Nicol Paone Talks About Writing And Directing The New Comedy ‘Friendsgiving’ [Exclusive Interview]

Nicol Paone has starred in multiple films but now she is making her Directorial debut in the new comedy Friendsgiving  which celebrates friendship during the holiday season of Thanksgiving.

The synopsis:

Abby (Kat Dennings) is looking forward to a laid-back Thanksgiving with her best friend Molly (Malin Akerman). But the friends’ plans for a quiet turkey dinner go up in smoke when they’re joined by Molly’s new boyfriend and her flamboyant mother. Throw in some party crashers including Molly’s old flame, a wannabe shaman, and a trio of Fairy Gay Mothers, and it’s a recipe for a comically chaotic holiday no one will ever forget—even if they wanted to!

I had the opportunity to talk with Nicol Paone about the inspiration for Friendsgiving and getting an amazing cast together for this film.

Nancy Tapia: We are thankful for bringing out a nice comedy to enjoy for the hour and a half to take a break from reality. This Friendsgiving was very Vegas Thanksgiving, which was one of the quotes referenced in the film. By the way, it fit so perfect. How did you come up with this concept? Since not only you directed the film, you also did the screenplay.

Nicol Paone: Oh, good! That’s the hope. Well, it’s based on a Thanksgiving that I had with some friends. I was the one who was sort of lovelorn and going through a breakup which like Kat Dennings character and Malin Akerman, who is a very good friend of mine in real life. She was actually going through a divorce and we were heading into Thanksgiving, like a couple of fads back then. Malin wanted to celebrate life and maybe avoid, try and not talk about the issue. I wanted to cry and eat pecan pie. So it just was born from very true events.

Nancy Tapia: But of course this one has thrown in some little fun, comedy fiction. How did you come about with these characters? Cause it was quite a ride.

ALSO READ: Malin Akerman Talks About Being A Part Of A Very Vegas Friendsgiving [Exclusive Interview]

Nicol Paone: Oh yeah. Well I feel like this movie is an amalgamation of a few different parties that Malin and I have had. Where somebody she’s dating shows up and he’s a philanthropist who wears beads and I’m like, “Oh my God, are you kidding me?” Malin might think she could stop it. So she’s like, “He just got back from Africa.” I was like, “Right. But he didn’t just get back from Africa. He had to stop home first.” He showed up like he got off the Safari. So this is us celebrating and sending up a lot of the characters that are in our lives. Of course, we live in LA, so everybody’s a shaman now. So we threw that in there and it sort of represents so many different people that I’ve met in LA over the years and a few people that I’ve dated over the years.

Nancy Tapia: Haha…That is so true! Entertaining for at the same time. I think anyone outside from LA would probably be like, “This never happens.” I’m pretty much from LA so it’s no shocker that stuff like this does happen.

Nicol Paone: Oh yeah. I think it’ll be fun for people to get a glimpse into the LA Friendsgiving, which is becoming more and more popular by the year. They have Friendsgiving stuff at Cost Plus now. My mom actually thinks it’s my movie and I’m not going to tell her the truth, haha…

Nancy Tapia: And then later surprise? Haha…

Nicol Paone: Yeah, I’m a big deal, mom haha…

Nancy Tapia: So this film is actually fun for all guys and girls. But the stuff that’s said when it comes to the girl talk. One quote I enjoyed the most was, “Take your tits out and celebrate how far you’ve come.” It’s like, “Uh, yes!”

Nicol Paone: Yeah, I think throughout the years, men have largely written for female characters over the years and nothing, they got it wrong. There’s some things that I think there’s this idea that women get together and we’re in our lingerie and have pillow fights. That’s a little bit more on the ’80s stuff. I just wanted to distance this zeal and Malin talks like that, I talk like that. So, I just wanted us to be as real as I possibly could.

Jane Seymour and Ryan Hansen in a scene from FRIENDSGIVING

Nancy Tapia: You also had another quote from Helen played by Jane Seymour, “Variety is the spice of life.”

Nicol Paone: Yeah, my cousin used to say that, to justify all the different guys she used to date, haha…So she’s like, “And I like spicy.” So yeah, this is a lot of stuff that I’ve heard over the years. So colorful characters say.

Nancy Tapia: Well, I’m definitely going to use that one to justify myself and some things in life for now. Thank you, haha…

Nicol Paone: Haha…do it, do it! You’re welcome.

Andrew Santino, Christine Taylor, and Chelsea Peretti in a scene from FRIENDSGIVING

Nancy Tapia: What was it like getting the cast? Cause you had a great cast. I had a chance to speak to Malin already. But you had Kat Dennings and Jane Seymour. 

Nicol Paone: I know! Each time an actor signed on, I was shocked. First, I showed the script to Malin and she loved it. Then Nicholas Weinstock our producer and Ben Stiller came on board. Then Nicholas showed us Kat and Kat was on board in an hour and a half. She read the script and she was like, “I have to do this.” And right there, I was like, “Oh my God, what an incredible cast.” Then to add Jane Seymour to it and then Aisha Tyler, Deon Cole, Andrew Santino and Margaret Cho.

I hope that people love the movie for each one of what the effort is, what each one of the actors brings to it. Cause I hope that I gave each one of the actors like their spotlight to shine because they’re all just brilliant. We had such an incredible time on set. I will absolutely never forget when we were shooting the table scene. All the actors stayed to hang out laughing. None of them left. Even when we pushed in on the closeups for the leads, they all just stayed and nobody went back to their trailer. I’ll never forget that.

Thanksgiving Dinner during FRIENDSGIVING

Nancy Tapia: Malin said the same thing about that scene. Also, mentioned that filming this movie was like hanging out with friends. It was fun.

Nicol Paone: Yeah, absolutely. Exactly.  

Nancy Tapia: That’s definitely the kind of movies you want to make. You want to keep people wanting to stay and not want to leave. Continue working and not really feel like it’s over. 

Nicol Paone: I hope they all had a good time.

Deon Cole and Aisha Tyler in a scene from FRIENDSGIVING

Nancy Tapia: There was the start of the film, where you had the Hollywood or bust sign. Can I get feedback on where that came from?

Nicol Paone: Oh, that’s funny. Malin came to LA with one of her best friends and they moved to LA together. So that’s an homage to her and Malin’s journey with her. She actually moved out of LA, but truly this is an amalgamation of all of these friends, that Malin and has that. We helped her raise her baby after the divorce. We all came together. “It takes a village to raise a kid” and this Friendsgiving was what started it all. So, that was an homage to one of Malin’s other best friends.

Nancy Tapia: Well, thank you for sharing the story behind it.

Nicol Paone: You’re welcome.

ALSO READ: Emily Swallow Stars In A New Thriller Haunting Of The Mary Celeste [Exclusive Interview] 

Nancy Tapia: One of the things that I also was talking to Malin about was that I enjoyed the bloopers. I think films are missing in most of the comedies nowadays. However, you also have the modern day memes in the film.  How did you come with the idea of adding bloopers and memes? 

Nicol Paone: Yeah. That was actually my producer, Nicki Weinstock suggested we do the bloopers because we had so many of them, because there were so many laps. Every time they called cuts, people were busting out. Chelsea Peretti, when she coughed, we had to find a way to put that into the movie because it was just so funny. Then when you saw on the bloopers, as soon as she coughed, like the whole table just erupted in laughter.

Nancy Tapia: Where was the filming done? Was it in LA?

Nicol Paone: Yeah, we were in LA. We were right in Lucile. In a house above, just below the Griffith Park Observatory. 

Nancy Tapia: Is there anything else you can share that you may be in? I know there’s going to be in Chick Fight. Is there anything you can share? I know you’re playing Betty in that film.

Nicol Paone: I play Betty in that film. I’m actually writing a lot now. I’m directing my next movie called Sheltered. So acting wise, I am up for a few parts, nothing confirmed yet. Chick Fight was my foray back into acting, which is that he’s quite the bruiser. So it was a fun part to play, but yeah, I am more involved in the writing and directing front.

Nancy Tapia: What genre are you trying to explore?

Nicol Paone: More of the dramedy. I feel like Friendsgiving is at the furthest into comedy that I’ll go. Cause I really enjoyed the heart of this movie and I want all my movies to have a little bit of heart in it.

Nancy Tapia: Well thank you so much for your time. I enjoyed Friendsgiving.

Nicol Paone: You’re welcome. Thanks for watching the movie.

Friendsgiving is available in VOD as of today!

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

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Nancy Tapia

Nancy Tapia has been an interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review Media since 2011. Currently a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Former UCLA Bruin specializes in Management. Covering entertainment has been an unexpected lively journey. Always open to the next, new experience. From solo traveling to adding a new peak to her personal 100 Hike Challenge. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @inancytapia

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