Anne Fletcher had already built an impressive resume as a choreographer working on a wide range of movies, from The Flintstones to Hairspray (2007), before making her directorial debut with the dance-themed film Step Up, starring Channing Tatum. Her following two films, 27 Dresses and The Proposal, were even bigger box-office hits and confirmed Fletcher’s place as one of Hollywood’s rising directors. The filmmaker’s most recent turn in the director’s seat, The Guilt Trip, earned her the chance to work with both Seth Rogen and one of the biggest LGBT icons in the history — Barbra Streisand.
With the release of The Guilt Trip on Blu-ray and DVD today, Fletcher spoke with The Advocate about the film’s LGBT appeal, transitioning from choreographer to director, and her experience working with the original funny girl.
The Advocate: Because you began your career as a dancer and choreographer did you experience any resistance when you sat in the director’s chair for the first time?
Anne Fletcher: No. One of the things I love about this business is everyone can move up. It’s open to everything and everyone. You never know who is going to make the next move — which is one reason you should never burn bridges. [Laughs] But even as a choreographer, you’re working with the money end of it, the schedules, the costumes and all of that. As a director you’re just working with a bigger part of it.
There’s a huge difference in the number of male to female directors currently working in Hollywood. Do you think that’s something we'll see become more balanced in the near future?
I definitely feel like the climate is changing drastically and there’s more and more of us every day. Ultimately storytellers are storytellers, it shouldn’t matter what genitalia they have. But the train has left the station and there’s no going back.
The Guilt Trip stars one of the biggest gay icons of all time, Barbra Streisand. However, would you say the film has even greater LGBT appeal?
It’s interesting, because I wanted this particular story to be as universal as humanly possible. Seth Rogen’s character is not gay, but as far as the characters’ relationship goes — it may not deal with LGBT issues — but it definitely deals with other layers in parent-son relationships. However, Barbra took this role because of her son, Jason [Gould], who is gay. Back when she was still considering whether or not to do The Guilt Trip, she read the script out loud with him, and when they were done he said, “Mom, you have to do this movie.” So she did this for her relationship with her own son.
Plus the relationship dynamic between the characters Barbra and Seth play in the film is one a lot of LGBT viewers will find relatable.
Hopefully. I remember, somebody once said to me, “Everyone has a mother,” but they don’t. We have male gay partners who are parents, and in those families there isn’t a mother. So we can’t exclude them from the dialogue we’re having in this film. Sure this particular story is about a mother and a son, but I always try to stay open to everyone.
Were you at all intimidated by the thought of directing Barbra Streisand?
Well, she is Barbra. [Laughs] She’s insanely talented and beautiful. But it took me a year to convince her to do the movie. and when you’re trying to convince someone to do a film you’re looking at them as an actor, not an icon. Of course, there were times when I thought, OK, Barbra Streisand is talking to you! This is crazy stuff! But no, she’s so down-to-earth and so real. Outside of her talent, people really relate to her spirit, and I think that’s why everyone loves her. She has a beautiful gift for understanding humanity.
Do you feel female directors are more in tune with an LGBT sensibility?
I think that any loving human being who can step aside and have empathy for another person they don’t necessarily identify with is a great storyteller whether it’s a man or a woman. It comes down to each person. I think I would have [a greater LGBT sensibility] because I’m a dancer and have always had gay people in my life. I mean, my first boyfriend was gay, in the fourth grade. [Laughs] So I think I would because I love the LGBT community, but I can’t put a gender on it. You either have love for everybody or you don’t. And if you don’t, then you don’t tell those stories.
Watch director Anne Fletcher in action on the set of The Guilt Trip in the exclusive behind-the-scenes clip below.