Writing For Diane Keaton + Discussing Book Club: A Conversation with Erin Simms for the Home Entertainment Release
Four lifelong friends have their lives turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey.
Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years.
From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.
In this interview, co-writer Erin Simms talks about the defining moment of the script, writing for Diane Keaton and working with Bill Holderman...
How did you get involved in the movie, what’s it like working with Bill… give us the story behind this story.
Uh, story behind the story. So, Bill and I worked together for a bunch of years. We worked for Robert Redford at his production company, so we were always producing and doing… well I was doing development, actually to be specific, and Bill was running the company and was a producer. And… the 50 Shades books came out. And Bill was sending 50 Shades of Grey to his mom, kind of in a funny way for Valentine’s Day.
And I found out, and I was like, what?! That’s just wrong on every level. And I thought it was hilarious. So then I decided that I should send 50 Shades of Grey to my mother. And then I said I’ll also send it to my stepmother and just make this like a whole family affair. And, I guess we both, I don’t know, I went home that night and came back the next morning and said, what about a movie about, you know, four women in their 60s, because our mothers are in their, I won’t say their exact age.
What about a book club about women in their 60s reading 50 Shades of Grey and it was like instant… that’s what we’re doing! And so, I remember the time we immediately bought 50, 60sahdesofgrey.com, 70shadesofgrey.com, 80grades, cause we just decided that there was gonna be many sequels. We were very… ambitious as a duo. But, yeah, so that’s where the idea came from. So it’s all Bill’s fault. [OVERLAPPING] All Bill’s mother’s fault.
Did you see the four ladies that we have? Did you see them as you were writing?
Oh, yeah, yeah, I will… it matches my vision and exceeds my vision. But, we 100% wrote… originally the first character that we were writing was Diane, and it was for Diane Keaton, and we called her Diane because it was Diane Keaton and it was the only person that we ever thought of. So that’s pretty crazy as two people who are just randomly writing a script to actually end up getting the person that they wrote the movie for, that’s, that’s a pretty incredible feeling, I must say.
Jane was Jane, and it was Jane Fonda and we got Jane Fonda. The characters of Carol and Sharon changed a bunch, so I don’t even remember what we were thinking, but I’m not sure we ever… what, I, I’ve asked Bill a few times of what the path was of when we thought of Candice, but when we thought of Candice, it was like… cause so many ideas are thrown... it was over. We just knew it had to be Candice Bergen. So, and I can’t tell you why her, just, as soon as I, as soon as we thought of her name, it was like we found our Sharon. And it had to be Candice. And she said yes, so that was pretty sick.
And then Carol… to me, was always Mary. I can’t speak for Bill, but if you re-, you know, you see the movie, it’s, I don’t know who else you can picture to play that part. And so each character is a little bit inspired by someone in our life. And I mean, Mary kind of embodies all of the qualities of the character as written. But, as I said, that, that, that character got rewritten a few times, so once we finally landed on the version that we loved, it was like Mary Steenburgen.
What is Book Club about?
Well, Book Club, I mean the, the log line is it’s four women in their 60s reading 50 Shades of Grey, and it sort of leads them to question where they are in their lives, and it just opens up a conversation between them that leads to some changes, significant changes. But, the movie, I mean it, the movie was really borne out of a conversation of knowing different women in that age range and how different they could be. Because we knew some women that were just… operating as if they were as vibrant and amazing as they’ve always been. And then knowing some women who sort of reaching an age and just shutting down and, and kind off allowing that to be their reality.
And I just didn’t really understand… well first off I, I just don’t think that’s the way that it should be. And I get that life can be hard and things happen when we all are a product off the things that happen to us. But I just… I think getting older is beautiful and we shouldn’t be looking back and trying to be younger. It’s like, you know, you look at younger people now, it’s like, you’re gonna be old one day, we’re all going in the same direction. Why not be your best self all the time?
And you look at Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen and these people are living, of course they’re, they’re stars, they’re super successful, but they, they’re… they’re living their lives to the fullest, so it seems to me. And just really accepting of who they are in the world and their, what they’ve accomplished. And it’s just, I don’t know, I think it’d be nice to have more regular people feel that way too.
BOOK CLUB COMES TO DVD ON OCTOBER 8