The following output was transcribed from our audio recording.
Although the transcription is largely accurate, it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
It is posted to aid in understanding the interview but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Mindy Cohn 00:02
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Mondays with Mindy. I am here as always, thank you God with my co host and co producer, Christian Brescia. everybody. Welcome back to the show. couldn't do this without Shia Christian wouldn't want to say. Anyway Today we are having a conversation with actor and filmmaker Paul Feig the one and only Yeah, born and raised in Michigan. Big deal for us, right? Mm hmm. Born and raised in Michigan, Paul moved to Los Angeles to attend USC. While there he began work as a tour guide at Universal Studios. he embarked on a career in stand up and landed various roles in television film, including movies ski patrol and heavyweights with Ben Stiller. He also co starred in the first season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch playing the role of Mr. Eugene Poole, and in 1986 guest starred on an episode of the facts of life. No kidding when I first met Mr. Feig. I didn't know that. Yes. In 1999, Paul created the comedy series for mixing geeks with heavyweights co scripter Judd Apatow. Inspired by his high school experiences, the show was cancelled after 12 episodes but developed a cult following and was named in Time magazine's 100 greatest shows of all times, and I happen to agree with that assessment. St. Paul made his directing debut with the drama I am David, and a couple years later, the Christmas comedy film unaccompanied minors. In 2011, Paul directed a little film called bridesmaids and became a top grossing Academy Award nominated comedic masterpiece. The heat followed in 2013. And in 2015, Paul wrote, directed and produced by his third successful blockbuster co starring Melissa McCarthy. That same year, Paul produced the animated feature the Peanuts Movie. In 2017, Paul produce snatched starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, as well as the comedy thriller a simple favor, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. 2019 brought Paul back to directing with the romantic comedy last Christmas and bigger news that his production company feed co would be moving to Universal Pictures. Up next will be his production of the new Fox show this country with my dearest darling Jenny Beck's who has graced us with an episode of Monday's with Monday. Right. This series is the mockumentary based on the British series of the same name. And Paul is going to be joining us from Belfast where he is working on his latest film The School for Good and evil. Paul lives in Los Angeles and London with his wife who I adore Laurie.
Christian Brescia 02:42
This is amazing. I am so excited to officially meet him ladies and gentlemen all the way from London, Paul Feig.
Mindy Cohn 02:49
Christian Brescia 02:52
Paul Feig 02:56
What? Hey, thank you so much. Hello, Mindy. It's so good to see you. Christian is so good to see you. What a pleasure. Nice to see you. As always, thank you so much for gracing us with your presence for this half hour. Yeah. It's a thrill. Oh, it's been a minute since I've seen you it at our mutual pal Joe carrickmines. In New York. Yes, exactly. That was fun. And we love jail. The greatest and then before that, I saw you back in the 80s.
Mindy Cohn 03:27
Oh my gosh. Um, we start each episode with my trusty little Johnny Adler canister of secrets. We have 20 questions. I pick five at random. We just start gabbing like so here we go. Here we go. Paul, do you have a hidden talent? Do I have a hidden talent? Oh, my goodness. I have so many.
Paul Feig 03:49
Now well, um, well, I get hidden because I'm a good cocktail maker. But I haven't hidden that because it's been I've been pulled out. I'm actually a good cook. A lot of people don't. I'm pretty good cook. I'm not. I'm not a gourmet cook. But I'm actually can whip up a lot of stuff and a good Italian cook, if you will. I can take a bunch of ingredients and figure something out for him. Like low rent Iron Chef.
Mindy Cohn 04:13
I'll take it low ranked eater. So great. What is the best advice you've been given? And who gave it? Mmm hmm. It's a great question. I think it's funny. It's hard to put down into like a one sentence sort of piece of advice. But I think the best advice I got was from Greg Daniels. When I was on the office directing a lot of the offices, it was more just the advice of he wanted to make sure that everybody in the writers room everybody around him creatively was deputized to challenge him on anything, and to challenge anything, even if everybody else has decided this is right to say like Actually, I have an issue with that, and you know, to listen to everybody so that you're not just sort of benevolently or Nanda. Definitely I should say tell
What to do? So I that's a good way to kind of figure out what's working what's not and what people want to hear and what they like creatively. And it's rare. And as you get more and more successful, your bubble tends to get a thicker membrane there. Yeah, under that.
Mindy Cohn 05:15
Um, what's your favorite place to travel to? And why? Oh, okay. Um, I think it is not your residents.
No, I would say, Well, I can pronounce it either the douchey way or the nice
coppery Capri. Whoo. Laurie, and I love Capri. We've been going for years. And you're like, we tried to go once a year. And it's just it's so special to us. Because it's small. A lot of people go there. I'll go, Oh, we didn't completely go. Yeah, we went for a day we didn't like it's like, you can't go for a day because in the day, it's all tourists and these boats bring people but if you're there at night, it's like the old French Riviera. like everybody's dressed up. And it's very elegant. And it's just, everything's great about. Okay. That's been a favorite. That's been mentioned before as the favorite place. There you go. Yes. Well, our friend Alina Cho goes every year as well. What's interesting is she says the same thing. You don't go for a weekend. You Really? You have a proper stay? Yeah, you'll never date.
Mindy Cohn 06:26
Yeah. Uh, Paul, what do you splurge on? Oh, god, what don't iceberg.
I have some thing where I get obsessed with stuff. And then I get a bunch of it. Then I stop. And I go the next thing I think I called OCD. I don't know. But I'm, I'm obsessed with watches. I love watches. I'm obsessed with clothes and suits. I get a lot of suits. New obsession is dressing gowns, very into dressing gowns, but like elegant, beautiful men's dressing guys, which are made by a company called New and lingwood. And every time they have a new bunch, yeah, a new bunch. I'm like, I have to get that. So I have all these dressing gowns. Now, my assistant who had to has to, like, unpack all my stuff and send it and all this, you know, he pointed the racket when he was unloading myself. I think you have a problem. It's like
a new problem. It's a good problem. Yes. So many problems.
Mindy Cohn 07:23
I like it. I like it. Um, among your friends, Paul, what are you best known for? Oh, gosh, I'm drinking.
I have noticed that your social scene revolves around cocktail hour. Yeah, you know what it is, like, kind of, I'm always the guy that brings things to make. And I like to make cocktails. I get my fun. Like, you know, as much as I like cooking for people. I really love making drinks for people because, you know, most people aren't sad if you give them a cocktail, you know. And so there's something really exciting about like, Oh, I have a new recipe or I just I like inventing recipes and all that. So yeah, so I think I've noticed the the good time cocktail.
Mindy Cohn 08:09
I like this. And the sadness comes later after too many.
Of course, I put it in the drink. I put the sand.
Mindy Cohn 08:18
brilliant, brilliant. So Paul Christian, and I decided, oh gosh, about a year ago now to start this because truth be told I was kind of okay, during the beginning of COVID. I tend to be a little bit of a Nester. So I was okay. But I missed connecting to creative sorts, I tend to get fueled by co creatives and inspired and Aspire. And so we started to reach out and talk to people that I knew and people who people who people. Thank you, Jenny Beck's for putting Paul and I back together. Yeah, thank you, Craig for say, yes, yes, yes. So we talk about the creative process, which I know sounds so lofty, and I try to be pithy about it. But what is your creative process I'm going to talk about as a writer and director not so much a producer at this point. As you define it. Do you write every day?
No, I don't. I used to write every day. Now I kind of I write when I find the thing that I want to write and then I dig in, but I kind of have to cocoon at certain times to do it. But I'm always on the lookout for ideas, which means just I'm constantly jotting notes and just scanning the Zeitgeist for just what is the next idea because you know, is is you know, you're like we're like receptors, we kind of walk around and wait for this radio wave to go like, Oh my God, that's it, you generate other ones. So you're always going like, Okay, let me try to build one. But my best and most successful things have come from these like, oh, like flashes of light or you know, kind of thing where you're like, oh, like two synapses, I think go together.
And then suddenly there it is, then I dive in and write then I'm a very fast writer I write, you know, get through a first draft, I do five pages a day is by my rules myself. So within, you know, yeah, within less than a month, I've got a first draft.
Yeah, but in and then it's also just being hard on the ideas. And really, you know, there's so many ideas that you have that you go, like, I'd love to do that. But then you have to then go like, okay, but does anyone want to see that. And it's a really, it's a hard litmus test to put on an idea. But if you are really honest with yourself, it does weed out a lot of things that might just end up being like a vanity project or something like that, you know, because I'm also trying to make product for you know, these studios so that the budgets are going to be high. And so you know, you have to be commercial, which is the ugly word, but I don't mind that. Because, to me, commercial means people, like, you know, it appeals to a lot of people. They want to see it. Yes. Agreed, um, where you grew up in Michigan, has that flavored your aesthetic or as you've grown? And obviously, you and Lloyd split your time between Los Angeles and London? Has your aesthetic changed at all? Yeah, I mean, that's a great question. You know, I love that I'm from the Midwest, because I always have this very Midwestern take on the world, which is, I think it's a, we're very hard on dishonesty, and very easy to pick it up. You know, that's why I think I've been, you know, not bad as a director is because I'm really able to go performance doesn't feel honest. That moment doesn't feel right, let's change that it feels written it feels to this or that. So no, but I've tried to carry it forward. I mean, you know, it's, you know, I've lived in LA for so long, I mean, 40 years, even with going back and forth. And, you know, you just have to protect yourself from getting to showbiz.
You know, they're just certain things, it's almost like, you start to know too much, and you lose the side of you, that was also open and kind of dumb enough to go like this. Who wouldn't want to see this? You know, that's the kind of pure ideas come from, you know, and then you learn enough, you know, like, I love Freaks and Geeks, I don't know if I would have done it now knowing everything that I know. But back then I was like, Who wouldn't want to see the show? You know, so you try to stay in touch with who you were, but bring the rules that are good forward and disperse the bad rules? Yes. I appreciate that. That's the New York for me, I tend to recalibrate there. So I can live in LA, especially as an actor, it just really helps me go oh community about the performance, not the autographs and sunglass. Yeah, totally, because I actually, we have a place in New York. That's where I go to right. Because I find that's like the best place to do it for me, because I can get all the energy of the city. And if I hit a roadblock, and go, let's just go walk around and like see all these people and get all this human energy. So I'm with you on that. Totally. What is inspiring you right now? Or can I even ask what you were bingeing on during your first part of COVID? That really kind of like hit you and went? Ooh, that touches me right in the inspiration gene.
There you go.
Christian Brescia 13:03
All clever way to put it.
A pleasant feeling when that happens.
You know what? We we went deep, deep into old movies. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, just I, you know, I rediscovered my love of William Powell. That's why I have this mustache on literally.
Mindy Cohn 13:26
It's movies. Yeah, I mean, all those movies of the 30s. I just loved the world they create it was, you know, coming out of the depression and all this stuff, and just this whole alternate universe of supper clubs, and these glamorous people, and these, you know, glamorous situations, but they're still everybody's really funny. And the men and women are very equal, you know, and it's just, the stories are very clever, too, because they're very of the time, but they're fun and funny. And the performances are just crazy. And yeah, we just literally did such a deep dive that we ran out. We were kind of like, Oh, no, like, we ran out of William Powell movies and all these other ones that are like screwball comedies like, yeah, so I'm just talking a little bit, not so much about the creative process. But you have been very forthcoming in your struggle when you first came to LA. And what I love about you just specifically, is that there seem to be this ever, just terminal optimism and attach your wanting to tell stories and storytelling, and I don't think that's ever been lost. At least as an audience member. I see it in your work a lot, and I appreciate it.
But was there a point or something that happened that you felt you needed to attack and lose the acting front and doing this stand up and pivot towards writing and directing? Yeah, well, I kind of got kicked out of the nest, mentally, because I was I always wanted to do it. My goal was to, you know, when I was only for my kid through through film, school, and everything was to write
Dragon star in my own movies. And so that was what I was really going to work towards. But then, you know, I got into acting, and I was doing stand up comedy. And then I was, I was an actor. And it was just I enjoyed being an actor was really fun, you know, that, you know, when somebody would get a, you know, your, Oh, I got a regular role on a show I'm taking care of for hopefully, you know, nine years, but you know, at least for the next year, they're gonna tell me what the where they gonna cut my hair, and they're gonna feed me and all this. So I just really love that. And but I always wanted to go behind the camera was writing and all the time and all that what was kind of just afraid to take that extra move. And it was really when I was finally on a hit show, because I'd been on for other TV series and all had fallen apart after the first season, when I was on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch man is gonna be hit. So it's like, Oh, good. I'm set for seven years. So I took all my money from that first year. And I put it into this little independent feature that I wrote, directed started. And then they wrote me out of the show. And I had kind of bankrupted Lori and I would by making that movie, but it was the thing that I needed to kick me out of the nest because I was like, I don't like not having control as an actor anymore. So it was a terrible year. But then at the end of that year, I created Freaks and Geeks and then you know, went forward and kind of never looked back. And I enjoy acting. If somebody calls up and says, Hey, will you do this little part? But other than that, I really love being in the camera. So much fun. Yeah. And the production aspect of it happens. For people who kind of don't know this sort of history when you write in producing create your own it is kind of a natural foray into production, but your official production company happened because what is that aspect now that businessman hat that you wear? Yeah, well, that that was after, after I did the movie they eat. We did that over Fox. And we had such a nice time and got along with everybody at the studio so much that they were like they wanted to give us a first look deal. And so you know, which means basically what we come up with, we take the studio, they have first bite at and if they don't do it, that we pick it somewhere else, but then they pay for our offices and our overhead and allows me to hire hire a small staff in a being a business partner. And so that's what I did. And yeah, I'm starting to feed co how original? Yeah, yeah, thank you. You know, and it, it was great. I was never, I never knew I wanted a company. But the minute I got one, I was like, this is great, because it's just, there's so much angst about having to do everything yourself. And when you just I love being, you know, my father instilled this amazed, like, you know, it's a hire professionals, whether it's your accountant or your something else, or whatever, hire, vet them, hire good people, and then let them do their thing. And so that's what's been so great as the, you know, people who've been in my company who are in it now, and people who were in it before, are all great, and really just have great taking on things but aren't afraid to challenge me on things that are very honest. And also, then they're able to take a you know, I have four series TV series now. And you know, back then, without a company, I would have not even tried because like, how am I going to do that. But now, you know, you learn to delegate, you have great people who are doing it, you're overseeing stuff, but they're doing their thing. And I, I also want to be a producer who doesn't go in and go like, do it this way. I don't like that. Because I've been with producers who do that. And it's like, yeah, that's my voice. I want you guys to have your voice. I want to protect your voice. And I can give you some advice. And occasionally I see something like, Oh, well maybe try this, or I don't think this works. But beyond that, I want them to do their thing. And so it's been working quite well. And then out of all that content. How do you decide what you want to personally Helm as far as directing? Yeah, that's the hardest thing because there's a lot of things you go like, oh, let's make this but I don't want to make that because, you know, it's a year out of my life. Generally what to make a movie at least. It's, I don't know, these ideas. It's like meeting a spouse. You know, it's really you just kind of you go dating every time you're reading scripts, or when you're brainstorming, like, Oh, this idea that I'm gonna write some some of the movies I write myself others I you know, I find scripts and then I rewrite them or whatever. But it's you don't know. It's kind of like in casting, you kind of let you open the door. And you're like, oh, they're all really good. They're the one person comes in, you're like, Oh, that's it. Like it's something else exists. Yeah. Yeah. And what is this? I mean, you do have this sort of professional partnership with Melissa McCarthy. Has that been happenstance? Or is it just like, okay, we are delicious together, we must just continue this meal.
Mindy Cohn 19:41
Because there's, you know, we always hear about these teams of people and you and she just get each other and as an audience member, it's magic. But no, I you know, I love her. She's, she's great, but we never set out to work together on any movie. I mean, we've done four together.
Now and each time I mean bridesmaids, I didn't know who she was, you know, and it was Kristen and Annie were like, Oh, you got to hear from Melissa. And then we're like, oh my god, she's great. But then coming out of that, you know, when the script for the heat came in, I knew that Sandra wanted to do it, but then I was like, Who am I gonna put in this? And then I was like, wait, Melissa be really funny on this. Then spy. I literally wrote that for somebody else who then didn't want to do that. Yeah. Else, and they didn't want to do it. And I was gonna go to somebody else for it. And Melissa was over at my house one night for dinner, and she goes, What are you doing? Oh, like a spy movie. She was like, Can I read it? I was I wasn't really sure, sure. But I didn't even send it to her because she was going to do Mike and Molly and I wanted to do it when she was going to be doing a show. But she read it and called me the next day. Like, she's like, I have to do this. I have to do this. Would you wait for me? And I was like, Sure. So and then Ghostbusters again, I when I did that, I go like, Okay, I'm just gonna clear the slate. I'm just gonna, I don't know who isn't it, we just wrote it. And then it's like, you know, Melissa be great in this. So it's, it's crazy. It just kind of we never ever go like the next movie we're gonna do together. So you know, but now we've done three movies without her. So you know, in Jesus.
And so when the right thing is there, then, you know, there's nobody more fun to work with them to listen to God. So, yes. So who are you wanting to work with? Paul, who's on your list? Give me some throws, I can't. Exactly how terrible I gave
you what it is, for me. I don't even kind of occasionally is somebody going, Oh, I want to get that. But I more I kind of pin people and go like, that person needs to be in something where they can showcase that thing I see about them in real life that they don't show. And so I kind of file that away. And then it's all about the idea and the script and the characters. And then once I kind of have it, then it's like, Who are you gonna put in this? And, you know, so I it sounds like a cop out. But I do kind of have a blank no rein on that because I almost don't like the because, you know, because I've developed a few things for people and that they bail on me.
Mindy Cohn 22:00
And so I was like, You know what, let's just make it about the character and then we'll fit somebody in. Yeah, no, that makes sense. Believe it or not, but I always wonder if people have these like dream list people. I mean, my list the older I get, it tends to be the older actors, because I'd like to get them before they're not here anymore. And I think as we you know, I just lost my dear starlin. cloris and we had always talked about working together again, right. And so, you know, those people for me, I tend to gravitate towards the 80 plus people because I want to get them in my grasp, or at least in front of my face. Yeah.
That's extremely valid. Yeah, no, I do have a little bit, but I'm always afraid to say it because then somebody else why are you though? I'm not on your list? I don't know. Yeah.
Mindy Cohn 22:46
To Be very careful. I've been very careful, Mindy. Well, I do have to say it again. One of the things that even though we see each other I don't know, I think it's I think our thing now is every 12 years, we have a sighting. Yes. It's in my schedule coming up? Yes, we have a little anniversary. But what I love is that there does seem to be this old school, and I am calling it old school and wrapping my arms around it very loosely, is that there is a difference between friendships and adoring someone and work. And for me, I've always been able to
one of the things that I compliment you on Jump, jump back kiss myself for that I can differentiate between a social thing and a work thing. And a lot of people can't, I've noticed as either I get older as the business changed, where it becomes so much more personal. Have you found that to where it's sort of become muddied the waters as it will? Yeah. And I, you know, I always try to avoid working with friends, which sounds, it's too big of a statement, but especially like, behind the scenes, because I just had so many times where it's blown up in my face, you know, and because you want to give somebody a shot, and then you know, I don't know, it's like, my wife has always like, she never wants to have anybody, like, Oh, I can do something a favor, I can fix that for you for favors. I know, I don't want that I want somebody that I'm paying. So if something goes wrong, I can I can yell at you. You know?
Do you mind coming over? I know you're busy doing this. I'll do it for free. Oh, I'm sorry. So it's, I feel like that too. Because, you know, maybe you know, all of us in the in the business, what the thing we really have that's the most important is our reputation. And so the minute your coffee is in the true because I mean if I suddenly go like I said actors, actors, unfortunately, specifically have two things, their talent and their reputation. That's it, you have control over that. So finish your thought I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I like want to do a dance. No, I love that, please. That thing of like, you know, if I go like, Okay, I'm going to recommend this person who's a friend. I don't know if they can do it.
Mindy Cohn 25:00
I think there's somebody better who can do it, but I'm gonna do them a favor. And if they bed for lack of a better then yes, looks bad, I look bad because like you said that person was good, then it's like next time I recommend somebody they're like, Yeah, but you said that other person was good. So it's tough though, because sometimes you just like I so want to help you out. But I just I can't, you know, let's find something else that I know you can do. Yes. Well, as an Christian has heard, you know, my mother always says, you know, all these people Mindy Can't they dot dot dot and it's like, you know, what, how many times was I on facts of life where someone asked me for a favor. And I did it and felt like crap, because I really didn't want to, but the people pleaser in me did it. And so I've never ever, ever wanted to put someone in that position. And my feeling is, what's mine is mine. What's not mine. There's nothing I can do to make it happen. It's very easy for me so well, I have tremendous neuroses in my personal life. I'm very built for it.
Well, I love that. That layman's kind of view of showbiz, too, I had an uncle who drove me crazy back in the day, and he would always get like, I did a guest spot on Newhart once where I was just like this tiny, tiny supporting character. And Peter Scolari was the star of the scenes I was in. And so my uncle came to the taping, and afterwards He's like, Jim funny goes, I was, I'm so mad. He goes, I was so mad at that. Peter Scolari guy. Oh, why? Because he had all those lines. He couldn't have given some of those to you. It's just like, you know, I just don't ever come to the show again. You know?
That's your takeaway. Hey, Peter. I'm gonna take a few of these. Oh, yeah, go ahead.
Mindy Cohn 26:43
Yeah. Well, I am determined to see you back on screen. I have a couple of ideas for sure.
Yeah, I'm talking about I know that you are in pre production production of your new film. And this has taken up. I'm sure most of your COVID time in getting ready for it, I'm assuming. And is this going to take another year of your life? Is that what's on tap for you? Yeah, this is another year. I mean, it's a big one. It's a big kind of effects driven, I want to say effects driven because I'm trying to do a lot of stuff practically. I'm very kind of trying to keep CG to a minimum. But still, there's a lot to do after it. But it's based on a series. Yeah, exactly. It's base. It's It's such a big world. But it's based on a series of books called the School for Good and evil. It's a kind of movie I thought I'd never made. And I read this. I was like, I'm not a fantasy guy. Really. I like reading it. And I always grew up with it. But I never was drawn to making a fantasy movie. Because of all the crazy CGI I end up having to do and all that stuff. But it also I always it's like, why I don't have a great love of superhero movies, because I don't know the stakes of a superhero movie because I'm like, okay, can they get hurt? Are they hurt now?
he punches through a building and a building falls on them. So he looks like he's hurt. But then he still goings on, okay, versus like, you know, a human being I know, when they get hurt. I know when they get killed, you know, and that's the stakes for me. So um, but then I just love this story so much, because it was basically the story about these two female best friends going into this world. And I saw a lot of opportunity for comedy in it, but still keeping it real and keeping the stakes high. And just felt like something I had to do. And I'm just having a blast putting this together and working with sets and a team of talent, you know, so it's really been fun. Well, I'm so excited for you. And I want to thank you kind sir, for taking your time which I know is very slim at this point in your life by joining Christian and I for this amazing episode of Monday's with Mindy. Mindy Christian, thank you so much. It's an honor to be on here and it's great to see you. You know it's always a pleasure always. Oh so grateful to have him ladies and gentlemen all the way from Belfast.
I There we go. I'm offering
Christian Brescia 29:00
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