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INT: Rob Reiner

12.21.2005

Always the good guy and aspiring politician, director Rob Reiner entered the room and started by shaking everyone’s hand. Good guy. He sat at talked about his latest film, RUMOR HAS IT, a new light dramatic comedy (with script connections to the classic Dustin Hoffman film THE GRADUATE) starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner and the legendary Shirley MacLaine. Reiner talked about what it was like to come in and replace previous writer/director Ted Griffin, who was taken off the project after two weeks of shooting, plus thoughts on his cast, THE GRADUATE, and his unexpected cameo in the film.

Rob Reiner

The big thing for you was that you weren’t planning on directing this movie, it was already in production.

That’s right.

How do you ride to the rescue in that kind of situation?

It was unusual for me. I’ve never been in a situation like this before. They’d been shooting for two weeks, they shut the production down, they had some troubles and I got a call on a Friday from Alan Horn, who’s the head of Warner Bros., who’s a very close friend of mine. We’ve known each other over thirty year, we started Castle Rock together, and he said we’re in trouble, can you come and help out. And I said yes and I didn’t know (laughs) what I was getting myself into. But to be honest with you, it worked out in a very nice way for me. It was oddly freeing, I’d never been in a situation where I had initially less of an emotional investment in something.

Normally, you have pre-production; you go through a period of months, sometimes years in developing a script that you have a real connection with what you’re doing. This one, it freed me up to basically not be obsessed, I had to just say okay let’s bring whatever skills I’ve acquired over the years to bear and see if I could make a go of this thing and make it work. I did have to find my way into the project though, and that was the toughest part for me because the script was a bit disjointed. There was some very good writing and very smart writing, but it didn’t have a dramatic through line, there wasn’t a real emotional through line to the film. And I had to figure what that was and I only had eight days to do it.

But they had a script, they were two weeks into shooting a movie with a script right?

The script was there, but it had a very kind of defused focus.

Did you use any of the scenes from the two weeks of shooting? And did it mesh with the style that you wanted to do?

No. We threw away everything and then started from scratch.

And what was the feeling on the set when you showed up there?

Well, it was good. The movie wasn’t shut down anymore. Good , bad, or indifferent, I have a lot of experience, you know, and they felt comfortable and secure that they would be in good hands so that was helpful. And I think we have professionals who have been doing this for a long time, they all have tremendous craft and in the circumstances they all kind of pulled together, said okay, we all gotta make the best of it, make a go of it. But they trusted that I was able to reconstruct this thing.

Back in the old, old studio days, directors often got pre-cast movies. How was that for a director? How did it fit for you?

Well, I can tell you that, in the way in which I’ve approached films, I would not want to have that happen for me. But I also would tell you that I wouldn’t have taken this picture on, if I didn’t feel that the people that they had cast in these main parts were suited to the parts. Because there’s no way I get in there and go well no, I can’t have that person. I know that 80 to 90% of the success of a movie is the script and the rest is the cast and if you don’t have the right people in the right places…now I did recast a few parts, which I was able to do. But the main people were suited and I was lucky, I was very lucky to get these people. And beyond the four that you see in the poster, to have Mena Suvari and Richard Jenkins was a gift, there were absolute gifts.

What was it like to work with Jennifer Aniston?

Jennifer was an incredible pleasure because she is the rarest of commodities in show business, where you find someone who is adorable and appealing and sexual attractive and all that, who also has the ability to play comedy and to play the emotional truth of the scene. It’s very rare. There are a handful, you can count them, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, and Reese Witherspoon, but they’re rare and you don’t find people who have those abilities.

What is your best Shirley MacLaine memory when you walk away from this?

Shirley is a pisser, you know. She is like the most fun, she’s an icon, she’s Hollywood legend and all that and she brings all that to the set with her, not just as a performer and the craft that she has, but also the fun of listening to her stories. She’s got these great stories about hanging out with the rat pack, with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, but Shirley has lived many lives so she could dish the dirt about Shakespeare and Alexander the Great. You get the dish in all eras.

Do you remember when you saw The Graduate for the first time?

Yes, I was a young man and I remember thinking that this was a film, like it did to many people, spoke to me. It was the zeitgeist of the time for sure, kids graduating and not knowing what they wanted to do with their lives, the uncertainty that kids had at the time. And I identified tremendously with the film and then also as a person who was a fledging person in show business, I also admired the film technique of Mike Nichols and they way they put that film together.

Was there a picture of you with Kevin Costner in his office?

How did you notice that? Here’s what happened on that, it’s an inside little thing. We found pictures of Kevin Costner that we asked him to give us for this scene where she (Aniston’s character) wakes up in the bedroom. And there’s a picture of him with Clinton and with Castro, we had one of him with Gore also. And then there is one of him and Hugh Hefner. So we shot all these pictures and we couldn’t get the clearance for him and Hugh Hefner and I already shot it.

Why?

Hugh Hefner, for whatever reason, they didn’t want to give you know…we got (laughs) clearance from Clinton and I guess Castro didn’t have a problem with it. But Hefner has a problem. So I said what are we gonna do, we already shot the thing. So somebody said well we can digitize and put your…I said I’ll clear myself, so! It’s amazing that you could see that. That’s my cameo.

Source: JoBlo.com

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