According to Anne Fletcher, director of the new Barbra Streisand-Seth Rogen comedy “The Guilt Trip,” this picture would never have been made without them. “I wasn’t gonna do this movie without these two. There wasn’t backup,” she said at a press junket in Los Angeles last week.
“If Seth said no, there was no replacement; if Barbra said no, there was no replacement. It was them, or I wasn’t gonna make the movie.”
Fletcher, who’s one of the most commercially successful directors in Hollywood with box office hits like “The Proposal” and “27 Dresses,” recognized that Streisand and Rogen had something unique together and she wanted to capture it on film. “From the second they sat down the banter began. They just clicked.”
The director also had an immediate chemistry with Barbra Streisand. As Anne Fletcher recalled, “We became friends instantly.” Fletcher knew all about Barbra Streisand, superstar and multi-hyphenate extraordinary. But to Anne, Barbra was anything but intimidating.
“She’s easygoing, funny, kind, strong and knows who she is. She’s unbelievably awesome. She’d tell me some of the greatest, most personable stories that happened in her life that I can’t remember one iota of. My best friend’s a little pissed about that,” Fletcher laughed.
Still, what was it like for Fletcher to direct Streisand, one of the world’s most famous female directors. “She comes to work as an actor, as an artist, and she’s been doing it for so long that all the pieces fall back into place exactly how they were,” said Fletcher.
“We’re all there for the common good, so she would come to work as any other actor. She’s a legend, so that’s a little different. But it was never intimidating, because she’s just so genuine. She had my back, and the support I had from her was extraordinary.”
As for Barbra’s reputation, the notion that Barbra likes to direct her directors, Fletcher laughed at that idea. When asked if Barbra was a diva, Fletcher said, “Never. I know we’ve all heard the stories about her endlessly throughout all these years, but I can’t say whether they’re true or false. I just know from my experience I had an unbelievable experience with her, and I would do it again.”
Going on, she added, “[Barbra] works harder than anyone. And her brain never shuts off. That’s the only thing I would complain about! Like, ‘Please stop thinking for just five minutes – because I’m tired.'”
Fletcher was intent on bringing out the real woman in Barbra, the every “mom,” so that her character — Joyce Brewster — would be recognizable to every viewer. Fancy wigs or elaborate costumes would have been all wrong for the role and Fletcher directed Streisand to be down to earth and anti-diva.
“That’s the best compliment. This was part of our conversation: ‘If we’re gonna win the audience, you have to be every mother. You have to capture the essence of moms now. You can’t be glamorous-beautiful. You have to be every mom for us to tell the story the right way.'”
Fletcher and Streisand have made it work brilliantly because “The Guilt Trip” succeeds in a myriad of ways, but truly as a picture you can relate to. Having seen a preview, Barbra’s performance as this character is spot-on. Joyce is as lovable and real as your mom, my mom and the mother of all our friends.