It’s hard to name a screenwriter in Hollywood right now who is more successful than Dan Fogelman. Yet I found him to be unassuming and even slightly self-deprecating in an interview about his new comedy, “Crazy, Stupid, Love”—starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling—which he sold to Warner Brothers for an astounding $2.5 million. And, of course, he was hilariously funny.
Fogelman not only talked about “Crazy, Stupid, Love” opening July 29, but about growing up on the East Coast with a dad who helped found Babies"R"Us: “He was in the baby schmatte business,” Fogelman quipped. The screenwriter also discussed his predominantly Jewish summer day camp, Blue Rill in Monsey, NY, where he made the core adolescent friends who remain his best friends today; and the script that got him an agent—titled “Becoming a Man: The Horrifying Ordeal Otherwise Known as Robbie Levine’s Bar Mitzvah.”
Almost three years ago, Fogelman’s beloved mom, Joyce, died at 60 after being diagnosed with a massive tumor; she is the inspiration for Barbra Streisand’s character (also named Joyce) in Fogelman’s upcoming film, “My Mother’s Curse,” which just wrapped production.
“It’s completely about my mom,” Fogelman told me of the movie, which stars Seth Rogen as Barbra’s son, Andy, an inventor. “I took a cross-country road trip with my mother four years ago, before she got sick, as research for a film I wanted to do about a mother and son going on [such a] trip together. We drove from New Jersey to Vegas, so it was basically being locked in a car with your mom for two weeks.
“The autobiographical parts of the movie are two-fold: One, the character Barbra plays—not her story, but her character type—is very much based on my mom. She collects frogs almost religiously (my mom had always collected frogs); she’s obsessive about drinking six bottles of water a day and about Weight Watchers; and she’s got a group of yenta friends that she relies on heavily—that kind of stuff. And then the road trip itself is very much modeled after things that happened to my mom and I on the road. Like, we didn’t think that it would snow in Tennessee, but it did and we got stuck in a blizzard.
“The movie’s theme is basically when you discover that your parent isn’t just a parent but is actually a human being who had a life before you, and the same goes for a mother or a father. It’s the point in their lives when they realize their child is actually a grownup and they have got to let go a little bit.
“My mom and I were exceptionally close and I really, really dug her. But I couldn’t necessarily start in that place at the beginning of the movie, or the characters would have nowhere to go. So creative liberties were taken with the relationships, as in any movie.”
“Crazy, Stupid Love” opens July 29; “My Mother’s Curse” will hit theaters in 2012.