Drew Barrymore flashes back to the ’80s once again, however this time her leading man, Hugh Grant (Alex Fletcher), is a has been ’80s pop star who is trying to make a comeback in Warner Bros.’ hilarious new romantic comedy Music and Lyrics. Ever since his band lost their flare and popularity, Fletcher has been reduced to performing at amusement parks and high school reunions. That is until the hottest new diva, Cora Coreman (Haley Bennett), wants him to write a song for her and perform it together. The only problem is, she wants it in a few days and Fletcher can’t write lyrics. When he learns that Barrymore’s character Sophie, the girl who waters his plants, can write, he relentlessly pleads for her help, but she is apprehensive about working so close with anyone since she just came out of a bad relationship. As their attraction intensifies, Fletcher knows that if he is going to make a name for himself again, he must convince Sophie to help him write a song and have them both face their fears in the process.
ComingSoon.net talked to the duo in New York about music and their new film.
ComingSoon.net: This movie comes out strategically on Valentine’s Day.
Drew Barrymore: Yeah!
CS: What’s been your best Valentine’s Day memory?
Barrymore: Well, I can actually think of several moments but I think I’ll probably keep them to myself. Not to play that annoying like “keep it to myself card”, but just not to spell out every single moment that happens in life. But I’ve had some pretty darn good moments.
Grant: Yeah, I take it extremely seriously. If I don’t get a lot of cards and things, I get crabby. (Drew giggles). I like a lot of attention and at school there was a system where you put things in letter boxes which was weird because it was an all boys’ school (laughter).
CS: Hugh, are you going to show us some of your hot ’80s moves?
Grant: Am I going to show them to you now? That’s why I came here. Well, I’m glad you liked them. It was misery for me. I don’t play the piano, I don’t sing and I definitely don’t dance. They can teach you to sing a bit and the computer can put you in tune and they can teach you to play the piano, but there’s nothing that can make you move like a pop star if you haven’t got it in you. I used to go to these choreography sessions. There’s a brilliant choreographer on the film who did all these big numbers and we just used to stand there looking at each other. He would put the music on and say, “go, just go. Just do your own thing.” And I would say, “I have no thing, there’s nothing to come out.” And in the end I had to rely heavily on the makeup woman bringing me what looked like a 7-Up bottle but was in fact neat whiskey.
CS: The tight jeans – did that make it much harder?
Grant: Well actually, it helps a little bit. I must say when I got into my costume, I thought – yeah, quite sexy. Especially with those high heels.
CS: Drew, you did your own singing too.
Barrymore: Yes, because I’ve always been told that I was not allowed to sing and how horrible it was. This has been an interesting two years because I got to sing in the Curtis Hanson film and now in this film. So that was a very pivotal moment for me. I’m not a “no” person. I’m not a “can’t do”. I’m the sort of person who believes you can do anything you put your mind to. But I was just given a little bit more of a chance and some more time and encouragement, and I think since that moment happened, I thought , “oh God, I never want to go down like this. I will not be on my deathbed thing “would have, should have, could have.” So it was good. It was essential for me not to fail. And by the way go ahead and fail, but at least try.
CS: And you’re preserved on this CD.
Barrymore: And I’m on the “Lucky You” soundtrack too. It’s just unbelievable that I went from the “shut up” moment to “shut up and sing” moment? I don’t know.
CS: Can we expect a Drew Barrymore solo album?
Barrymore: No, probably not. I’m not – I think of it as really terrible, but at least it means I faced my fears. That’s such an important thing in life.
CS: Hugh, when you saw and listened to yourself in the finished film, what was your reaction?
Grant: You mean, in terms of the singing or the acting.
CS: The singing and the dancing.
Grant: Well, I heard a lot of the singing beforehand because you work for days and days to do these recordings. It’s not how I imagined it. I mean you must sing every song about a thousand times and then they take one syllable that you might happen to have got vaguely right, and they stitch it together with another syllable. Literally, it’s that fine. Then they put it through the machine 1600 different ways and tune you and put what they call “slap” which is sort of an echo effect which makes you sound better. And it’s unbelievable and by the time they finish doing that and you’ve learned that you can do it, you actually do sing better anyway. You get more relaxed. You think they can fix this.
Barrymore: And not to interrupt, but there’s a lot of singing you do a capella without any computer help and it sounds really good. You actually did get confident and very skilled and you sound beautiful.
CS: Does this convince you should go into a west end musical for 18 months?
Grant: I’m not very good in the theatre. I don’t like watching plays. I don’t like being in them very much. But I have learned to love the sound of my own singing voice.
CS: Drew, do you play a singer in “Lucky You”?
Barrymore: Yes, I do. I play a sort of off-the-main-strip, low-rent lounge singer who is from Bakersfield and has dreams of singing, but she’s not very good. But, she’s trying to find her dream.
CS: Hugh, you went to singing classes?
Grant: Yes, I did. Yeah. For a long time. I was doing piano and singing for probably two months before we started shooting and while we were shooting I had a little piano in my trailer, and yeah, and I used to do it by myself at night. Singing that is. I would sing long into the night. It’s a curious thing. It is one of those rare examples where practice does actually make you probably better, I’ve found. It’s all confidence, I’m sure you know. It’s weird. People just say, “just go for it.” And that’s the hard thing. You can’t just go for it if you’ve got no confidence. But this strange procedure where they record you and then fiddle it so it actually sounds pretty good the more they do that, the more you think, I can relax now because whatever happens, I’m going to end up sounding good, and then you start to sound good on your own.
CS: Drew, you mentioned these two films helping you to face one of your fears. What are some of your other fears?
Barrymore: Well talking about it, you want to go out there and do it. Because when you talk about it, it sort of takes the wind out of the passion. But I would love to focus on the next few years definitely facing fears and doing things I haven’t done before. So I think about that a lot, actually. And I look forward to scaring the ever-loving crap out of myself for the next two or three years.
CS: What are your favorite bands?
Grant: You start.
Barrymore: Oh God. All-time favorites? I love this album from Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins called Rabbit Fur Coat. It was the album I listened to the most during the making of this movie. I love a lot of stuff. Commerce Superstar and Adam Green. I love The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I just love every type of music and I think this particular going back into the ’80s which this film does explore that time. There was such a great dichotomy of music happening between whether you were into a Joy Division type of headspace or a Madonna or a Duran Duran type of headspace. I just love the music that came out of that decade and the start of MTV and punk rock turning into alternative turning into pop, it was such a great time for music so I particularly like a lot of music that came out of this.
Grant: It’s a very short answer. I’m a fraud and a charlatan in this film, because I have no interest in music. I never have had. I don’t have any records. I never play music, so it’s very difficult for me to tell you my favorite song. Sorry.
CS: Hugh, you’re not into music. you don’t like theatre or plays. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Grant: Oh, I don’t know. I sit around and moan, and I play a bit of golf, and I see my friends and read a book. Actually, I watch films.
CS: Did you not train in the theatre?
Grant: Yeah, I did a lot of plays, but to be really honest with you, I think doing a play is quite fun. It’s watching a play that is utter misery. That’s why I couldn’t really justify going on acting in the theatre because I just knew that these poor bastards paid a lot of money and were having a horrible time sitting out there watching. Let’s be honest, one time in 50 is actually fun in the theatre. The other 49 times you’re thinking bring on my gin and tonic in the intermission.
CS: What was the funniest scene for you both to shoot?
Grant: I don’t remember any laughs, do you?
Barrymore: I enjoyed when we were singing the song in your little recording studio. That was a fun scene. That was the scene where I thought, “oh, I’m having a really good time doing this.”
Grant: Yeah, it came out well that scene, and it’s always the things you are loosest about. You’re just sort of making stuff up and Marc (Lawrence, the director) would be coming up with stuff at the last moment. Strange how many of those scenes come out well in the film.
CS: What did you like about working together?
Grant: Drew was the perfect person for this thing. I sat down with Marc and we watched every romantic comedienne working at the moment, and it was quite clear it had to be Drew. She’s got incredible charm. She’s not a charming person in real life, charming on the screen (Drew giggles) No, she’s just perfect, perfect for the part, and very kind and supportive to an extremely grumpy, difficult actor.
Barrymore: I was excited to work with him because I love all of his movies. To me it was like getting to work with someone who really is a king, an ace, a genius and a master in their field. So I was like “sign me up, I’m there.” Lucky me.
Music and Lyrics opens in theaters on Wednesday, February 14.