Cameron Richardson and Sophie Monk star in this hilarious new comedy about two woman looking for an easy lay, in select theaters this Friday
The so-called chick flick is experiencing a hardcore surge of reinvention at the box office as of late. Last weekend saw director Paul Feig successfully flipping the genre with Bridesmaids, and now this weekend, director Leah Sturgis is pushing the envelope even further with her sexy new comedy Hard Breakers.
This first film from Leah follows two best friends (Cameron Richardson and Sophie Monk) as they navigate the California dating scene looking for less a commitment, and more of a one night stand. Yet, they are met with men who'd rather nest and start a family than bust a nut and flee at nearly every turn.
We recently caught up with Leah Sturgis, who wrote Hard Breakers with her good friend Elaine Fogg, to chat about the reinvention of the chick flick, and to go behind-the-scenes of this hilarious look at woman and dating in 2011.
Here is our conversation.
On the surface, this could be mistaken for a chick flick, but that's really not the case...
Leah Sturgis: I wanted to make something that woman could get behind. I wanted you to be able to root for the girls. I wanted to do something different. We've seen so many movies where the girl is pathetic, and she is waiting for the man. There are all of these stereotypes. I wanted to break away from that and do something totally different. I also wanted to do something that the guys could enjoy. I thought this was perfect. It's every guy's fantasy to be taken advantage of by a woman. And its fun for the women to watch these men be taken advantage of. I thought it was a win-win situation.
And every guy in this movie decides that they want to be in a fully committed relationship as soon as they get this chance to have a crazy, unfathomable for most men, one-night stand...
Leah Sturgis: Exactly. I wanted to play with the role reversal. Woman are usually looking for security, and a commitment. Someone needs to take care of them. So, in this film, it's the guys that want that. The girls want to have more fun, and be more casual about sex.
You co-wrote this with Elaine Fogg. Are you two as good of friends as what we see in the movie? Does some of your relationship bleed onto the screen?
Leah Sturgis: Yes! (Laughs) That is not something I wanted to quite bare to the public just yet, but its true. We went to college together, and we had some wild years. I always encouraged her. I thought she was hilarious. I wanted her to be a stand-up comic. She was always great with one-liners. I was studying film. And screenwriting. So I thought, "Who better to write this with me than my partner in crime through all of my wild years?" She is just great with one-liners. So we got together, and we wrote this script.
How many guys have you hit in the head with a surfboard? I've been hit in the head with a surfboard, and that shit hurts!
Leah Sturgis: (Laughs) Too many to count, I am afraid. In the movie, we did take it into the realm of the absurd. But it's that kind of idea, a hit and run scenario. But I never actually hit anyone in the head...
Your two leads are fantastic, and very funny in the movie. And they have such great chemistry. Was this in instance where the script was written with both of them in mind? Because it seems like it would be incredibly difficult to cast this particular relationship.
Leah Sturgis: You are right about that. I was thinking the other day, "Who else could we have even cast? These girls are perfect for this!" We wrote the script first. And the characters were somewhat modeled after ourselves. But not exactly. Then, I basically started looking at other films, and I was looking at all of these up and coming actresses. I saw Cameron Richardson in a couple of things. I thought, "She can do comedy, and she can be the sexy girl." I thought, "She also brings sensitivity to these parts that she plays." I thought she could do the part of Alexis really well. Sophie Monk was just a stroke of good luck. I was speaking with her agent, who also represented Chris Kattan. I think she got the script from him, and she said that she would like to audition. Her and Cameron came down, they did a screen test, and it was magic. It was perfect. It was meant to be. Its one of those moments where you go, "Oh, my God! This is it." In my mind, I saw her as an Anna Faris type character. She always plays that quirky, crazy blonde. So I thought of her while we were writing it. But Sophie Monk nailed it. She plays this part beautifully.
Were these girls friends before this? Because they really have that chemistry, as though they've known each other since they were kids. There seems to be this genuine bond between them that ups the ante a little bit...
Leah Sturgis: They actually knew each other. Sophie's ex-boyfriend was best friends with Cameron's boyfriend. They had been out at a club a couple of weeks before I was casting. They had known each other, but not really well. Their boyfriends were friends. They did have a couple of run-ins because of that, but the camaraderie and friendship you see was something that was created. They pulled it off. They look like lifelong friends. That is just one other thing that worked really well. This chemistry between them.
Tom Arnold has a couple of really nice scenes in the movie. As a first time filmmaker, what was it like working with him? Because, I know he has a tendency to talk a lot sometimes...
Leah Sturgis: (Laughs) Yes. I loved working with Tom Arnold actually. I love people who have opinions, and know what they want, and aren't afraid to be brutally honest. Those are my favorite types of people. Some shy away from those personality types. I gravitate towards them. So we hit it off. He expressed that he wanted to see more of his character in the film. He wanted to write some new scenes with me. I said, "Great, lets do this." His rep was also the rep for another one of my actors. I got bridged to Tom through this rep. We spoke on the phone. He said, "If you are comfortable with me coming in and suggesting some ideas, I'd love to do that." He responded really well to that. It was great. I really appreciated his point of view, and what he wanted to see his character do. So I worked with him on that. If you do that with Tom, and you work with him, you get a different side of Tom. I had a blast with him. I thought we really hit it off.
This is your directorial debut. Was it more comforting to have your actors serves as collaborators?
Leah Sturgis: Absolutely. When you are doing comedy, taking lines off the page sometimes doesn't translate into the reality of the scene that you are shooting. You have to be spontaneous. You have to find what is funny in the moment, right now. The script was written months ago. These are stale words until an actor brings them to life. With a comedy, you have to give the actor that freedom, to play with it. To come up with outrageous ideas. Chris Kattan was especially like that. Every take was a different dialogue that he was spouting off. In the end, it was difficult to edit together. There were moments when I said, "Hey, you need to at least say this line! This is a plot point that needs to be conveyed." He was wild, and it was like trying to put the genie back in the bottle.
Did it ever get really frustrating in the editing room? Did some of the scenes completely change?
Leah Sturgis: Yeah, at first I was like, "Oh. My. God! How is this ever going to cut together? This guy is wild!" With time, and looking at the different takes, I made it work. I had a lot of coverage, and a lot of takes. It took a lot of time. I edit myself. I took time with it. I figured out how to get around certain stuff. There was one really important line that needed to be said. I was having too much fun watching the adlibbing. I am at fault too. I wasn't paying attention, and this one important line didn't get expressed. I ended up in the editing room, moving things around and changing scenes entirely. So that this no longer needed to be a problem. It didn't need to be a plot point anymore. Some of this came together spontaneously. But I think it came together in the end. It's a little bit of luck, and you have to have your ducks in a row as well. I was flexible. I was able to move things around and make it work.
Did the story change drastically? Or were these subtle changes?
Leah Sturgis: Honestly? If you read the script today, you wouldn't see a lot of comparisons. You wouldn't' recognize the film in the script. We were adlibbing. We were having fun with it. For me, even if it's a bunch of scenes that are put together, and its hilarious, that is more important than, "Oh, we have this plot! But it's not funny." I decided to air on the side of being entertaining and funny in each scene versus, "Oh, let me string together a cohesive plotline here." In comedy, that doesn't happen a lot. Maybe in a romantic comedy. But this isn't a romantic comedy. Plot is not the most important thing.
You wouldn't call this a romantic comedy. What do you call it? Is this a new genre?
Leah Sturgis: It is like a new genre. I don't know what I would call this. Its in a similar genre to Superbad. Maybe Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. I don't know what to call that. It's a buddy comedy. I'm not sure. It's very sexual as well. I guess I would call it crude humor. That's exactly what it is. The Judd Apatow style of humor is crude. That's what guys are into. They think its funny. But the misconception is that women want the opposite of that. They want a story that is going to unfold, and these two people are going to meet. Guys are like, "Whatever! Give me the one-liner that is crude and that is going to crack me up." I can agree with that sentiment. I have never liked the romantic comedy genre myself. I am not into them. I have a very masculine outlook on films. I get the crude humor. I am into that.
I think a lot of women are. It just took Hollywood a while to catch onto that fact.
Leah Sturgis: Yes. There are definitely a lot of women who like that. Bridesmaids dances a fine line between what woman would like and the crude elements for the guys. My intention here was to...I don't know. I just knew I didn't want to make a romantic comedy. I wanted these girls to be outlandish. Sort of crude. Ridiculous. Which was the point. That was my goal. I wanted to turn that stereotype on its head. I wanted to pull back the veil. That woman do behave in this way. We like this. Woman are very crude too. We get together and talk about this stuff in detail. Women are just as bad as men, if not worse. I did want to expose that. There is a little too much information going on! Some people get it. Some people don't. That's just the way of the world. You can't please everybody. I pleased myself, and I hope it pleases other people. I just want to entertain people at the end of the day. There is so much horror, and darkness. I just wanted to be uplifting. And fun!