BLOODY FUNNY

Tina Fey and Mar­got Rob­bie talk black com­edy.

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

THE WAR-FILM GENRE has few lead roles for women and is sel­dom funny, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot de­fies con­ven­tion. Pro­duced by the ac­tor, per­former and writer Tina Fey, the com­edy-drama is based on The Tal­iban Shuf­fle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pak­istan, a mem­oir by Kim Barker, of the Chicago Tri­bune, that re­veals the deadly ab­sur­dity of re­port­ing from those coun­tries af­ter 9/11.The film cen­tres on Fey, play­ing a jour­nal­ist who ar­rives in Kabul un­pre­pared for the fol­lies of war un­til she meets tanya van­der­poel (Mar­got Rob­bie), the sea­soned re­porter who takes her un­der her wing. BAZAAR brought Fey and Rob­bie to­gether to chat about mul­ti­task­ing, funny women and the joy of be­ing alone. MAR­GOT ROB­BIE: I was ex­cited for us to meet, but I was also re­ally in­tim­i­dated. when you meet some­one who is so funny, you worry that you need to be ‘on’ all the time. TINA FEY: In my com­pletely anec­do­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, all my friends in com­edy who are women are very chilled and quiet in real life. they don’t al­ways do their loud bit … MR: ... steal­ing the lime­light from the room. TF: I was blown away by your per­for­mance in The Wolf of Wall Street. when I heard that you weren’t Amer­i­can, I was like, “are you kid­ding me?” — even Amer­i­cans can’t do that kind of New York-spe­cific ac­cent. When [the di­rec­tors] John Re­qua and Glenn Fi­carra first sug­gested you for this role, I was im­me­di­ately very ex­cited. MR: Of course, to me you were the com­edy queen. I get ner­vous about com­edy be­cause it’s such a hard thing to pull off. It’s a lot eas­ier yelling and scream­ing and cry­ing in a scene than try­ing to be funny. I wanted to watch you work, and see if I could learn any­thing … TF: And then I wasn’t funny at all … MR: And then she turned out to be bor­ing … No, I was in­trigued be­cause I’ve just started a pro­duc­tion com­pany, so I wanted to know how you were a mother, a wife, a pro­ducer, an ac­tor, with about six bil­lion projects up and run­ning suc­cess­fully. I wanted to know if any of those things suf­fered be­cause there was so much on your plate. It was en­cour­ag­ing for me to see how well you jug­gle ev­ery­thing, and still hang with your kids and hus­band. I hope I don’t give my kids a messed-up child­hood be­cause I’m so busy with my ca­reer am­bi­tions. TF: You won’t, be­cause you’re a nor­mal per­son. But I have that on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion with my other friends who are mums. It’s all about pick­ing and choos­ing. this was the first time I had left home for a long time to make a movie, although my kids came for two weeks when they had a school break. I’m 45 and I’ve been do­ing this for a while, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this, it’s that it’s OK for me to ad­mit that the sev­eral weeks that I was film­ing in New Mex­ico with­out them were a fan­tas­tic va­ca­tion. I def­i­nitely missed them, but when sit­ting alone in a quiet room learn­ing my lines, I thought: ‘this is a very spe­cial time in my life.’ MR: It’s like that line in [2010 com­edy] Date Night when your char­ac­ter says “I just want to be in a ho­tel room sip­ping lemon­ade and there’s no one any­where.” TF: I wouldn’t agree to go away if it weren’t a project that felt spe­cial enough and some­thing that I was pro­duc­ing. when roles are sent to you, do you think ‘no’ for most of them? MR: Maybe I’m be­ing sent dif­fer­ent scripts now be­cause I’m at a point in my ca­reer when I can be the lead, whereas a few years ago my name on the bill­board wasn’t go­ing to get a film fi­nanced. I would be sent roles in good films but only as the girl­friend of the wife. But that’s dif­fer­ent now. TF: Tanya and Kim are great roles. I have so much re­spect for fe­male war re­porters.as ac­tors, we risk em­bar­rass­ment, but they risk their lives, los­ing a limb or be­ing kid­napped. what they do is so bold.to go to Afghanistan, to re­ally un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing and con­vey it ac­cu­rately is a hard job. I think the fastest so­lu­tion to cre­at­ing more fe­male roles like th­ese is for more women to pro­duce.the best thing women can do if they want to see more women in film and in in­ter­est­ing roles is to get up and go see them in the theatre. MR: Talk­ing of roles, I re­ally en­joyed watch­ing you play the more dra­matic mo­ments. There’s one scene ... when Kim ex­plains her rea­son for com­ing to Afghanistan. She says that she felt as though she was go­ing back­wards in life. It wasn’t about find­ing a punch­line. It was a gen­uine, emo­tive mo­ment. TF: The thing I love about watch­ing you is that there’s a clar­ity and a sim­plic­ity to the way you act. There’s this great scene in a hos­pi­tal, where Tanya has just been in a har­row­ing ex­plo­sion and a mem­ber of her crew has died. tanya is gen­uinely up­set that some­one she knows has died but she’s also giddy in­side with the fact that she’s got the story.you played those feel­ings with such a light touch. So many peo­ple would over­work it. I think that’s real movie-star abil­ity. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is out now.

“I have so much re­spect for fe­male war re­porters. As ac­tors, we risk em­bar­rass­ment, but they risk their lives.” – Tina Fey

Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and, right, with co-star Mar­got Rob­bie. Mar­got Rob­bie in the film and, be­low, on the red car­pet.

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