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Hey kids, we had the pleasure of a chat with Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant, the stars of Did You Hear About the Morgans? They enlightened us about Roman Polanski, getting cranky in a bull costume and the art of being funny.

 

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

 

Sarah Jessica Parker

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  In a film like Did You Hear About the Morgans? the comedy varies from one-liners to slapstick, how do you know when youíre hitting the right notes or playing it too broadly? Did you do any improvisation?

Sarah Jessica Parker:  Well, you know, things have to have a context.  You have to know ĎIs this more of a slapstick movie, or are we trying to dance around some adult themes?í  I think you know when youíve gone too far, when itís not good, youíre embarrassed.  I mean, thereís a physical response to something being too big, wrong, too far.  If you have any radar at all, you should know it and certainly you can tell by the looks on peopleís faces and by whatever direction you get next. 

I think itís hard in a movie like this.  Hugh used to ask a very intelligent question and then he would put in a statement, ďIím confused because on this plate is a scoopful of ice cream and a steak.Ē And I think that was a great way of saying, ĎWhatís the tone of this scene?í because the potential for both is here.  Are we in a soufflť now, or are we part of a savoury main course?  This movie was more challenging that way, it doesnít fit the traditional formula for a romantic comedy.  Itís not a boy meeting a girl and then theyíre not together, then theyíre togetherÖ Itís a married couple ten years into a relationship and heís wandered and sheís not willing to make the compromises that she thinks are necessary to be back in this marriage and theyíre tossed into a remote environment in this sort of traditional fish-out-of-water {comedy}.  So, how do you figure it out?  You have to rely mostly on your director, your leader, your musical director and you have to have some instincts, I guess.  And I donít improvise, I really donít.  I donít think Iím good at it, I think few people are.  Hugh happens to be one.  Iím a great listener and Iím ready and waiting.  I have no technique, I didnít study, so all I have are my ears, and my brain, and my heart, and I am a listener and I will respond.

There is one disputed improvisational line that I say I did make up, and for some reason Marc {Lawrence, director}, in his revisionist history has now claimed copyright and that is, ďIím not on my horse! Iím not on my horse!Ē  I say I wrote that and he was like, ďIím not sure,Ē and I think there has to be some documentation, cos I donít claim things like that randomly.

 

LMD:  The analogy of the ice cream and the steak makes sense  for this film and I wonder when you saw the more slapstick scenes like being inside a bull costume, did you hedge at all or were you all in for anything?

SJP:  I hedged about that scene not in advance of it, but on the day; it was the one day that there was actual conflict and I didnít really understand how we were shooting it and how we should choreograph it.  Itís pretty much like the eleven oí clock number, so it has some import and itís goofy, but it is like being knocked in the head and remembering your identity.  So, I really wanted to figure it out and I was very slow at figuring it out and then I got crabby.  And then, I think they were right to be slightly annoyed with me, but it only brought us closer.

 

LMD:  So it was all good for the film.

SJP:  I hope so, I dunno.

 

Hugh Grant

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  This is your third film with Marc Lawrence, is there a comfort level at this point? Does he allow your input?

Hugh Grant:  Yeah, heís very nice about that.  It calms me down to interfere in everything with the filmmaking, whether itís script development or editing, or what the posters look like or anything. Iím very hands-on and heís very nice about allowing me to do that.

 

LMD:  Your career path has been fascinating; Iíve watched you since Lair of the White WormÖ

HG:  Thank you, I could tell from your hair.

 

LMD:  But you were doing the sort of indie British actor roles around that time, working with people like Ken Russell and Roman Polanski and making films like Maurice, and then your career took a huge turn with Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Is it frustrating for you to get roles outside of the romantic comedy genre; is it hard for you to be seen as a serious actor?

HG:  I donít wanna be seen as a serious actor.  I mean, itís nice of you, but thereís two things; really only one of those films was a proper drama, so I donít feel like I used to have a big dramatic career.  And the other thing is, I think thereís an implication behind your question that serious stuff is sort of harder or more worthwhile. You know, just in my lifetimeís experience making comedies of whatever kind is so much harder, so much more demanding than doing a drama, so itís not like Iím any way desperate to get back to doing something serious.

 

LMD:  Sarah Jessica Parker gave your ice cream and steak analogy about the different types of comedy in this film.  There are some emotional moments, then there you are in a bull outfit.  How do you know when youíve gone too far on the broad or slapstick side?

HG:  Well, thatís all you worry about all day, really.  That is the trick.  Yeah, youíre doing that big scene about adoption, and you think ĎIíve been rather good. But hang on, itís meant to be a comedy,í so you have to try and lean just fractionally on the comedy foot there.  Then of youíre inside a bull costume, you think ĎWell, this could be funny, but have we gone too far?  Is this unreal now?í  Youíre always worrying about that.  The most difficult times are when the two films meet, like sitting in that car with the FBI guy at the beginning of the film just after the rain scene, and thereís jokes there about psychiatrists and stuff - I donít know if theyíve survived the cut - and I remember shooting that and that was when I said the ice cream and steak thing just cos I didnít know quite which foot to be leaning on.

 

LMD:  You mentioned wanting to have your hand in all the aspects of your films, have you considered directing one of your own?

HG:  Yes.  Yes, I wouldnít mind doing that, but I would only really want to direct my own script.  I like films that are written and directed by the same person - one voice.  I dunno, Iíd like to do that, but a) I need to be less lazy, and b) I need to have something to say.  Iíve got absolutely nothing to say, you know?  I donít have a story that Iím dying to tell.

 

LMD:  Is it frustrating then to be at somebody elseís sort of beck and call as an actor?

HG:  Yes, I feel only half a man for that.

 

LMD:  We havenít seen you onscreen for a bit.

HG:  Thatís correct.

 

LMD:  What is it about this script or any script that would bring you out at this point?

HG:  Two things, 1) does it make me laugh, and 2) do I want to turn every page when I read the script, or am I thinking, ĎLetís go make a cup of tea, now,í because itís a bad sign if you want to make a cup of tea.  Honestly, if itís funny and you want to turn the pages, people will enjoy the film unless you really screw it up in production.  Thatís been my experience.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

December 15th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

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Photos

Exclusive Photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Sony Pictures

 

 

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