What do you get when you have a woman desperate to have a baby, the timid best guy pal who hasn’t the guts to reveal his feelings for her, a drunken insemination party, and a turkey-baster switcheroo? That would be The Switch, a new romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston as the aforementioned woman and Jason Bateman as her neurotic best friend. The movie hits screens Aug. 20.
Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman joined director Will Speck to talk “modern women,” sperm-donation movies, if men and women can be just friends or not, and lessons learned.
Q: Jennifer, you seem to have great chemistry with almost everyone you work with, even the dog from Marley and Me. Are you just a people person?
Jason Bateman: No. [Laughs]
Jennifer Aniston: I guess so. I mean, I like people but I’ve also been lucky with the people I’ve gotten to work with.
Q:Do you guys think it’s possible for a man and a woman to be best friends?
J.A.: I mean, I think it’s hard. I think women have an easier time with it than men do. Don’t you agree?
J.B.: Yeah, because… I’m gonna make a horrible generalization here, but a lot of the guys that I’ve met will sleep with pretty much any girl they can. If you’re actually really good friends with that girl too, well, like that’s a home run. How can you resist that? In other words, the first part, you really can’t shut off. I don’t know, a guy and girl can remain best friends and not have something happen as long as one of them is in a relationship. As soon as both are single, you can just start the clock. And then you soak it in booze and let things go on from there.
Q: Jennifer, having played a mother in a lot of your movies, do you want to be a mother yourself?
J.B.: Are you hitting on her right now?
J.A.: I’ve said it years before, I still say it. Yes, absolutely.
Q: So do you think Kassie is the new modern woman, choosing her own fate?
Q: Have you learned something from Kassie?
J.A.: Well, I definitely think that the subject of the movie is just that. It supports that. It supports what is currently happening in our world today, that we as women have choices and options of when or how to have children.
I’ve learned something from every character I’ve played, but especially in this case with the women in my life who’ve gone through the struggles and frustration and heartbreak of fertility and adoption. I think that’s why it jumped out at me immediately because I felt it was something timely and progressive that hasn’t been really discussed and to have a love story woven through it was just sort of beautiful. And it’s hysterical.
Wow, modern women? I’ve gotta see this movie. It’s got the whole package.
Q: Jason, does the “modern woman” scare you?
J.B.: That’s why I stick to men. I’m happy with them. [Laughs] I mean, the modern woman is exciting to me because I’m married to one and I’m sure the old-fashioned woman would have been great too, but I’m living in the modern age. Women have been making some of the better decisions for our planet for quite some time and of course, they can have a child without toting a man around. In this movie she decides to have the child first and the man second. I mean, why not? A lot of people do it.
Q: Are the men the damsels in distress in this movie?
Will Speck: Yeah, I mean, it’s another fresh, realistic take on life not being all cut and dry. We’re damsels in distress sometimes. I guess you would have to categorize this as a rom-com as far as genres go, but hopefully there are plenty of examples of the atypical route that we take in this.
Q: Sperm donors seem to be the norm in Hollywood films these days with movies like The Kids Are All Right. Is this a new trend in movies?
W.S.: It’s definitely in the zeitgeist.
J.A.: Yeah. That’s what’s so refreshing. I mean, we originally read this three years ago.
W.S.: And I think that just like stories of adoption, there’s lots of different versions of this story. What’s unique here is that it starts in a real place with Jennifer and Jason’s characters and the decisions that Kassie makes, and then seven years later how that changes the characters and the story. It wasn’t just a series of hijinx, “How am I gonna get preganant?” and, “What kind of man am I looking for?” The movie isn’t about the search of that, it’s about how this choice this character makes ultimately calls into action her best friend and their relationship and what that actually means to come together as a family in the end. We thought it was a really unique way into a romantic comedy. We love that it was outside of artifice.
Q: That seven-year time gap with no change in the character’s appearance was…striking.
J.B.: I had gray temples!
J.A.: I had longer hair. I mean, look, this man [Jason Bateman], I’ve known for 15 years and he doesn’t look any different.
W.S.: It’s not like we went, “Oops, we forgot.” The truth is Jennifer and Jason look incredible regardless of their age, so our thought was to just make subtle changes with the hair color and length. It was more for watching how they acted with each other. That was much more important than giving them some weird aged CGI technique so we could get a point across to the audience that we’d moved on in time.
J.B.: And ultimately, it sort of distracting. I mean, if I’m sitting in the theater I’m like, you didn’t need to do that. Just put a subtitle up there that says, “Seven years later,” and let me enjoy the story. Don’t remind me with some cheap make-up that we’ve gone forward in time.