EXCLUSIVE: Hallie Meyers-Shyer and Nancy Meyers on Working Together and Choosing a Kitchen for 'Home Again'
By John Boone
Open Road Films
"People throw those three words around: first time director," actor Pico Alexander tells ET of starring in Home Again, the directorial debut of Hallie Meyers-Shyer. "If you're a student of film [like] Hallie, she knows movies backwards and forward. She knows the genre. She knows what movie she wanted to make."
It helps that Meyers-Shyer, 30, had one of the best film schools in the world: Both of her parents are writer-directors. Her father is Charles Shyer (Baby Boom) and her mother is Nancy Myers, the multihyphenate behind such iconic films as Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday and It's Complicated. After growing up on her parents' sets -- Meyers-Shyer made a cameo as "Flower Girl" in Father of the Bride, which Meyers and Shyer wrote and Shyer directed -- she is ready to launch her own career with Home Again, about a recently separated single mom (played by Reese Witherspoon) who, following a debaucherous 40th birthday celebration, takes in three wannabe filmmakers (Alexander, Nat Wolff and Jon Rudnitsky). ET sat down with the Meyers women (Nancy serves as a producer on the film) at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to discuss making a romantic comedy, working with family and the art of choosing a truly Meyersian kitchen.
ET: You only make your directorial debut once. How did you know Home Again was the movie?
Hallie Meyers-Shyer: I'd been writing for a while since I graduated from college. I was a screenwriting [major]. I never really felt ready to direct, and then I wrote this movie with myself in mind as the filmmaker, so I made it a story very personal [to me] that I thought I would be the right person to tell. So, I kind of backed myself up in that way.
And Nancy, do you remember when Hallie first pitched it to you?
HMS: I remember pitching it to you really early on, because you said, "There's this boy in my movie who should be in it." And it was Nat Wolff [who starred in Meyers' The Intern]. That was one of her first reactions to the earliest pitch.
Nancy Meyers: I loved the idea. I loved the pitch! And when she said, "I think I'm going to write it for me to direct." I said, "Yeah! You should!"
I feel safe saying that not all parents and children could work together in this capacity. I certainly know I couldn't make a movie with either of my parents.
NM: Are they filmmakers, though?
No, my mom works in sales.
NM: [Laughs.] Well, that would help.
What is your working relationship like?
NM: Well, we did it. We're doing it still. I think, of course, to be honest with you, there were moments where, I'm sure, we each were like, "Ahhh. This is hard!" But mostly, it wasn't like that. Mostly, it was about the work--
HMS: It was also really fun!
NM: We had a lot of fun.
HMS: It was fun to have a friend in the madness of it all. Because making a movie is a lot. It was fun to have someone to talk to about it all.
NM: Always! And, you know, I make movies alone, in that I write, direct and produce my movies. So, to have another big brain around, where I could say, "Tomorrow, when we do this, do you think we should--" Just to strategize with another person -- not that we don't have line producers and great people around us -- but someone who lives, breathes and dies [with] the movie every day.
HMS: Yeah. From casting the movie to cutting the trailers.
NM: It's just great to be able to share it with her, and really, it was amazing for me to see how much she knew on her first movie.
Children often will rebel against what their parents have done.
HMS: Yeah. I mean, I clearly have. [Laughs.]
You can see a lot of your mother's influences and style is in this. Did you ever have the urge to go the other way and, like, make a horror movie?
HMS: No, not at all, because I would just be doing that for the sake of doing that, which seems silly. Like you said, you only get to make your directorial debut one time, so I didn't need to put myself in it, like, "I have to do something different for me!" It was more, "What would be the best story for me to tell?" You have to be true to yourself and, if I'm being true to me, I like romantic comedies.
NM: She's very secure. This is the thing about this one -- she's not going to worry about other people thinking she made a movie in the same genre as her mother. She doesn't worry about that. That's the genre she wants to work in, good for her. She didn't have to waste all that time rebelling.
Your mom is also known for her keen eye for aesthetics and people especially have a thing for the kitchens in her movies. Did you feel any pressure when it came to choosing a kitchen for this?
HMS: No, not at all. All directors are aesthetic. It's a part of the job, so, for me, my mom is a director and set design is a huge part of filmmaking and she excels at filmmaking and excels at set design.
NM: Thank you, Hal!
HMS: So, for me, it just raised the bar even higher, which is a good motivation.