'This Is Where I Leave You' Director: "The First Definitive Shiva Movie!"
Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and more screen the ensemble dramedy in NYC
Shortly after This Is Where I Leave You premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey flew to New York City for the Tribeca Film Institute's annual gala benefit, which hosted a special screening of the Warner Bros. ensemble dramedy.
"It has been a crazy two days!" director Shawn Levy energetically told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday night in the AMC Loews Lincoln Square lobby. "We had an incredible premiere last night at the festival up in Toronto and had a dream reaction in that theater, and now we get to share it with New York City, so I'm thrilled."
The film — adapted by Jonathan Tropper, who wrote the 2009 New York Times best-seller of the same name — centers on not-so-stable siblings who return home after their father's death and pay respects while remaining under the same roof by sitting shiva.
"I loved it from the beginning — I heard the idea for it while Jonathan was writing the novel!" said Paula Weinstein, producer and benefit co-chair, alongside Tropper and fellow producer Jeff Levine. "It felt very real, true, funny and grounded in what we all feel: that love for family and how we become adults. It's just honest."
With Jane Fonda as the matriarch, the ensemble cast also features Adam Driver, Dax Shepard, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Abigail Spencer and Timothy Olyphant, among others. The biggest draw for Corey Stoll, at least, was Fey, he told THR.
Of the Altman family onscreen, Weinstein said she identifies mostly with Fey's character, Wendy — "and with the mother, Jane, who is my best friend" — and Connie Britton agreed, "because she's just trying to keep all her balls in the air, and it feels like she's not getting much help with anything." Carly Pearlstein decscibed Bateman's Judd as a universal touchstone, while Levy admitted that though his personal similarities are spread thin among all the siblings, he relates mostly to the oldest brother, Paul (Stoll). "I was the 'Follow the rules!' and the one they didn't have to worry about, but I'm also therefore kind of resentful of that too!"
After co-founder Jane Rosenthal highlighted the Institute's program offerings, Levy gave the crowd a few laughs. "As you may know or have read, the movie business is in this transitional moment — it's more competitive than ever, and studios are constantly vying for the next big franchise, and perhaps no area is more competitive than, 'Who's gonna make the first definitive shiva movie?' It's very cutthroat, but I'm here to tell you, we won! Because you can imagine how many people were dying to make that!"
The evening's guests, Tribeca Institute supporters and filmmakers — including Josh Radnor, Cecilia Weston, Stacey London, Raphael de Niro, Marshall Curry, Tommy Davidson, Ernie Hudson, Bonnie Comley, Stacy London, Rob Meyer, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, One9, Erik Parker and Doron Weber — then joined Robert de Niro and Rosenthal on Central Park's Tavern on the Green patio for a spread of steak, ceviche, caviar, charcuterie and chocolate mousse. Champagne and cocktails were humorously served with coasters that read, "This Is Where Your Drink Goes."
This Is Where I Leave You hits theaters Sept. 19.