Anne Fletcher is in a groove. Her last film achieved huge success -- and great The Proposal quotes. Her latest, The Guilt Trip, scored one of the biggest entertainment icons in the world as its star, Barbra Streisand. Of course having comic champ Seth Rogen playing son to Streisand’s mother and having the two hit the road in Dan Fogelman's hilarious script, it looks quite likely Fletcher is about to have another heartwarming hit.
Movie Fanatic sat down with Fletcher for an exclusive interview where we immediately wanted to know what it was like to woo the great Barbra Streisand for her movie.
“I have intense instincts. I feel intuitive. I felt like I knew her before I met her. And I’m usually right,” Fletcher said. “I remember going to her house to have my first meeting with her. Within the first two minutes it was very clear who she was, who I was with her and who we were together. She is so grounded and real.”
The legend even took her into one of her house’s most interesting rooms. “I went into her room of couches! She says all the time that she didn’t have any couches growing up. It’s cozy and comfortable, just her, me… and her dog Sammy," Fletcher said.
And just like Streisand’s mother character does to Rogen in the film, she is nurturing and tries to feed Fletcher. “She’s like, ‘You want any food?’ With her, it’s always about the food,” she said and laughed. "The crudite came out, and by the way I didn’t eat mine because I was so nervous, but she ate mine!”
What impressed her most was Fletcher felt she had not only achieved the opportunity to work with one of her idols, but she would have a true collaborator once they hit the set. “One of the biggest things that I got from her is that she demands and expects honesty and truthfulness. Be straight up with her. She tops my instincts. It was a great relief honestly when I met her,” she admitted.
“I think when you’re who she is, which I could never even imagine, you have a lot of crap being thrown at you and you have a lot of 'yes' people. She really wants people around her who make her a better person.”
As seen in The Guilt Trip trailer, the story follows Rogen’s Andy and Streisand’s Joyce as the son has asked his mother to accompany him on a cross country trip as he tries to sell a new product he invented. The line between annoying mother and resentful son had to be carefully negotiated.
“It’s important because it’s only the words. We don’t have any flash in our movie. It’s just two talking heads. The material itself has to be the most important which equates to their performances being spot on,” Fletcher said.
“We played with levels with each. Be a little mean, be a little softer. I kept pulling Barbra back. We need to love her. If she goes off on any false notes, we lose her. People want to identify with the child, but we don’t need him to go too crazy. Plus, we love Barbra too much. People aren’t going to go for it.”
Fletcher believes that there is no one who cannot identify with her latest film. We all have a mother and as the relationship can run the gamut from testy to tried and true, the director finds its themes universal.
“In the film, the relationship between the mother and son, it was like my relationship with my mom -- or her relationship with my brother. Moms can push us to no end. We can scream at them and they take it,” Fletcher said. “Dads love us, but moms have such a unique type of love for their child. It’s one of a kind.”
As shown in this The Guilt Trip clip, we can push, but what happens when moms push back?
“There is a breaking point for moms. You never know when it’s going to come,” Fletcher said and laughed. “Moms will either scream or cry their heads off, or both! You know in the moment you have done the worst possible thing.”
Fletcher arose through the Hollywood ranks as a dancer, then choreographer. She became BFFs with Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman, who gave her the opportunity of a lifetime.
“When Adam went to direct his first movie, I started choreographing for him. Then he called me one day and said, ‘I got a call from a producer asking who’s the next you -- a choreographer turned director -- and I threw your name in the hat. It’s going to be for this movie, Step-Up,’” she recalled and smiled.
Her dance background had led her to film and the work she did on that dance movie smash led to opportunities like The Proposal and now The Guilt Trip. Fletcher believes it’s all interrelated. “It all started with dance. Through that, I could see how the moving parts worked in moving a story forward,” Fletcher said. “In the end, it’s all just a dance.”