Interview: ‘For a Good Time Call…’ stars Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller

Ari & Lauren talk about writing the film, the 16-day shoot, bad auditions and their advice to actors!

good-time-call-ari-graynor-lauren-miller interviewFor a Good Time Call… is a raunchy, crude and at times hilarious film that is also one of the sweetest movies about friendship that I’ve seen in a while.

The story follows former college frenemies Lauren and Katie, who, in order to stay in Manhattan move into together. Once there, the two join forces and start a phone sex business together.

The two stars, Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller (who also co-wrote the film with Katie Anne Naylon), have great on-screen chemistry and their scenes together just make you want to see more of them, especially towards the end of the film.

Lauren (who is married to Seth Rogen) and Katie wrote the script from their real life experience as college roommates and when they were searching for the perfect person to portray Katie’s alter-ego, they found the Graynor, who told me that the pair sent her a “beautiful love letter asking me to come on” to the film.

I talked to the three of them about writing the film, the 16-day shoot, bad auditions and their advice to actors. Ari, did you guys know each other prior to filming?

Ari Graynor:  No, they very sweetly say they had sort of written this role with my voice in their mind and they sent me the script and a beautiful love letter asking me to come on about eight months before we started shooting and their letter made me cry and I wrote them back and we met and just immediately hit it off, all three of us. And then all four of us when Jamie Travis, our director, came in. And then it was just through the process of pre-production of the movie and all working together that we fell into our own friend love.

Lauren and Katie, you guys have known each other for a while.

Lauren Miller:  We met, we were a random roommate match in college and, yeah. And so we based it on our dynamic, I mean we are different people, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be best friends.

Katie:  Well, thanks, that’s big of you Lauren. [laughs]

Lauren Miller:  Thank you.   I let Katie be my friend every day.  [laughs] So, yeah, we’ve known each other for a long time.  We wanted to make a movie that we wanted to see which was a movie about us because we’re really selfish.

Katie:  Yes.  Also, I think it’s pretty female or maybe very human to kind of not – someone who’s different than you, to kind of see the differences and not the similarities – and I think that what Lauren and Katie, movie Lauren and Katie, do in the movie is find the similarities and that’s what Lauren and I found too, once we kind of let our guards down a little bit.  So, it was easy to write that.

How did you guys actually decide to write a script?

Lauren Miller:  When we met in college, I was in film school and Katie was in the creative writing program and so writing was always something we did have in common and after graduation I moved out to L.A. and I worked for a producer and wrote some things and sold some things and got representation and she was in New York with a fancy advertising career. And we tried writing long distance a little, but just because I guess that’s what friends who write do, I don’t know, long distance didn’t work as it never does. 

So, every year in birthday cards we would write, this is the year you move to L.A. and we’ll write together and then one year she did.

Katie:  Yeah, and then this was the first thing that we sat down and wrote and it’s been very magical that we would write one script together and it would be so well received and lead to so much. Yeah, so then it’s Sundance, and Focus and Lance, I mean –.

Lauren Miller:  Led to Lance.

The Pinnacle!

Katie:  We got a lot of mileage out of this thing Lance.  We got to this roof.

You guys self-financed this?

Lauren:  I mean, not with our own pockets. [laughs]

Ari Graynor:  After doing those 22 other independent films.

Lauren Miller:  Katie was a nanny for years.  No, we got super lucky, my brother works in finance in New York and he –

Katie:  We did do it independently.

Lauren Miller:  Independently, yeah, because he’s successful and very trustworthy, he had a number of clients who he –

Katie:  [laughs] Successful but very trusting.

Lauren Miller:  And so he basically had said for a while, you know, if you want to make a movie for not a lot of money I bet I can get the money together, so he went to a number of people who were just incredibly supportive and were excited about like people who were just trying to do something for themselves who were sort of taking destiny into their own hands. And each of them put up a little bit, which totaled our very small budget.

You guys had a 16 day shoot?

Katie:  Yeah.

Holy crap.

Lauren Miller:  Yeah.

Ari:  L.A. for New York.

Lauren Miller:  It’s funny, I have to say, everyone is always like, oh my god, but for some reason when we were shooting it, everyone on the production end of things was like, yeah, 16 days happens all the time.

Did you have a day off?

Ari Graynor:  Yeah, we had five day weeks. 

But I think also what it is to have a movie that is shot in 16 days and be where we are right now, you know?

There are so many independent films that get made.  I have certainly been a part of some of them that you know are little seen or even go to premiere at Sundance.  I think this is my fifth film that that premiered at Sundance, and some of those other movies, you know, they maybe end up in one theater or no theaters or whatever.  I think part of it is the surprise that we shot in 16 days and we’ve ended up in a pretty visible slate, you know, bought by a company that makes bigger more beautiful movies often shot in far more days.

Did you guys rehearse prior to filming?

Lauren Miller:  We spent a month together like around the dining room table at my house, the three of us and Jamie our director, and went through the script.

Katie:  I was narrator. 

Ari Graynor:  We didn’t sort of label it rehearsal.  So much of it was sort of working on the script and getting the production together and spending time together, but in that process, we got a lot of our dynamic down and worked out a lot of those questions that we would have had about story, script, character and scenes.

You guys have a great cast as well.  Did you know them prior to filming?

Lauren Miller:  A couple of them.

Ari:  Some of them.

Lauren Miller:  Yeah, I mean we had an amazing casting director and got to some of the people that way.  Other people it was just about writing letters and begging people to come on board. Kevin Smith was someone we wrote a letter to and asked him.

Katie:  I don’t know that we begged them. 

Lauren Miller:  We offered the opportunity to be part of our movie. [laughs]

Ari Graynor:  Justin Long and I had done a couple of other movies together so he came on board that way. 

Lauren Miller:  And I slept with Seth, so talked him into doing it.

Katie:  See I thought I slept with Seth. [laughs]

Lauren Miller:  Yeah, it was just, you know, we’re lucky that we know funny people and also that we had an amazing casting director, so it was a combo of the two.

With the release of the film and the response you’re getting, are you getting more acting roles?

Lauren Miller:  For sure, yeah.  I mean that’s why we did it, for all of us, to open doors you know, because for all of us it was a first for something.  For me a large part of that was as an actor because I wasn’t doing anything essentially before this.  I had like five auditions a year leading up to Sundance, and nothing will happen at that rate.  That’s never going to happen that way. 

So, since then I have been lucky that I do get to go on auditions and have had a few opportunities of things that are coming up and it’s very exciting.  It’s, you know, write it down, and make it happen.

And Ari, you’re getting ready to do The Performers. So when do you start rehearsal for that?

Ari Graynor:  I start rehearsal September 24th.  I’m very excited about it. I just got my apartment. It’s an amazing cast. I’m super in love with this character so it should be fun.

Did you have to audition for this or how did that work?

Ari Graynor:  This one I didn’t.  I was doing another play on Broadway last year called Relatively Speaking.  It was Woody Allen’s play. I did a few readings of this in New York during that time and so from that they asked me to come on and do the production.  You know, I’m really excited to get back on stage and kind of lose myself in this really silly, fun, lovely, loving character.

If you got paid the same, which would you rather do, theater, TV, or film?

Ari Graynor:  Well the irony is that the money piece is such a non-issue for me since I’ve actually made more money in theater than I have in film. 

Oh yeah?

Ari Graynor:  Yeah, which is crazy.  I’d like to keep an even balance between film and theater.  That’s my dream.  You know, it just exercises a different muscle.

What’s your advice to actors?

Lauren Miller:  Oh, my advice to actors, for me, sort of what I just said, no one’s waiting for you to walk into a room.  No one’s going to say, you, I’ve been waiting for you, unless you look like Cameron Diaz, you know what I mean? 

Which I do.

Lauren Miller:  Yeah, when you walked in I was like, is that –?

I think it’s about if you can be lucky enough to make your own opportunity then do it, because there are a lot of people who want to be actors and a lot of talented people out there who are just going to wait for an opportunity that’s never going to happen and that’s sad. 

So if you can be lucky enough to make your own opportunity, that’s my advice.  Make it happen for yourself. 

Ari Graynor:  I think my advice is, you know, so much of being an actor when you’re not making your own opportunities is dealing at the whim of others and trying to please other people and trying to fit in to some idea of what you think people want. Who do people want me to be at this audition, this character? And I would say embrace your “youness”, because ultimately it is what is unique about you that will make you successful.

Do you have any horrible audition stories?

Lauren Miller:  Yeah.  I’m trying to think about which one to tell you.  Well, I had one years ago when I lived in New York, I was a hostess at a restaurant and a guy or an agent came in and was like, are you an actor?  And I was like – I was 18 – and I was like, yeah, I’m trying to be an actor, I’m taking classes and blah blah blah, and he was like, you should come in and meet with me and do a monologue.  I was like, okay.

Katie:  Did you have sex with him?

Lauren Miller:  I did.  Twice.  [laughs] No, I was so nervous I literally couldn’t speak.  I started the monologue and my voice froze up so much that I couldn’t get through it and he was like, why don’t you call me next week and come back and I called and the receptionist was rude to me on the phone and I never called back, and it’s still something I think about and regret so much because who knows, had I called back and had I found the confidence within, who knows?

You should send them a copy of the movie with just a picture of your middle finger.

Ari Graynor:  Totally.

Oh God, I’ve probably blocked out a lot of them.  I started acting when I was seven so there have been so many auditions over the years that I have left in tears many, many times. 

One time I auditioned for Hal Prince to do a musical of something and it was huge and it was like, he was there plus like 25 producers and casting directors and I was maybe like 14. And I was singing and I had gotten bronchitis but I was come hell or high water I’m going into this audition and I had come in from Boston to New York and I tried to push through and I had done the reading and the scene had gone really well and then I went to sing and I just was doing everything I could to just sell it and push through but I couldn’t.  I think I started crying a little and they asked me to stop and they said like, I think this isn’t good for you and this isn’t good for us.

Lauren Miller:  Oh God.

Ari Graynor:  So, it was harsh.

Well that’s a good way to end the interview!

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