Paul Feig dishes on’Love Life,’ telling women’s stories and quarantine
Most of your stories feature female protagonists. Is that a option?
Are you surprised by the longevity of any of your projects?
I’m always quite pleasantly surprised that”Freaks and Geeks” keeps moving. It has been over 20 years now since we did it. And the fact that it’s still related to the people who watch it, and to young people discovering it all of the time — that is everything you hope you are going to get out of something, but nothing you ever dare to dream you will actually accomplish.
Feig’s most recent series,”Love Life” (premiering May 27 on HBO), stars Anna Kendrick as Darby, a New Yorker trying to navigate the dating scene. Feig spoke about why he prefers stories about his pandemic-related Instagram cocktail hour girls and more.
[Creator] Sam Boyd brought us the idea. I thought it was a terrific idea to do a deep dive into one person’s love life, basically. And seeing how every relationship affects them…I actually enjoyed the fact that it was going to be something which wasn’t done in a linear fashion. We could jump from our protagonist in her 20s, 30,s back to her at 15 — and all things in-between — making it almost a tiny romantic mystery, if you will — basically being like,”Who’s she going to end up with, who’s the ideal person?” She’s just a terrific actress and such a person.
I really like rules, because I like having the ability to play with and bend [them], and every genre comes with its own different set of expectations and rules for an audience. What is so much fun is to subvert those expectations. And the fact that the vast majority of movies and genres has been so male-driven — just to put the female lead characters within these genres alone shakes it up today. I can find a great deal of comedy from that, and also a great deal of fantastic character observation since I’m a comedy person.
I’ve been doing my cocktail time on Instagram. [My wife and I] did our show. That’s been fun. We’re able to raise money for COVID-19 charities and hopefully cheer up people with my ridiculousness and with cocktails. But I wanted to try to contribute something. [From the videos] I highlight a different charity every day that I vet and make sure is rated and responsible and real, and we create a cocktail. In times of strife — or any times when folks get in a bad mood — I love to have something where you can know that each and every day, this doofy guy is going to be there as a friend, and then my wife comes on halfway through. It’s low-key and silly. If we didn’t have it, this would be a good deal harder.
Oh yeah. I’ve seen so many poor roles for women that I’ve been in the company and observing the business. It didn’t used to be that way. If you return to the’30s and’40s and look on the screen at the relationships between women and men, they were pretty equal in a way. Somehow it tapered off with the growth of the blockbusters, I believe — it actually relegated women to a 15-year-old boy’s picture of what women should be, which is either a supermodel, the prize or the meddling mother/ girlfriend/ wife getting in the way of the guy’s good times. It just added up over time to producing roles for women, so anything I can do to help fix that is something. I love nothing more than creating or helping to facilitate great female lead roles, and telling women’s stories.
A lot of your movies play with genre tropes. Do you like doing that?