“When you have Julia in your head, it’s bliss, because it just makes me funnier, knowing that she’ll do it.” Nicole Holofcener and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on YOU HURT MY FEELINGS, opening Friday.
Gifted writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The Last Duel) has a new comedic drama we’re thrilled to open Friday at our Claremont, Glendale, Santa Monica, Newhall, North Hollywood and Encino theaters. You Hurt My Feelings is her second collaboration with Seinfeld and Veep legend, 11-time Emmy Award winner and Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recipient Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The first was Enough Said, with James Gandolfini. Hopefully the two collaborate again because this one’s a gem too. Alissa Wilkinson of Vox described the movie as “warm-hearted and rueful and hilarious in all the best ways” while Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com wrote that it’s “one of [Holofcener’s] smartest and funniest films.”
The New York Times just published a joint interview with Holofcener and Louis-Dreyfus. Here’s an excerpt:
Was there an inciting incident that prompted this film?
NICOLE HOLOFCENER It started brewing as soon as I started screening my movies or having people read my scripts, wondering if they’re telling me the truth or not. And believing that I can tell. What a nightmare this situation would be, if somebody that close to me revealed to someone else that they didn’t like my work, or even just one of my movies. They have to love everything, in other words, for me to feel safe.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS She’s very sensitive.
HOLOFCENER I just came up with a what-if. What would be the worst scenario of somebody telling me they love something and me not believing them? I do have friends that I don’t believe. And there’s one person in particular that I don’t believe. I’m actually OK with it. Because I know they love me and get me and clearly they’re wrong. I mean, it hurts a little. They didn’t admit it.
Since Nicole wrote this script with you in mind, did you connect to it immediately?
LOUIS-DREYFUS Yes. I think it’s interesting to consider the notion of worth and self-worth. Am I my work? And who am I without my work? That’s certainly something I like to think about. And that this is ostensibly a great relationship between a married couple, and then the wheels just totally fall off the bus. That was kind of terrifying to consider.
I told Frank Rich [the former New York Times columnist who was an executive producer of her series “Veep”] the premise of this before we shot it. He audibly gasped.
HOLOFCENER Oh good. That’s my audience. Not the p
eople who would hear the premise and go, ‘Yeah, so what? Like, what planet are you from?’
Since you wrote this with Julia in mind, did that change your approach?
HOLOFCENER [To Louis-Dreyfus] Just don’t listen, because it’s going to sound stupid.
[Louis-Dreyfus throws her cappuccino-stained napkin over her head to avoid eye contact.]
HOLOFCENER When you have Julia in your head, it’s bliss, because it just makes me funnier, knowing that she’ll do it. She just sparks my imagination.
Is there a scene that you wouldn’t have written if Julia wasn’t your lead actress?
LOUIS-DREYFUS Oh God.
HOLOFCENER Certainly, I can see other actors doing the scenes differently, and I’m so glad they’re not in it and she is.
What scene specifically?
HOLOFCENER The scene where she’s sitting on the couch with her sister, she’s smoking pot. This is after she’s heard the bad news; she’s crying. It’s tragic. And you really feel for her, but you’re laughing because of that face.
LOUIS-DREYFUS Oh gee, thanks.
HOLOFCENER Julia walks a very fine line between comedy and drama. And that’s what I like to do with my writing. I didn’t have to do much, or anything, for her to get what I mean. We know this movie is about something fairly minor in the world of things.
LOUIS-DREYFUS But also very major.
HOLOFCENER But in the big picture, we’re not going to be crying for her. We hope she’ll get over it. But I think that scene works because she seems like she’s about 16. I think all of us are sometimes still 16. Especially when it comes to getting approval or not getting approval. I still think of myself that way. So that’s funny to see a grown-up person behave like they’re 16, in an honest way. Not in a movie way. Or a histrionic or a silly way.
Click here to read the full New York Times piece.