Feminine funny — Paul Feig all smiles about ‘The Heat’ and its stars
By Bill Zwecker June 23, 2013 10:05PM
Paul Feig and Sandra Bullock attend the London screening of "The Heat" earlier this month. | GETTY IMAGES
Updated: July 25, 2013 6:07AM
Making “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy presented a challenge for director Paul Feig. “My hardest role on the set,” he said, “was to NOT be the guy who laughed and ruined a take.”
Feig clearly loved working with his two principal stars, both known for serious comedic chops. “Their chemistry was instant. They had never met before making this movie, but the minute they met, they just hit it off.
“They bonded over the fact they were mothers of young kids, and the minute we started reading [the script in rehearsal] they just clicked. They became best friends and they still are best friends.”
“The Heat” (opening Friday) is the first big-screen project for screenwriter Katie Dippold, a relative newcomer. During a recent visit to Chicago, Feig explained that he thinks their shared experiences in television helped him connect with Dippold, who had written for “Parks and Recreation” and “MadTV.”
Feig’s own TV resume includes creating “Freaks and Geeks” and directing and producing “The Office.”
“In TV you’re always rewriting and fixing things,” he said, “which is how I also work when I’m making a movie. … [Dippold] is such a positive spirit I told her I wanted her on the set the whole time, and it worked out great.
“She would come up with new jokes and hand them to me on Post-it notes. … I always like to have a lot of extra material, so she really hit a home run with that.”
Feig had been sent the “Heat” script and “was told Sandra Bullock was interested in doing it.” The title intrigued him immediately: “The Untitled Female Buddy Cop Comedy.”
Reading it on a flight, Feig said he was no more than halfway through “and I thought I have to make this movie.”
He immediately realized McCarthy, co-star of his 2011 smash “Bridesmaids,” was perfect for the role of an unorthodox, foul-mouthed Boston detective paired with an uptight, career-obsessed FBI agent (Bullock).
Asked about why he seems so comfortable working with women, Feig revealed, “I think it’s a combination of the fact that all my friends were girls when I was growing up.
“I was bullied by guys, so I always sought refuge with women and funny women.
“I love comedy. I love to laugh. And all the funny women in my life have always been there for me.”
Feig thinks there’s something about female comedy that’s “not as aggressive as male comedy.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I love male comedy. When it’s done well, it’s hilarious. I’m just not good at doing it, because it’s not how I process the world. I’m not good at insulting my friends.”
Feig sees his future as continuing to fight to make movies that will open even more opportunities for “funny women out there I’d like to make into stars.”
“Sandra and Melissa are like the tip of the iceberg,” said Feig, who dreams of the day “when a bunch of guys will walk by a movie poster with two women on it and don’t go, ‘I don’t want to see that. It’s a chick flick.’
“I want to hear, ‘Oh! I bet they’re funny. Let’s go see it!’ ”