AND SO IT GOES
About The Film
Director Rob Reiner knows about comedy, and he's certainly proven that he knows
how to successfully fuse humor and romance. He kept audiences craving for Meg
Ryan and Billy Crystal to somehow get together in his 1989 comedy classic WHEN
HARRY MET SALLY... And in 1995's THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, they wanted only for
Michael Douglas's President Andrew Shepherd and Annette Bening's lobbyist Sydney
Wade to overcome their awkward courtship on the political battleground to
succeed as a couple.
"I basically make the same movie over and over again," Reiner laughs. "The woman
is always more advanced and more developed and emotionally able. And the man is
like an idiot running around, trying to figure it all out, until he realizes
that he should be with the woman." And so it is with AND SO IT GOES.
The idea for the film came about during the press junket for Reiner's 2007 hit,
THE BUCKET LIST, starring Jack Nicholson. "Every single journalist asked the
same question," the director recalls, "'what's on your bucket list?" Reiner's
longtime producing partner, AND SO IT GOES producer Alan Greisman, remembers the
classic Nicholson answer. "He thought for a minute and then he replied, 'I sit
in my living room with my feet up on the coffee table smoking a cigarette, and I
ask myself: is there time for one more great romance?' I went up to Rob and
said, 'This is a great idea for a movie.'" The gears began to turn, and the
subject of a new picture was hatched. Explains Reiner, "That struck me - people
finding each other at a certain point in life, a later point in life."
Scribe Mark Andrus, who had written another Nicholson hit vehicle, 1997's AS
GOOD AS IT GETS, came aboard to develop a script for the film. "The main idea,"
says Reiner, "is about people who have decided that they're done, they're not
going to be involved romantically again. And somehow they find each other."
Under Andrus' pen, the plot expanded to bring in broader themes about second
chances in life - not just in romance, but also in career choice as well as for
families in conflict.
Therein lies a great humanity beyond the comedy - which in turn helped to
attract great talent. Recalls producer Mark Damon, "I first read AND SO IT GOES
on a flight to Toronto. Between my laughter and my tears, I realized I was
reading an exceptional script that could make an exceptional film in the right
hands and with the right cast. With a pedigree of Academy Award nominees and
winners, I knew this would be a film I would be proud to be involved with, proud
to produce, and proud to distribute. Rarely had I been so sure about a film's
prospects, and as soon as I got off the plane, I called Rob Reiner and Alan
Greisman of Castle Rock, and told them 'I'm in.' Rob has a sure hand as a
director, actors love him, and he gets wonderful performances out of them. It
was exciting to see him bringing the promise of this script to life on the big
AND SO IT GOES centers around a once-successful real estate broker named Oren
Little, whose wife passed away several years earlier after a protracted battle
with cancer. Oren is played by Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas, making his
second film with Reiner at the helm. "I love working with Rob, especially since
we had worked together on AMERICAN PRESIDENT," the actor says. "There's a
comfort factor - you don't have to go through the introductions. There's
shorthand. And Rob trusts his instincts. He doesn't like to do a lot of takes,
likes to move things along. And he knows everybody's lines. On 'Action,' he just
goes into another world. He puts his nose up to the monitor and watches
everything really, really closely. And he has a stellar history with comedies."
Douglas was attracted to the project not only for the opportunity to work with
Reiner again, but also by the script and the qualities of his character. "Mark
Andrus is quite a writer. He's got a wonderful quirky tone, and he writes these
really interesting, well-defined characters. I could tell it was a great love
story with a good sense of humor."
His character, Oren, had particular appeal. "I'm always attracted to characters
that are not very attractive, but ultimately come around," Douglas notes. "I
enjoy the challenge of trying to get the audience onto my side."
The production also had another advantage; it was filmed in suburban
Connecticut, not far from the actor's home in Westchester. "I had just done
"Behind the Candelabra" and LAST VEGAS. So the idea of filming at home was
great. It was just a 25-minute drive to get back to the house and see my kids
every night. That was very attractive."
Oren, Douglas explains, was once an extremely successful real estate broker. "He
had a very successful life, for many years. But he was probably not as
successful as a father. His son, Luke, had developed drug addiction issues, and
Oren simply kept him away, with no connection for the last ten years."
His wife, Sarah Beth, suffered a long battle with cancer, which she eventually
lost; the experience left Oren an extremely bitter man. "The last few years wore
him down. After that long haul, going through all that with his wife, he's
pretty shut down. He's closed off to everyone," Douglas explains. Adds Reiner,
"Oren never loved after that. He visits her grave regularly, and he just can't
let go. And the worst part is, he never reconnected with his son. There was
never any kind of reconciliation before the death of Oren's wife. And he still
doesn't want one."
When we meet Oren, he is in the process of selling the family home - the home
where he cared for Sarah Beth in her last days and in which he had raised his
family. "He's now not in very good shape, financially. And the real estate
market has dropped out in that area. But he still will only sell it for what he
thinks it's worth - even though the value is now cut in half," Douglas explains.
In a sense, it almost seems as if he doesn't want to sell it. "That house was
his identity. For him and his wife, that was their status symbol. It was their
life, where he raised his child and lived for so many years and where he nursed
Sarah Beth and cared for her. "He just refuses to accept that its value has
dropped by so much," Douglas explains, adding, "That just goes to show you - you
shouldn't have a realtor that's emotionally attached to their home."
Not that he doesn't try. Oren even goes to the extra effort, when showing the
house to prospective buyers, of placing photos about the house of people
matching the ethnicity of the buyers; in a vain attempt somehow make them feel
he "gets" them. "It's pretty shallow," scoffs Reiner.
Being in the transitive state he is in, and without the income he once had, Oren
has taken up residence at a modest two-story fourplex he owns by the water in
Bridgeport, Connecticut, home to a small family, a couple expecting their first
child, and a widow. "He's Oren Little, so it's called Little Shangri-La," Reiner
"I don't think anybody knows he actually owns the building," Douglas notes.
"They just know that's one of the grumpy tenants in the building. He doesn't
have many nice words to say about anybody. He won't even park his car in a
manner, which would allow his very pregnant neighbor less of a walk home. He
just doesn't give very much of himself. He's kinda of Scrooge-like."
Oren is more or less satisfied, though, with his life, as is. "I grew up in that
area - I know that New England character," Douglas states. "He's a bit of a
dandy - he likes his martinis. Living alone suits him just fine. He's given up
on pursuing any kind of romance. He's like an old lady. He's not looking for
anybody. He's surviving. He's got a routine, and he's going to try to sell the
house. He's got enough money with this fourplex to survive, read his paper and
probably drink too much."
That all begins to change when he makes an acquaintance of his next door
neighbor, a beautiful woman about Oren's age named Leah, played by Diane Keaton.
"I've known Diane over the years and have always been a huge fan, but I'd never
worked with her," Reiner says. In the film, Leah is a singer, so though various
names had been tossed around to play the character, Keaton's beautiful singing
voice made her the perfect choice for the part.
"Plus, I've always thought of her as an incredibly gifted comedian," Reiner
adds. "And she's also really sexy. And for a film like this, you have to find
two people who are in that age range that also have a romantic quality - that
you believe that there's a romantic, sexual part to them."
Keaton was drawn to the project from the beginning. "Everything was appealing to
me with this project. I got to play opposite Michael Douglas, the script, the
chance to sing. When I was young, I had a fantasy that I wanted to be singer,
and I thought that I was going to try to be in musical comedies, but to have
this given to me - the opportunity to sing four songs in the movie - is just a
dream come true. But to be sixty-eight years old and to be in a romantic comedy
where I get to kiss the guy? To me, that's beautiful. And the subject matter:
love, life, second chances, opening up, letting go, discovering something you
Not only was the opportunity of working with Douglas and Reiner a major selling
point, but Keaton also felt a connection to her character. "Leah is somebody
that I aspire to be: kind, caring, maternal. But she's also strong, and she has
strong values, and she stands up for them. She's also insecure and sensitive,
and she cries a lot. But she's open to people."
And once she was on location, Reiner's directing style helped Keaton feel at
home. "Rob loosens the set up. He's a guy who knows how to make you feel relaxed
so that you can do your job. He likes improvisation -- not that I improvise, but
he likes it loose, so you can make it yours."
Working with the actress was likewise a treat for Reiner. "Diane plays so close
to her real person," Reiner notes. "That's what I love about her - there's not a
dishonest move that she makes, because it's totally connected to her." Keaton's
signature nervousness in her characters also comes from the actress's own
approach. Adds Reiner, "she's got this kind of nervous way of questioning
everything and worrying about everything, and being anxious all the time. And
she's incredibly sweet and loving, and interesting, beautiful and sexy. She's
got a lot going in one package."
Douglas and Keaton had a mutual admiration for one another before they ever
started working together, which turned into a friendly affection as the shoot
wore on. "Michael Douglas is a pro, and I'm a complete slob, so it was really a
nice mix. I really like playing around with him; I like teasing him a lot. It
really made the set fun for me. And he can take a joke, and he can also dish it
out, too. It was a great warring effort." She adds, "The movie's funny. The main
thing you can say about the movie, the number one thing, is comedy. It's a
comedy, and Michael Douglas was born to play this part."
"Diane was the exciting unknown for me, because we had never worked together
before," Douglas states. "She's so quirky and unpredictable - you never know
exactly what's gonna come out of her mouth. She might vary a line if she finds
something's better, which was always great." The veteran actor also found
Keaton's work style fascinating. He adds, "She listens to music through a pair
of earphones right up until the moment they say, 'Roll - action.' Then she just
takes them off. . . and she goes."
And the production relished the opportunity to put these two legends on screen
together for the very first time. Notes producer Greisman, "Michael and Diane
were without a doubt the perfect actors for the picture. Their chemistry is
palpable, which is what makes the evolution of their relationship so believable
- but it's their combined comedic talents that make it so fun to watch."
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