Matthew Broderick and Neil LaBute on Extramarital Affairs and 'Dirty Weekend'
Actor and director discuss the healing effects of cheating, the upcoming Broadway revival of 'Sylvia' and that long-gestating Warren Beatty comeback.
A dirty weekend can save your marriage. That’s the advice S&M diva Natalie Hamilton, (Alice Eve) gives mild-mannered suburbanite Les Moore (Matthew Broderick) in Neil LaBute’s two-hander Dirty Weekend in theaters September 4. The couple in question isn’t exactly a couple, but a pair of coworkers stuck in Albuquerque on their way to a business presentation in Dallas. While waiting for the weather to clear, Broderick sets out in search of a mysterious woman he slept with a few months earlier during a night of drunken depravity. She was beautiful, great in bed and she might have been a he.
Eve plays a sexually submissive lesbian who’s chafing under her dog collar. She picks up a beautiful woman in a gay bar and begins her journey out from under the velvet glove. LaBute isn’t out to stir controversy, but to question the status quo when it comes to marriage and relationships and allow the audience to make up their own minds.
Broderick and LaBute spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Ashley Madison and extramarital sex, the upcoming Broadway revival of Sylvia, and Warren Beatty’s long-simmering Howard Hughes movie starring Broderick, due out whenever Beatty gets around to finishing it.
Can a "Dirty Weekend" really save a marriage?
Neil Labute: I can say I don’t know. I think that people are out there trying to discover. For some people it becomes a huge part of their life, and others, by omission or decision, decide to make it a very minor part of their lives.
How many marriages do you think Ashley Madison has saved with thirty million users?
NL: Thirty million people, I didn’t know that many people were still married!
Matthew Broderick: My understanding with Ashley Madison is that it was mostly men. I think it depends on the case. It doesn’t seem ideal to me, but you never know what will hurt or help a marriage.
NL: There’s a lot of people out there in that Alfie mode, what’s it all about? Matthew’s character says that people are not supposed to go off and do what they want and chase after every whim that moves him. And Alice’s character contradicts him on a lot of those points. Ashley Madison is where that kind of thing comes out. If they can’t do it publicly and say this is who I am, they have to find an outlet. And it makes this a dirty thing as opposed to none of us really know who we are, where we’re going.
How helpful was it that both Matthew and Alice had extensive theater backgrounds?
NL: Really helpful. These guys are being asked to learn a lot of material and do it exceptionally well and then go back and learn another section of it and come back the next day and do it.
When it comes to theater, are you worried about the fate of drama on Broadway?
NL: I think drama’s going to survive. There are probably fewer original works getting done each year, but overall it’s also a much more vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway scene. It used to be, a generation ago, if you weren’t on Broadway, you weren’t working in the theater. And now, thankfully, that’s not the case. I don’t really care, so long as I have an audience.
Do you see yourself turning more toward TV and film, where it’s easier to find a larger audience?
NL: Theater is where I started out, and if I could be doing theater every day of my life, I just might. I’ve been lucky to do movies. Now, I’ve branched out in a little bit of television, which has allowed me to tell more than one story about a group of people.
MB: As a pure art form you probably are better off in a smaller theater. On the other hand, doing a big musical like The Producers in a Broadway theater is one of the amazing thrills. Whether it’s a big movie or teeny movie, the problems don’t go away and I think it’s a little bit like that in the theater.
Neil, tell me about getting censored at an anti-censorship fundraiser in March, when your one-act, Muhammad Gets a Boner was rejected.
NL: When you’re doing an anti-censorship venue, you’re surprised when something gets censored. To be fair, the place hadn’t read the material before they signed on. And so I understand once they saw that and, the times being as they are, that they began to become worried. I think it got fueled by The New York Times acting as if they couldn’t print the name. They made it that it was too salacious and would offend every Muslim alive. So I opted to pull my piece and the evening went on.
Matthew, have you consulted with Sarah Jessica Parker on Sylvia, which will return to Broadway this season?
MB: I saw her in it a lot of times and I loved her in it. We were dating then. In doing this, I want it to be as good as that, except it would be very difficult. We talked about it quite a bit, but it’s very odd to suddenly be old enough to play the older part of the relationship in that story, which I didn’t think would happen to me.
What can you tell me about Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes movie?
MB: I’ve seen little bits as I’ve worked on the sound, and it looked very good to me. And I know some people who’ve seen it and I hear it’s very good and I will be pleased. I play a limousine driver, but I do more than driving. We set up his trysts and affairs.
He’s been working on this for forty years?
MB: It took him a long time to cast it and figure out how he wanted to tell the story. He changed it over the years. I shot it a year ago. He’s very meticulous. I think it’s taking a long time because he’s very, very careful and likes to get everything right.