Speaking by phone from her Los Angeles home — and pausing briefly to greet Tennessee, the youngest of her three children — she spoke passionately about the changing roles for women on screen and how she wants to be a part of that change. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Here’s a twist: Your character in “Home Again” has a hot and heavy romance with a younger man, and she doesn’t even apologize for enjoying it.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that on film in a way that the woman’s not some sort of creepy predator. She’s actually just a woman and she’s appealing to a 27-year-old guy. I thought, why do we continually see this with leading men, but we never see a woman in this position? I’ve dated younger guys, but I just never saw a movie about it.
It just underlined to me that we need more perspective in film, we need to have different voices telling these stories. Otherwise how does society change? How do we change the conversations we’re having if we’re hearing stories from the same voices over and over again, or the same demographic’s voices?
Why do you think the romantic comedy has fallen out of favor as a genre?
The romantic comedy as it existed 15 years ago just isn’t viable. I think people know that every life doesn’t have a happy ending, and they’re not going to be force-fed some idea of what romance is. Also, people know their lives aren’t necessarily defined by one romantic relationship solving all their problems. So there’s that reality check. But I don’t think of this as a romantic comedy, I think of it as a modern comedy. It’s those life decisions that change the course of human experience, and a woman’s experience, that are just as big in scope and as profound as any kind of big thriller movie. Because we’ve all faced those decisions.
Aside from “Legally Blonde,” your career hasn’t been sequel-driven. How does it feel to have fans clamoring for another season of “Big…