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Hollywood’s finest gathered at the Harmony Gold Preview House on Wednesday night for the L.A. premiere of She’s Funny That Way, starring Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Imogen Poots, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans and Kathryn Hahn.
While most eyes undoubtedly were on Aniston — fresh from her honeymoon with Justin Theroux — Peter Bogdanovich, who co-wrote and directed the film, played the man of the hour as he was surrounded by his all-star cast.
“I just think audiences should have a good time,” Bogdanovich (What’s Up, Doc?, The Last Picture Show) told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think [the film] is in a genre that I like and that I’ve sort of done things in before,” he added. Known for his lighthearted comedies, Bogdanovich returned from a 13-year feature film hiatus with She’s Funny, which he noted has darker undertones than the rest of his projects.
Since its 2014 release, the modern-day screwball comedy about the love tangle that occurs among the cast and crew of a Broadway production has made the international film festival circuit in such cities as Toronto, Venice and Tokyo. “We’ve seen four, five different places in the world, and [the audiences] all laugh in the same places,” said Bogdanovich.
Added Wilson (who stars as married director Arnold Albertson, who calls for Imogen Poots’ escort services), “Just be on the lookout for lots of screwballs.” Wilson was introduced to Bogdanovich several years ago through close friend and executive producer of the film Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom). “When [Bogdanovich] told me he was considering me for this character, I was flattered.”
The rest of the cast expressed similar reactions to being offered the chance to work with Bogdanovich. “He called me and asked me, and I said yes,” Quentin Tarantino, who makes a cameo in the film, said. “I’ve wanted to say when I go to my grave that I was in a Peter Bogdanovich movie. “
When one of the producers offered Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher, Dinner for Schmucks) a reading of the script, Punch didn’t need to think twice after hearing who was involved. The same went for Poots (That Awkward Moment, Jane Eyre), who said, “The main draw for me was to work with a filmmaker like [Bogdanovich].” She described her quasi-audition for the role of Isabella Patterson as “the most glamorous meeting ever in the Plaza Hotel,” during which Bogdanovich offered anecdotes of filming with Audrey Hepburn at that same hotel.
What began as a casual meeting with an acclaimed director turned into an offer for a lead role for Poots. “She didn’t read for me,” Bogdanovich told THR. “I just spent some time talking to her in New York, and after about 15 minutes, I knew she was the girl. She was so quirky without trying to be; she wasn’t affected. She was just odd in an interesting way; I thought she would bring an added measure of character to the role,” he said, adding, “She’s one of the best actresses I’ve ever worked with. I’d never seen her before, and I still haven’t seen her in anything but this.”
Amid Bogdanovich’s high praise for his cast — “You can’t make a good movie without good actors, and a comedy is particularly difficult” — the film’s stars were just as complimentary of the Hollywood vet. Poots told THR, “It was sort of like walking into a dance because the way he directs, he almost choreographs you and conducts it like an orchestra because of the timing.”
Wilson — whom Bogdanovich sees as “one of the last movie stars,” according to Poots — explained, “Peter Bogdanovich gets so many people interested and working with him because of what an important place he has in all of our moviegoing imagination with all the great movies he’s done.”
She’s Funny That Way is set for a limited release and through VOD on Aug. 21.
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