Exclusive Interview: Katie Dippold on Snatched, Her Real Mom and Tapeworms
Screenwriter Katie Dippold and I really bonded, or maybe more accurately she bonded with 10-year-old Fred who may have been the prime audience for her films. Her latest naughty comedy Snatched made both Freds laugh, and last summer’s Ghostbusters was the movie I would’ve loved when I was playing Ghostbusters with friends, but I still love it now.
Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn play Emily and Linda, mother and daughter who go on vacation together to Ecuador. When they are kidnapped, they have to make their escape together while Emily’s helpless brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) tries to get the State Department to help. Dippold spoke with me by phone this week and Snatched opens this weekend.
WLE: Is your mom as cool as Goldie Hawn?
Katie Dippold: She is. She is. They’re both very cool ladies. Goldie Hawn, I had no idea what to expect. I was such a fan of her, along with everyone else in the world because everyone loved her movies, but I had no idea what she’d be like. I wanted to be able to ask her a billion questions about all her movies and she let us ask all the questions. She would answer them all, like, “What was this person like? What was it like doing this?” She even did a quote from Overboard. She was the best.
WLE: What line from Overboard did she say?
Katie Dippold: When she gets the pajamas that obviously don’t fit her and she’s like, “I was short and fat?”
WLE: Does your mom have Facebook alerts for all your updates too?
Katie Dippold: My mom is on Facebook posting political rants right now. I don’t know that she has time. Also the same thing of weird caps and weird points, just spacing all over the place, just nonsense. I don’t think she stalks my Facebook. Well, I’m never on it. That’s why. I have a Facebook profile but I don’t really give her much to go off on.
WLE: That hit home for me because my mom is not only on my page, but she’s on my friends’ pages so she pieces things together.
Katie Dippold: Oh, that’s classic, that’s classic. I just remembered one time I made a joke and It think this made me go on Facebook less. It was my birthday and people did the Happy Birthday run. I posted, completely joking, a few days later, “Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. I would’ve written sooner, but frankly I wasn’t impressed.” Obviously completely joking and everyone got that but my mom wrote something back, like, “Not impressed?” I said, “No, Mom, I was joking. Why are you doing this? Just call me if you think I posted weird.”
WLE: And she knows you’re a professional comedian.
WLE: Do you have a brother like Jeffrey?
Katie Dippold: I don’t. I have an older sister who I would be fearful to say she reminds me of Jeffrey. She would not be pleased but I love Ike Barinholtz so much. I worked with him at Mad TV. There were a lot of really nice, funny people there. He’s an amazing improviser too. Him and Bashir [Salahuddin] who plays Morgan from the State Department, so much of their phone calls back and forth is improvised. Jonathan had them sitting in rooms next to each other and they just went at it.
WLE: Was his “maMA” improvised?
Katie Dippold: Actually, I had maMA in the script once and then he just ran with it.
WLE: Did you try to get them kidnapped as quickly as possible?
Katie Dippold: Yeah, that was probably the hardest thing because for a long time it felt like it was happening so late, like there’s a whole other movie before they get kidnapped. So that was hard to get it sooner and sooner, and then one other thing that was tricky, it felt like in test audience, there was a period of time where there was an opening where you see a flash forward of what’s happening and you cut back to 72 hours earlier. I felt like sometimes people seem like they’re settling into a rom-com. Then the movie shifts so when it happens, sometimes people seem to think it was a fun shift, a surprise. Then some people seem like they’re maybe already settled into this other thing. So then we tried to move that back as soon as possible.
WLE: Does indiscriminate death also make you laugh in comedy?
Katie Dippold: Yeah, I guess I wanted it to not be a soft mother/duaghter comedy. I just wanted it to be shocking and whether people want that shock or not we will discover. But that was kind of the goal for all of us.
WLE: Did you research tapeworms so you could be medically accurate?
Katie Dippold: I did and it was a horrible time for me. There’s nothing I hate more than the idea of a tapeworm. I can’t. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. Actually, I believe it’s in the movie. I was just writing the things that I think would be the worst possible thing that could happen. So I did research pictures, but it’s tricky because it’s a constant debate. How real do you want it to look? Is it better if it’s simpler looking and it’s less horrific so people can laugh more? This is a constant debate from beginning to end. There was an NPR story long ago on the Guinea worm, and I’m sorry to say, pulling it from a woman’s nipple. That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life and I think I still think about it once a day. Then I went on this message board. I can’t remember where it was. Not a Doctors Without Borders message board but it was something like that. I remember seeing someone post something like they were talking about tapeworms and the thing about the raw meat and dragging it out. People on this message board were arguing it. Someone claimed, “I’ve seen it done in Zimbabwe.” I was like, okay, that seems like that’s what we will use here. So whether it is accurate, I could probably find out it is not but I don’t know.
Katie Dippold: That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. Thank you so much. That’s really nice to hear.
WLE: You’re welcome. One thing I don’t think I saw anyone discuss last summer was you didn’t give any of them a male love interest. They ogled Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) but there was no male version of the Sigourney Weaver character for one of them to date. Was that intentional and important to you?
Katie Dippold: It was. This has kind of been my whole play honestly. The Heat too. I just feel like I grew up on the movies that were movies for women, so much of them were just someone trying to get married or someone trying to get that ring. I didn’t understand that. The idea that the goal is getting that ring is a horror movie to me. I don’t understand it. Not that I’m against marriage. I’m not at all. I just feel like I grew up with all these movies where the guys were always on these awesome adventures and the girls were a side something. I felt like in high school and middle school, girls were so cruel to each other. I had a really hard time in middle school and freshman year of high school was truly terrible. The girls were vicious to each other. In my bones, I just feel like if girls grew up with more movies where the point was not competitive to get this guy, but instead about these girls being friends and going on these adventures together, I just think it would make the school experience and growing up so much easier. Then have your relationship. Have a relationship but I think you need to be able to have female friends and have a confident center before you can even be in a good relationship.
WLE: You must’ve grown up in the ‘90s or a little later when that became the whole rom-com thing. Older movies had more independent women.
Katie Dippold: Totally, you’re exactly right. I missed it. I missed the key time. I should give credit to the movies that did change my life. One is Private Benjamin so it makes me so happy she was in this one because that movie is amazing. It’s so amazing to me that she was able to just walk out of her wedding without the other man waiting in the car to drive her somewhere. I don’t think that movie is discussed enough, what an amazing feminist movie that is. And also, weirdly, Silence of the Lambs was really important to me to see Clarice Starling just in it. Just tracking down this serial killer and such a vulnerable female character as well as being strong. Those are probably the two biggest movies. I saw Silence of the Lambs way too young by the way.
WLE: Oh, 10-year-old Fred saw all those R-rated movies too.
WLE: Did you have plans for Zuul since you teased it in the credits of Ghostbusters?
Katie Dippold: I did, yes. I had big plans. I don’t know if they’ll see the light of day but I did have big plans. The first one, me and Paul [Feig] would talk all the time about how much do we show from the original movie and pay respects to it? What are the things we want to see and how much should it feel just like a new movie? We went back and forth a lot. I think in the end we paid a lot of respects to the original. Also, mainly just because as a fan of the original, there was just a lot of stuff I wanted to see. It would be fun if there was a sequel to now take these characters that are all set up and give it a completely new story and let them be off and running. That would be really fun to do but I have no idea whether that will ever happen.
WLE: I have a friend who’s still laughing about the baby in the bar and quoting, “Who brings a baby to a bar?” all the time. For The Heat 2 would you top that with two babies in a bar?
Katie Dippold: You’re going to think I’ve lost my mind and you’d be right to do so. What’s the baby in the bar? Why can’t I remember?
WLE: It’s okay. We’ve seen it a lot but it was years ago for you. Someone has a baby in a bar while they’re looking over crime scene photos.
Katie Dippold: Ohhhh, okay. Do you see the baby?
WLE: I remember the baby, but maybe that’s legend now.
Katie Dippold: If there is a baby in the bar, that means it was planned and that means I’ve lost my mind. If you do not see the baby, that means Melissa improvised it. Okay, now it’s starting to come back to me. Yes, the sequel will be filled with babies in bars.
WLE: Are you still working on a sequel?
Katie Dippold: The sequel is written. It was actually written a long time ago. After The Heat I wrote The Heat sequel and then I wrote Snatched and then Ghostbusters after that. The Heat sequel was putting them in the Silence of the Lambs kind of world. So now they’re going to go after the real serial killer that Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), you learn in the original she put the wrong person away, so the sequel is now her trying to right that wrong and going after one of the scariest serial killers, like a Jame Gumb type. It made me so happy and I think those two would be so funny in that environment, but Sandra Bullock understandably doesn’t love the idea of sequels. She feels it’s just never quite the same. I still hope to one day convince her, but we’ll see.
WLE: Even if she wanted to, I imagine it would be hard to schedule them both together again.
Katie Dippold: Oh my God, yeah. They’re both doing quite well. They’re both pretty busy people right now. They’re two of the biggest stars ever so that would be tricky but they’re good friends. Maybe that would bring it together, I don’t know.
WLE: Well, thank you for all these fun, funny movies and I hope we talk again for your next one.
Katie Dippold: Oh, thank you so much, Fred. You’re the best.