Leonard Goldberg, who was executive producer of the original "Charlie's Angels" TV series, says it was the success of The Fugitive—the film version of the successful television show—that started him thinking about other television series which might translate well to the big screen.
"'Charlie's Angels' went well beyond being a hit television series. It was a phenomenon," says Goldberg. "It may have been the beginning of the empowerment of women within popular culture."
Almost 20 years after the original television series went off the air, Goldberg perceived that the time was ripe for an update. His concept picked up where the show left off: the Townsend Detective Agency had continued with Charlie at the helm and thrived with the exit and entrance of different Angels. So now, Goldberg says, "The feature version would include the most recent recruits—women who are representative of Angels in the year 2000."
Columbia Pictures Chairman Amy Pascal was very interested in the project and began developing a screenplay with Goldberg. One day, Goldberg received a call from Pascal. "Amy said, 'You're not going to believe this,"' recalls the producer, "'but Drew Barrymore wants to be in Charlie's Angels.'
"This was an amazing situation," Goldberg says. "In this day and age, to have a movie star call up and say, 'I'd like to be in your movie' is quite unusual."
Drew Barrymore and her production company, Flower Films, had been following the progress of the Angels project and contacted the studio. Barrymore phoned Pascal and said that she had a presentation she wanted to make—her version of a contemporary Angels feature.
Soon after, Barrymore and her producing partner, Nancy Juvonen, presented to Goldberg and Pascal a composition of magazine clippings illustrating everything from who they would cast in the movie to how it would look. "It may seem unusual," Juvonen says of Barrymore's approach, "but that's how Drew does the work."
Barrymore knew that the hit television series had a devoted following and recognized the challenge in bringing Charlie's
Angels to the big screen. "There is something so iconic
about 'Charlie's Angels,"' says the actress/producer of the television show. "I have never seen such great loyalty and devotion to something from fans. People really feel like the show belongs to them.
"You have this great name—'Charlie's Angels,"' says Barrymore. "But what kind of film do you make?"
While Barrymore and Juvonen agreed that the film's proposed structure—current recruits in an ongoing agency—was the logical place to start, Barrymore says, "we wanted to try and create something different... set a new tone... create a new genre."
Goldberg admired these insights. "Drew and Nancy were very smart about what the film should be if it was to succeed today. They had a keen perception of the women," says the producer. "They thought they should be intelligent and clever—yet genuine."
For the role of one of her fellow Angels, Barrymore called upon her good friend Cameron Diaz. Not unlike the character of Natalie, Barrymore says, "Cameron is effervescent and optimistic and has a great strength and stability to her. She is one of the most real people I have met in my life."
"Cameron is a wonderful actress because she is very truthful," says Goldberg. "When there is a close-up on her face, you can look into her eyes and see into her soul. That's what makes a movie star."
With Golden Globe nominations for her performances in There's Something About
Mary and Being John Malkovich, the actress has been much in demand. "It was Drew's relationship with Cameron that got her interested,"
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