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If Tina Fey and Amy Poehler ask you to be in their movie, you say yes. That was the sentiment conveyed by many of the duo’s Sisters co-stars at Tuesday night’s premiere in New York.
“I think it took me — I would say it took me all of a nanosecond to say yes to [this],” Samantha Bee told The Hollywood Reporter. “I would do anything that Tina and Amy ever asked of me, short of probably burying a dead body in someone’s backyard. So this was kind of a no-brainer.”
For the film about two grown-up sisters who throw an epic party in their childhood home before their parents sell it, Fey and Poehler reunited a number of their Saturday Night Live colleagues — including Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and screenwriter Paula Pell — and brought in current castmembers Bobby Moynihan and Kate McKinnon.
“It’s a luxury to work with your friends, and it’s so rare that, whenever we get the opportunity, I’m thrilled to do it — especially my friend Paula, who wrote it,” said Rudolph of what made her agree to the project. “It’s a really unique experience. Whenever we get the chance to be together, I feel really lucky.”
Rudolph has said that Fey texted her about her part, and Dratch told THR that her SNL co-stars asked her to be a part of Sisters.
“They just asked, and of course I said yes,” said Dratch. “I was just flattered to be part of the whole shebang.”
Rudolph, Dratch and Moynihan all said they fell into a familiar rhythm when reunited with Fey and Poehler on the movie’s set.
“We had an absolute blast,” said Moynihan. “We were all stuck in a house for a whole summer — a house that we slowly destroyed. We were in it to win it.”
Rudolph added, “I think it’s kind of like any lifelong relationship — you kind of start where you left off, which is great. Everybody needs that. … To laugh with the people that saw me at my worst at 4 in the morning trying to write sketches, and we’ve all been there for each other.”
In fact, Dratch indicated she has such a close bond with Fey and Poehler that, if she were to make a movie like Sisters, with one of her industry friends playing her sibling, she’d probably be onscreen sisters with Fey and Poehler.
Dratch doesn’t play the third sister in Sisters, but she joked that that could be the premise for a sequel. “I’m the third sister that was kept in the basement,” she said, laughing.
While Fey and Poehler have collaborated often, including memorably co-hosting the Golden Globes, this is the first time they’ve starred in a movie together since 2008’s Baby Mama, with Fey saying on the red carpet, and later inside, that the project is part of the duo’s vow “to make a movie every seven years until we make 100 movies.”
When Fey repeated this inside the theater before the screening, Poehler added, “Or one of us loses a pact with the devil and ages.”
But while Fey and Poehler are writers, they didn’t script Sisters, previously titled The Nest, with longtime SNL writer Pell crafting the screenplay based on her own experience with her sister, even incorporating actual quotes from the pair’s journals, which they would read in the bathtub like Fey and Poehler do on the Sisters poster.
Still, there was some “structured improvising” on set, explained Pell.
“We shot the whole script first, and then we had some little play times in between, and I have a little post-it note system on a movie set, where I write a lot of jokes while I’m watching it to add the alt lines, so we have a lot of choices in the editing room,” she said. “It was a symphony of all those improvisational skills.”
Fey and Poehler’s improv experience, director Jason Moore said, helped make for a collaborative shoot.
“It was an incredible collaboration, and, yes, they come from TV shows and having run their own empires, but they originally come from improv, which is an extremely collaborative artistic form,” said Moore. “Everybody’s in it together. We’re all in it to win it and to make each other look good. So even though I was the newcomer, there was a real integrated, collaborative, fun, supportive environment, which was a real lovely surprise, and it made total sense in the end why it works because they love each other, they want to help each other, and that’s part of how they create comedy.”
Sisters hits theaters on Dec. 18, the same day as a little sci-fi film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fey and Poehler have pointed out that people can see both, but, as for why you should see Sisters first, Moynihan offered a simple reason.
“[Sisters is] hilarious, and Star Wars is sold out,” he said. “I may or may not have tickets for Star Wars already. … I have to get on that.”
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