Last week, I was lucky enough to go to a screening of The Intern, the new Nancy Meyers comedy, which comes out tomorrow. In the movie, Robert De Niro plays a 70-year-old who lands an internship at a fashion site run by thirtysomething Anne Hathaway. The movie is fast-paced, funny and visually beautiful (Brooklyn brownstones! Lofty workspace! Wide-legged pants!). And I love that Anne Hathaway plays a boss in tech, who runs a staff of hundreds.
After the screening, I was able to meet director and writer Nancy Meyers, the force behind movies like Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, The Holiday, Father of the Bride and Baby Boom. (“I think the great thing about a career is to have a long one,” she told me.) She has been one of my role models for years, so I was thrilled to ask her a few questions…
First of all, I love the women in your movies. Your characters are funny and emotional, have a million interests outside of men, and can be themselves without apology. Men are also dynamic and can be sweet and get their feelings hurt. You don’t see that very often.
Annie [Hathaway] and I were very aware when we were making the movie — I kept saying to her, a woman boss in a movie is always the villain. Always. In wardrobe fittings, we were very careful not to give her big shoulder pads and a tight bun. Hollywood has trained audiences to think, the woman boss is a bitch. We had to undo that wherever we could. It was an interesting dilemma to make her user friendly.
You co-wrote Baby Boom in 1987, where Diane Keaton’s character juggles work and parenthood. In the Intern, Anne Hathaway also plays a working mother. How are the two characters different?
In Baby Boom, the mother had a hard time working. She was torn. But Anne’s character Jules shows no guilt about running her company. You haven’t really seen that before, with my generation. Now we’ve learned that women can be wonderful, fully functioning mothers and not be there at every event.
Older characters in movies are also stereotyped as being somewhat lonely or adrift. Your movies obliterate that.
Yes, because I’m that. I’m making movies, traveling, having a great time. We’re super functioning people for the most part.
What career advice would you give women?
When I talk to young women, it sounds clichéd, but I say, be true to yourself. Doing the same work as everyone else, or copying what just happened, is not going to help you. Hear your own voice. The best thing you have going is you.
On my Pinterest is this great quote from Dr. Seuss that says, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You.”
I write about what I find real, what I find funny, what I find emotional. My youngest daughter is a writer, and today she went into a meeting, and I texted her, “Be confident, they need you.” People need young talent. To me, they’re lucky she’s walking in the room.
That’s so sweet.
And by the way, I forgot to push send. She didn’t answer me. Because I didn’t push send.
Ok, I’d love to ask you some lightning-round questions. What’s your irrational fear?
I’m a very safe driver. I never go through a green light without looking both ways.
The Bachelorette, although I don’t feel guilty. I put it on my Instagram and everyone said, I’m coming over.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
I love being home. I love my office there. I love sitting at my desk. It’s a really comfortable space. It’s kind of a special place, because not a lot of people go in there. It’s like a meditation room, it gives me a certain kind of comfort. I love my kitchen, my bedroom. I’m just so happy in my house. That’s why so many of my movies take place at home.
People not writing things down at work. You think you’ll remember, but you won’t remember. I write more emails to myself than anyone else.
I loved your Instagram shot of the Something’s Gotta Give-themed bachelorette party.
My daughter’s friend Luke texted me and said, “I know all these girls who are doing a Nancy Meyers bachelorette party. They rented a house in the Hamptons, they’re serving all the food from all your movies.” So I FaceTimed with them that night, and they all got in front of the computer and they were all in white turtlenecks and tortoise shell glasses. I was like, “Oh, my God!” I was so touched.
Above: Nancy Meyers on the sets of Something’s Gotta Give, What Women Want and It’s Complicated.