I start off talking to Paul Feig about his latest movie as a producer, Snatched – you know, that one starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a mother/daughter duo kidnapped in the Colombian jungle – by telling him the glass of wine I had while watching it helped make the movie funnier. I realize after saying this out loud, it sounds less like a compliment to the brilliant marketing strategy of Fox – note, every studio should serve alcohol at screenings from now on – and more like a dig at his latest female-driven comedy.
The thing is, Snatched is funny, sober or otherwise, as most of Feig’s comedic ventures are. The man whose career includes creating the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks and then segued into directing films, developing a speciality in helming female-driven comedies like Bridesmaids, The Heat, and last year’s Ghostbusters remake.
In Snatched, directed by Jonathan Levine from a script by Katie Dippold, Schumer and Hawn star as a feuding mother and daughter who spend most of their time nagging each other until they’re taken hostage by a group of criminals and forced to find their way to safety by trudging through the Amazon. It’s a lot of Schumer doing her thing and Hawn reminding us why we love seeing her on screen but it’s also a testament to Feig’s fight for more women in film. Below, Feig talks about why we need female comedians pushing boundaries in the Age of Trump, his hate for the term “chick flick,” and how he practices equal opportunity shit takes.
It was so nice to see Goldie Hawn back in a movie. What kind of groveling does it take to get her to sign on to something like this?
Amy was the one who was really bent on having Goldie play her mom. I was working on a pilot for HBO a few years ago with Goldie that didn’t end up going but I really loved her and thought she was so great so when Amy brought it up we were all like, “Wow, that’s an amazing idea.” The first time that they actually read together as mother and daughter it just blew our minds how hilarious they were.
As someone who started out in TV, what’s the switch to film been like?
It was always what I wanted to do. The first thing I ever wrote was a feature film that’s never come out that I funded out of pocket called Life Sold Separately that hopefully will come out someday. But that was always the track I was on was to direct movies, in my head at least. After I created Freaks and Geeks and got to direct the finale of that, more and more TV work started popping up. It was fun, but the difference between movies and TV is, with TV, you’re always the new kid coming in and you’re in service of the show. I love doing movies because you’re the captain of the ship.
You’re just saying you like to be the boss. That’s what I’m hearing.
Exactly. That’s exactly it.
When Bridesmaids came out it kind of blew people’s minds to see all these women shitting themselves and throwing up on each other. I can’t imagine you began your career thinking, “One day I’m going to shoot Melissa McCarthy crapping in a sink.”
It’s been this long slow boiling point of seeing women not being portrayed in movies that well, especially in comedy. I grew up watching a lot of old movies with my mom from the ’30s and ’40s that had really great female characters. They were the equals of the men in those movies. And then suddenly, I had so many women friends and to see them being portrayed as so subservient to men or as these overbearing foils who were emotional punching bags, it just bothered me. I didn’t relate to these heavy-duty male-driven stories about guys trying to get laid.
When Bridesmaids popped up, Judd called me three years before when they were going to do a table read of very early drafts of it. He just called and said, ‘You should come see the reading of this. It’s loaded.’ And getting there and seeing a table full of all these actresses, I was just sitting there going, “Oh my God, this is exactly what I want. To be able to cast all the funny women I know that are out there.”
But the scary thing about it was there was a lot of pressure being put on it by the industry because it was a female-led comedy that was R-rated. Honestly, they were in an absolute holding pattern on ordering any other scripts in that world until they saw how we did, which is ridiculous when you think about it because men aren’t put to that same litmus test. Nobody’s saying when they’re making The Hangover, “Well, we’ve gotta wait and see if a movie about guys going out is going to be funny.” It was the biggest relief of my life when that movie did well because the whole time there was this absolute fear that I was going to somehow fuck it up for …
All women everywhere?
Yeah. One day they’d ask, “Well why don’t we make those kind of movies anymore?” And they’d say …