Recently, ReelzChannel sat down to talk with Meg Ryan and Annette Bening about their roles in The Women, an all-female comedy remake of George Cukor's 1939 film with the same name.
ReelzChannel: This movie has had so many stopped starts in the past 14 years. What kept you attached to it?
Ryan: The idea of women together, how valuable we are to each other, and what happens when lifelong friendships are threatened. That's interesting.
RC: There are a lot of changes from the original, especially to Annette Bening's character. Was that something that really appealed to you?
Bening: Yeah, the old movie's fun and it's campy. It's sort of like a cartoon. Basically the women are awful to each other and I never was a big fan of it, quite frankly. There was a play that it was based on and I saw the play years ago. I like this because it was a departure from that -- it had the same story, the premise of one lady's husband's having an affair and what happens to the rest of us. And there are no men. The basic story is the same, about how the women handle it and how they relate to each other.
Bening: It's really a story about female bonding -- female friendship and what happens when that's threatened. "I make a mistake. I try to rectify it. Does my friend forgive me or not?" You know, where is she in her life and how does the affair affect her and how she changes? Meg really worked on that with this wonderful arc of her character.... It was Dianne [English]'s script; it's her thing, but we had our little bit of input about what we wanted to be there.
Ryan: One thing I was interested in was -- in the original, Norma Shearer was a really noble sufferer.
Bening: Like a victim, a total victim. That's who she plays.
Ryan: Right now in 2008, I think -- and I think Dianne agreed, I'm sure she did -- it's more modern to not think of yourself as a victim, to figure out how you're culpable when something goes wrong in a relationship. No matter what, it's two people creating that dynamic. Someone else might really have made a big mistake, but you can do some soul searching and figure out how you contributed to his behavior -- how you contributed to the dynamic that would make it possible. So I don't think she thinks of herself as a victim. She just is really unconscious.
RC: The movie gives a really good look at how to maybe respond to situations.
Ryan: Wake up and really see who you are to your friends, to your lover, your husband, your daughter. These are women who make a lot of mistakes in this movie.
RC: We all get a kick out of how there is not one single guy in this whole movie. Is it easier on set not to deal with any guys?
Bening: Yes, when you don't have to deal with romance and re-creating romance. Meg and I both have done a fair amount of that on screen so...
RC: You guys are essentially playing opposite each other, and you have a great friendship, chemistry. Was it instant? What was the process like?
Ryan: It was pretty instant and I just felt relief immediately. Our first scene was in the dressing room. Walking into that dressing room...
Bening: Yeah, that's right.
Ryan: I think that was our first one. It just was fun immediately.
Bening: Yeah, we got on very well. When I walk in to work, whether it's a man or a woman, I can immediately tell when someone's a pro. Meg is a veteran -- she knows what she's doing, she knows the responsibility she has. And she's just there ready and knows how to get along, knows how to get things moving, and all that kind of stuff.
Ryan: She takes care of everyone. She's the mama bear, really. You're all safer when she's around.
RC: Everyone has paid such close attention to women in movies, on the heels of Sex and the City and its success at the box office. Going into this movie, is it a good thing or a bad thing -- in terms of peoples' expectations -- when it comes to women at the box office?
Ryan: Well, I think we're a different movie than that. But it is actually incredible, and unbelievably wonderful, that they could figure out how to not market to men and have that kind of opening weekend. That is a big deal in Hollywood. People all around this movie were very excited by that. And again, we're not that movie. As consumers, women drive so many marketplaces, and the idea that this -- it's like a light bulb went off in the community, that you can figure out a way to not sell to men, just to women, and make money. It's a big deal.
RC: Go figure? Women like movies! Thank you so much.