Get­ting creamed again

Some painful mem­o­ries just won’t go away.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - by VIcKy OOI vicky@thes­tar.com.my

You never know when your tor­men­tor in high school will come back to haunt you, as is the case in You Again.

IT WAS a busy week for the stars in Hollywood as they took in the end­less rounds of me­dia in­ter­views to pro­mote their movies.

We, the group of in­ter­na­tional press in Los An­ge­les for the You Again screen­ing, were among the vic­tims of a sched­ul­ing clash over the Emmy Awards week­end. As a re­sult, our roundtable in­ter­view with the movie’s cast and di­rec­tor was bumped back by two hours.

But celebri­ties be­ing celebri­ties, they swept into the room look­ing fresh and as up­beat as if we were the first and only peo­ple they’d spo­ken to, di­plo­mat­i­cally con­ceal­ing any hint that they might be tired of re­peat­ing some of the an­swers.

The most mem­o­rable en­trance was made by Jamie Lee Cur­tis, with the help of two dolls ... er ... ac­tion fig­ures!

“So Sigour­ney Weaver was in the most suc­cess­ful movie of all time, but look here, my ac­tion fig­ure is big­ger than hers. Size does mat­ter. Her ac­tion fig­ure was on sale at half-off and I bought mine at a pre­mium price on eBay,” Cur­tis quipped, hold­ing up a doll – ahem, ac­tion fig­ure – of her Kit Fos­ter char­ac­ter from the movie Virus and an­other of Ellen Ri­p­ley, Weaver’s iconic role from the Alien fran­chise.

That ice­breaker helped the in­ter­view segue right into the theme of You Again, which is about bit­ter high school ri­val­ries, the peo­ple who tor­mented you as a teenager and the hurt and mem­o­ries that stick with you through adult­hood.

The film stars Kris­ten Bell as Marni, a suc­cess­ful pub­lic re­la­tions ex­ec­u­tive who flies home for her brother’s wed­ding, and dis­cov­ers that her fu­ture sis­ter-in-law – Joanna (Odette Yust­man) – is the same girl who made her high school years mis­er­able.

Cur­tis plays Marni’s mother, Gail who shares a his­tory with Weaver’s char­ac­ter, Ra­mona (Joanna’s aunt). The two had been high school ri­vals 30 years be­fore.

“High school is dif­fi­cult be­cause peo­ple get be­trayed. I ex­pe­ri­enced be­trayal in high school, but no I didn’t have a Joanna,” said Cur­tis, dressed in a dark blue one-shoul­der top and jeans.

The ri­valry in high school may be tough, but there’s no deny­ing the ri­valry and com­pe­ti­tion in Hollywood is tougher still.

And the sub­ject of ex­ten­sive plas­tic surgery among celebri­ties in­evi- tably came up. The 51-year-old mother of two and noted chil­dren’s book author, has strong feel­ings about it.

“It’s ob­scene what peo­ple are do­ing to them­selves. I try to be re­al­is­tic about who I am. If a woman thinks her body is her com­mod­ity, she’s screwed.”

Al­though re­sid­ing in Los An­ge­les, Cur­tis – the daugh­ter of film leg­end Tony Cur­tis, who passed away on Sept 29 aged 85 – has pretty much stayed away from the drama that is Hollywood by choos­ing fam­ily over her movie ca­reer.

She had once been quoted in a press in­ter­view as say­ing: “It’s not that I’m re­tired, it’s just that I no longer ac­cept act­ing work.” So then, what made her take up the role of Gail in You Again?

“I took this job be­cause it was film­ing in LA, shot over six months last sum­mer. And be­cause I get to work with nice peo­ple, and the movie is funny.”

It is also the film that brings to­gether the two vet­eran ac­tresses for the first time, thanks to di­rec­tor Andy Fick­man’s in­spired cast­ing.

“Jamie was cast first. I needed some­one who was equally strong,” he ex­plained, adding cheek­ily that Weaver was a woman he fan­cied.

When the di­rec­tor was ap­proached for the Dis­ney film, he was prepped for a chick flick. Luck­ily for many of us, he saw it more on a per­sonal level.

“I called my mum and asked if there was some­one who gave her a hard time when she was in high school, and she named one per­son ... from 1959.

“My mother, who can­not re­mem­ber what she ate yes­ter­day, re­mem­bers this one per­son from her school days.

“So did Sigour­ney, Jamie and ev­ery­one else I asked. So this is a very uni­ver­sal story.”

Uni­ver­sal in­deed. Weaver ad­mit­ted that there was a girl who was mean to her in high school and she re­mained baf­fled till to­day as to the rea­son why.

“But the longer one lives, the more we think that these things don’t mat­ter,” she philosophised.

The pro­lific ac­tress is cer­tainly age­ing well. She looks good even un­der the late af­ter­noon sun­light stream­ing in from the room’s wide win­dows.

How does Weaver re­sist re­sort­ing to ar­ti­fi­cial aid to help her keep her youth?

“I cut out from mag­a­zines pic­tures of older women who have lived so much and know so much. They in­spire me. I don’t un­der­stand why any­one would want to look like they’ve not lived, to be frozen in time.”

Looks like she and Cur­tis are on the same page here. Does that mean

we’re not gonna find juicy tales of ri­valry be­tween them?

“Jamie is a force. A big part of this movie’s ap­peal for me was be­ing able to work with her,” Weaver said.

So, no ri­valry be­tween these two. What about be­tween the other ac­tresses in the cast?

The mak­ers of a Fun­ny­ordie.com clip fea­tur­ing the 30-year-old Bell (last seen in the rom-com When In

Rome), Weaver, Yust­man (most iden­ti­fied as Aubrey in the TV se­ries

Oc­to­ber Road), Betty White (needs no in­tro­duc­tion) and Fick­man will try to con­vince you there is. But, as those fa­mil­iar to the site will know, it’s all done to en­ter­tain.

How­ever, the clip could have been in­spired by the fact that the en­sem­ble cast was drip­ping with big names and many of them women.

“I was ini­tially in­tim­i­dated be­cause Sigour­ney and Jamie are icons. Then I wor­ried about so many per­son­al­i­ties on set and all that oe­stro­gen. And I clicked into high school mode,” Bell re­called.

“But then I re­alised the rea­son that they’ve been work­ing for decades is be­cause they are so nice.

“They wel­comed me with open arms and con­sid­ered me a peer; that is the biggest com­pli­ment to me,” she said, adding that it was awe­some play­ing Marni be­cause pretty girls weren’t as in­ter­est­ing.

Bell de­scribed her teenaged self as be­tween the ex­tremes of Joanna and Marni.

“I was a pleaser in high school, and a pushover be­cause I don’t like con­fronta­tions. I think ev­ery­one has a mean girl in their lives, even the mean girl her­self,” she said, point­ing out that adults also strive to win over the peo­ple they ad­mire.

“The mes­sage of the show is ‘don’t let the stereo­type of who you are in school de­fine you for the rest of your life’,” she of­fered.

Ca­sual ob­servers can­not help not­ing the stark phys­i­cal con­trast be­tween Bell and Yust­man, the way their film char­ac­ters are on op­po­site sides of the pole.

One a pe­tite, pretty blonde that is noth­ing but a pic­ture of sum­mer in a sleeve­less Diane von Fursten­berg flo­ral frock, the other a leggy dark­haired beauty clad in jeans and a sim­ple top.

Look­ing at Yust­man – who, by the way, is of Ital­ian, French and Cuban parent­age and is flu­ent in Span­ish – one would not ex­pect her to have been an in­tro­vert and bul­lied in school but that she was.

“I was re­ally skinny back then. There was this girl in school who said mean things to me in front of the boy that I liked,” she re­counted.

The happy end­ing is that as she grew up, her con­fi­dence de­vel­oped along­side. Proof of that is her land­ing this gig.

Now 25 years old, she made the de­ci­sion at 19 to aban­don busi­ness stud­ies and pur­sue an act­ing ca­reer in­stead. Her real break on the big screen was in Clover­field, as Beth McIn­tyre.

“The com­pe­ti­tion in LA is tough. I have to be con­fi­dent and be­lieve that I can bring some­thing to the ta­ble.”

She had feared do­ing come­dies be­fore You Again, al­though iron­i­cally she ac­tu­ally got her first act­ing job as a child in the Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger-star­rer com­edy film Kinder­garten Cop.

“I wanted this role (Joanna) so bad be­cause it hit close to home, and I love that the char­ac­ter could re­deem her­self.

“The phys­i­cal part of this movie was not so chal­leng­ing. The tough part was play­ing the multi-lay­ered char­ac­ter; I wanted to make Joanna vul­ner­a­ble.”

She, like Bell, was in­tim­i­dated by the thought of work­ing with Cur­tis and Weaver. “They turned out to be re­ally nice peo­ple, and so gen­er­ous with ad­vice.”

If the set of You Again was a high school, Cur­tis and Weaver would be the teach­ers guid­ing Yust­man and Bell. The lat­ter two would be in­sep­a­ra­ble.

“If Kris­ten ruled the world, it would be a bet­ter world!” de­clared Yust­man. Cer­tainly no ri­valry to be found here.

YouAgain opens in Malaysian cine­mas on Oct 21.

Girls’ club:

(from left) Betty White, Jamie Lee Cur­tis, Sigour­ney Weaver, Odette Yust­man and Kris­ten Bell.

See­ing dou­ble:

Gail (Jamie Lee Cur­tis, left) and Ra­mona (Sigour­ney Weaver) turn up at the wed­ding of Joanna and Will in the same dress.

Betty White hav­ing fun swinging from the ceil­ing in a scene from YouAgain.

Andy Fick­man call­ing the shots on the set of YouAgain.

The mar­ry­ing cou­ple Will (James Wolk) and Joanna (Odette Yust­man).

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