Malin Akerman stars in a new comedy Friendsgiving which celebrates friendship during the holiday season of Thanksgiving.
The plan is for two lifelong friends, (played by Malin Akerman and Kat Dennings) to drown their sorrows in pie but then turns into something much more. Friendsgiving is the writing-directing debut of comic actress Nicole Paone (The Heartbreak Kid, Eagle Eye, This is 40). While celebrating the holiday of meals the group exasperates their complaints about failed relationships only to find hope in their friendship
I had the opportunity to speak with one of my favorite actresses, Malin Akerman about her time filming this amazing comedy.
Nancy Tapia: I want to start off by saying happy belated Canada Thanksgiving Day that just passed.
Malin Akerman: Thank you.
Nancy Tapia: Now we get to talk about more Thanksgiving with Friendsgiving.
Malin Akerman: Yes, exactly. I’m so excited! Haha…
Nancy Tapia: That’s great! This one was a very Vegas Thanksgiving, right?
Malin Akerman: Yes, you can say that. Without all the lights, but yeah! Haha...Yeah, it was a wonderful experience for me. This is sort of reminiscent of my Thanksgiving normally. Not as many people or as crazy, but I do Friends-giving because my family’s over in Sweden. So I don’t really have family out here other than my husband and my son. I feel like LA is such a bubble where people come not necessarily to start families. They come out here for business and careers. So we end up being a bunch of singles who are without our extended families and our friends become that. I feel like every year we’re having potlucks and getting together. Then people go off for Christmas and make the long trip to wherever their families are. It just was so fun to make and relive what Thanksgiving looks like on this end.
Nancy Tapia: Yeah, so I being in LA, it would not be too far from reality. You are so right haha…
Malin Akerman: Yeah, it is, haha…It’s a little bubble over here. It’s a fun bubble, but it doesn’t always resonate with the rest of the world. I think anyone who is out and about and traveling you end up looking to make friends to spend your holidays with.
Nancy Tapia: So share a little bit about how you got into this project.
Malin Akerman: So Nicol Paone (writer and director) has been a friend of mine since way back. We’ve known each other for 15 years. She kinda put a bunch of happenings in our lives, both hers and mine and friends around us, and observed them over the years. Again, all these sorts of holidays that we spent together as friends. Some have been calm and some have been crazy. Both her and I were actually going through a break up around the same time, and dealing with them very differently. That’s sort of what inspired the story. She came to me and said, “I’m writing a holiday script, and it came about from our time when we were going through our breakups.”
I just thought, this is great! This is a perfect marriage between holiday and all the fun games that can happen. As well as at the heart of it. This friendship and what that means and what it looks like. Even though we can be so different and so different in dealing with things, that ultimately we’re there for each other. I always love when there’s art in any film, in any project. So I was happy to hop on board.
Nicol and I went through it. She was obviously writing it for a few years, and then I jumped on. We were going through it for about a year, just character development, and deciding what we wanted to do with it. We met Nicky Weinstock at Red Hour Film, which is Ben Stiller’s company. It was so fun to come full circle and work alongside Ben again. He was the person who gave me my first chance in a film out here in Hollywood. To then come in as a producer and work side by side was really special.
Nancy Tapia: Oh, that’s awesome! So there is a real Molly and Abby. I’m sure there was some added fiction in there, but there was a foundation, right?
Malin Akerman: Yeah, a lot of fiction, haha… I mean, you have to put it in for entertainment purposes, obviously. But Nicol did at one point thought about feeding my son pecan pie when he was just a baby. Thankfully thought better of it. I mean, he’s not allergic, as we do know now, but you don’t know when they’re babies. She had that moment of realizing, “Oh man, I still could have messed this up.” So it went all the way in the script, and had it become a thing.
But yeah, we’ve had some crazy moments. Again, I think she got some moments that were truer to life and some that were just out there that just needed to come in to bring in some levity and fun to the film.
Nancy Tapia: Since you just have such comfort and good relationship with Nicol as the director/writer, were you able to do some improvising there?
Malin Akerman: Yeah, for sure. Most of the time you end up doing what’s on the page. Nicol does such a great job in really flushing out the characters. Then of course, when you have a bunch of comedians on that, you want to utilize that. Especially the improv actors that we had were incredible. A lot of Nicol’s friends from Groundlings were in there and the standup comics. So you let them go off and run with it and you’ve got yourself, just all these different flavors and colors. It just brought it to life in a completely different way. So yes, there was a lot of improv, and it really was hard to keep a straight face. It was pretty amazing.
Nancy Tapia: I loved how you guys included the bloopers. That was hilarious. I was laughing all by myself. Not to mention the memes, haha…
Malin Akerman: I mean, who doesn’t want the bloopers, right? Haha…
Nancy Tapia: Yes, haha…I think films are missing that. They used to be more common.
Malin Akerman: Yes, exactly. I know and I love that. I always go searching for bloopers now on YouTube. Just because it’s so much fun to see. That’s sort of your real insight of the behind the scenes of what’s going on, and you get an idea of how much fun they were having. There’s always bloopers to be had. I really love it. I’m glad that decision was made to keep them in, especially on this film.
Nancy Tapia: I feel like the memes kind of took over the bloopers, and in this film you have both.
Malin Akerman: Oh, well that’s good. We did have both, it was good, it was good fun.
Nancy Tapia: Especially your memes! Very fun, because that’s what we do. We like to have fun and when comfortable that’s when the fun really comes.
Malin Akerman: Yeah. When you get a good cast. I have to say about this film too, everyone who is in it wanted to be there. Everyone was happy to be there. One of the scenes in the film where we’re all sitting around the Thanksgiving table. You always love a scene like that because there’s so many moving pieces and you have to make your way all around the table and get everyone’s coverage. It takes a long time. Nobody got up from that table and nobody wanted to leave. Even in between takes everyone was talking and joking and laughing. The vibe was incredible. I miss it. When I see it again, I’m like, “Oh yeah, those were good times.” Haha…
Nancy Tapia: Haha…Yes, the film reflects that. It looked like they were just hanging out.
Malin Akerman: Yeah. It was a bit of both. For sure, haha…
Nancy Tapia: Speaking of the cast, what was it like to work with Jane Seymour, former Bond girl?
Malin Akerman: Oh, the legendary Jane Seymour? It was amazing! I think everyone was a bit awe-struck too. We felt so lucky to have her. And she immediately just humanized herself. She was so game. She was so on the level with everyone else, we were all equals. She wanted it to be the best it possibly could be. She really was spectacular to work with. She invited myself and Nicol over for dinner before we started shooting so we could all get to know each other, and she’s just lovely.
Nancy Tapia: I had chance to interview her recently for her film, The War with Grandpa and she’s a lady, for sure.
Malin Akerman: Oh, cool! Yeah, she’s great.
Nancy Tapia: What was it like filming with Kat Dennings? She’s hilarious. She makes anything she says come out in this tone that just makes you laugh. How did you keep a straight face?
Malin Akerman: A hundred percent. Yeah, it’s hard to keep straight faces when you’re shooting. We felt so excited when she responded to the script, and went to have coffee together with her. We were all saying “Oh my God”, this is a girl who has specific comedic timing and really brings a really different flavor to it all. I can’t thank her enough for being part of this project. I think that she is brilliant. And again, really different. When you watch her, you just go, this isn’t your general comic timing. This is her own special way of doing things.
So, we had a blast. She’s so lovely. It was perfect for our characters, because some of the stuff that was going on, she would react. You see it in the bloopers where we’re sitting in the back of the car and we are talking about his balls, haha…We had so much fun. We had such a good time. We really did.
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Nancy Tapia: Haha…Yeah, I loved it. I remember there was a line where someone said something like, “Take your tits out and celebrate how far you’ve come.” Just the way it sounds you would think that it’s vulgar, but not the way it was delivered. It was great, because it’s about comfort too.
Malin Akerman: Yeah, absolutely. Listen, when you’re around friends, again, that moment when she’s saying that stuff, she’s spilling. You spill to a stranger sometimes, and you can be more bold and more honest when you’re spilling to a stranger. I love that moment. I think also, when we’re amongst friends, we speak in a different way. We say it like it is. Me and my girlfriends growing up, we had this silly expression when we would go out. We’re talking teenage years, probably like 16-17 in Canada and we go, “Yeah, we’re going tits up tonight!” Meaning you’re going to be on the ground with your tits up by the end of the night. It was just all these silly things that we would say. So we just thought, we got to have some of this stuff in the movie. That friends speak a different language when they’re around each other. Yeah, it was fun!
Nancy Tapia: Aside from Thanksgiving, you have another film coming out, Chick Fight. Is there anything you can share for that?
Malin Akerman: Yeah, I’m super excited about that one as well. Again, I got the opportunity to work with a really close friend of mine, the director Paul Leyden. I’ve known him for over a decade, and this script was sort of lying around for awhile. He and I had been excited about doing it, and then finally we got it up and running.
Again, just so thankful for the amazing cast and crew that we got. I’m excited about this one to come out as well. Perfect timing, getting your rage out as a woman haha…I love that tongue in cheek the title Chick Fight. This is how women really fight. We’re allowed to have rage just as much as men are allowed to have rage without being called out on it.
So there’s a few different layers. It’s ultimately a comedy and it’s entertaining, but there’s some underlying messages in there. I’m excited to talk about when the time comes, but it’s going to be another fun one, I hope. It’s just exciting to have these films come out this year.
Nancy Tapia: I know, thank you so much for bringing us some fun! So to finalize, is there anything else for next year that we may be seeing you on? Chick Fight will still be for this year.
Malin Akerman: It will be this year. So I’ve got a few things hopefully in the works, but nothing that I can speak about yet, haha…
Nancy Tapia: No problem, haha…
Malin Akerman: So you just have to wait for next year.
Nancy Tapia: I am in line to work for Chick Fight, so maybe I get to speak to you again soon. I’m excited.
Malin Akerman: Yeah, I hope so, me too. Thank you.
Nancy Tapia: You’re welcome. Take care and good luck.
Friendsgiving is available in theaters, on Demand and Digital as of today! On Blu-Ray and DVD October 27
Source: LRM Online Exclusive