Producer/director Paul Feig is a bona-fide starmaker. His hit 2011 movie “Bridesmaids” launched Melissa McCarthy into the stratosphere; his cult TV series, “Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000), was a major early stepping stone for Hollywood A-listers Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Busy Phillips and Linda Cardellini.
Feig’s latest series, “Love Life” (premiering May 27 on HBO), stars Anna Kendrick as Darby, a New Yorker trying to navigate the dating scene. Feig spoke to The Post about why he prefers stories about women, his pandemic-related Instagram cocktail hour and more.
What attracted you to “Love Life?”
[Creator] Sam Boyd brought the idea to us. I thought it was such a great idea to do a deep dive into one person’s love life, basically. And seeing how each relationship affects them…I really enjoyed the fact that it was going to be something that wasn’t done in a linear fashion. We could jump from our protagonist in her 20s, 30,s back to her at 15 — and all points in-between — which makes it almost a bit of a romantic mystery, if you will — basically being like, “Who is she going to end up with, who is the right person?” This is my second time working with Anna, who was in my movie “A Simple Favor.” She’s just such a solid person and a great actress.
Most of your stories feature female protagonists. Is that a deliberate choice?
Oh yeah. I’ve seen so many poor roles for women over the course of the decades that I’ve been in the business and observing the business. It didn’t used to be that way. If you go back to the ‘30s and ‘40s and look at the relationships between men and women on the screen, they were all pretty equal in a great way. Somehow it tapered off with the rise of the blockbusters, I think — it really relegated women to a 15-year-old boy’s image of what women should be, which is either a supermodel, the prize or the meddling mother/ girlfriend/ wife getting in the way of the guy’s good times. It just added up over the decades to creating really terrible roles for women, so anything I can do to help fix that is something I’m very interested in. I love nothing more than telling women’s stories, and creating or helping to facilitate great three-dimensional female lead roles.
A lot of your movies play around with genre tropes. Why do you like doing that?
I really like rules, because I like being able to play with and bend [them], and every genre comes with its own distinct set of rules and expectations for an audience. What’s so much fun is to subvert those expectations. And the fact that the majority of genres and movies coming out of Hollywood for so long has been so male-driven — just to put the female lead characters into these genres alone shakes it up already. Since I’m a comedy person, I can get a lot of comedy out of that, and also a lot of great character observation.
Have you been surprised by the longevity of any of your projects?
I’m always very pleasantly surprised that “Freaks and Geeks” keeps going. It’s been over 20 years now since we did it. And the fact that it’s still relevant to the people who watch it, and to young people discovering it all the time — that’s everything you hope you’re going to get out of something, but nothing you ever dare to dream you’ll actually accomplish.
How have you been spending your time during Hollywood’s production shutdown (due to the pandemic)?
I’ve been doing my daily quarantine cocktail time on Instagram. [My wife and I] just did our 62nd show yesterday. That’s been really fun. We’re able to raise money for COVID-19 charities and hopefully cheer people up with my ridiculousness and also with cocktails. There was that feeling of, “Okay, I can either sit around for all these months and just get work done.” But I wanted to try to contribute something. [In the videos] I always highlight a different charity every day that I vet and make sure is highly rated and responsible and real, and we make a cocktail. In times of strife — or any times when people get in a bad mood — I like to have something where you can know that every day, this doofy guy is going to be there as a friend, and then my wife comes on halfway through. It’s low-key and silly. I’ve had such a love/hate relationship with the Internet over the years, but this is one of those moments where you go, “Thank God for the Internet.’ If we didn’t have it, this would be a lot harder.