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MOVIES Director, writer talk star-studded 'Book Club'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Cashing in on the book club craze, four seasoned stars have come together to make a movie about relationships and starting anew.

Diane Keaton plays Diane who is recently divorced after 40 years of marriage; Jane Fonda, as Vivian, can't settle down with one man; Candace Bergen is Sharon, who is still working through divorce; and Mary Steenburgen's Carol has a slow sex life with her husband. Joining together to bond in a book club, the quartet tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy together while working through their various daily challenges.

Director Bill Holderman ( A Walk in the Woods; The Company You Keep ) brings his production talent to the picture. He serves as screenwriter along with Erin Simms.

Windy City Times: Are you avid readers?

Bill Holderman: I am the slowest reader ever, so the volume is not high.

Erin Simms: He's a slow reader because he's paying attention. You can ask him about anything he's read down to the detail, while I read really fast.

WCT: Do you have a favorite book?

ES: I cried with The Bridges of Madison County when I was young. I also like Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

WCT: Have either of you been in a book club before?

BH: I have not

ES: My mom was. There were always book clubs in the house. I tried in LA but I could never get there after work so I had to abandon my book club.

WCT: How was it wrangling the cast to be in Book Club?

BH: Believe it or not, we wrote the movie for Diane Keaton, her name is still Diane in the movie, and for Jane Fonda, we changed her name to Vivian. I was a first time filmmaker so it was daunting. After I sent them a script then I had to meet them.

ES: There are a lot of hoops after they say yes.

WCT: Erin, you worked with Jane already, so did that help?

ES: A hundred percent. I emailed her.

WCT: What's her email?

BH: Yes, publish it—that will be fine! [All laugh.]

ES: Knowing Jane doesn't get her to say yes, she said no and we rewrote the character for her. We sent it a second time and then she said yes.

WCT: I saw some of her Grace and Frankie humor in Book Club.

ES: She has said before that she is not a comedienne, but I think she is. In Barefoot in the Park she did a lot of comedy. She has great timing and instincts.

WCT: I've met her once and she doesn't beat around the bush.

BH: Definitely doesn't beat around the bush. She is one of the smartest human beings I haver ever met in my life. Even though she is an icon and legend, I think she is still underestimated. She is 80 and her mind is faster than anyone's I have ever met.

ES: She has read, like, 50 books yesterday and very impressive!

BH: Once you convince them one on one to make the movie and they are together on the set, there is no wrangling. They were professional and became such good friends. They were eager to work together.

ES: They didn't want to disappoint each other so they came in with their A-game. No one was hanging out in their trailer.

BH: They were excited to be on the set together. There is so much history with them. The energy when they were just chatting was brought into the scenes. You could see the friendships formulating and it was very organic.

WCT: Once you landed the women, were the men easy to get?

BH: These guys were very eager to come in and support the women. They wanted to be in the movie. We cast men that were younger, which never happens in Hollywood. They have known each other for a long time. Diane has known Andy Garcia since The Godfather. Jane had been friends with Don Johnson for 40 years. That blew my mind, because I never put them together.

ES: We didn't know if we would get that chemistry on the screen.

BH: Diane and Andy had so much fun playing off each other. They are both so good at listening that no matter what happens in the scene it stays grounded.

WCT: Andy was so dreamy. Who would say no to a date with him?

ES: He should be prepared because women and men are going nuts over him!

BH: I got a text from my mother this morning, "Don't get me a Mother's Day gift unless it is Andy Garcia."

ES: His mother is the inspiration for the Jane character if you haven't figured that out. She went up to him at the premiere and was freaking out about him.

BH: He is so charming and we don't see him as a romantic lead very often, which is a shame.

WCT: Was there a diva on the set?

BH: Erin was…

ES: Me. [Laughs]

BH: I wish there was, because it would be fun to call someone out. I am going to ruin the perception of Hollywood actors because they were all down to work.

ES: Maybe if we had a giant budget, but everyone knew we were all lucky to be there.

BH: We didn't have the resources of other films. Sometimes they wore their own clothes. They really stepped up.

They don't get offered many roles where the character have full backstories. Sadly, these great actresses get [relegated] to playing a wacky aunt or a grandmother. This was an opportunity for four lead roles. They didn't take that lightly.

ES: When was the last time there was something like this? The First Wives Club?

WCT: Why do think the LGBT community supports movies like this and Jane Fonda?

ES: There is something about her. She's the queen. We appreciate the support. I have a deep desire to prove to Hollywood and everyone that this movie can compete with the blockbusters. I hope people show up. This is an underserved market that wants movies for them.

BH: The audience for this movie does deserve to have movies made for them. They just haven't been getting made.

WCT: What do you want audiences to take away from Book Club?

BH: We want audiences to leave the theater feeling good. It is a very optimistic, hopeful movie. The big takeaway is friendship and connectivity. It feels like now more than every we need it. Technology challenges that.

That's the beauty of a book club. You get together and chat. Hopefully, people will remember how important that is for their lives.

ES: The simple theme is it is never too late to be happy and believe in your own worth.

WCT: And drink a lot of wine at your book club…

BH: That's the goal is to make sure the Napa region is well taken care of!

Book Club turns the page at theaters everywhere May 18.

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