Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is about to embark on the mother of all road trips when he is guilted into brining his mom Joyce (Barbra Streisand), along for the ride on a cross country adventure that careen through comical curves on the way to a surprising connection. Rogen plays a struggling young inventor searching for a lucky break as Streisand is a pesky parent and vibrant widow ready to unravel her lonely lifestyle. But when they come together in the front seat of a sub compact, with years of family habits and secrets between them, it shakes up both of their lives.
At a recent press conference we had the opportunity to speak with Mrs. Streisand and Seth Rogen about working together, which one is funnier, Barbra’s thoughts on the new camera technology out on the market, what’s the secret to her success and why she really doesn’t get that many scripts sent to her anymore.
How was it meeting each other for the first time?
Barbra Streisand: It turns out that Seth went looking for me after watching the Focker movies.
Seth Rogen: I was actually working with John Schwartzman who was the cinematographer on Meet the Fockers and I think I asked him what he thought of Barbra and he said she was great. Ben Stiller I think I might have run into and asked about Barbra so yeah this Barbra Streisand lady check out, so I though I’d give her a shot.
Barbra Streisand: I didn’t know who to call, I didn’t know any people from his movies. I thought he was adorable so thought this is interesting and unlikely and yet you know we’re both Jewish.
Seth Rogen: So when we met we got along, very well!
Barbra Streisand: Instantly
So who made who crack up the most on set?
Seth Rogen: She cracked me up quite a bit.
Barbra Streisand: It’s because it’s unexpected from me because I’m serious. Anne (Fletcher, Director) and Dan (Fogelman, Screenwriter) would throw us stuff like make fun of your cousin. We would just go at it and just laugh.
Seth Rogen: The way we talk in real life isn’t that much different then our repoire in the movie, but we got along. It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times and her trying to feed me things I don’t want to eat!
Barbra Streisand: And yet he was the one that copied me with the iphone.
Seth Rogen: She had an iphone before me, I had a blackberry and she was always playing games on her iphone. If Barbra can work an iphone then it’s got to be fun.
Barbra Streisand: He asked me if I had a twitter account and I said I don’t know.
Seth Rogen: The I showed her that she does.
Barbra Streisand: Which I only use for political purposes. I wouldn’t know how to find it on the phone.
Seth Rogen: I’ll show you.
Barbra as a director yourself what are your thoughts on all this new technology out there?
Barbra Streisand: When and if I do direct another film I would have to go research the red camera, the alexa and the rest but I know I love film. So I don’t know yet what I’ll find out about that. By the way A Star is Born was shot live. I also sang live in Funny Girl because that’s what they’re talking about in Le Mes. How do you know where the emotion is going to hit you and I’m a terrible lip syncher. Anyway you have to be in the moment and I can’t sing to something I recorded three months ago. It was great that Tom Hooper let the actors use that, singing live.
Barbra you’ve had such a great career, as an artist what gives you joy?
Barbra Streisand: I prefer things that are private so I love recording and I love making films as a filmmaker because it uses every bit of what you have experienced or know, you know, whether it’s graphics, composition, decorating, psychology, storytelling, what it is, it’s a wonderful thing,
What gives you the greatest artistic satisfaction and what does it mean for you to be part of a project like this?
Barbra Streisand: Well, I was dealing with, you know, very talented people. I had loved Anne’s movie, The Proposal. And Dan, I looked him up, too, he did Tangled. Yeah, I loved that. I loved that and then I saw his name on it. But he’s a very gifted writer so, and Seth is terrific at what he does.
Seth and Barbra this movie has a great balance of comedy and drama in it. It has some real heartfelt moments, too.
Barbra Streisand: This is good. Thank you.
All of you guys have great comic timing. I’m wondering for each of you two what was the hardest for you, the dramatic moments or the comedy?
Barbra Streisand: Eating steak. For a person who doesn’t like steak, that is the hardest thing.
Which one was the hardest, funny or serious?
Barbra Streisand: Oh, no. They’re both the same.
Seth Rogen: Yeah.
Barbra Streisand: If anything is based on what reaches an audience is the truth is honesty. So if you’re saying something truthful that’s a funny line, it’s gonna be funny. If it’s a serious line, it’s gonna be serious. But I don’t think there’s a distinction between how you play in drama or comedy; do you know what I mean? If it based in the truth.
Seth Rogan: Thank you. I like this. I’m just sitting here getting comfortable.
Barbra, you have had such an amazing career at this point. What do you think is the secret to your success and what have you done right?
Barbra Streisand: Oh my God. What?
Seth Rogen: Good question.
Barbra Streisand: I don’t make that many movies and I don’t make that many appearances so
Seth Rogen: Leave them wanting more.
Barbra Streisand: That’s it. Less is more. And maybe that keeps a little mystery or something. I don’t know. I like to stay home a lot. I like to do other things, too. You know what I mean? Like decorate, build.
Barbra, how crazy can you drive your own son and Seth how crazy does your own mother drive you?
Barbra Streisand: Why don’t you go first?
Seth Rogen: Oh, it’s the same answer. Very. I think yeah my mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship. I see my parents a lot. But, yeah it’s a lot like in the movie. For no reason I’ll get annoyed and I’ll just find myself reverting back to like a mentality of like a 14 year old kid who just doesn’t wanna be around his parents. Yeah, it’s one of the things I related to most in the script honestly was that dynamic where just your mother’s trying and the more she tries, the more it bugs you. And the more it bugs you the more she tries. And you like see her trying to say the thing that won’t annoy you and she can’t and yeah, all that is very, at times, very real to my relationship with my mother.
Barbara’s how much contact did you and your son Jason Gould have while you were thinking about how you wanted to play the role and did he share some fun stories, maybe one of which you can share with us.
Barbra Streisand: No, actually he was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery so he was in bed for a few days after.
Seth Rogen: He couldn’t skate.
Barbra Streisand: And I brought the script over and we read it out loud and it was interesting actually. His father was in the room, too. Isn’t that funny? We were both, you know, very coddling our son. And so he became the audience and Jason was reading all the parts with me. And he said, “I think you should do it, mom.” And I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He has great taste, you know, in whatever he chooses to do. It’s amazing. So he clinched the deal.
You must get sent so many scripts?
Barbra Streisand: I don’t. You see everybody thinks like you. She’s got so many scripts, why would I send her. She’ll never get a chance to read it. And meanwhile, I go, “Where are the scripts?”
What ultimately was it that reading with your son that connected and you said, “Yes, this is something that I have to do,” instead of would you still have done it if he had said no?
Barbra Streisand: It’s mother develops guilt trips. I mean when I was working a lot, I’d feel guilty as a parent that I couldn’t pick up my son every day from school, bake him cookies and that kinda thing. So I know that feeling. I know that feeling a lot. And so you try to compensate and everything they do is great and they sense that guilt. And they’re going through their own rebellious times or whatever. Having a famous parent is an odd thing, you know. And so I thought it was interesting to investigate this, trying to be my son’s friend, trying to be his friend versus a mother. And when it comes time to really say, you abuse me, you disrespect me, you talk back to me, you don’t honor what I say, you won’t take my advice, that kinda thing. In terms of this movie, it hit on all those things that I thought I could explore. And it was a true story. Dan wrote this lovely script and it just felt like it was meant to be, meant for me to come back to work as a star, starring role rather than six days on a movie which I really liked. But it was time to challenge myself again. Of course I made it very difficult for them to hiring me because I kept wanting an out some way so I made it really hard. I really don’t wanna go I would never do this normally. I really don’t really wanna schlep to Paramount. It’s two hours each way. So would you like rent a warehouse and build the sets in the Valley, no more than 45 minutes from my house? And they said yes. Then, you know, on these Focker movies I had to get up early and I’m not an early bird. And Seth says it’s very hard to be funny at 7:30 in the morning.
Seth Rogen: For me it is.
Barbra Streisand: Yeah, he’s right. He has to have a few cups of tea, you know what I mean. You have to feed him a little bit. I said so you can’t pick me up ’til 8:30 ’cause that’s like a normal time to get up for me ’cause I love the night. My husband and I stay up ’til two, three in the morning. So we don’t function that well at eight or at six in the morning. And they said okay. Then I remember on the boat I said to Anne, well would you make the movie without me and she said no and I felt bad, guilty. Another guilt trip, right? I said, “Oh no, she’s not gonna have this job and I want her to work,” every one of those little elements added up.
Seth Rogen: I was open to Shirley Maclaine.
Barbra Streisand: He’s lying. That’s not what you said yesterday.
Seth Rogen: That’s not true. I only would have done it if Barbra was doing it. No for me it was funny. They were like why don’t you do this movie with Barbra, but Barbra’s not sure if she wants to do it. And I was like, “Well, just let me know if she says yes.” And then I really made like two movies during that time and we were like editing 50/50 and I got a call and they were like, “Barbra said yes.” Really? Oh, okay, great.
Barbra Streisand: It’s great to feel wanted, you know.
Barbra you look great in the film and here today, what is your secret?
Barbra Streisand: God, what is my secret?
Seth Rogen: Sitting next to me helps.
Barbra Streisand: He is so funny. That was funny, Seth, very funny. No, if you knew all my self-doubt. My God. I don’t know. Maybe I’m slightly childish or something like that. I don’t know. I kind of like the child part of me. Maybe it reflects in my face or something. I don’t know.
Barbra, you can sing and you act, serious, comedy and compose, write, direct and everything you’ve so done well. So what you cannot do well?
Barbra Streisand: I can’t cook. I can’t cook at all. I mean I would not know how to make coffee or sort of boil an egg. Maybe I could figure that one out.
Seth Rogen: You should just try one day.
Barbra Streisand: I took cooking classes. By the way, I know how to make chocolate soufflé.
Seth Rogen: That’s pretty good.
Barbra Streisand: Just ask me if I want to make chocolate soufflé. I’d rather have somebody else make the chocolate soufflé and I eat it because I found when I took cooking classes, I didn’t wanna eat it, you know. The joy was gone. I was always filthy with the stuff and how do they keep their hands clean and then cleaning up. No, I don’t like that much.
Seth how did you approach your character Andy?
Seth Rogen: How I approached Andy. I mean I really thought of it kind of it’s like a very real time performance. You are kind of just thrown into the movie with him so I kinda thought I should be as real and natural as possible. He’s not a particular funny guy. He’s not even in a particularly good mood for the majority of the movie. But I thought that, you know, if you seem a little vulnerable, people seem to relate to that and I think that was kind of the balance. We got options, honestly I would do takes where I was more harsh with Barbra and takes where I was less harsh and takes where I was more annoyed and less annoyed and takes where I was just fully entertained by her and takes where I was like, “Oh, just the fuck up.” We knew that it would be somewhere in there. To me that’s kind of how I act especially when you don’t know. The line is how annoying can she be versus how annoyed can he be and when does that start to get grating. You gotta make sure you relate with both of them. Is it too much on her? Is it too much on him? So we talked a lot about it while we were filming just as far as like, “Okay, that last take was harsh. We should make sure we get one that’s less harsh.”
Barbra Streisand: It’s like playing an instrument. I mean as the director, you know, she modulates. But it is interesting, isn’t it? When we started to show the movie and then if they found him a little mean to me, she had that many takes, you know. I love it because it’s a transformative kind of movie. I mean they start at one point. Both of them kind of tragically alone. Not finding a mate and then at the end there are many more possibilities, the horizons open. Oh, there’s more to life than The Gap. He took me out of my shell. It was a very loving gesture and so it’s about love. I always say it’s a different kind of love story.
Seth Rogen: Which to me sounds gross.
Barbra Streisand: See where your mind goes. His mind goes to the sexual always, right?
Seth Rogen: Right in the gutter, right in the gutter.
“The Guilt Trip” is in theaters December 19th