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Q & A: Indie Hit 'Enough Said' Is Oscar Race Dark Horse

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 1, 2013 at 3:04PM

Nicole Holofcener is one of those respected specialty players who has never crossed over to the mainstream. Now may be her time. With rave reviews and strong box office and an awards push from Fox Searchlight (which developed the project from a pitch), "Enough Said" could wind up a strong contender in the Oscar race in multiple categories.
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Holofcener and Keener
Holofcener and Keener

How many takes for a given shot?

Holofcener: Very few. Four of five. Not a lot of time. If it's not bad and if it's going well, I like to try different things. I wasn't that rushed. Some scenes were.

Audience member: Was it always going to be a happy ending? 

Holofcener: Yeah, it was never going to be a "let's get married" ending but it was always [going to be a happy ending], I think so. I think that the studio at some point might have wanted a happier ending and I tried that, and tried different versions. The ending was actually a little scary. We weren't sure what tone or note we wanted. We decided in the middle of the movie that he would do these jokes, "give me money, just kidding." "I weave. Do you weave? No." And the third one would be, "I bought night tables. Did you? No." We had to set those up and make sure those stayed in the movie.

Louis-Dreyfus: There was a debate about those last couple lines which was very crucial and we played around with it on the day.

Holofcener: We had him say, "Did you buy night tables?" And Julia said, "No you didn't." And then he's like, "you got me." We tried it that way, but this one was it. 

Audience: Nicole, did you have something that happened to a friend that you wanted to write about, and felt the need to show it? 

Holofcener: Nothing happened to me. I'm a much better person! It didn't happen to a friend of mine but the themes were just things that were running around my mind: being in a relationship, having been divorced, just that kind of stuff that I started taking notes about. Some things are from my friends. My friend did have a housekeeper that put her bracelets in drawers a lot, she would find her stuff in the weirdest places. So I stole that from her.

Audience: Was the title always "Enough Said"? Were there others?

Holofcener: "The Masseuse Who Knew Too Much. "He Means Well," "That Ship Has Sailed," "Threesome." We thought that one nailed it! No, "Enough Said" came at the very last moment.

Audience: Julia, could you take about your process of getting into character?

Louis-Dreyfus: It's sort of intuitive for me because in a weird way it's really an actor's version of what Nicole does as a writer. I think about it a lot. I need to make sure that it fits somehow. Is this shoe comfortable? I had my little notes because I would think about the dialogue, if it seemed true, and I can't define my process except to say that we would talk a lot about scenes beforehand. I would call Nicole and we would talk a lot on the phone about it. I love this character so much so I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't judging her as I played her, which meant really understanding exactly where she was emotionally. And because such very good people are capable of doing terrible things that they didn't mean to. We shot out of sequence, so we kept a bible of what Eva knew in each scene because that was really crucial. Little bits and pieces of information had a way of weighing down on her. We had to keep a bible of info that she knew from scene-to-scene.

Audience: Did James Gandolfini see the film?

Holofcener: He could have, he just didn't choose to. It was almost finished. His representative saw it and loved it, probably encouraged him to see it. I wasn't surprised, I was excited to have him see it when it was done, but he didn't...

Audience: Julia, how did you and James Gandolfini create your chemistry?

Louis-Dreyfus: We just talked about these people the same way I badly described my process. We sort of did that together. We talked about it psychologically. It was interesting, though, because we also kept some distance at the beginning. Remember when we're first starting to date? There was a little distance there, which was appropriate. As we got to know each other better in the movie, we got to know each other better as friends. That was really useful, so by the time we got to that scene in the kitchen, man, that was crazy. That day we talked at great length about what that scene meant to each of us. It was very personal.

Holofcener: Very early on, there was a respect creating a certain chemistry. I think they were both so excited to work together. There was a nervousness, but he was very charming, flirtatious in a sweet way, very self-effacing, and all those things were very appealing.

Audience: How do you blend humor with deep emotion? How much of that came out of shooting or the script and how much was achieved in the editing?

Holofcener: The comedy and drama was mostly in the script, I pictured that stuff. I don't think I wrote when the character cries, maybe in the airport. It's just so part of what the story was about that it was definitely in the script and then finding the balance when I'm directing is such a collaboration. How broad can we go here? When she hides behind the bush: "is that too silly?" It's upsetting and funny at the same time. We were always talking about a balance but mostly I think it's my taste. We have similar taste.

Louis-Dreyfus: That might have been the broadest thing in the movie, hiding in the bushes, but broad things are real. When we were making the movie, there was a constant barometer of "would you buy this in real life?" It was a question of, how can you hide in a bush and buy it so that it's not arch, which has it's own place but not in this film. There's a way to do it.

Audience: What is your personal reason for why you make movies and TV shows?

Holofcener: (jokes) Money. My personal reasons? I don't know what else I'd do. That I'm allowed to do it is so fun, creatively fulfilling and incredibly gratifying. I want to tell these stories and express this stuff. I wouldn't die if I couldn't. I'd find another job, but I have a really good one. TV shows keep me working, in practice-- it's been four years between movies. Recently, I did a lot of "Parks and Recreation," two "Enlightened" episodes and a pilot that didn't get paid up. Those are fun, they pay, and I get to meet new actors. I only do shows I like.

Louis-Dreyfus: Well, I don't have any other skills for sure.

This article is related to: Television, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews , Enough Said, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nicole Holofcener, Nicole Holofcener, Awards, Awards, Oscars


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.