The Year of Spectacular Men Exclusive Interview with Zoey Deutch, Lea Thompson and Madelyn Deutch.
Zoey Deutch and I met for the first time at the premiere of Before I Fall at Sundance. Zoey was incredibly kind and very appreciative that her film premiered at the festival. Later that same year, I interviewed her mom, Lea Thompson, and her sister Madelyn during the Los Angeles Film Festival right before the World Premiere of their film, The Year of Spectacular Men, which is now playing in select theaters and can be purchased on VOD.
Needless to say, I am a huge fan and supporter of Zoey, Madelyn, and Lea. About a week ago, we got to sit down and discuss their film, The Year of Spectacular Men which was directed by Lea, written by Madelyn, and stars Madelyn and Zoey. During our interview, we talked a lot about the film as well as what it was like working together as a family on a project that was so personal to all three of them.
Before I get to my interview with Zoey, Lea, and Madelyn, I would like to go on record and say that the Deutch family is by far my favorite celebrity family. As someone who has been working as a film critic and journalist for a little over fifteen years, I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to speak with over two hundred different actors, actresses, writers, and directors. While I have enjoyed about 90% of all the interviews that I have done, there tend to be a few that really stand out from the rest. The Deutch ladies are all very high on that list. Not only are they incredibly talented but every time that our paths cross, I get the feeling that they are not only happy to see me but they tend to go out of their way to make me feel special. This is something that rarely occurs but speaks volumes. So, if you are reading this, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you for being so amazing.
Zoey Deutch: Hello!
Scott Menzel: Hello, How are you? Congratulations on the film finally coming out.
Lea Thompson: Thank you so much!
Scott Menzel: It was a year ago, but I did not get to see you at the premiere of this film (points to Zoey), but I got to see these two lovely ladies over here.
Madelyn Deutch: You were so generous and kind to us. It really never left me. I was like this is amazing. Thank you!
Scott Menzel: And I’m here for you now, so I’m going to keep promoting as much as I can for this movie.
Zoey Deutch, Lea Thompson, and Madelyn Deutch: Thank you!
Scott Menzel: So, how does this feel, you are finally getting this film out into the world?
Lea Thompson: I’m so excited. I mean, I’m so proud of it I can still watch this movie, which is really great after all this time, the six months I’ve spent editing it. And you guys are so good, and I’m so proud for the world to see it. And you know everyone seems to be touched and I love that. I love it when a piece of art can make people feel things and laugh. How do you feel about it coming out Maddie?
Zoey Deutch: Your baby.
Lea Thompson: It is such a personal thing.
Madelyn Deutch: Sometimes I think that I block out the chatter like somehow I’m not wondering what will people think about it. But, I think the thing that’s weird about movies, is if you get bad reviews you’re lucky that anyone paid attention. I think the thing that’s scary about movies it’s like when the film gets no attention that is the scary thing. That if nobody sees it, and it really doesn’t touch anybody or doesn’t move anyone. That’s the fear, but I mean we’ve fought really hard and I think we’re trying our absolute best to give this movie the best life that it deserves. It’s literally a baby, I’m like it’s born. I wanna send it to school now.
Lea Thompson: Yeah, it’s so personal.
Scott Menzel: As you know, I saw the movie a year ago, and I just watched it again the other night. And one of the things that I wanted to tell you right off the bat is that it holds up really well. And what I found was the strongest element of the film was the entire second act when the family gets involved and you’re all involved. What was it like working together as a family?
Madelyn Deutch: Can I just say as a writer really quickly that you saying the second act is in good shape, is like the number one biggest compliment to a writer, because the second act is always where writers screw up. But so I’m just gonna take that with me to the grave, but sorry. Please go on.
Zoey Deutch: I was gonna say personally, I did a lot of research in order to play sisters with Maddie. So I felt very … no, I don’t know, I mean I think one of the things that makes the movie so special is that yes the title is The Year of Spectacular Men, but it is ultimately to me what in so many ways feels like a love story of two sisters that is by sisters, for sisters, which I think it’s so unique and special.
Lea Thompson: I’ve been in this business a really long time, and this is the most personal and my greatest accomplishment. And to have my two greatest accomplishments in my greatest accomplishment is a really amazing thing. I hope I don’t die soon.
Zoey Deutch: Anyway, I had a wonderful sandwich for lunch.
Lea Thompson: But I just feel like the pinnacle of a lot, and I hope for more. The truth is for me as a mother and as a person, and as an artist, they lifted me up. And gave me the courage to do something that I didn’t think I could do. And I think that we all did that for each other, which is a great way for partners to work, and also a really great way for a family to work.
Madelyn Deutch: We had fun on set though too, like it was fun. We were talking about it in a serious way, but we had so much fun. Honestly, we laughed our asses off.
Zoey Deutch: And, we almost got disowned by our mother.
Madelyn Deutch: Yeah, she was like, “Shut up!” She was in video village, and was like, “Be quiet!”
Lea Thompson: It didn’t help that the DP also worked the camera was like a child himself. So the three of them, he was part of the cast which was another really cool thing about this movie is that the camera guy which I think is getting more common, that the camera operators are more like part of the scene. He definitely felt like an actor with us, he was always there for us.
Madelyn Deutch: Oh I was so obsessed with having our DP operate because I had to do so much stuff that was very uncomfortable and vulnerable. The character herself is like her nervous system is on the outside of her body. And to have someone who I loved and trusted and felt comfortable with, that was right there behind the lens. I never felt judged, I always felt like I had a friend in the room with me. It’s a really different experience.
Scott Menzel: Going off that, one of the things that I noticed about this film especially when watching it again, is how raw both of your performances are.
Madelyn Deutch: Thank you!
Scott Menzel: Was there any particular scene for you two where you felt uncomfortable doing the scene because mom was directing?
Madelyn Deutch: Actually the scene …
Zoey Deutch: This is definitely a question that’s much more directed to Maddie
Scott Menzel: Yes, very much so. I didn’t notice that the first time around, but the second time around I was like okay.
Zoey Deutch: Okay, that’s a situation.
Madelyn Deutch: Honestly, one of the sex scenes was hard because it was very technical. The one with Brandon T. Jackson was just complicated. We didn’t have enough time, again Bryan Koss, our DP, God bless him, was like in the corner with the camera matte box removed with no one else there. But actually, the scene that was the most uncomfortable for me to shoot with you there (talking to Lea) was when we were on the street in San Francisco. The scene where we’re crying, we’re laying on the sidewalk. I was just going through it that day, it was one of our last days of shooting, or what I thought was going to be one of our last days of shooting. We ended up going back and doing a pickup unit in New York.
But I was a wreck that day. I was in the middle of trying to fix that whole monologue, and it wasn’t working. I had been up the entire night before, just free, completely honest, full transparency, completely free. I was like how did I write this whole movie, and get to the end of it and not know what my ending is, which is actually where all that writing comes from. You don’t know your ending, and it’s not about knowing. And I pulled from my experience being stuck in this like shitty hotel room in San Francisco like I don’t know what to do. I was totally freaking out, so when we got to set that day and we’re shooting, I was having an identity crisis about the writing. I didn’t really know if it was right. And that was to me, the scariest part of shooting. That was super hard, and it was like 20 degrees, it was so cold.
Lea Thompson: Yeah, it was a bad day.
Madelyn Deutch: Yeah, that was hard for my shoot with you (looks at Zoey), and you were like also freaking out about the writing.
Zoey Deutch: No, we were freaking out about the tree too.
Lea Thompson: Ah yes.
Madelyn Deutch: The tree is fake.
Zoey Deutch: The art department had to sow all the cherry blossoms onto the tree because it was freezing. It was winter.
Madelyn Deutch: They were standing on each other’s shoulders, it was literally four art PAs, like on each other’s shoulders, with fishing lines.
Zoey Deutch: And we had like, 20 minutes and it’s just like freaking insane.
Madelyn Deutch: Oh, we had a crane illegally across Steiner Street shooting over us. It was the most difficult.
Zoey Deutch: We shot on Full House Street. So on top of that, there’s like hundreds of tourists trying to take pictures, and we barely have sound.
Lea Thompson: It was a lot that day. It was raining too. And I remember it was raining the night before.
Madelyn Deutch: It was raining.
Lea Thompson: Yeah, everything was like that. I was always really nervous.
Madelyn Deutch: But we had fun, we were able to really find the levity in the days, even when they were scrappy and it was just full of dirt under your fingernails, but for some reason, that day, in particular, is seared into my mind.
Zoey Deutch: Ingrained in your brain.
Madelyn Deutch: Yeah, that was hard.
Scott Menzel: Is that the scene where you lay down at the end?
Madelyn Deutch: Yeah.
Zoey Deutch: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Scott Menzel: That scene is so emotionally powerful by the way.
Madelyn Deutch: Oh thank you!
Scott Menzel: Just the two of you together, there’s this level of chemistry that is just uncanny in that scene where you can feel that raw emotion between the two of you.
Madelyn and Zoey Deutch: Thank you
Scott Menzel: So, two things and they are spoiler-related questions.
Zoey Deutch: Spoiler alert. We’ll do this, spoiler alert.
Lea Thompson and Madelyn Deutch: Spoiler alert.
Zoey Deutch: Spoiler alert.
Lea Thompson: You have to see the movie to get it spoiled so.
Scott Menzel: Well, there you go. So, why was mom written as a Soul Walker? And what was the idea behind dad being dead? Why was he dead?
Zoey Deutch: We have answers for that.
Madelyn Deutch: You know, the quick answer is my dad, well, these characters are not based on us.
Scott Menzel: No, I know.
Madelyn Deutch: But I couldn’t come up with a dad character that was ever going to be as interesting as my real dad. He’s such a character, I said this in an interview earlier today, but I really think my pièce de résistance is going to be the day that I figure out how to write my father because he is like so unique and specific. And also from a technical screenwriting standpoint, this helps me explain a little bit of Izzy’s pathology. She’s really interesting and strange with men and any little bit of undealt trauma. Everyone has that, but hers was really big.
Lea Thompson: I’m always fascinated with secrets and families, and how they really end up hurting everybody. I was really happy that she figured out how to make a big secret that she was holding from her sister. And I think that’s really powerful, I think people should let those secrets go because they affect you and all families when you don’t tell the truth. So I thought there’s a lot of interesting depth and Maddie was really determined. We had a lot of fights because I wanted her to do certain things, but she’s such a good writer, she had to figure out the right way. That’s what happened with that scene, and the right way to make it happen that isn’t hitting you over the head.
I’d be like, “Let’s hit them over the head!” And she’d be like. “Nope.” And so we worked that out. But she’s such a good writer, and I knew this from the beginning because I’ve been around a long time. And I could tell her notes, and she would kind of kamikaze them, she’d be like, “I hear what you’re saying. But this is the way I think I need to do it.” And that’s the way that someone who’s really good at what they do does. And you were really good at that.
Madelyn Deutch: Thank you! Thank you!
*END OF SPOILERS*
Scott Menzel: So the film pokes fun at a lot of things in the industry, which I love. And most of that based around your character (looks at Zoey). I love the car bomb scene, “I was in a car bomb shoot.”
Madelyn Deutch: I love you! Thank you for bringing all those details. Those are things that no one ever notices.
Scott Menzel: Yes, I love it. As you can tell I’m not asking you questions like “what’s your favorite bread?” I’m trying to keep it focused on the film but I do have a couple of fun questions. I just wanted to keep it focused on the film. Going off that though, this is kind of a fun question. What has been your worst audition?
Zoey Deutch: Oh my worst audition.
Madelyn Deutch: Oh that’s good. I’ve had some bad ones.
Zoey Deutch: You know what, I think I inherited this awesome survival mechanism from my mother, that I literally once something bad within a workspace happens, or I have a bad audition or something I can’t remember. I literally can’t, but I’m sure you guys have some sort of recollection.
Lea Thompson: I have one.
Zoey Deutch: Come one, I gotta have one.
Lea Thompson: I know, I forget everything bad people say about me too. You inherited that from me. But I remember I showed up for a Lifetime audition for the Network. I got there, and it was completely different sides, and they insisted we do the brand new sides. The sides of lines.
Zoey Deutch: I got one, okay. This is embarrassing, very embarrassing. It was one of the first auditions that I had, I was still in high school, I was focusing, I was studying theater at an art’s high school. And I was like I got this, I know what I’m doing, but was studying and I didn’t have a lot of time. So I decided I was gonna self-tape with my mother, I asked my mom to do an audition with me, because I didn’t have time, I was in school. Okay, I promise the story gets more interesting than those very boring details. I’m not the writer, clearly. And I was like I don’t have time to read the script.
Lea Thompson: I was like “um.”
Zoey Deutch: And mom was like that’s a bad idea. And I was like I don’t have time, it’s very obvious what’s happening. It’s easy, she’s at a party, it’s easy to text. It was fine, we’ll do it quick. She’s at a party, you know whatever. I do the scene, send it in. Get a call from my manager, I didn’t even have an agent at this point, I got a call from my manager. And he’s like, “So it’s really interesting casting actually really liked your take on it. But he thought it seemed like you were playing like you were at a party?” And I was like, “Yeah”. And she was like, “Well, the character’s being held, hostage.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I got that too.”
Madelyn Deutch: She was like, “I knew that. I was just trying to play it like a little lighter, a little different than whatever everyone else is gonna do.”
Zoey Deutch: And when my theater teacher was like, “How the audition go?” I was like, “Oh well.” So that’s what I learned that you didn’t teach me. Read the freaking script. Okay, I have to put into perspective, I was 15, I’ve learned from that point on the process is everything. And it’s different when you’re at a party or when you’re being held hostage, it was a very different scenario. So for that audition experience.
Lea Thompson: But it’s funny that you even bring it up because no one ever brings that up that it is kind of like a Hollywood story. It’s a movie within a movie.
Madelyn Deutch: I know, no one ever talks about that.
Lea Thompson: And no one ever brings it up. And what I loved is that Maddie’s take on it is so not an outsider, it’s actually like her kind of experience, her insider experience.
Madelyn Deutch: We cared a lot about giving them a real life, her and Avan’s characters like putting them in … I mean it’s a nice house, it’s a duplex in the middle of LA, it’s not like they live in a mansion. They’re still young working actors.
Zoey Deutch: Because in our experience, our friends that are like movie stars, are not living in these like amazing Nancy Meyers’ kitchens, that you see. You know what I mean?
Madelyn Deutch: Yeah, they have normal lives.
Zoey Deutch: Those homes, they have like a condo in Silver Lake, it’s not the delusions of grandeur that are presented through a film about the lifestyle of a working actor is really interesting to me.
Madelyn Deutch: I also love, love, love, love just me personally the way that we or you shot the what are supposed to be the sets for your movie in San Francisco. We had our real crew kind of in the background of those shots
Lea Thompson: It felt like a real set.
Madelyn Deutch: It feels like a real set, where all of a sudden everyone’s like, “Okay, we’re wrapping, we’re moving on to the next location.” There’s not always people swarming around, it feels authentic to me, and also like Nick Braun is so good, wandering around in a baseball cap eating a snack and sort of being cocky. It reminds me of directors that I know, so I love that take on the stuff that’s supposed to be your film (looks at Zoey).
Scott Menzel: Zoey, so when I talked to your mom and sister last year…
Zoey Deutch: Yes.
Scott Menzel: They said that you’re the funniest person they know.
Zoey Deutch: Uh-oh, the pressure’s on. Tell a joke?
Scott Menzel: No, you don’t have to tell a joke. You could tell a joke if you want to though. But do you wanna do more in comedy? Is that the genre that you hope to tackle?
Zoey Deutch: I think the hope, the dream, the wish, the thing I work towards is confusing people. I don’t want people to think of me as a dramatic actress. I don’t want people to think of me as a comedic actress, I want people to be like, “Why is she doing that? Or why is she doing that? I didn’t know she could do that.” I would like to hopefully keep just going back and forth, and switching it up because it’s good for my soul. And I think it’s the best way to not get pigeonholed as a young female actor, in that world that can get tricky. So I’m just gonna keep trying to Jedi mind trick, and do both. But I love comedy. I love drama, and I’d love to do a Western, and I’d love to play a villain. And I’d love to do musical, and I’d love to play a villain in a Western setting musical.
Lea Thompson: Let’s get on that, let’s get on that.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. Let’s get on that. I want to ask you one final question. Do you wanna work together again? And if so have you decided or started to think about what you would do next?
Zoey Deutch: I would love to work together again. I know Maddie is actually going to direct her next feature, which is really awesome. But in the future, I hope you’ll give mom and me another job.
Lea Thompson: Yes, please!
Zoey Deutch: Please, come on.
Madelyn Deutch: I need them to give me jobs, don’t you like how they’re acting like I’m their employer, I’m the one that’s unemployable.
Zoey Deutch: You’re the writer.
Lea Thompson: You’re the only one who creates content.
Zoey Deutch: You’re the writer, I can’t put together an email, or even say that sentence.
Madelyn Deutch: Well, we absolutely want to work together again. Look, it’s special. It sounds like I’m making it up, but it’s really special to have your family be in the same hamster wheel with you, it’s like it can get tight. And it can get to be a lot, but at the same time, you look around in the middle of a hurricane and you’re like, “Who else would I wanna be spending this time with?” You know what I mean? But I think what it ultimately comes down to is it being the project that makes the most sense to work on together. There are things that she’s developing, I mean you guys have like five or six things in development. And I have like three things in development. But I think it’s just about finding the one that makes the most sense like this made so much sense.
Lea Thompson: Yeah.
Madelyn Deutch: Yes, we like working together.
Scott Menzel: Okay, thank you very much.
Lea Thompson: Thank you so much!
Zoey Deutch: Thank you!
Scott Menzel: You guys are honestly my favorite people.
Madelyn Deutch: So good to see you.
Lea Thompson: Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.