Cast: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 112 minutes
Synopsis: Starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, Miss You Already tells the story of Jess and Milly, life-long best friends who have shared everything since childhood. Now, Milly has a high-flying job, a rock-star husband and two gorgeous children. Jess has dedicated herself to environmental work, and lives with her boyfriend in a bohemian houseboat on the London canals. The best friends are as close as ever. But their relationship is put to the test when Milly discovers she has breast cancer, while Jess faces motherhood for the first time. Featuring a picturesque London setting and terrific chemistry between Barrymore and Collette, Miss You Already is a heartwarming film about the true meaning of friendship. When life falls apart, friends keep it together.
Miss You Already
Release Date: October 8th, 2015
Described by director Catherine Hardwicke as 'a story about two best friends who are going on a wild emotional journey together," Miss You Already is a comedy-drama, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette as two best friends living in London, tackling the struggles of breast cancer and IVF and how it affects every aspect of their lives. Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen, Lords Of Dogtown) directs from a screenplay by British writer and actress Morwenna Banks (Damned, The Announcement).
The idea of Miss You Already has been with writer Morwenna Banks for many years. 'It is a work of fiction, but it happened that breast cancer touched my life and the lives of several people around me, within a short frame of time," she recalls. 'It seemed to me that it was almost an epidemic. I felt very passionate about trying to write something that showed what happens when the bomb of breast cancer just falls into the lives of ordinary people. People with families and, specifically, younger women, are what this film deals with – the lives of relatively younger women. When I started writing it, it was seen as something that was more of an issue for older women. I had witnessed this tragedy happen in the lives of several families and so I wanted to write specifically about how it feels, trying to deal with absolutely everything we're all trying to cope with, including small children, lives, friendships, relationships – and having cancer. That's what the film's about, with the added thread and theme of a very close female friendship, running through."
Producer Christopher Simon met Catherine Hardwicke 12 years ago at the London Film Festival. 'She had directed -Thirteen', which had just come out and was an incredible film. I also fell in love with Catherine Hardwicke. I thought she was an extraordinary filmmaker and I needed to work with her." After he joined forces with Morwenna Banks, everything fell into place very quickly – 'Catherine Hardwicke, Morwenna Banks and myself all worked on the script together, over a very short period of time, really. It happened very fast. We worked in her house in Los Angeles, we table read with some actors, and within a very short amount of time we were in production."
Catherine Hardwicke fell in love with the script almost immediately. She remembers, 'it had all these juicy ingredients of real life. You would just be rolling along happy and excited, then you get slammed with something super-difficult, a crisis. How do you deal with it? Do you deal with it with grace and humour and courage, or do you let it just knock you down? And these are things your family have to cope with, when someone is diagnosed with an illness; your friends cope with it, your children… It's just this big messy mix of life."
Catherine Hardwicke enlisted the talents of cinematographer Elliot Davis, with whom she had previously collaborated on Twilight, to join the crew. 'He's an awesome DP. He's very challenging, he wants it to be as radical and as interesting as it can be, and he's very beautiful with the camera on his shoulder."
Costume designer Claire Finlay-Thompson had known Morwenna Banks for many years and was delighted to be brought on board to work on the project. Jan Sewell also joined, to take care of the hair and make-up.
'Our casting was great," explains Catherine Hardwicke, 'before I even knew about this project, Toni (Collette) had fallen in love with it, two or three years ago. So, she'd always expressed her passion and wanted to be involved. Of course Toni Collette is amazing and I've seen her in so many things, she's just a chameleon. She can just do anything, she's fearless and she'll dive into anything with 100% commitment." Toni Collette was cast as Milly and everything clicked from there.
Casting a believable and compelling match for Toni Collette's character was tough for Catherine Hardwicke, 'It was exciting to figure out that challenge. Who would be such a cool partner to work with Toni Collette? And when we all thought about Drew Barrymore, she's this amazing person, kind of the American sweetheart and everybody loves her. We all love her. Who wouldn't want Drew Barrymore to be your best friend? She's such a kick-ass chick and she's so fun and beautiful and you just kind of feel her heart and soul. So we reached out to her and when she read the script, she did feel something for it. So she said 'yeah, I'd like to talk to you about it."
Feeling she was right for the part, Toni Collette had also written a letter to Drew Barrymore to urge her to join the project. 'I wrote her a very passionate letter, trying to convince her to come and do it." Toni Colette recalls, 'I knew that she had recently had a baby and probably the last thing that she would want to do is go to work. But I wrote her this letter and I had this feeling that she was so, so right for it. And thank God, Drew Barrymore decided to do it, because honestly, I think that in this film, even more than any other film that I've ever done, the relationship between the actors directly informs the characters and the story, more than ever. Whatever expectations I had of Drew Barrymore were completely exceeded and blown out of the water."
When asked about what attracted her to the project, Drew Barrymore explains how Toni Colette's involvement fuelled her to sign up for the project. 'A huge part of why I wanted to do this film, as well as honour the subject matter, was wanting to work with Toni Collette. I think she is truly one of the greatest living actresses, not of our time, but ever. When you say her name, it warrants the greatest respect. People always pull out several different characters or films that she has done, that affected them, or that they loved the most – and the list is long!"
Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore's chemistry was instant when meeting on set. According to Catherine, 'the first time they met, honestly, it was magical. They were just alive and playing off each other, because they're both creative, fun, amazing, brilliant souls. So it was beautiful."
The leading men in the film have very important roles and lives of their own, and Catherine Hardwicke wanted actors with real character and authenticity. 'Drew Barrymore's boyfriend in the movie is Paddy Considine. I wasn't super familiar with him, though I'd seen him in several movies. He's often thought to be almost brooding and tense, but then he also has a flipside and we see him in these crazy comedies like The World's End. So who is this person? He's also in The Bourne Ultimatum! He came in to meet with us and he's just the most lovely, warm, soulful guy – every woman basically swoons when they meet him. And Drew Barrymore agreed, -yep, I want him to be my boyfriend in the movie.'" For Paddy Considine, Miss You Already was a chance to play a character that he really connected with – 'I showed the script to my wife and the first thing I said was, -you'd watch this! You'd definitely watch this film!' She read it and said -you've got to do it, you've got to do this movie'." He adds 'It's just that character of Jago. I thought it's a chance to play a guy who's really just in love with Jess. And it happens that way, he just really adores her and she does him."
Although he had never played a character like Kit before, Catherine Hardwicke had seen Dominic Cooper in The History Boys and The Devil's Double and thought he was an incredible, versatile actor, who she thought would gel well with Milly and her rock -n' roll spirit. 'So, when I was thinking about Dominic Cooper, I was thinking -wow, this guy is super cool.' He's played a lot of dark characters and a lot of fascinating characters, but he's never really played the role of a Dad, married, with kids. So Dominic Cooper just became this very affecting character in the film and you just kind of love him. He just opened up and revealed all these interesting layers that I think we've never seen from Dominic Cooper before."
Morwenna Bank's heart-wrenching and hilarious script was a huge draw for all the lead actors. 'When I first read the script, I had goosebumps," says Toni Colette. 'I knew immediately that I wanted to be in it. It was really very exciting, because it was about female friendship and it was about so many things. It just seemed very, very honest and just bloody funny." Toni Colette has been following the film's progress for years and felt she needed to be involved. 'I had such firm belief in this movie and I kept seeing it and feeling it and it never left my mind, over several years. I think it just goes to show that, when all the stars align, things happen as they are meant to. I cannot imagine this movie being made in any other way, or with any other people."
Drew Barrymore was drawn to join the project as soon as she saw Morwenna Bank's inspirational script – 'I think Morwenna Bank's writing is so succinct; there's so much being said in one sentence and the characters really have a tennis match in their dialogue, which I love and find so refreshing. Each scene seemed to make so much sense and said more and more about their relationship, or solidified their ability to dance with one another. I also commend her for being able to tackle a subject the way she has. It is so difficult to speak about cancer.
The thing that really strikes me about this film is that I've seen so many people have to endure this journey. Also, it speaks of the people who love those people and have had to go on that journey with them and how painful it is. To not isolate it only to the person who is going through it, but to include their world around them, is so important and so powerful. To handle a subject that is beyond delicate, in a way that is humorous and authentic, really takes someone who is quite beyond brilliant. I really love Morwenna Banks for that."
Dominic Cooper was moved by Morwenna Banks's script. 'It's heart-wrenching because of its simplicity. It's a huge talent as a writer not to over-write and to understand, in a film like this more than anything, that the tiniest of moments are powerful when there's so much at stake. When you're fully aware of what all these people are experiencing, a gesture often says a million things; it needs something delicate and not a great deal said, to make it work."
Filmed in London and against the dramatic backdrop of the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, Miss You Already embraces the history and vitality of such disparate settings. Key locations for filming have included Ilkley in Yorkshire, Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch and Bricket Wood.
'It was exciting to work in England," says Catherine Hardwicke. 'I think that, for every film maker, we just love to discover a new place, new architecture. I'm an architect, so I loved being in London and seeing all the juxtaposition of the old and the new and how that could inform what I was doing."
Described by Catherine Hardwicke as a -beautiful cultural melting pot', London, where the majority of the movie was based and filmed, was an ongoing inspiration to the director. 'The city is so rich in history and in so much beautiful architecture from many eras. The new with the old is very inspiring. We tried to capture that in the film, where you have a city that embraces people from all over the world."
In direct contrast to the hustle and bustle of London, the film is partially set on the Yorkshire Moors. Catherine Hardwicke explains, 'There was something I wanted to fix with the script – all of it was in London. I just thought, if you're facing your own mortality, how cool would it be to just have the girls take a crazy road trip. I had been in England about three years before and I'd taken this mad road trip to the Moors, because I wanted to see where Wuthering Heights was written. So I told Morwenna Banks about that idea and she incorporated it and we added the whole trip into the script. You're always looking for things that are going to make you feel the story more in your bones, more fun and visual, more exciting, so it will just draw you in."
Tyson Ritter (-Ace') remembers the thick Yorkshire clouds enhancing the drama of his scenes. 'My favourite thing was being on top of the moors and there was this massively emotional scene and we're in the clouds. Every five minutes, the weather would change and, as we were looking down on Ilkley, where we were shooting, it was just breath-taking."
Further locations were added to the movie during filming, as London offered such a multitude of diverse and beautiful locations that inspired Catherine Hardwicke. 'I was driving to the set and I look out the corner of my eye and see this big cool wall. This art installation, that's under a bridge, was this blackboard wall and it said -before I die.' There was chalk and you could get in there and write on the wall what you want to do before you die. It was so inspiring."
Jess (Drew Barrymore) and Jago (Paddy Considine) live on a houseboat in London. Despite the difficulties of filming on a real boat rather than in a studio, Catherine Hardwicke wanted the authenticity that came with the location. 'I walked into several of those narrow boats and I could barely film with my iPhone, so I thought -we're going to need a bigger boat!'" laughs Catherine Hardwicke. 'But we found this barge that was right there in the Thames and it was just so funky. This fun woman lived there and had made it a really cool place to live. So I said, I'm going to film on a real boat, even though it's a bit tricky to film on. It just added authenticity. You could see other boats out in the water and you could hear the seagulls and the houseboat community."
The Cast On Their Characters
Drew Barrymore on Jess:
'She's by no means the good girl, or the demure girl, but she has her stuff together and has figured out who she is. Not so much what she wants to do, she's not really the career type – if anything she's more arty than business-like – but she always had a good head on her shoulders. She's always known who she is and is comfortable with herself."
'Milly, Toni' Collette's character, is much more vivacious and outlandish – this firecracker that you can't control! Jess is very good at being extremely direct with her. Historically, in real life and in the roles I've taken on, I've been more like the exotic one and it's really nice to play someone who walks this fantastically un-boring straight line – its weirdly ironic and true to my own life. I like being Jess; I think she is a fundamentally good person."
Toni Collette on Milly:
'My character Milly, she starts out as a wild child, a party girl. She's self-centred, egotistical, takes her life for granted and takes her friendships for granted. And then, in finding out that she has breast cancer, she has a complete wake-up call. There's a little bit of arrogance in her response to learning she has cancer, initially. Eventually, it changes her for the positive, because she learns to appreciate all the wonderful things in her life and all of the people in her life and all of her experiences and the time granted to her."
'In a sense, for Milly to have this incredible friendship with Jess, that's been lifelong, and her family supporting her and seeing her in a new light, she's seeing herself and all of them in a new light. It's life changing, her whole perspective changes. When you're given a context of what your life is, you're much more respectful of life itself and those that you share it with."
Dominic Cooper on Kit:
'I'm not a father – but the majority of my friends are and my brother is. I think Kit's based on bits of them. I'm trying to be, as much as possible, as I would be. He pursues his world in music and he seems very successful. He opens a store, because he's obsessed with music. I love music and know quite a bit about it, so I felt like I dragged bits of me, bits of my brother, and bits of other people into this family world. Bringing who that character is and bringing it to you and therefore embedding it into something very natural, rather than thinking -how would this person be as a father?' It would be -how would I be dealing with this circumstance, that I find myself in, at this age?'"
'You grow up; you don't ever want to grow up! No-one ever says -It's time to grow up now. I'm heading into my late thirties now and I've reached a point where I'm a solid, good, allround person'. Does anyone do that? I don't believe that they do – they feel as chaotic as they always did, they just try and navigate their way through the crap, which is what Kit's doing. He does quite a good job of it!"
Paddy Considine on Jago:
(Jago is Jess's doting partner, who helps support Jess, as she battles to come to terms with what is happening to her best friend.)
'In terms of what's happening to Milly and how it impacts on Jess, I think Jago has a tolerance of all of that. He has to. Of course he understands that Jess' best friend is in pain and he understands that she feels a duty to be there, that's bound by their friendship, but at the same time, they've got their own lives. At times, it's almost like Jago sees that Jess acts as a kind of punch-bag for her friend and is eager to protect her."
Jacqueline Bisset on Miranda:
(Milly's mother Miranda is a dramatic and occasionally absent presence in her daughter's life.)
'I think Miranda is great fun – she goes through her little worries with Toni's character Milly. It's a good part and I like the humour of it and I like the little bit of sass that Miranda possesses. Toni Collette, of course, has masses of sass, in her character, as well as in her own life. Masses. I think for her to be my daughter is rather fun, even though she's quite aggressive with me – and tempestuous, and bored and a lot of things! Miranda annoys her.
But the main problem is, that she wasn't really there for Milly as a child, so this is the lament and the constant between them – -You weren't there' and -how do you know about anything in my life now, because you weren't there?' and so on."
'I think, through all these trials and the love that Miranda sees between Jess and Milly, she often feels excluded and maybe doesn't really know at times how to be close to Milly and her family, even though everybody is nice to her and she loves the children. But there are moments when she's lonely within that."
Tyson Ritter on Ace:
(Ace is a sexy barman, who tempts Milly to consider what it might be like for her to abandon her complicated domestic life and run away with him.)
'Ace is my favourite character I've ever played. Catherine Hardwicke had me read for Ace and my audition was in Catherine Hardwicke's house. I remember walking in and she'd call me -the feral one'! We'd run the lines and she'd say -all right, now put that down, just have fun, be the feral Tyson – you're a crazy man, you're a wild man.'"
'I think Ace is a good guy. A wandering spirit good guy, but in the context of the story, you don't want her (Milly) to go off with me. You don't want her to find me any more than she does by meeting me. I think life is so much like that, as well, you don't always do the right thing."
Miss You Already
Release Date: October 8th, 2015