Lake Bell talks to us about directing her new movie, mothering, and matrimony
I remember the first time I was introduced to Lake Bell. Well, not physically introduced — what I mean is that I saw What Happens in Vegas, the 2008 rom-com starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, and instantly fell in love with Lake’s comedic style. (I mean, she played a character named “Tipper” and totally pulled it off.) Ever since then, I’ve continued to follow the actress’ career, which momentously expanded to include the titles of writer, director, and producer in 2013, when Lake’s first film, In a World..., was released. And now, we have her second film: I Do…Until I Don’t.
I Do…Until I Don’t follows a documentarian who aims to capture the trials and tribulations shared between three couples, all of whom are at completely different stages in their relationships. Yes, it is funny, but it is also smart and thought-provoking, as it explores the depths of matrimony. It is a true testament to Lake’s abilities as a multifaceted storyteller.
An exclusive clip from I Do…Until I Don’t, which is set to premiere September 1st:
To further explore this movie, its themes, and the woman behind it, we spoke to Lake Bell herself.
HelloGiggles (HG): Where did the idea for I Do…Until I Don’t come from? Was it inspired by anything you saw or experienced?
Lake Bell (LB): The inception of the idea came from a need to investigate the concept of matrimony. I mean, I was somewhat jaded about it myself. I felt like it was pretty archaic, that was where I started my investigation. [But then again], I guess every unromantic is deeply hoping to be proved wrong in their heart. You know, I was one of those people, and so while I was writing the movie, I met my now-husband Scott Campbell, who totally provided that romance and belief and inspiration that to commit is great. Far braver than bailing in a couple years when the going gets tough. So he has been a tremendous inspiration to changing my worldview when it comes to the institution itself.
HG: This movie covers so many different facets of love and relationships. Is there anything specific you hope audiences take away from this film?
LB: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t want it to be a spoiler at all that the movie is deeply hopeful and kind-spirited. You know, there’s a happy ending! That is something I’m very proud of because I think, in this day and age, it’s almost more provocative to be kind in spirit, and to be pro-commitment. There was a trend with the Tinder world…and controversy feels more akin to what we’re all used to now. I think that it is almost more shocking to be neo-traditionalist in our feelings toward love and unionship.
There’s something very sexy and very cool about feeling confident enough to move forward with one partner, and to be staunchly brave in that. The concept is that a relationship’s great privilege is to evolve with someone, right? If you are in a relationship that is committed and you get called out on your shit, [that’s] effectively how you grow and how you change in different chapters of your life. So if you’re just single and you’re bouncing from one person to another, especially when the going gets tough, you’re [missing] the point where you start to grow and learn about yourself — [which would be] within the safety and respectful boundaries that a relationship offers. I also investigate open relationships in the movie as well…Even that relationship, even that kind of rapport to have an open relationship, that also needs to have the flexibility to evolve and change.
So really, the message the of the movie is that is it a deep privilege to be with one person and to allow the terms to change in order to truly grow.
HG: Personally, I have trouble setting up boundaries between, and just generally approaching, different areas of my creative life. So considering that you directed, produced, wrote, and star in this film, I’m wondering: How do you go about approaching all these different facets of your creative life?
LB: It’s all-encompassing in a beautifully fulfilling way to take on that much of a creative process. But I feel like it is a temporary state, so it is attainable. I couldn’t do that all year-long. But for an increment of time, it feels bashfully satisfying on every level. And also a privilege to be able to do that, and to have a team of people who support and help support me in my goals. That’s a very profound, beautiful thing.
In terms of the most difficult thing that I had [to take on] making this movie, which was very different from In a World…, is that I was not only doing all of those things — but I also was a mom for the first time. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old at home, and that was just mind-blowingly challenging. Because I put a lot of pressure on myself. If I’m going to do a job, I want to do it well. And when I’m mom-ing, I want to not just phone it in. I want to be a great mom; and when I want to make a movie, I want to make a great movie. I think women are a force of wonder.
I look to my mom. I look to my peers who are wise mothers and creators of content, and I think it’s magic. I have such a deep respect for and am in awe of all that women do. It’s not to say that men are somehow not as cool or something. I just think women are fierce multi-taskers in the most awe-inspiring way. And now, I give myself credit for that in the way I would another mom, wife, filmmaker, or worker for that matter.
HG: Speaking of motherhood, I’m sure you get a lot of questions about “doing it all.” Are there any questions that you would like to do away with?
LB: Yeah. What I’m getting less of, which I’m happy about, is: “What’s it like to be a female filmmaker in this industry?” I feel like, at this point, I don’t need to answer that question. I do consider myself a filmmaker, and I am a women, but I don’t think that those inform each other in any way. So I am kind of over that question. But, I’m still on the forefront of rectifying the gender barrier…Contributing to the tapestry of filmmakers out there I would hope to be. I’m so happy that I’m one of the females.
[It’s also about] supporting my friends and the people who I look up to in the industry, whether it’s Janicza Bravo or Miranda July. The myriad of ladies who I am inspired by.
HG: As I’m sure you know, last year, women unfortunately made up only 7% of all directors on the top 250 films. As a director yourself, what do you think can be done to improve these numbers?
LB: More and more, I think about this. I think if we’re talking about the number of women, female filmmakers in general, who are generating content — let’s say half of them are moms, so those people will not, just out of the bandwidth of how many hours there are in a day, will likely not be able to produce as many projects as someone who doesn’t have children. So, I feel like the acceptance of a mother and what that entails should be more normalized and [considered when it comes to] the way this industry functions.
I’ve heard of certain studios or companies that have, for instance, daycare or a nanny room or a pump room at their establishment…If it was just really normal, and not weird or extraordinary, for one of your coworkers to want to be a good mom, to be present, and to have their kids around occasionally — whatever it is — something needs to change there I think. Because women really feel like they have to separate their identity as a mom and their duties as mom from their work life as a director. I’m not saying it’s the key, but I think it’s one thread that needs to be addressed. Then it would be normal and expected that moms and dads can have their children on set, or [maybe] there’s an area for their children on set. And that [wouldn’t be] a special, weird request.
HG: Lastly, you have so many cool projects coming out this year. Aside from I Do…Until I Don’t, is there anything you’re especially excited for the world to see?
LB: I can’t even pretend like it wouldn’t be I Do…Until I Don’t, because it’s like my child. But I’m proud of the diversity of projects that I’ve had out this year. It’s always exciting to see the fruits of your labor colocate into one nugget of time where there’s just such a variety of things. You know, [there’s] Shot Caller, which is like a prison drama, to BoJack Horseman, Wet Hot American Summer, which is like sketch comedy, too, and Home Again. There’s definitely a diversity of tone, which always reminds me that I really am achieving my dream of getting to partake in a variant of different worlds and characters.
I Do…Until I Don’t is set to premiere September 1st. You can find out more here.