Saturday, September 8, 2012

Why 'Bachelorette' Director Leslye Headland Hates 'The Bachelor' - Wall Street Journal (blog)

Photo by Jacob Hutchings â€" © 2012 â€" RADiUS-TWC
The cast of “Bachelorette.”

This week at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, I served as a moderator for an evening with “Bachelorette” director Leslye Headland, a writer-director who turned out to be anything but moderate.

Headland, who has her roots in theater, turned her stage play “Bachelorette” into a big-screen movie of the same name starring Isla Fisher, Lizzy Kaplan, Rebel Wilson and Kirsten Dunst. The often bawdy comedy is getting comparisons to “Bridesmaids.” Headland would love to see her low-budget movie grab anything close to that movie’s huge box office total but she seems to bristle at comparisons. And don’t get her started on the ABC TV series “The Bachelorette” which she seems to despise despite the fact that she says she doesn’t watch it.

“The Bachelorette” focuses on the wild and crazy intertwined lives of four women at a wedding. Headland says that when she began writing it “Both my younger sisters had recently gotten married and I was maid of honor and bridesmaid for both of them and I was just amazed at like how selfish and terrible people are at weddings. I mean it should be the bride’s day.”

Edited excerpts from my onstage chat with Headland.

This story had a life as a stage show first. What inspired it?

I was writing a series called “The Seven Deadly Plays” and I had made a commitment to myself that I was going to write a play for every deadly sin. I had written “Lust” and I was working on “Gluttony”…And so I came up with the idea of these three skinny looking chicks who if you came up on them on the street you’d thinkâ€"”Oh, they’ve got their lives together.” Comparing their insides to their outsides. But in reality they’re extremely gluttonous, and they’re consumers of materialism, drugs, sex, all these other things, and they’d be juxtaposed with this other friend who, again, if you saw her on the street, you might think that’s a gluttonous person, but in reality she isn’t. And I decided to set it at a wedding because that’s when a lot of self-pity comes in for people and it seems like a high-stakes situation.

Leslye Headland at the New York premiere of “Bachelorette” on September 4, 2012.

What did your younger sisters say when they saw the play and the movie?

They were really freaked out. Especially at the scene where [Dunst] is screaming at the florist. That actually happened.

Tell me a bit about how your decided to release this film.

It’s a model [they've] been working with for awhile, with releasing titles on VOD and iTunes before their theatrical release….I do feel that this is a viable way to get especially independent films out there into the hands of audiences…If I was trying to make “Heathers” or “Fast Times [at Ridgemont High],” these were all films I saw way after their theatrical release. Because they all had limited releases. Why wait ten years to be “Heathers” when you can be “Heathers” now and get it into the hands of audiences that are really meant to see it?

How did you feel when you saw the movie was No. 1 on iTunes?

I felt really turned on!

Do you have an iPad?

I do. I made the mistake of checking some of the reviews.

The film has gotten a lot of comparisons to “Bridesmaids.” What do you think of the comparisons?

I think if you see the film you know it’s a completely different beast, so to speak. It’s kind of like comparing “Fight Club” to “Rocky.” They’re both about fighting but they’re exploring very different issues and almost in different genres in a way.

 Tell me about your play “Assistance.”

It’s not being developed into a film as of right now. I wrote “Assistance” based on my experiences working at the Weinstein Company. The reason I wrote it is I had to write a play about “Greed.”

Did you get any feedback from Harvey Weinstein about it?

He said it was very well written. I said “Well, are you mad about it?” And he said “Maybe if it was badly written I might have been. It’s good so.”

Did you see yourself as one of the characters in “Bachelorette”?

Well, I’m all three of them.

Not the bride?

I do relate to Becky (Wilson) a lot…Either professionally or romantically when things are going my way I think “Yeah, well I’m still that loser that no one wants to have sex with.” I’m Regan (Dunst) when I work, I’m Gena (Caplan) when I wake up in the morning, and I’m Katie (Fisher) when I’m in love. Most of the guys I date think they’re going to bed with Gena and they wake up with Katie. They’re like “Oh god this one’s a nightmare.”

What’s next for you?

I don’t have anything that I’m looking to direct for film. I wrote a remake of “About Last Night” for Screen Gems which is being directed by Steve Pink starring Michael Ealy and Kevin Hart. That’s going into production this Fall. Not sure how much I’ll have to do with that. I’m also writing the last play in the “Seven Deadly Plays” series, “Pride.” I’d written all six of them excepting the last one.

Have you ever watched the TV series “The Bachelorette”?

I actually haven’t. I’m going to get on a bit of a soap box. It really makes me angry when people are like…”This movie is fâ€"ing vulgar! It’s a fâ€"ing piece of trash!” I’m like, I dunno man. I think a bunch of women trying to fâ€" a guy they just met [like on "The Bachelor"], that seems vulgar to me….Doing cocaine at a wedding may be morally reprehensible but it’s not ten steps back for feminism.

Follow @cjfarley on Twitter.

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