Amy Schumer, 'Snatched' Director on Movie's Real-Life Inspirations
Producer Paul Feig explains why he's still committed to female-focused comedies.
Fox is likely hoping that many real mothers and daughters flock to the theater this weekend to see Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer as fictional family members on a South American vacation gone wrong in Snatched.
In making the film, Schumer, director Jonathan Levine and writer Katie Dippold all drew on their own real-life experiences with their parents.
"There's a lot of my real mom in this movie," Schumer told The Hollywood Reporter at a New York screening of Snatched last week. "I added in some specific, exact things she said."
Levine, meanwhile, said he was drawn to the project by the observations he has made as a new parent.
"I just had a kid. I have an 18-month-old, so I guess it was around a year and a half ago. Being a parent started being a little different for me," explained Levine. "All of the things that I would get pissed at my mom about, I started to realize were mistakes that I was going to make myself, or they weren't mistakes at all. So I just started thinking about my parents as people not just as parents and that was kind of at the core of my decision to make this movie. All of the movies I do, I like to have an emotional core to them and a groundedness to them, so even though this is a big, crazy, zany thing, it's still grounded by the through-line of mother and daughter."
And on set, Levine said the cast "all sat around talking about our relationship with our parents."
"There was a lot of group therapy that happened, and that stuff can't help but get in there through osmosis in some way," added Levine. "What we tried to do was find these very relatable things that mothers can relate to and children can relate to. It was cultivated from everyone. Katie wrote these amazing characters, but we all brought our experiences to the table and what we tried to find were the universal ones."
While Dippold wrote the screenplay for Snatched, Levine and Schumer said they collaborated with the writer throughout the making of the film.
"The script can always be better, you just have to keep working on the script, keep working on the script, and then Amy and her sister Kim got involved, and we had this amazing braintrust to keep honing the script and getting it to where it needed to be," said Levine.
Schumer added, "Katie wrote such a funny script, and I knew I wanted to do it right away. And then my sister and I rewrote it, and Jonathan and Katie and my sister and I and Goldie, we all collaborated and really developed it together, through shooting."
Snatched is producer Paul Feig's latest collaboration with Dippold, whom he worked with on The Heat and Ghostbusters, and his first with Schumer, but the actress was a perfect fit for Dippold's script, he said.
"Katie Dippold had written this script that she told me about when we were just finishing Spy, and it sounded so funny," Feig told THR. "But it was also one of these scripts where the lead character was a bratty woman in her 30s, so I was like, 'How do we cast this and make it lovable and still be funny and all of that?' And the minute we heard that Amy read it and liked it, it almost felt like Amy could be the only person that could pull this part off and she's perfect for it."
Feig knew Hawn from an HBO project they worked on that didn't pan out and was thrilled when Schumer wanted the veteran actress to play her mom, he recalled.
"I knew Goldie and loved her and when Amy brought that up I was like, 'That sounds awesome.' And then they did a screen test together, and it just blew us all away," he said. "We couldn't get over how much they felt like mother and daughter. They have such a chemistry and a rapport, and it was easy after that."
As a producer, Feig said he took a hands-off approach after helping to set up the film's creative team.
"I was still dealing with finishing up Ghostbusters and everything and they went off and made the movie. I watched dailies the whole time and weighed in on anything, but I didn't really need to because they were just crushing it," he said. "I try to let people do their thing and just be there if they need guidance or have a question or be the sounding board."
One of the things that still needed to be hammered out after filming was how much humor to lace into the scenes after Schumer and Hawn's characters have been kidnapped.
"It was tricky and that was something we relied on test audiences for," said Levine. "We definitely had early cuts where they were just too glib or too wacky and then we had later cuts where it was too serious and it was just scaring people, so it's just a middle ground that you find from trial and error."
For Feig, Snatched continues his string of female-focused comedies. Even after the Ghostbusters backlash, the filmmaker says he remains committed to movies that feature women in front of and behind the camera.
"Until there's 50-50 parity in movies or 51 percent actually for women, let's go with the true population, and true diversity, we're not telling everybody's stories, we're not hearing everybody's voices," said Feig. "There's so much to be done, so much to go. Every project also has the specific things it needs and you've got to make sure you have the perfect people for it, but the more projects there are, the more people will be able to start doing it in front of and behind the camera. That's when we know we're getting there."