What Nancy Mey­ers Wants

A frank con­ver­sa­tion with one of Hol­ly­wood’s most suc­cess­ful di­rec­tors about men, women and her three-decade-long ca­reer.

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar -

your favourite Nancy Mey­ers film will vary de­pend­ing on your gen­er­a­tion— Baby Boom for women com­ing of age in the ’80s, What Women Want for peo­ple nav­i­gat­ing the dat­ing world in the early ’00s, The Hol­i­day for ev­ery­one ev­ery­where at Christ­mas—but chances are you’ll love them all for the same rea­son: her warm-hearted but sharp-eyed take on the way women live. We chat­ted with the screen­writer and di­rec­tor from her home in Los An­ge­les about her lat­est film, The In­tern (in theatres Septem­ber 25), and why she’s fo­cus­ing on the next gen­er­a­tion “try­ing to have it all.”

You wrote as well as di­rected The In­tern, which is about an older re­tired man, played by Robert De Niro, who goes to work as a “se­nior in­tern” at a start-up run by Anne Hath­away’s char­ac­ter. Where did that sce­nario

come from? “It started with the idea of an older per­son be­ing dis­sat­is­fied with re­tire­ment and vol­un­teer­ing at some­thing that would be new for him. I know lots of older peo­ple who feel that they have a lot to give.” Could you have made this film 20 years ago? “The movies I’ve made over the years tend to re­flect what’s

go­ing on with me. I could not have writ­ten the older char­ac­ter in this film un­til I turned 60 be­cause, be­fore then, I couldn’t have un­der­stood where he was. This movie is also a heart­felt, lov­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion of a man.” What do you mean by that? “I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated who Robert De Niro’s char­ac­ter was all the way through the movie. I didn’t re­ally change him; he was al­ready in great shape. I’ve no­ticed that what is be­ing por­trayed in movies is a re­flec­tion of what has hap­pened to men, so I wanted to write about that and say ‘[De Niro’s char­ac­ter] is a good ex­am­ple of what you could as­pire to be like.’” In your opin­ion, what has hap­pened to

men to­day? “We used to have ‘Take Your Daugh­ter to Work Day’ be­cause we wanted to en­cour­age young girls, but we never had ‘Take Your Son to Work Day’ be­cause it was as­sumed he would grow up and get a job. I re­mem­ber when [my daugh­ters] were in high school and they would go to a party, they’d wear adorable dresses and the boys would come over and look like they’d fallen out of bed. And I think [for guys] that that has con­tin­ued into their 30s; they’re still dress­ing like lit­tle boys and play­ing video games. There have been 10 years of movies about these kinds of guys.” One of the most in­ter­est­ing peo­ple in the movie is Anne

Hath­away’s char­ac­ter’s hus­band. “I’m not go­ing to talk too much about what hap­pens be­cause I don’t want to ruin it, but he is a stay-at-home dad. I was talk­ing to women and go­ing over the whole ‘How are you treated when you’re a work­ing mom?’ I talked to five Hol­ly­wood ex­ec­u­tives, all in their mid-30s: Four of the five had stayat-home hus­bands.” It feels like an in­ter­est­ing ad­den­dum to the con­ver­sa­tion we’ve been hav­ing for so long, which is “Can women

re­ally have it all?” “This movie is a book­end to Baby Boom from 1987. [Diane Keaton] plays an em­ployee and Annie [Hath­away] plays the founder of a start-up, but the dilemma is still there. I don’t think you can have it all; I don’t think that men can ei­ther, by the way. In Baby Boom, the male boss takes [Keaton] out for din­ner and says: “I can have it all. I can have a wife and kids, and I can keep work­ing.” That’s a fal­lacy; he’s ly­ing! He’s miss­ing a lot with his fam­ily too; it’s hard—the strug­gle is hard.” sarah laing

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