Nicole Holofcener on ‘Self-Conscious’ James Gandolfini, ‘Sad Girl’ Jennifer Aniston and That First Season of ‘Sex and the City’: ‘I Didn’t Know If I Was Going to Be Working on Porn’

Nicole Holofcener wouldn’t mind reuniting with her “Friends With Money” star Jennifer Aniston.

“Maybe we will work together again,” she says.

“She knew my movies. She knew I don’t do a lot of makeup and that she would have to look like a ‘sad girl.’ And that time in her life was very sad, too: she just split up from Brad Pitt like a month before. I think she wasn’t sure if she wanted to dive in or not, but she did, and she was a pleasure to work with.”

Holofcener isn’t gunning to cast massive celebs in her films, however.

“There was a time when I cast the wrong person to get financing and it was a disaster,” she recalls.

In 2015, she was supposed to direct “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” with Julianne Moore. Following Moore’s departure, the part went to Melissa McCarthy and the film was helmed by Marielle Heller. Holofcener was nominated for an Academy Award for the script.

“Don’t fix what’s not broken. If I am having a great time with Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Catherine Keener, if they elevate me and the material, and are lovely human beings, I am inspired by it,” she says about her regulars.

“Catherine and I are very different in the way we walk and talk, and look – Julia and I are a lot more similar. I am wearing her glasses right now. My mother might say: ‘Stop casting the same people!’ But I can’t help what I want. They get me.”

Still, their work in her films often gets overlooked by the award voters.

“It can be frustrating,” she admits.

“Catherine was in four of my films, but she got nominated for ‘Capote’ and ‘Being John Malkovich.’ What?! These are good movies and I want her to have that, but I also feel that James Gandolfini didn’t get recognition and I don’t understand why.”

She cast Gandolfini in rom-com “Enough Said,” also featuring Louis-Dreyfus and Keener. He passed away before it was released.   

“He was the hardest person to convince he could do this part. He was so self-conscious. ‘I am overweight: Would people believe I can do this?’ He never saw the movie, but he gave me everything I wanted. And it was so clear he was a great actor.”

Currently celebrated at Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, Holofcener keeps on writing about her own life. And she likes it that way.


“I started in my 30s and we just keep getting older. Soon, [these characters] will be really old and I won’t be able to get financing. I try to write about younger people because it’s good for marketing, but I am too self-absorbed. I like to write about people my age.”

Or about people who are far from being perfect.  

“Who wants to watch a movie about well-adjusted, driven, confident people? It’s much more interesting to write about flawed people who will maybe find themselves later on.”

She might eventually venture out into a different world as a director, though.

“I did some rewriting on a Marvel movie and that was fine, but I have no interest in doing one and nobody asked, so that’s okay. I would be bored with all the greenscreen and special effects. I would be happy to do a broad comedy, like ‘Bridesmaids,’ or a thriller. Anything too dramatic wouldn’t be for me. It has to be at least a little bit funny,” she notes.

“Next time, and you can hold me to it, I will force myself to pick a location that’s different. I will go where the money is, where the tax rebates are and freedom from studio executives.”

Recently, Holofcener surprised some of her fans when she co-wrote historical drama “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, set in medieval France.

“They called me up and I thought they were kidding. I said: ‘I don’t know how to write like this!’ They said: ‘Neither do we. We are just fumbling and you are going to fumble with us.’ I thought I was finally going to get rich. They made me a producer on the film, I thought it was going to be huge for me and instead it was a huge flop,” she laughs.

“They had to get a woman, that’s obvious – they couldn’t get away with writing that female part. But they thought I was a good writer and that felt great. A man could have done a great job with it too, but not in this climate. That wouldn’t fly.”

Times change – also for industry professionals, with some of them still licking their wounds from the strike.

“I was fortunate I had a writing job. I got paid the day before the strike. I didn’t lose my health insurance, didn’t lose my career. A lot of staff writers on TV shows really got fucked. I think we compromised, and now A.I. scares everybody. If I would be just starting out, I would be afraid,” she observes.

Over the years, she worked on such iconic shows like “Parks and Recreation,” “Six Feet Under” and “Sex and the City.”
“‘Sex and the City’ was really fun. It was my first TV job. It was the first season, so nobody knew what was happening. I didn’t know if I was going to be working on porn,” she says.
Even though the indie landscape keeps on transforming – “What’s an independent film? One that takes forever to get made” – Holofcener stays moderately optimistic, allowing her characters to overcome their problems instead of giving up.

“In ‘You Hurt My Feelings,’ he apologizes [for criticizing her work] and she accepts his apology. In a Hollywood movie, she would leave him, move out, have an affair and then maybe he would win her back, which is such bullshit. No – they work it out, like people do.”

“There are many dark things in my movies, but I don’t want to end on ‘life sucks.’ I would rather say: ‘Life sucks, but we move on’.”

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