'Sex and the City' Writer Liz Tuccillo on Creating Her Directorial Debut, 'Take Care'
Co-star Thomas Sadoski also explains what attracted him to the collaborative project, set in a claustrophobic environment
[WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead for Take Care.]
Getting hit by a car is not funny. But surviving a car accident with only a broken arm and leg and being trapped in your walk-up New York City apartment, after you manage to figure out how to get up the stairs, and getting your ex-boyfriend to take care of you as you recover all create the foundation for former Sex and the City writer Liz Tuccillo's directorial debut, the unconventional romantic comedy Take Care.
It was those atypical elements that Thomas Sadoski — who plays Devon, the ex-boyfriend drafted into taking care of Leslie Bibb's injured Frannie — says intrigued him when he read the script, which Tuccillo also wrote.
"There's some real guts here and also it feels really claustrophobic and there's really no place to run, no place to hide and it's really going to be on us," Sadoski says, adding that he was flattered that he was offered the opportunity to play the lead in a romantic comedy and was completely committed to the project after he met with Tuccillo and Bibb.
"Nobody was worried about not falling back on the tired, tried, boring tropes," he adds. "We were going to ask some questions and we were going to make a movie in which all of the characters have three dimensions and in which they're not all likable and they're not all unlikable. We're going to grow with all of these characters. You're going to find them all annoying and spiteful. Simultaneously you'll find them endearing and charming and hopefully, by the end, you'll end up rooting for every single character in the movie."
Bibb's character's accident creates an environment in which she and her ex can sort out the issues between them, and Tuccillo, who's said that she was partly inspired by her friend's experience recovering from rotator cuff surgery, explains that she wanted Bibb's character to have something happen to her that would cause her to need to be taken care of but have it not be something too serious.
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"You wanted it to be something funny, because it's a comedy, not something that you had to worry about. We know she's going to be OK," Tuccillo says. "Something like getting hit by a car, which is completely not funny at all, but you know she's going to be OK, in time."
She may have also been inspired by the stories of various people she knew and had met whose experiences were in her head, including a friend who was in a car accident and a boyfriend who had cancer many years before they were together, echoing Sadoski's character's experience, in which Bibb's character took care of him during his battle with the disease. Tuccillo has said she was also thinking about what happens to couples after they break up.
The uncomfortably funny opening scene in which Bibb's character is literally and elaborately carried up flights of stairs by her annoying next-door neighbor came from Tuccillo's years of living in New York.
"The walk-up … that was just … the worst-case scenario: What would you do if you had to get up to your apartment if you couldn't walk?" she explains.
Tuccillo was also informed by her experience writing for Sex and the City.
"Being in the writers room on Sex and the City, it was just the greatest education on how to make relationships funny, make heartbreak funny, make sex funny. I guess the writers room was always in my head when I was writing the script and directing of having to walk that balance between the comedy and the emotion, which Sex and the City also did," she says.
And it was her experience as a writer that made her want to direct this script and be able to collaborate with the actors in a way that writers aren't able to do for TV or film.
"I think a lot of writers always dream of being directors because they write things that either never get done because things fall through and it's hard to get things made and sometimes you get fired from projects and other people end up rewriting you or you had a director direct your work and you're frustrated sitting on the sidelines not being able to see your vision the way you see it in your head," Tuccillo explains. "Writers are always sort of threatening to direct, and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. But I was starting to be in that camp of wanting to … get my hands on my own work."
That collaboration, Sadoski says, was a lot about figuring out the dynamic between his and Bibb's characters in the present and what their relationship would be like in the future.
"I think in some regard, Devon is very interested in not remembering the past, like 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, OK that happened.' But not really sit with it, not really own up to everything that's happened," he says.
Tuccillo adds that after her own experience directing, she was able to see what the directors were dealing with on projects she worked on as a writer.
"I wanted to go and sort of write apology letters to all the directors I've ever worked with as a writer," she says. "And I was thinking about all of the times I was running on set giving them notes, knowing they had so much on their minds. Now I'm like, 'Yeah, they must've been really stressed.'"
Take Care is in select theaters now and available via VOD and iTunes.