Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Jon Hamm star alongside Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott in “Friends with Kids,” a daring and hilarious ensemble comedy about a close-knit circle of friends, whose lives change once they have kids. The last two singles in the group (Westfeldt and Scott) observe the effect that kids have had on their friends’ relationships and wonder if there’s a better way to make it work. When they decide to have a child together and date other people, their unconventional “experiment” leads everyone in the group to question the nature of friendship, family and, above all, true love.
Written and directed by Westfeldt and also starring Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox and Edward Burns, “Friends with Kids” delivers the laughs and the heart from beginning to end!
Here is what Westfeldt had to say about the making of the movie, which is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download:
Did you base this film on anyone’s life, yours or a friend’s?
None of the characters are directly based on anyone in my life. But the kernel of the idea does come from my life — that is, from being out of sync with my peer group, and observing so many friends and people in my sphere making this profound, seismic life transition — and observing the ways in which different people handle that transition, the ways in which the friendship dynamic can shift and morph for a time, the ways in which the romantic relationships can be affected, the way you miss (and your friend misses) the one-on-one time you used to have.
I am lucky that I have so many close girlfriends who were incredibly candid with me about the experience and the identity shift. I noticed a theme or thread in what they all said — they all said (in one way or another) that they had never experienced a love as profound or deep or rewarding as the love for a child — and also, that it was the hardest thing that they had ever done. (And that no one had told them that part!) It was that duality that really intrigued me.
This was your first film as a director. How did that change the process — juggling the acting and being in charge?
I hadn’t planned to direct the movie. We were in talks with Jake Kasdan to direct, which we were thrilled about, but on any indie film, you generally find one small window when your cast is available at the same time — and when that time came, Jake was still working on Bad Teacher. So Jake, along with our other producing partners, strongly encouraged me to step in– we would have lost our cast otherwise, and not made the movie. I only agreed when Jake proposed a deal — he would come aboard as a producer, and was on set for the actual shoot, as a second pair of eyes when I was onscreen. He was a mentor and incredible collaborator, and was so, so generous to uproot his wife and newborn baby to be on our set during the worst winter in New York in moer than 40 years!
My DP Will Rexer was also a great partner — he was endlessly patient and generous with me — he spent so many hours in pre-production fielding questions from me, we watched films together, spent a lot of time shot-listing, blocking out scenes, making sure I could translate my thoughts to a crew clearly. It was a steep learning curve for me and I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen it, but I was ultimately happy for the challenge. But I don’t think it would have been at all possible to juggle these hats without an incredible team supporting me.
Adam was great in the film. How did you decide he was the right guy for the part?
Adam came and read the role at our house the very first night I finished the first draft. We had a group of actors and sat around our dining room table — pasta and wine and a cold table read. Adam was fantastic, as I knew he would be — and after that, I honestly couldn’t picture anyone but him playing this role. I didn’t want to make the movie without him. I think the film is really about Jason, and we needed an actor with tremendous range to pull it off — that’s Adam. I’ve known Adam for 15 years, and I’ve seen him in almost everything he’s ever done — onstage, on TV, on film. I think he’s just as good as it gets.
Did you toy with any alternative endings? Or was that the only ending you envisioned?
We definitely discussed other endings — and I took a few stabs at other endings during the process. But the ending we have is one that Adam and I both believed in from the start and stuck with. We stand by our last line!
Did you encourage improv on the set, especially with comedic actors like Kristen and Maya?
I wish we had had time for more improv on this shoot, given the unbelievably talented comic actors we were so lucky to have! But when you are on an indie, up against it every day and not sure if you’ll even make the day, it’s hard to find time for too much of it. It was easier in the two person scenes then in the group ones — just given how many people you have to cover and the time constraints with our budget. But there is definitely some improv that made it into in the cut — maybe 10% of the film?
How involved were you with selecting the songs for the film? I loved how you expanded what was happening in a scene with lyrics from artists like Jenny Lewis and Ella Fitzgerald.
I was involved with every music choice. I fought for every cue and made personal appeals to the artists, since our budget was so tight and we couldn’t afford many of the tunes!
BLU-RAY/DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Deleted Scenes with optional audio commentary
- Gag Reel
- “Making of” featurette
- Audio commentary with Writer/Director/Actress Jennifer Westfeldt, Actor/Producer Jon Hamm and Director of Photography Will Rexer II.