"The Guilt Trip" is a far cry from working choreography on "The Flintstones." Nothing against the John Goodman not-really-a-classic, but it's remarkable that Anne Fletcher, director of "The Guilt Trip," is even in the position to direct films that don't, you know, include dance sequences.
After a career in choreography -- working on a wide range of films, from "Boogie Nights" to "Monkeybone" -- Fletcher directed the dance-themed, Channing Tatum-starring film, "Step Up." Her next move was key ... or, as Fletcher puts it, she "would have been screwed" if her next directing gig had been another dance movie. It wasn't; the box-office success of "27 Dresses" led quickly to the behemoth that became "The Proposal," a film that Fletcher calls her "gold ticket."
Well, that golden ticket has led her to Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen.
In "The Guilt Trip," Rogen plays Andy, an inventor of a new cleaning formula (with the unfortunate brand name of "Scioclean") who invites his mother, Joyce (Streisand), on a cross-country roadtrip tied to sales meetings in support of his new product. Here, Fletcher discusses the large personalities of her two stars, we map out a plan for Ryan Reynolds' career, and Fletcher reveals why Channing Tatum will always be her baby.
(When Fletcher called, I was given a stern warning from the publicist to wrap up the discussion in 15 minutes.)
[Anne Fletcher] Like a "yo, yo, yo rap," in 15 minutes, I need you to be rapping. [Laughs]
[Mike Ryan] I'll admit, being told I have to "rap," this is the first time an interview has ever started this way.
Yeah, you'd better bring it, Mike. By the way, I think everything I say is probably bad in print.
Why would you think that?
Because I'm incredibly sarcastic. I tell jokes that are about the human connection -- like, just two people talking. And I think anything that is translated onto paper is like, "What is she talking about?"
So, here's my segue into your movie: How does your personality fit with those of Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen?
[Laughs] We are all just big-ass personalities. You know what's interesting? Well, maybe I have a couple of answers. Barbra and Seth are very grounded, real easy-to-get-along-with people. Super easy. I've known Seth -- you know, I choreographed him in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," so I knew him from way back in the day when he was just starting out.
The "Age of Aquarius" scene?
Exactly, the end of the movie. And I hadn't even started directing, I was just about to start "Step Up" on that movie. And then Barbra -- everyone has their preconceived notion, but she is the most down-to-earth, comfortable, amazingly brilliant and funny woman. And I love to make her laugh and make him laugh ... and I'm crazy. So I think that we all got along pretty well. I had to punch and smack Barbra a couple of times because she's out of control ...
See, that's going to look good in print.
See, that's not going to look good in print.
Streisand is playing a sweeter character in this movie than she did in the "Focker" movies. In those, I think they just wanted her to be "wacky."
Yeah, I mean, Barbra can be wacky. The first "Fockers" movie I ran to, because Barbra was going to be doing comedy. And I knew what that was going to look like and I was super excited about it. But, yeah, a lot of newer people in the world, they haven't seen her abilities. She's sweet and gets to play her vulnerabilities and her drama and her sensibilities.
Adam Scott plays a small role in this film. How important was his casting?
With only wanting Barbra and Seth in this movie with no backup whatsoever, Adam Scott was the same thing for me. We were starting to talk about casts and this and that, and finally I said, "Guys, the only person I can see playing this role is Adam Scott." And everyone sort of stared at me and I wasn't sure what the stare was. Was it disdain? Love? I said, "Can we just hire him?" And everyone was like, "Yeah, he's kind of perfect."
Your first directing job was on "Step Up," which seems like a natural progression from choreography. Were you worried about only directing movies like "Step Up"? Was it tough to convince someone to let you do "27 Dresses"?
I was very fortunate. You know, it's about relationships and I say, "Never burn any bridges, ever." Because it's all about the relationships that you make in your life. And I knew that I wasn't doing another dance movie. It could have taken another 10 years, but I was not going to do it because I didn't want to get stuck.
So if you would have done one more dance movie...
I would have been screwed. But with "Step Up," John Glickman was the president of Spyglass at the time, I had choreographed one of Adam Shankman's (my best friend) movies, "The Pacifier."
The Vin Diesel movie.
That was the Vin Diesel movie, yep. But I came in and met on "27 Dresses" and it was because of that relationship that I was called in. And that was that. I literally got hired on that job and the movie was released in less than 10 months.
Were you surprised how well "The Proposal" did at the box office? I mean, were you surprised it did that well? It was a huge blockbuster.
That was surprising. You know, I never think, "Oh, my movie is amazing and it's going to make so much money." That will never cross my mind; I'm always in a constant state of panic. But "The Proposal" was shocking, yes. And I will say, on one level, it was fantastic to win the gold ticket. I mean, that's how I felt -- winning the gold ticket from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Making that film was one of the best experiences ever. And I don't think we can replicate it. And then for it to pay off that way was a beautiful cherry to the cake.
You should do another movie with Ryan Reynolds. I feel he had a bad year last year, but he was good in "The Proposal" and movies like "Definitely, Maybe"...
I know what you're saying.
I would like to see him back in something good.
[Laughs] "He doesn't know what he's doing!"
I didn't say that...
[Laughs] I know, but that's what was coming out, but I loved it. I'm with you. And I appreciate that you're going to put that on me and I hope I can do that. We are working on it and I want to work with him. I'd spend every day of my life with him. Not only as a great actor -- I think his abilities are so amazing -- but because I truly love him and see his talent and what he's capable of doing. That -- I want to just explore that and let the world see it. But he's the best guy, he's just the best guy.
I think that people like him but are just disappointed "The Green Lantern" didn't work out.
I think you're right. I think everyone does feel that way. And he's got a great fan-base that people really, truly believe in him. And they should. They have every reason to believe in him. And it's a crap shoot on what movies work and what movies don't. That's why I'm never like, "Oh, this movie is a surefire win," because you just don't know what's going to happen.
When you were doing choreography, which actor, who had no formal dance training, surprised you just how quickly they could learn their moves and which actor just could never get it?
Oh god. How do I answer this question? Most actors don't like dancing. Most actors are the most vulnerable when they have to dance. So I would say, in general, you have to disarm them so quickly and so instantly to let them know, "I've got your back. I'm not going to make you look like a jerk. I'm going to make steps that fit your body." I would never do steps that say, "Oh, you better learn these, just figure it out." You know, you want to make them look good and help the director tell their story so they look good. So I think the majority of actors, they step into it saying, "Please, God..." I've heard that so many times, "I don't dance. I don't want to do this scene. I fought against it." I'm like, "Don't worry, we're going to be okay. It's all going to be great." And then Channing Tatum, obviously. He's never had any training. He came in and I think the hardest thing for him was to understand how to put sequences together to learn how to count to eight over and over again [laughs]. But yeah, he blew everybody away.
So when you watch "Magic Mike," you're proud.
So proud of my baby!
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.