The chemistry between Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand is the spark that keeps The Guilt Trip alive, so it’s nice to see that duo share that energy on and off screen. The two sat down with director Anne Fletcher and screenwriter Dan Fogelman to talk about about the making of the movie, and the two played off each other nicely. Check it out.
The first question is for Barbra and Seth I loved your chemistry and want to know what it was like meeting each other for the first time.
BARBRA STREISAND: Meeting each other for the first time.
SETH ROGAN: Yeah, whoa.
BS: Well, Seth it turns out sussed me out.
SR: I did.
BS: So he called people from the Focker movies, right?
SR: I sussed –
BS: You know, you could tell it. It’s your story. Tell it.
SR: I think I was actually working with John Schwartzman who was the cinematographer on Meet the Fockers around the time this came up and I think I asked him what he thought of Barbra. And he said she was great. And I know Jay Roach a little, so I think I might have asked him and I think he said she was awesome, too. Ben Stiller I think I might have run into and asked, but, yeah, everyone — she checked out. This Barbra Streisand lady checked out. So I thought I’d give her a shot.
BS: I didn’t know who to call. I don’t know any of those people from his movies. So what was I gonna do? No, I thought he was adorable so I thought this is interesting, unlikely, which makes it interesting. And yet, you know, we’re both Jewish. I could be his mother.
SR: And yet we get along — we get along very well.
BS: Totally. Instantly.
Who made who crack up and laugh the most?
ANNE FLETCHER: I don’t know. That’s such a hard question because –
SR: She cracked me up quite a bit.
BS: Because it’s more unexpected from you probably.
AF: It is.
BS: And I’m more serious.
SR: Incredibly serious.
AF: They had such a great chemistry and just a great ability to improvise with each other that was so easy to do. You just say one word even if it was like Thanksgiving and they just go into a five minute improv.
SR: Well, the way we talk in real life is not entirely different than our rapport in the movie in some ways. But we’re getting along… It’s a lotta me trying to explain to things about modern times. And her trying to feed me.
BS: And yet you copied my iPhone. I was the one with the iPhone. What did you have?
SR: She had an iPhone before me. I had a Blackberry. And then she was always playing games on her iPhone. It’s like I gotta get one of these. If Barbra can work an iPhone, it’s gotta be fun.
BS: That’s right. But he would show me things like yesterday I said, oh he asked me if I had a Twitter account. I said I don’t know. So he looked it up.
SR: And I showed her she did.
BS: Which I only use for political purposes. So I didn’t know it was beyond that. I wouldn’t know how to find it on my phone.
SR: I’ll show you.
SR: I changed her clocks during daylight savings.
BS: He’s very handy.
SR: I do all that stuff.
Barbara, since you last directed a movie, there have been so many changes to the way movies have been shot. We have digital now, 3D and we’re even starting to have 48 frames. What are your thoughts on these technologies as you might use them as a director and how they might change things from the performance side for actors?
BS: When and if I do direct another film, I would have to go suss out the, you know, the red camera, the Alexa, the — all this new things. But I know I love film.
BS: So does Anne.
AF: Yes. She’s somebody — if I could step in — she’s somebody who does a lot of research and investigates and she loves filmmaking so much that she would wanna know everything that’s out there that’s new compared to the old. And she would do so much research to see what her eye who’s very specific and detailed and amazing would find. Am I wrong?
DAN FOGELMAN: Seth said Barbra sees every movie.
DF: I mean it’s shocking –
DF: — her kind of film — I mean there’s no movie that escapes her on a weekend. It — there — she sees them all.
BS: By the way, A Star is Born was done live.
AF: With an audience.
BS: No. Oh yeah with sometimes with an audience. But I sang live. I sang live in Funny Girl at the end of the Funny Girl because that’s what they’re talking about in Les Mis –
BS: Because, you know, I said to Willie (Wyler), how do you have emotion? How do you know where the emotion is gonna hit you? When I was doing “My Man” at the end. And I’m a terrible lip syncher anyway because I have to be in the moment and I can’t lip synch to something I recorded three months before, you know. So I thought it was great that Tom Hooper used that — let the actors be live.
So you must know that a lot of gay people are gonna see this movie.
BS: We hope. What?
SR: I’m a gay icon.
BS: Oh, a gay icon.
SR: People like Barbra, too? I didn’t know that.
Barbra, I’m wondering how do you feel about a believable gay icon and your own son, do you think he considers you an icon?
BS: He doesn’t see me as an icon. He sees me as his mother who, you know, touches her hair too much and — no. I love being an icon to anybody. Equal rights, you know?
SR: Me, too.
For Barbra, I’m over here. I’m sorry. You have such an amazing career and I was wondering if you could tell me what gives you satisfaction or the greatest satisfaction as an artist and what does it mean for you to be part of a project like this?
BS: I prefer things that are private so I love recording and I love making films as a filmmaker because it uses every bit of what you have experienced or know, you know, whether it’s graphics, composition, decorating, psychology, storytelling, what it is. It’s very — it’s a wonderful thing, right Anne? She knows. Here I was dealing with, you know, very talented people. I had loved Anne’s movie, The Proposal. And Dan, I looked you up, too. And you did that wonderful — what was that musical called that I loved, too?
BS: Tangled. Yeah, I loved that. I loved that and then I saw his name on it. But he’s a very gift writer so, you know, and Seth is terrific at what he does. So, you know. Did it.
I’m wondering what was the hardest for you, the dramatic moments or the comedy?
BS: Eating steak. For a person who doesn’t like steak, that is the hardest thing. But they’re both the same.
BS: If anything is based on what reaches an audience is the truth is honesty. So if you’re saying something truthful that’s a funny line, it’s gonna be funny. If it’s a serious line, it’s gonna be serious. But I don’t think there’s a distinction between how you play in drama or comedy; do you know what I mean? If it based in the truth.
AF: Especially when you have two actors who have great ability to do both. Not everybody has the ability to be really funny and understand comedy and how to portray it and be real with it which both of them do in tenfold as well as the ability to be a straight actor. They’re both incredible. Thank you.
SR: Thank you. I like this. I’m just sitting here getting comfortable.
Barbra, you have had such an amazing career at this point. What do you think is the secret to your success and what have you done right?
BS: I don’t make that many movies and I don’t make that many appearances so –
SR: Leave them wanting more.
BS: That’s it. Less is more. And maybe that keeps a little mystery or something. I don’t know. I like to stay home a lot. I like to do other things, too. You know what I mean? Like decorate, build.
Barbra, how crazy can you drive your own son and Seth, how crazy does your own mother drive you?
SR: Oh, it’s the same answer. Very. I think yeah my mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship. I see my parents a lot. But, yeah it’s a lot like in the movie. For no reason I’ll get annoyed and I’ll just find myself reverting back to like a mentality of like a 14 year old kid who just doesn’t wanna be around his parents. Yeah, it’s one of the things I related to most in the script honestly was that dynamic where just your mother’s trying and the more she tries, the more it bugs you. And the more it bugs you the more she tries. And you like see her trying to say the thing that won’t annoy you and she can’t and yeah, all that is very, at times, very real to my relationship with my mother.
Barbra, how much contact did you and your son Jason Gould have while you were thinking about how you wanted to play the role ?
BS: No, actually he was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery so he was in bed for a few days after. And I brought the script over and we read it out loud and it was interesting actually. His father was in the room, too. Isn’t that funny? We were both coddling our son. And so he became the audience and Jason was reading all the parts with me. And he said, “I think you should do it, mom.” And I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He has great taste in whatever he chooses to do. It’s amazing. So he clinched the deal. Anne was on the phone all weekend. I was on a boat those last –
AF: I was with you all over the world. In your house, on vacation, on a boat in France, somewhere in the Bahamas, the dog was gonna jump off the boat. I had a lot of time — I love that Jason just one night, “Yes, mom do it.” I had a whole year. It’s not the same as when I last made a film. They’re not interested in love stories or any movie that’s sort of over $15 million. But it could be $100 million, that’s okay. Two hundred million is okay to lose, but the movies that I’m used to making or liking, you know, what draws me, they’re movies that cost $18 million, $20 million and they’re not interested in those movies. So it’s a different time. I don’t like it as much.
I have to mention you get sent so many scripts. So after this –
BS: I don’t.
You don’t. Well, they just don’t make it to you.
BS: You see everybody thinks like you. She’s got so many scripts, why would I send her. She’ll never get a chance to read it. And meanwhile, I go, “Where are the scripts?”
Well, so how do you– you suss them out, you read it with your son. What ultimately was it that reading with your son that connected and you said, “Yes, this is something that I have to do,” instead of would you still have done it if he had said no?
BS: It’s, you know, mother develop guilt trips. I mean when I was working a lot, you know I’d feel guilty as a parent that I couldn’t pick up my son every day from school, bake him cookies and that kinda thing. So I know that feeling. I know that feeling a lot. And so you try to compensate and everything they do is great and they sense that guilt, children, you know? And they’re going through their own rebellious times or whatever. Having a famous parent is an odd thing. And so I thought it was interesting to investigate this, trying to be my son’s friend, trying to be his friend versus a mother. And when it comes time to really say you abuse me, you disrespect me, you talk back to me, you don’t honor what I say, you won’t take my advice, that kinda thing. In terms of this movie, it hit on all those things that I thought I could explore. And it was a true story. It’s Dan and his mother and she was a fan of mine and it’s something right about it, you know. And Dan wrote this lovely script and it just felt like it was meant to be — meant for me to come back to work as a star, you know, starring role rather than six days on a movie which I really liked
Of course, I made it very difficult for them to hire me because I kept wanting an out some way so I made it really hard. I would never do this normally, right? I really don’t really wanna schlep to Paramount. It’s two hours each way. So would you rent a warehouse and build the sets in the Valley, no more than 45 minutes from my house? And they said yes. Then on these Focker movies I had to get up early and I’m not an early bird. And Seth says, right, he says it’s very hard to be funny at 7:30 in the morning.
SR: For me it is.
BS: He’s right. He has to have a few cups of tea, you know what I mean. You have to feed him a little bit. I said so you can’t pick me up ’til 8:30 ’cause that’s like a normal time to get up for me ’cause I love the night. My husband and I stay up ’til two, three in the morning. So we don’t function that well at eight — at six in the morning. And they said okay.
AF: I really said okay ’cause I, too, am a night owl. By the way to sort of answer, I know you didn’t ask me, but I wasn’t gonna do the movie without these two. There was no other — there wasn’t backup. So it was — if Seth said no, there was no replacement. If Barbra said no, there was no replacement. It was them or the — I wasn’t going to make the movie. Sorry, Dan.
BS: And then I remember on the boat I said to Anne, would you make the movie without me and she said no and I felt bad, guilty. Another guilt trip, right? I said, “Oh no, she’s not gonna have this job and I want her to work,” and, you know, every one of those little elements added up.
SR: I was open to Shirley Maclaine.
BS: He’s lying. That’s not what you said yesterday.
SR: That’s not true. I only would have done it if Barbra was doing it. No for me it was funny. I was just — they were like why don’t you do this movie with Barbra, but Barbra’s not sure if she wants to do it. And I was like, “Well, just let me know if she says yes.” And then I really made like two movies during that time and we were like editing 50/50 and I got a call and they were like, “Barbra said yes.” Really? Oh, okay, great.
BS: It’s great to feel wanted, you know.
Barbra, you look so beautiful in the film and here today, what is your secret?
BS: God, what is my secret?
SR: Sitting next to me helps.
BS: No, if you knew all my self-doubt. My God. I don’t know. Maybe I’m slightly childish or something like that. I don’t know. I kind of like the child part of me. Maybe it reflects in my face or something. I don’t know.
One of the things that really stuck out to me in this film was Andy Brewster had a refreshingly complex character — had a very distinct part to it. A good range of emotion and I know you touched on this a little bit with regards to relatability within the character and position and everything. But I was hoping to hear just a little bit more of maybe how you approached Andy.
SR: I really thought of it like a real time performance. You are just thrown into the movie with him so I thought I should be as real and natural as possible. He’s not a particular funny guy. He’s not even in a particularly good mood for the majority of the movie. But I thought that, you know, if you seem a little vulnerable, people seem to relate to that and I think that was kind of the balance — I mean and we got options, honestly I would do takes where I was more harsh with Barbra and takes where I was less harsh and takes where I was more annoyed and less annoyed and takes where I was just fully entertained by her and takes where I was like, “Oh, just shut the f— up.” But and, yeah and I think — and we knew that it would be somewhere in there, you know. To me that’s kind of how I act sometimes is — especially when you don’t know. We knew that was gonna be like the line is like how annoying can she be versus how annoyed can he be and how — when does that start to get grating. You gotta make sure you relate with both of them. Is it too much on her? Is it too much on him? So we talked a lot about it while we were filming just as far as like, “Okay, that last take was harsh. We should make sure we get one that’s less harsh.” So when we’re editing it doesn’t — we can –
BS: It’s like playing an instrument. I mean as the director, you know, she modulates and –
SR: I play my own instrument a lot, too, as a man.
AF: On set.
BS: I love it because it’s a transformative kind of movie. They start at one point. Both of them kind of tragically alone, you know. Not finding a mate. And then at the end this many more possibilities. The horizons open. Oh, there’s more to life than The Gap. He took me out of my shell. It was a very loving gesture and so it’s about love. I always say it’s a different kind of love story.
SR: Which to me sounds gross.
BS: His mind goes to the sexual always, right?
SR: Right in the gutter, right in the gutter.
The Guilt Trip opens December 19.