If you were to go back to 1999 and tell anyone that the directors of the raunchy teen comedy American Pie would one day be making films filled with heart and passion and emotion, they’d probably look at you as if you were from Mars. And yet, filmmaking brothers Paul and Chris Weitz have both taken their careers into a direction few could have ever expected.
Paul certainly seemed to be on the right track with his 2004 solo directorial debut In Good Company, but not every movie he’s taken on since then has been as successful commercially or critically, as he tried his hand at franchise comedies and children’s book adaptations.
Admission is Weitz’s ninth movie in the 13 years since American Pie and the sixth directed solo without his brother Chris, and more than any of his other movies, it harks back to his earliest and most popular films like In Good Company and About a Boy.
It stars Tina Fey as Portia Nathan, an admissions officer at the prestigious Princeton University who is going through a few domestic issues during the busiest time in which they have to pore through tens of thousands of applications. One day, she gets a call from John Pressman (Paul Rudd), the director of a brand-new alternative high school in New Hampshire who thinks that his student Jeremiah (Natt Wolff) may be interested in going to Princeton. Oh, and also he may be the son that Portia gave up for adoption 18 years earlier.
ComingSoon.net attended the movie’s junket in New York City a few weeks back and we had a chance for an extended on-camera interview with Weitz, in which we spoke to the filmmaker about:
* How the last time we spoke he was talking about doing Admission next and how that came to fruition
* How Tina Fey was able to fit the movie into her busy “30 Rock” schedule
* How the movie feels like it’s based on an original screenplay rather than being based on a book
* The differences between Admission as a movie vs. the original novel
* Having a movie with so many talented writers involved including Weitz himself, Fey and Rudd
* How Rudd helped develop and influence his own character
* Whether he had to do research about the actual Princeton University admissions process and what sort of clearance they needed to get from Princeton
* How the drive from Princeton to New Hampshire is very long even though Fey’s character does it multiple times in the movie
* Getting Disney Channel’s Natt Wolff to play Jeremiah
* How the humor turns dark later in the movie
* How he goes about finding the right music to set the tone
* A little bit about what he’s working on now and how well About a Boy star Nicholas Hoult has been doing in recent years
Weitz also told us a bit about the current project he’s developing, an adaptation of Bel Canto, the 2001 novel by Ann Patchett, which is very different from his recent films:
“It’s a novel in which an opera singer goes down to this Latin American country to sing for the President and a terrorist group captures him and holds him hostage. Unfortunately, the President hasn’t shown up because he’s watching a soap opera, but it’s based on this prolonged hostage situation where the hostage and the captors came to identify with each other. Right now, I’m just working on writing it and seeing if I can do that without messing it up.”
Admission opens nationwide on Friday, March 22. Look for our video interviews with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd sometime next week.