No one can accuse Paul Feig of being lazy.
The dapper auteur has been making the most of quarantine by hosting the buzzworthy Instagram show, Quarantine Cocktail Time, pushing a slate of projects forward including his upcoming Netflix film The School for Good and Evil, and launching a gin brand, Artingstall’s Brilliant London Dry Gin. He’s filled another slot on his upcoming calendar by making a plan to revisit his past courtesy of a Bridesmaids watch along event to benefit the nonprofit Family Promise.
On Sept. 24, Feig will host a virtual viewing of the beloved comedy during which he plans to dish some behind-the-scenes dirt, shake up some custom cocktails and provide general joy during the challenging times. And the bonus: The event is geared towards brides who had nuptials disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic (although anyone is really welcome).
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Feig to discuss the 2011 film, what’s atop his post-pandemic to-do list and his take on how movie theaters have responded to the current crisis.
Who came up with the idea for the Bridesmaids watch-along?
Several people had the idea in my little group. It all seemed to kind of come from the same place as my Instagram cocktail show, Quarantine Cocktail Time, that I started doing in March. I really want to help out but I’m not a medical professional and aside from donating money, the only thing I can really do is comedy and try to make people laugh. Or at least give them a break from all the terrible news. That’s why I did that cocktail show and helped make people aware of charities. We looked at everything else that has been disrupted during this and there have been a lot of people who had to cancel weddings. Two of our closest friends were supposed to be getting married in London and then take a trip on the Queen Mary.
We wanted to continue to do something fun for people, and since I made Bridesmaids we came up with the idea to do a watch along. I invented three [Bridesmaids-themed] cocktails so we can have drinks and raise money for this charity that I really like, Family Promise. It just seemed like a fun way to do a lot of different things.
How will it work?
The party will be done over Zoom. I’m going to come on, do an intro and teach people the first cocktail to get them ready so they have a drink to watch the show. Then … we’ll all press start [at the same time] on whatever platform people are watching it on. We broke the movie into three sections and I’m going to leave my Zoom link open and I’ll be chiming in throughout. We’re going to stop at those points to make another cocktail and do a Q&A. People will send in questions and we can do that, then maybe have an interview with somebody. It’s just going to be super fun and super loose.
When was the last time you watched your film all the way through?
It’s been a long time. I have this thing with my movies. I love watching all through post-production … and any time we’re out promoting it, I want to sit in the audience and watch with everybody. I love watching my movies. Something happens the minute that I’m at the premiere and I say, “I’m never going to watch this movie again.” It’s this moment of letting go. I haven’t watched it end to end, I don’t think, probably since it first came out, to be honest.
People ask you about this movie over and over again because it’s so beloved. Ahead of the event, are there new perspectives that are surfacing now this many years later about the film that you’ll reveal during the watch along?
I don’t know, honestly. When I run across it on TV or when I’m trying to reference something that I don’t remember, I’ll look at a scene or something, and I’m always just struck at how funny it is and how good everybody is in it. It does seem to hold up. For me, it’s going to be fun rediscovering it again. It’s been so nice over the years for people to tell me how many times they’ve watched it and how much it means to them. It’s just such a testament to this amazing cast who worked so well together and brought such a great humanity along with their comedy.
The movie works because it’s an emotional movie. If it was all just the dress shop and people throwing up and shitting in sinks, it wouldn’t have stood the test of time. It’s really because Kristen [Wiig] and Annie [Mumolo] wrote this great, very heartfelt script, about this woman in crisis trying to hang onto her best friend. To me, it’s a story about true best friends and how important a friendship is.
I just watched your Collider interview where you mentioned you had been in director jail prior to having Bridesmaids come into your life. What’s your take on director jail after having spent time there?
Movie jail is a horrible thing and once you’ve been in it and you are lucky enough to get out of it, which I was, boy, you never want to go back. Anybody who I see heading there, I’ll try to do whatever I can to hopefully help them not do it. But there’s just no way to know. I mean, honestly, every movie is made with the best of intentions. There’s just something about not being able to tell the stories you want to tell is just really sad.
That’s why I have — not only with my company [Feigco Entertainment] but with the digital company I started, Powderkeg — tried to let other people who don’t normally get to tell their stories, tell their stories. [Powderkeg] is dedicated to giving female directors, LGBTQ and directors of color, anybody who doesn’t get to get their voice out there, to be able to tell their story. To be censored by not being able to tell your story to get your voice out there is a terrible thing. Once we hear those stories from people that don’t normally get to tell them, we’re always like, “Wow, that’s so cool. Now I’m seeing a completely new perspective on the world.” That’s how things move forward.
How did you settle on Family Promise as the charity partner?
I love going to Charity Navigator. When I was doing the Instagram show, I selected a new charity every single day. I did a hundred plus shows, so I was vetting a lot. There’s some that really jump out at you as being so highly-rated based on the work that they’re doing. [Family Promise] is highly-rated for getting the maximum amount of money to the actual people who need it so it was a no-brainer. With COVID going on, now the fires, there’s so much homelessness and people in need. I love the idea of families being taken care of. So, they just seemed like the perfect partner.
You were set to launch your gin earlier this year and those plans were derailed by the pandemic. You’ve managed to promote it still but what are your plans once everything can get back to normal?
It’s very dicey to try to promote something during a crisis. So, I’ve tried to really walk that line. But I’m also … so proud of this gin. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine, weirdly, to have this because I’ve just always been a fanatic about it and knew I wanted to do my own. Right before the pandemic, we were about to go into a lot of clubs and restaurants, and that all got put on hold. But over the course of it, we’ve been able to work behind the scenes with some distributors to get that all lined up. We’re about to go pretty nationwide by the end of the year.
Gin’s not going to cure the world, but I love cocktail culture. I’m a big proponent of the fun of cocktails. Obviously, everything in moderation, but during these trying times, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a nice cocktail at the end of the day to unwind.
Gin is your passion, but have you thought about adding any other types of alcohol?
We’ve got some other recipes of this gin that I want to get out there. So, at the moment I want to stick with gin and just get some different versions of it out. I really want to go deeper just into this sort of grown-up lifestyle, the cocktail culture of it all, because, to me, it’s not just about drinking. It’s about the lifestyle that comes with it; the beauty of the bottles on the shelves, the beauty of the glasses that you drink out of. I’d like to try to bring that back. I like grownup cocktail parties, where people from all walks of life get together and have intellectual, interesting conversations. The fun things about being a grownup sort of gets pushed away as everybody chases eternal youth and trying to be cool. I love that feeling of adults getting together, chatting, learning from each other and having a relaxing time with some cocktails. Let’s bring a little bit of glamour back after all we’ve been through this year.
I hate to use that word, “normal,” but once life does return in that way, where do you first want to go?
I mean, the top of my list is always, always restaurants and bars. That’s always been my thing. I was an only child and my mom was not a good cook. In the Midwest, we’d eat in crappy restaurants. I always thought to myself, “When I’m an adult, I’m going to eat out in nice restaurants. I’m going to find beautiful bars and lounges to hang out.” That’s what I miss the most. I miss being able to go to Musso & Frank’s or to the Roosevelt [in L.A.], to the Polo Bar or King Cole Bar in New York, or Dukes Bar in London. I’m very much a “work hard, play hard” kind of guy. I work so much that it’s nice to have that to look forward to at the end of the day.
You have a million projects waiting for you production-wise. What’s first atop your list?
This Netflix movie, The School for Good and Evil. I’m going to be moving back to London soon to head up the hard prep on that. Then we’re going to start shooting at the beginning of the year. I’m thrilled about this project. It’s one that I just absolutely fell in love with when it was first presented. During this time, I’ve been doing a lot of rewrites and putting together a lot of concept art and presentations. So, we’re moving forward and I’m very excited about that.
Last question: All eyes have been on the cinemas lately in terms of like the rollout of Tenet and how the industry will rebound. What’s your take on theaters and how they’ve responded?
Movie theaters are my love — my bread and butter. Live audiences watching comedy together, that’s why we do what we do. This is a very, very tough time for this business. I love all the theater owners and going to CinemaCon is one of my favorite things in the world. Theaters are going to come back. Everybody needs that group experience. I mean, all of us in the industry have been hearing the death knell for movie theaters for decades. TV is going to kill them, and then cable’s going to kill then, then DVDs are going to kill them. [But] people always want that experience. Once we get to a place where we feel safer, then people will be back. They have to be back because it’s just too perfect of an art form and the way to enjoy it … movie theaters are never going to go away.
Interview edited for length and clarity.