Nancy Meyers wants to put out positive, real images of women in movies — along with helping her daughter make the best possible film
Remember growing up, and having your mom help you with your intense after school projects? Now, times that by like, a hundred, and that’s probably what it’s like when your mom helps you make your first feature-length film — and, a film starring Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, no less.
Home Again, in theaters Friday September 8th, was written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer and yeah, she had some help from her mom, Nancy Meyers, the lady behind such iconic classics like Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, and The Parent Trap. But don’t for a second thing that Meyers tried to take over the movie, like your mom most certainly did doing those projects back in grade school. Meyers was around to offer help and advice, and above all, make sure that her daughter was making the best movie possible. Because moms are the best.
HelloGiggles: Your daughter is making movies. I’m actually the same age as Hallie, and my mom’s just really proud of me when I can pay my bills on time. How proud are you of her that she’s just completed her first feature-length film and has Reese Witherspoon starring in it?
Nancy Meyers: I am extremely proud of her. She wrote a great script. She just wrote an absolutely great script and when she finished it, I said, “You’re going to get a really good actress to be in this. Because I know these kind of parts aren’t around. They’re not written very often.” And she said, “You think so?” I said, “No, I know so. I know. You’re going to see.” And we sent it to Reese, and Reese committed pretty quickly. I must say there was no [back and forth]. Sometimes, actors can put you through a lot before they commit. She really committed right away. She couldn’t have been a better…Have you seen the movie?
HG: Oh, I have seen the movie, yes.
NM: You know she’s just perfect in it. She’s the perfect person. So, yeah, I’m just so excited to see [Hallie’s] talent blossom like this, to see her take the reins for such a big project. It’s amazing.
HelloGiggles: I know if I was making a movie and my mom was involved in it too, she would constantly be telling me to do things different. Were you very hands on or just taking a backseat while she was making the film?
NM: I was pretty hands on, but I wasn’t telling her to do things differently. I was, as the producer of the movie, voicing my opinion. A lot of times, I agreed with what she was doing, and if I could help her and show her a better way to get something done, we would do that. But no, it wasn’t about me telling her what to do. It wasn’t like that.
HelloGiggles: Okay. Would you two ever collaborate—
NM: Everybody is very suspicious of mother-daughter relationships! But in truth, I think it’s a comfort. It’s somebody that you trust advising you. I had no other agenda, except for her to succeed.
HG: That just makes me feel so good, especially as a young woman in the entertainment industry, I love hearing that.
NM: Yeah, my goal is for her to make the best version of her movie. That’s my goal.
HG: Would you two ever collaborate on a writing-directing project where you’d either write the script together, both direct it or one writes it, one directs it, something like that?
Nancy: I don’t know. This is not the beginning of a partnership. This is kind of a one-off. She asked me to do it. I did it. I’m really glad I did it, but I don’t necessarily see us sticking together on future projects; but you never know. One of us could have an idea, talk to the other one about it, maybe write it together or something, but I don’t think I’ll be producing all of her movies. It wasn’t like that. It was, “Let’s do this one together.” We’re still doing it together. We’re still doing it.
HG: What do you hope you leave behind as a female filmmaker? Because there’s this beautiful renaissance right now where females are at the forefront directing, what do you hope you contributed to that?
NM: Well, I think I’ve been making movies since 1980. They all have very strong female characters. I write women’s stories. Even if there’s a male lead, I’m telling the story of the woman or a man who had a change because of a woman. So, it’s up to others, I think, to say what the cumulative effect is.
I know it’s been my life’s work to put out positive, real images of women on the screen, what it’s like to feel like when you get a divorce, what it’s like when you have a baby. This is what it’s like if you’ve been raised a certain way and your belief system or what you’ve been taught to believe changes. These are the movies that I’ve spent my adult life doing, and I hope that they resonate with people. I’m told that they do.
HG: They do!
NM: Yeah, and I also always try to be optimistic in the movies that I make, that things will work out for you. The journey of getting there may not be easy, but in the end, you’re on a good path. That’s I think what happens exactly in Hallie’s movie as well.
HG: And there is something about all the movies you’ve made and it’s just they’re gorgeous to look at, and I want to live in the world of the film. Like I think about the houses in The Holiday at least once a day.
NM: That’s crazy. I appreciate that people enjoy the aesthetics that I present in the movies, but it’s not my goal when making a movie. It’s never about any of that. It just evolves that way because that’s my taste and so, when I’m all day long on a movie, someone says, “Would you like this or this? Do you like this fabric or this fabric? Do you like this color or this color? Do you want this handbag or this handbag?”
So, the results of the movie are the things I’ve chosen or the inspiration that I’ve given to them that they then deliver on the screen, but it’s not the goal of the movie or my ambition to over-invest in that. That’s just the way it turns out to just the way I see it. What I put all my energy into is the storytelling, the performances, getting it right, working really hard to just keep telling the story.
HG: Can I ask you what your kitchen looks like?
NM: My kitchen?
HG: Yes, because I’m obsessed with the kitchen from Something’s Gotta Give.
NM: It’s kind of big. It’s big and it’s white, white cabinets and a dark countertop, and two islands. It’s nice. It’s comfy. It’s where we all hang all the time.