‘What to Expect’ Interview: Baby Talk With Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick and More
Lately, Hollywood has been giving us a steady stream of summer blockbusters inspired by comic books (‘The Avengers’), campy television shows (‘Dark Shadows’) or board games (‘Battleship’). ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ might be a first, then.
The ensemble comedy – which opens in theaters on May 18; read our review here – takes its cues from a massively popular self-help guide that’s traditionally purchased for a young couple upon the news that they’re about to have a baby.
Really, it’s just an excuse to saddle gorgeous, non-pregnant starlets like Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks and Anna Kendrick with prosthetic bellies for the benefit of some easy, baby-laced jokes. We sat down with Jones and the cast of ‘What to Expect’ in Los Angeles recently to discuss babies as “the great equalizers,” the human emotions involved in child birth and the “musical genius” of The Wiggles.
Has anyone compared the press junket experience to labor?
Cameron Diaz: To giving birth? Yes. [Laughs] But you know, it takes the same effort that goes into making movies that it does to sell movies. But this is our baby! We’re giving birth to our movie now.
I kind of wish we were holding babies during this interview.
CD: Oh, I know. Aren’t they little equalizers? You can just lay them on your chest and equalize any situation. Or we could use them to deflect any questions that we don’t want to answer! [Laughs]
Speaking of difficult questions, Anna, your character goes through a few hardships that I won’t mention specifically, but has that opened up this press tour to a lot of personal questions about pregnancy and your own desires to maybe have a baby at some point?
Anna Kendrick: You know, a lot of people have been asking if the movie made us want to have a baby? And I’m like, “No. Nope. Not at all.” I would love it if people asked Brooklyn Decker if working on ‘Battleship’ make her want to fight aliens? But her answer for that probably would be, “Yes.”
The screenplay was more personal than I expected, tackling some complicated issues that come with pregnancy. Did the cast bring personal experiences to the table while filming, Mr. Jones, and how did that change your approach to the material?
Kirk Jones: We didn’t all sit down and talk about our own experiences. But I don’t think you could deny that people naturally bring their life experiences with them [to a role], and you would hope that they do that. I think that I’ve experienced virtually everything that happens in the movie myself, apart from Jennifer [Lopez’s] adoption story. So it is an ideal situation when you surround yourself with actors who have all sorts of life experiences that they can bring to the film.
My own life experiences colored my viewing. I’m a dad. The child-birth scenes at the end of this movie actually got to me on an emotional level. And yet, we’ve seen those hospital scenes so many times before. Why do you think they’re always so effective?
Matthew Morrison: Like you, I wasn’t expecting to get emotional. I went in there as an actor thinking I’d be very supportive of [Cameron’s character] and get through the scene. What she brought to it, though, brought these emotions out of me. It was so beautiful and believable that I really felt like we were there, in the moment, and she was really pushing [a baby out]. And it made me cry! It really was so beautiful.
CD: That scene really is the climax of the story for these characters, obviously. The act of giving birth. But also, having presented all of the things that happen when giving birth – the fear, the terror, the vulnerability, the excitement, the joy, the connectivity – it’s a moment for [our characters] to solidify their partnership. And whatever they didn’t agree about before, it all sort of melts away because here they are in this moment where all of it real. He reminds her what she is capable of, and he is there for her. It’s just a human experience, and we wanted to make it real.
And you said to Kirk, “We’re doing this in one take.”
CD: No, we did many, many takes. [Laughs] From many different angles. [Laughs]
If most superhero movies are aimed squarely at teenage boys, who do you think will get the most out of a movie like ‘What to Expect?’
AK: Babies. [Laughs] Have we tried test marketing this movie with babies? I’m a genius! I should run a studio. We need to make a few more edits for babies. Introduce some primary colors. Get The Wiggles to do a song.
It scares me that you even know The Wiggles.
AK: That’s how big they are. I have no reason to know who they are. I just think they are musical geniuses.
‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ opens on May 18.