June Diane Raphael of GRACE AND FRANKIE makes this TVWriter™ minion feel…well, kinda terrible. She acts! She writes! She looks (and sounds) like Karen McCullah! While all I can manage to accomplish to wake up each morning. There oughtta be a law, you know?
by Patti Greco
The new Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as 70-something frenemies whose husbands (played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen, respectively) left their wives for each other. It’s a happy coming-out story on the one hand; a sad story of loss on the other. June Diane Raphael plays Brianna, the tell-it-like-it-is daughter of the wealthy, uptight Fonda-Sheen family. “She’s a nice window into what the audience might be thinking,” Raphael said on a visit to Cosmopolitan.com’s HQ this week. “She brings up a great point: This would be a different conversation if it were a woman [with whom her dad cheated]. We wouldn’t be celebrating and having dinner together — not a week later.”
Cosmopolitan.com spoke to Raphael — whom you might also know from her podcast How Did This Get Made with husband Paul Scheer or from her last movie, Ass Backwards, with writing partner Casey Wilson — about her new show, the limited roles for women in Hollywood, and her first job out of college: writing Bride Wars.
Bride Wars was one of your earliest work experiences; you and Casey Wilson basically wrote it out of college. What did that teach you out of the gate about Hollywood?
The reason we got that movie was because Casey Wilson and I had been performing a two-woman sketch show at UCB in Manhattan, and we went to a festival and one of the executives on that movie had seen our show and asked us, “There’s this idea, but the script is not right — do you want to take a stab at [it]?” This happens a lot, where there is a script, and then it gets rewritten, like, 20 times. We had never written [a script before]; even our sketch show that we were performing, we didn’t really have a script, it was, like, written on napkins. So we really learned on the job. And what it taught me was just to say yes to an opportunity, and what I realize now is we didn’t know anything about writing a screenplay. It was like, OK, let’s read a million scripts of comedies that we love and figure out how they work. I remember we went to a screenwriting teacher to ask questions. And so we did a lot of homework. And then we worked really, really hard.
You wrote it when rom-coms were starting to really get trashed. They’re having somewhat of a comeback now, but it wasn’t a good time for them then. How did that color your experience?
It was interesting, the reception of Bride Wars. A lot of things happen with studio movies … they take on a life of their own, there’s a lot of input from a lot of people. So a lot of times, by the time you’re watching the finished product — it’s very different from the original script we wrote. I’m so proud of the movie and stand behind it, but there’s a ton that goes into creating a big budget studio movie, [a] comedy especially. So, that said, what I loved about the movie was that it was really a rom-com about two women, and about their friendship, which I feel hadn’t really been done, and it was taking the tropes of romantic comedies and wanting to be married, but focusing it on this friendship, and how women can be distracted by the wedding, the dresses, and the this-and-that. And that’s all great and fun, don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing I love more than a wedding dress — but they’re really ruining this friendship that could’ve been for the rest of their lives. So that was the whole draw to the movie initially. My relationships with my girlfriends are so intense and amazing and hilarious. That’s why, in my own writing, that’s been the focus.
You and Casey are writing your third movie together. What it about?
I can’t get too much into the logline, but I will say if Ass Backwards was sort of our time in our 20s, this is definitely about a different time in our lives … our late 20s and early 30s.