is complicated, so I give her the gift of this man to help her through it. But Ben [Robert De Niro] never gives opinions unless he’s asked. He’s not out there telling everybody what to do. He waits, and if someone asks he gives them a response. He balances her.”
On Directing Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway:
“I know someone who had directed Bob before, and they had told me that he’s a great guy. But I only knew him from movies, so I was nervous. But he was as easy, and open and gentle and warm as I could ever want. He’s very much a person who wants the director to make their movie. He’s there for you. And Anne Hathaway is the A student.”
The Intern hits movie theatres in the USA on September 25th and is released in the UK on October 2nd (worldwide dates here). And remember to check back next week for my interview with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro.
Images 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment.