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In order to understand the life of such an executive, the Oscar winner said she consulted a number of figures with experience at online fashion retailers.
“I met with Sophia Amoruso from Nasty Gal. I talked a lot with her. I talked a lot with Lauren Santo Domingo. She was incredibly helpful,” Hathaway told The Hollywood Reporter at The Intern‘s world premiere in New York on Monday. “I talked to her about balancing being such an integral part of [the online fashion retailer Santo Domingo co-founded] Moda Operandi and also being a mom and a wife. And I talked to Taylor Tomasi Hill about what it was like to start your own company, like to have been on one path and then gone a completely different way. So a lot of really awesome women opened themselves and their experiences up to me.”
Meanwhile, Christina Scherer, who plays the overworked, headset-wearing assistant to Hathaway’s Jules Ostin was able to rely on her own driven personality to prepare for what was her first movie.
“To play my role, I think you just have to know how overwhelming it can be to work for someone who expects a lot from you, and if anything, in my life, I just expect a lot from myself,” Scherer told THR. “It’s easy by how stressed out I make myself.”
Andrew Rannells, who plays Hathaway’s colleague, explained that writer-director-producer Nancy Meyers did “a lot of work with One Kings Lane and Gilt Groupe, and she shared a lot of that information with us. That information was wildly helpful.”
Still, he joked that he had a lot of personal experience with online clothing retailers.
“I buy a lot of fashion online. Is that what you’re asking?” said Rannells when asked what sort of research he did to prepare for his role. “I think I solely keep J.Crew Men’s in business. I’m responsible for that.”
But in all seriousness, he pointed out that the popularity of shopping online makes the movie “very timely.”
“The world we live in now and the way that we buy things online — like I don’t only buy clothes online, I buy toiletries online. I feel like everybody buys all of their everyday goods from the Internet,” he said, adding that entrepreneurs should take notice of the film’s fictional retailer. “If the company actually existed, I think it would be a huge success because if you watch this movie, the business model for this company is actually pretty genius. I don’t know why it doesn’t exist.”
Rannells, whose role in The Intern is his first major part in a studio film, explained that the movie provides the sort of “collaborative process” he looks for when deciding whether to take on a role.
“I love when you get to be a part of the discovery of things,” he said. “The Intern is a perfect example of that. The way Nancy works — she’s writing the script, she’s directing the movie, she’s producing the movie. One might think she was all locked down and done, but she makes you feel like your input is very valued.”
Meyers clarified that Hathaway’s character wasn’t based on a specific, real CEO, but the role proved a good fit for her.
“She has a job that a lot of women happen to have,” Meyers told THR on the red carpet at Monday’s premiere. “Gilt Groupe was started by young women, One Kings Lane was started by two women — you know, a lot of these websites. I believed a girl of her generation would go into this kind of work. I would, if I was her age.”
The veteran writer-director — known for films like Father of the Bride, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated — has said she got the idea for The Intern while working on It’s Complicated, wondering what it would be like if an older man worked as an intern for a woman.
When she saw Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook, she told THR, she thought she’d found her man and sent him the script.
“I saw it at an early screening, and I was so touched by him because you don’t naturally think of him when you think of a warmer, quiet presence,” said Meyers. “They’re not similar characters, but there was something there. I know I was supposed to be focused on the movie, but I was focusing on my own movie and thinking, ‘If he would do it, it would be amazing.’ “
Nearly all of the film’s castmembers said it was the involvement of Meyers and De Niro that drew them to the project.
“He’s like the real-life Superman of acting,” co-star Adam DeVine said of De Niro. “And you never think you’re going to be with that guy, so to like be in the same scene — even now, when I like watch those scenes, I have blanked that out in my brain, so it’s still new [and I think], ‘How did we superimpose my big dumb face next to his iconic one?’ “
In the movie, De Niro joins About the Fit as a senior-citizen intern for Hathaway’s CEO, but, as trailers for the film reveal, he seems to have a greater impact on the lives of Ostin and the other employees than just helping them with work. And just as De Niro’s character helps his younger co-workers, De Niro shared the wisdom of his acting experience with DeVine and others.
“He like really underplays a lot of stuff, and he’s real even-keel about his performance,” DeVine said of De Niro. “I come from like a stand-up background, and Workaholics is much more joke-driven, so we like to like stick the landings and land on the joke. … With movie acting, it’s a lot more subtle, and I learned that from him.”
DeVine, who’s also known for his roles in the Pitch Perfect films, also told THR that he’s not yet sure if he’ll be involved with the upcoming third film, saying he hadn’t yet been asked to return.
DeVine’s Workaholics co-star Anders Holm, meanwhile, said he learned from working with De Niro: “Just do what you’re told.”
“Just service the bigger picture, which is the film,” explained Holm. “Have the director’s back. If someone asks you to do something, just do it. … As big of a star as he is, he’s still like a soldier, which I found admirable because when you reach that kind of status, you don’t have to take shit from anybody or answer anybody’s questions, but he’s more than willing to be a team player and deliver for people other than himself.”
Nat Wolff only had one scene with De Niro: one in which his character interviews De Niro for the intern job and asks the 70-year-old, in a memorable trailer moment, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” But De Niro still made that a memorable experience.
“I was chewing gum,” recalled Wolff. “He was like, ‘Are you gonna spit that out?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘You should put it on the table; that’s what we used to do.’ So I put the gum on the table, and he was like, ‘I can’t believe you just did that.’ So he put me at ease.”
Wolff also did some research for his role, not in the fashion or tech worlds, but by working as an intern in his agent’s office for a day, describing the life of an intern as “kind of a pain in the ass.”
The Ziegfeld Theater premiere also drew Mariah Carey, who accompanied boyfriend James Packer, who co-financed the film through his RatPac enterprise with Brett Ratner. Others on hand for the event, which served as a benefit for the Tribeca Film Institute, included Warner Bros. executives Kevin Tsujihara, Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll; Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler; De Niro’s Tribeca Film colleague Jane Rosenthal; and ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas and Dan Abrams.
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