Q&A Session with Director Andy Fickman for “You Again” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

February 7, 2011 by  

An interview with Andy Fickman, director of the hilarious YOU AGAIN, starring Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The uproarious film focuses on Bell’s character Marni who is horrified to discover that her brother is about to marry Joanna, the popular girl who made her life a misery in high school.

Full of physical comedy, music and dance, plus great performances from a stellar cast, it is entertaining and upbeat from start to finish.

With the upcoming release of “You Again” on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 8th, J!-ENT features our final Q&A with the director of “You Again”, Andy Fickman.

Q: You have a fantastic cast?

A: “It was a dream cast. Jamie was the first person I sat down with to discuss the film. I drove out to her house and we immediately started to focus on her character and what we wanted her to be. Then we asked ourselves who would be great opposite Jamie? Sigourney was our top choice. Jamie is so strong and we needed another strong woman. So Sigourney agreed to a meeting and sat down in my office. I really did by the way have ALIEN memorabilia and stuff up on the wall, old dolls. I loved the ALIEN films.  I kept thinking, ‘oh no, I hope she doesn’t turn around and think I’m some stalker fan’ (laughs).  But she never did, thank goodness. And she came on board. This was a rare case in which I managed to put together a cast with all my top choices. I’ve had Kristen Bell in my life for ten years, we get on so well, and it’s like working with my sister.”

Q: What’s the story all about?

A: “They handed the script to me and said ‘it’s a bit of a chick flick,’ and I said ‘ok.’ The last one I did was with Amanda Bynes: SHE’S THE MAN. I read YOU AGAIN, and I didn’t read it as a chick flick. I personally connected with it because everybody has someone from their past who bullied them, or who they didn’t like.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is a name from your past in school who you wouldn’t necessarily want to see again. I remember I called my mom, who can’t remember what tomorrow is, she is so forgetful and I said, ‘Mom I am doing this movie. Was there someone from your past who was mean to you?’ In seconds she named a girl from her class in 1951 who had upset her at the prom. I said ‘Mom you can’t remember dinner but you remember that.’ And she said, ‘I never let it go.’”

Q: Did your cast also relate to the premise of the film?

A: “When I met all the actors on the movie, everyone had a story. And that is when I realized how universal the theme was. Sigourney would talk about not going to her high school reunion because there was a girl who would be there who bullied her. I said ‘you’re Ripley, you became Sigourney Weaver the movie star. Why would you worry?’  But in your mind you can’t let it go, and I think that’s what really connected for me, because I thought we carry high school experiences around with us, and then sometimes it is good to let them go. With Facebook and social networking more people from my past have found me than ever before. I sometimes think ‘I don’t like you, and I didn’t like you in high school’ and they are writing ‘Fickman so great to hear from you.’ They want to be Facebook friends. It’s sometimes very cathartic to get in touch because you realize ‘okay I don’t have to hate you anymore.’”

Q: Can you discuss Jamie’s and Sigourney’s characters?

A: “I discovered a lot about Jamie when I went to go and meet her at the house. Jamie is the mom and the housewife, and I think she approached the character that way. Jamie is a beautiful sexy woman—the crew were going crazy because there were beautiful women everywhere—and we would play with Jamie to downplay her sexiness a little bit, because she always looked great. And even Sigourney, who is the glamorous character would say: ‘well I’m competing with Jamie who is gorgeous.’ But Jamie’s character feels like she has once been the prom queen, now she isn’t. There are elements of the prom queen that still exist but we had to tone them down. She could not be as glamorous as Ramona. Sigourney’s character Ramona meanwhile left school and became fabulous and glamorous. I looked though her wardrobe (of costumes) and every outfit was really fabulous. And Jamie looked like she had walked into the Gap. It’s a t-shirt and khakis costume.  And she still looked great.”

Q: Can you discuss the singing and dancing in the film?

A: “Well I do a lot of musicals so it’s something I really like. We had so much fun making the movie, and there was so much singing and great talent. Kristin Chenoweth is on Broadway now in PROMISES PROMISES; half of our cast could be in Broadway musicals. So when we started talking about music it just became very natural, and by the time we got to rehearsals, every day we’d be  dancing  or singing or doing something fun and energetic,  and it just became part of the making of the movie.”

Q: What was your high school time like?

A: “Elementary school was fun for me, junior high school was miserable, every picture of me from that time is bad. Every girl I liked didn’t like me, I was in the wrong club, in the wrong everything. By the time I got into high school, I really started to find my way with theater and I got popular quickly, because of the  shows I was doing, I became a student officer and ended up loving high school. But there were still people I knew from junior high school who had been my tormentors. And now if I am at a party with them I am conflicted: do I pretend that didn’t happen?”

Q: Would you deal with it all differently now?

A: “That is a very good question. I would probably do a lot of the same things. I think I would be superstitious enough to repeat things, because of where I am now. There were certain things I would maybe do different in junior high school though. I just couldn’t have made any worse decisions. Guaranteed I would wear an outfit that was so bad you would not let anyone you knew walk out of the house in it. My mom would say ‘really, you’re going to go out wearing that?’ I would reply:  ‘I sure am mom, it’s a ruffled tux, everyone’s going to love it.’ And then everyone would say ‘why are you wearing a ruffled tux in the middle of the day?’ I thought I was cool. But I was not a trendsetter.”

Q: Can you mention the cameos in the film (we won’t give them away, but they are great)?

A: “I would say in general for the cameos we went out of  our way to make them fun. At the time we were filming we had a who’s who of people wanting to join in. That made it fun because we already had such a great cast and then we were adding the cameos. I’ve never done a movie where I was able to have that many.”

Q: Why did you cast Betty White?

A: “When I read the script, I just thought of Betty White. I actually referred to the role of the grandma as ‘the Betty White role.’ And then nobody stopped me, the more I kept talking about it, I would talk about ‘the Betty White role,’ so   we thought we should actually offer it to Betty White herself. We  did, and it was a dream, she was everything that you would want, so much so that during the filming, whenever she would arrive on set, everybody would be excited and say ‘oh Betty’s here’ and about four times a day during filming, I kid you not, I would  stop for a burst of energy and announce to everyone: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen . . .  Betty White’ and the cast and crew would give her a standing ovation for five minutes. Everybody was so honored to be working with Betty.  She is 88 years old and never complained. Betty had incredible energy. At 4 o’clock at the morning Betty is wide awake.”

HOLLYWOOD - Sigourney Weaver, Odette Yustman, Betty White, Kristen Bell and Jamie Lee Curtis at Touchstone Pictures World Premiere of "You Again" at the El Capitan Theatre on September 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** Sigourney Weaver; Odette Yustman; Betty White; Kristen Bell; Jamie Lee Curtis

Q: And she did her own stunts a lot of the time?

A: “Yes we were getting ready to do the stunt we did in the big  dance scene    and we had a stunt double for Betty. As you can imagine you are not going to find an 88-year-old stunt double, so we had a young girl who was putting on the wig and getting ready.  So   Betty’s watching her and we’ve got the harness ready, and Betty says:  ‘who’s she?’  And she says  ‘put me in the harness.’ So our stunt team who have done all the BOURNE movies is looking at me saying ‘are you sure?’  But she wanted to do this difficult stunt herself. So they harnessed her up and we literally had to crank her back and swing her across the room. We have three cameras going, and Betty is full of energy, and I look at her and give her a chance to back out and she says ‘won’t you feel horrible if you’re the one who kills me?’ (laughs), and then she swings across the room. Meanwhile I can see the headlines . . .  ‘Andy Fickman Kills Betty White. Betty White Dies in Tragic Accident on Film Set.’  But it all went well.  Betty is just great and had more energy than any of us. We should all be so lucky.”

Q: How did you get Hall & Oates to participate, they are great in the film, actually playing their music?

A: “We did a hit list of the music we thought would be fun for the film. We wanted a retro band that people love. We went through a lot of bands and nobody was inspired. One day we just said:  ‘what about Hall & Oates?’  Everybody looked up and said, ‘ooh we like them.’ We then had to find Hall & Oates, because, without giving too much away, they have a significant plotline in the film. They were on tour at the time, and they changed the tour in order to come in and film with us. The day they came in we had the full cast of the film on set with hundreds of extras, and it was like a rock concert. They were on stage, setting up and tuning, and then when they appeared, all the reaction shots we used in the film were real, everyone was so excited, and it truly was remarkable because there was such a good atmosphere. The cast were excited about meeting Hall & Oates, and Hall & Oates were excited too, they were saying: ‘can we meet Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis and Betty White?’   And I said ‘sure . . . Hall & Oates meet our cast.’”

Q: Finally what can people expect who have not yet seen YOU AGAIN?

A: “We hope they will enjoy the film and that they find it joyful with some great laughs and some heart. If they are smiling at the end and had a good time, then we all did our job.”

You Again on DVD and Blu-ray February 8th!

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