Anyone who’s ever wanted to see a movie in which Heather Graham and Bridget Moynahan make-out have finally gotten their wish thanks to Sue Kramer’s directorial debut Gray Matters. It’s a romantic comedy in which Graham plays Gray, a quirky New York woman whose close relationship with her brother Sam (Tom Cavanagh) causes trouble when they both meet and fall for the beautiful Charlie (Moynahan), forcing Gray to question her own sexuality.
“I liked the idea of having a traditional romantic comedy with an homage to ’40s musicals,” Graham told ComingSoon.net when asked why she decided to play a confused lesbian in Kramer’s rom-com. “It’s a very traditional storytelling method and then to put this more modern twist into it, I liked the mixture of those two things and then the end message of celebrating who you are and be yourself.”
“I had been looking for a romantic comedy for quite some time,” Moynahan concurred. “I really thought this was more of an ensemble situation even though it’s [Heather’s] story, but there’s a lot of supporting cast, so it wasn’t such a big deal for me. I felt like the script was more intelligent and had a more interesting edge to it then the ones I’d been reading.”
“I can remember that my favorite screwball comedy is ‘His Girl Friday'” writer/director Sue Kramer mused to us when asked about the film’s influences. “Definitely, the Preston Sturges of the world and those directors are people that I definitely wanted to pay homage to or walk very far, miles away, in their footsteps. Those are the movies that I loved and I also love Stanley Donen, in terms of the choreography and the musicals and dance sequences, and Billy Wilder and William Wyler, those are my heroes.”
Of course, whenever you set a romantic comedy in New York City, someone will invoke the name of Woody Allen, but for Kramer, that wasn’t as conscious an influence as some might think. “There was never a moment when I was writing the script, which is very much the movie, that I was thinking ‘I really want this to be Woody or I really want this to be a Nora Ephron movie or be His Girl Friday’,” she said. “It’s more that you grow up in a culture, and as an artist, you’re influenced by people constantly, whether you’re a painter or a writer or a director. I think all of these people are my influences, even subconsciously, but there’s nothing consciously that I wanted the banter to be like ‘His Girl Friday.’ It’s just that I’ve written very bantery dialogue in all the screenplays I’ve written prior to this. I love New York and I’m a New York filmmaker. I see New York as a jewelbox, I really do, and I love those Woody movies that make you think, ‘I love living in New York.’ It’s more about being influenced through my whole life from those people.”
Being a romantic comedy, the thing that most people–mainly guys–will remember from it is the film’s big moment in which the two actresses first kiss, so we asked them how they prepared for that pivotal scene.
“Bridget was a little nervous because I kept being so excited about it,” Graham said with a smile. “She was a little creeped out. I kept trying to get a rehearsal in with Bridget for that but she just wasn’t into it.”
“Sue doesn’t believe in one takes, so we did a lot of takes,” Moynahan remembered. “You know how it is when you have that first kiss with that person, whether it’s an actor or not? You clunk teeth.”
“We didn’t clunk teeth!” Graham said in defense. “We were laughing. We were giggling too much. She was mad because we were giggling. There was an X-rated version. We kept going on and then there was an X-rated love scene but they cut that out.”
“It was fine, it was fun,” Moynahan added casually. “I mean I don’t get freaked out about kisses.”
Graham was pretty excited to learn that their kiss had already made it onto YouTube, joking, “We don’t care about anything else. We just want to be on YouTube, it’s more important than the film. We’ve already made it!”
Although the movie is about the relationship between the three main characters, there are a few fun supporting characters, the most surprising one being a psychiatrist played by Sissy Spacek, who does a surprising amount of physical comedy and even a bit of stunt work! Kramer told us how that odd bit of casting came about. “Sissy and I have been dear friends, we met in this crazy circumstance about ten years ago. We started working on a project that we were trying to develop together that she was going to direct, a book adaptation. Knowing Sissy as personally as I do, she has this amazing sense of humor. People don’t really think of her for comedies, because she’s this amazing dramatic actress, but she’s so funny in person that I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great for me to write something for Sissy that people can see how funny she is?’ I wrote the role specifically for her and was lucky enough for her to say she would do it. That was a great calling card, because people love and admire Sissy so much that other actors really wanted to come on board or read the script or meet me. Her stunts She’s the greatest trooper in the world. We had a major stuntwoman dressed in her exact clothes, perfectly ready to go for that rock-climbing day and she would not let them do it. She did the fall herself, she did all the climbing herself. She got in shape beforehand and training on a rock-climbing gym, which she’d never done in her life. She really trained for the part and wanted to do it all by herself. Of course, my producing partners were going, ‘If Sissy Spacek gets hurt on this movie, we’re going to get killed. Are you sure you’re going to let her do this?'” And she did it, a couple times actually.”
Moynahan and Graham also told us why they’ve decided to do more independent films in recent years.
“It’s funny for me because I could never get an independent film prior to doing ‘I Robot.'” Moynahan said. “I was excited to finally being accepted in that world, so if they wanted me I’d be like ‘great.’ But in the independent world, you tend to get a little bit more interesting material, and more likely to end up straight-to-video, but it gives you a little bit more opportunity to explore yourself and in the character than perhaps in some of the bigger films where most likely you’re supporting a bigger cast or bigger male lead.”
“Yes, I think I really like to do independent films,” Graham agreed. “I think that a lot of times, they take more chances and do things more uniquely and not as formulaic. I think there are really great studio movies but they’re harder to find. I just love going to see them. I have gotten into developing material, because I think that there’s not a lot of female perspective in cinema. There definitely is some but there should be more, and as an audience member I want that, not only as an actress. For the past 5 years I’ve been doing it and I have 3 things that I want to do. Hopefully 2 this year and 1 next year.”
Moynahan, who has been appearing on the ABC drama “Six Degrees” also thinks that television shouldn’t be ruled out as an option for actresses. “I see so many great actresses moving into TV. I just saw that Jennifer Jason Leigh is doing a pilot, Glenn Close, Sally Field. I think you’re getting material on a weekly basis that’s pushing you and challenging you, and you’re getting some of the great writers from the films who are going into television and have more control. I think more and more actresses are going in that direction but the kind of material that they’re probably gravitating to doesn’t stay on the air so…”
Oh, that Bridget Moynahan, always looking at the glass as half-empty. Regardless, her new movie with Graham, Gray Matters, is now playing in select cities.