The Guilt Trip brings together Seth Rogen, who is one of the funniest actors working in movies today, and Barbara Streisand, who is a bonafide screen and stage icon. In the movie they play Joyce and Andy Brewster, a mother and son who ended up driving together across America to help Andy sell a cleaning product and to reunite Joyce with a long lost love. It’s awfully similar to numerous road movies that we’ve seen in the past, but it has a genuine sweetness that will appeal to moviegoers of all kinds (especially Streisand fans).
Recently, at the film’s LA press day, stars Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen, along with director Anne Feltcher, took the time to talk with journalists about balancing the comedy and drama in the film, the approach they took to the characters, why the script attracted them to the film and more.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: Barbara and Seth, what was it like meeting each other for the first time?
Barbara Streisand: Well, it turns out Seth sussed me out.
Seth Rogen: I did.
Barbara Streisand: So he called people from the Focker movies, right?
Seth Rogen: Yeah, I think I was actually working with John Schwartzman who was the cinematographer on Meet the Fockers around the time this came up and I think I asked him what he thought of Barbra. And he said she was great. And I know Jay Roach a little, so I think I might have asked him and I think he said she was awesome, too.
Barbara Streisand: Ben Stiller you called.
Seth Rogen: Ben Stiller I think I might have run into and asked, but, yeah, everyone, she checked out. This Barbra Streisand lady checked out. So I thought I’d give her a shot (laughs).
Anne Fletcher: They had such a great chemistry and just a great ability to improvise with each other that was so easy to do. You just say one word even if it was like Thanksgiving and they just go into a five minute improv that was so genius. Her dad and I would be behind the monitor laughing our heads off.
We Got This Covered: Barbara you have such an amazing career and we were wondering if you could tell us what gives you satisfaction or the greatest satisfaction as an artist and what does it mean for you to be part of a project like this?
Barbara Streisand: I prefer things that are private so I love recording and I love making films as a filmmaker because it uses every bit of what you have experienced or know, you know, whether it’s graphics, composition, decorating, psychology, storytelling, whatever it is. It’s very, it’s a wonderful thing.
We Got This Covered: Barbara, what gave you the greatest artistic satisfaction in making The Guilt Trip?
Barbara Streisand: Well, I was dealing with, you know, very talented people. I had loved Anne’s movie, The Proposal.
We Got This Covered: Barbara and Seth, this movie has a great balance of comedy and drama in it. What was the hardest part for you, the dramatic moments or the comedy?
Barbara Streisand: Eating steak (laughs). For a person who doesn’t like steak, that is the hardest thing. But really, they’re (comedy and drama) both the same.
Anne Fletcher: Especially when you have two actors who have great ability to do both. Not everybody has the ability to be really funny and understand comedy and how to portray it and be real with it, which both of them do in tenfold, as well as the ability to be a straight actor. They’re both incredible.
We Got This Covered: Barbara, what is the secret to your success and what have you done right?
Barbara Streisand: I don’t make that many movies and I don’t make that many appearances so…
Seth Rogen: Leave them wanting more.
Barbara Streisand: That’s it. Less is more. And maybe that keeps a little mystery or something. I don’t know. I like to stay home a lot. I like to do other things, too. You know what I mean? Like decorate, build.
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We Got This Covered: Seth, how crazy does your own mother drive you?
Seth Rogen: Very. I think yeah my mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship with her though, I see my parents a lot. But, yeah it’s a lot like in the movie. For no reason I’ll get annoyed and I’ll just find myself reverting back to like a mentality of like a 14 year old kid who just doesn’t wanna be around his parents. Yeah, it’s one of the things I related to most in the script honestly, it was that dynamic where just your mother’s trying and the more she tries, the more it bugs you. And the more it bugs you the more she tries. And you like see her trying to say the thing that won’t annoy you and she can’t and yeah, all that is very, at times, very real to my relationship with my mother.
We Got This Covered: Barbara, how much contact did you and your son Jason Gould have while you were thinking about how you wanted to play the role and did he share some fun stories, maybe one of which you can share with us?
Barbara Streisand: No, actually he was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery so he was in bed for a few days after. I brought the script over and we read it out loud and it was interesting actually. His father was in the room, too. And so he became the audience and Jason was reading all the parts with me. And he said, “I think you should do it, mom.” And I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He has great taste, you know, in whatever he chooses to do. It’s amazing. So he clinched the deal.
We Got This Covered: What was it about this script that made you want to do this movie?
Barbara Streisand: When I was working a lot, you know, and I’d feel guilty as a parent that I couldn’t pick up my son every day from school, bake him cookies and that kinda thing, I developed a mother’s guilt. So I know that feeling. I know that feeling a lot. And so you try to compensate and, you know, everything they do is great and they sense that guilt, children, you know? And they’re going through their own rebellious times or whatever. Having a famous parent is an odd thing, you know. And so I thought it was interesting to investigate this, you know, trying to be my son’s friend, trying to be his friend versus a mother
In terms of this movie, it hit on all those things that I thought I could explore. And it was a true story. It’s Dan and his mother. Dan wrote this lovely script and it just felt like it was meant to be, meant for me to come back to work as a star, you know, starring role rather than just six days on a movie. It was time to challenge myself again, you know. Of course, we made — I made it very difficult for them to hire me because I kept, you know, wanting an out some way so I made it really hard. I really didn’t really wanna schlep to Paramount everyday so I said, would you rent a warehouse and build the sets in the Valley, no more than 45 minutes from my house? And they said yes.
Anne Fletcher: I wasn’t gonna do the movie without these two. There was no other… there wasn’t a backup. So it was, if Seth said no, there was no replacement. If Barbra said no, there was no replacement. It was them or I wasn’t going to make the movie.
Seth Rogen: I was open to Shirley McClaine (laughs).
Barbara Streisand: He’s lying. That’s not what you said yesterday.
Seth Rogen: That’s not true. I only would have done it if Barbra was doing it. No for me it was funny. I was just — they were like why don’t you do this movie with Barbra, but Barbra’s not sure if she wants to do it. And I was like, “Well, just let me know if she says yes.” And then I really made like two movies during that time and we were like editing 50/50 and I got a call and they were like, “Barbra said yes.” Really? Oh, okay, great.
We Got This Covered: What do you all want audiences to take away from this film?
Barbara Streisand: I want them to be moved. I want them to identify. I want them to see themselves in the movie. I want them to get closer to their children.
We Got This Covered: Anne, was most of what made it into the movie improvised or was most of it on the page?
Anne Fletcher: I don’t know to be perfectly honest. We have such a great flow with the script written by Dan Fogelman and amazing ideas from Seth and Barbra. Their chemistry is insane which means they’re incredibly connected and actually, I’ve been around improv a long time in my life and these two people are insane with it. They can actually speak and listen at the exact same time. So it was always my goal to have that on screen as much as possible because I think it’s magic and I don’t think that many people have that much of a click. I mean lots of people do and they’re very good at it so I don’t wanna discredit them, but these two have a very unique ability that I really loved and wanted the world to see. So, we did a lot of improv, yes.
We Got This Covered: Seth, Andy Brewster had a refreshingly complex character. He had a good range of emotion and I know you touched on this a little bit with regards to relatability but how did you approach this character?
Seth Rogen: I really thought of it kind of like a very real time performance. You are kind of just thrown into the movie with him so I kinda thought I should be as real and natural as possible. He’s not a particularly funny guy. He’s not even in a particularly good mood for the majority of the movie. But I thought that, you know, if you seem a little vulnerable, people seem to relate to that and I think that was kind of the balance — I mean and we got options, honestly I would do takes where I was more harsh with Barbra and takes where I was less harsh and takes where I was more annoyed and less annoyed and takes where I was just fully entertained by her. We knew that it would be somewhere in there, you know. We knew that was gonna be like the line of like how annoying can she be versus how annoyed can he be and when does that start to get grating. You gotta make sure you relate with both of them. Is it too much on her? Is it too much on him? So we talked a lot about it while we were filming just as far as like, “Okay, that last take was harsh. We should make sure we get one that’s less harsh.”
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Barbara, Seth and Anne for talking with us. Be sure to check out The Guilt Trip, in theatres this Friday.Previous