Sundance 2012: Seth Rogen's Better Half Premieres in Park City With 'For a Good Time Call' (Q&A)
"Superbad" actress Lauren Miller reveals how she and a friend turned a college-years foray in the world of phone sex into a premiere in Park City.
Lauren Miller makes her Sundance debut Sunday evening as the co-writer and star of the phone-sex comedy, For a Good Time Call. Miller, who's appeared in such films as 50/50 and Observe and Report, reveals the trials of the writing process, the indie film she most admires and her husband's cameo in the film.
The Hollywood Reporter: This is your first major attempt at screenwriting. How did this script develop?
Lauren Miller: My writing partner, Katie Naylon, and I always wanted to tell the story of what she did in college, which was run a phone sex line. We thought: What kind of story can we tell? So we landed on two girls who didn’t really get along — which is not what happened with us — who had met in college, like we had, and they find each other during a quarter-life crisis time in their lives and end up running a sex line together.
THR: What was your writing process?
Miller: We spent the first part of the process throwing out ideas, which eventually turned into scenes. And that document eventually turned into an outline. I’d say we wrote the first half of the first draft together, sitting next to each other, on one computer, taking turns typing. Then after we got a feel for the characters, we divided up the writing just to save time. Divided up the scenes, and then would come back together and go over them, smooth over together. The whole process started about two and a half years ago.
THR: What can you reveal about your character?
Miller: Basically the story is — we named the characters after ourselves — Katie and Lauren meet in college. My character is the straight-and-narrow rule follower, doesn’t go to parties, doesn’t get drunk. And my co-star, Ari Graynor’s character, is not like that. She has a good time. We hated each other and then we flash-forward 10 years later. We’re 28 living in New York. I get dumped, she loses her apartment; we find ourselves needing someone to live with. Justin Long, who plays our mutual friend, pushes us to live together and we fight like the Odd Couple. And then one night, I discover she runs a phone sex line out of the apartment and one thing leads to another and we run the line together.
THR: Is there someone whose work you’ve admired in the indie-Sundance world?
Miller: I’ve always love Kissing Jessica Stein. What Jennifer Westfeldt did with that film was so great. In fact, when we made this film, I thought, “Maybe this could be my Jessica Stein!” since she was both the writer and actor. And also, Nia Vardalos was a huge inspiration for us. And she’s in our movie! Katie and I saw her speak and then wrote her a love letter and sort of said, “You did what we’re trying to do. Will you please play this part in our movie?” and she was so nice. She plays a woman I interview with to get another job at a publishing house. She’s so funny.
THR: What are you most looking forward to at your first Sundance?
MIller: I’m just excited for people to see the film. I went to film school and worked as an assistant and wrote many things that haven’t gotten made. So I’m just so happy to have worked hard on something I’m proud of and that it’s going to be out there. I’m excited to sit there and watch it all happen. I don’t even care how it goes! I just want to experience it.
THR: Between Sundance and your recent marriage, you’ve had a good year!
Miller: Yes, thanks. It’s been fun.
THR: Can we look forward to seeing Seth in the movie?
Miler: Yes, he has a cameo. Obviously with a movie about phone sex, you need some phone sex callers.