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'I Feel Pretty’s' producer fights back against trailer backlash: ‘This film couldn’t be more inspiring and uplifting’

Mary Viola insists the Amy Schumer comedy “shows what a little bit of confidence can do”
Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty
[Image: STX Films]

When I Feel Pretty’s trailer was initially released there was more than a little discontent, as some viewers immediately decided that the comedy would be insulting and offensive to women.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. I recently had the chance to speak to “I Feel Pretty’s” producer Mary Viola, and she revealed that this reaction to the clip left those involved stunned and disappointed. Viola explained that it completely missed the point of the film, which was understandable as those that complained hadn’t seen it yet. 

Click below to read Viola’s full response to the trailer backlash for “I Feel Pretty,” where she also waxes lyrical about the talent of Amy Schumer and reveals exactly what she wants audiences to take away from the comedy.

How did you first get involved in “I Feel Pretty”?
I met with its writers and directors Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn. I had been big fans of their writing. Me and my producing partner McG have a great track record with first time directors, as we have found people we believe in. Neither me or McG had a rich uncle in Hollywood and we like to give people chances. And it makes us feel so happy when it works. And then they make us look really good [laughs]. I read Marc and Abby’s script and loved it. Because it had a great message, but it wasn’t overly preachy. That is something that audiences can usually sniff out. We then sent the script to Amy Schumer, who this was really written for. She read it instantly, and it was a message she really responded to, and she signed up. It was really one of the best experiences that I have had getting a movie made.

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What was the message that attracted you then?
That it is inside that counts. And now more than ever that is what needs to come through to men to women to older people to younger people. Because everybody struggles with self-esteem. Even people that are stunning, like Emily Ratajkowski’s character in the film. We think her life is easy. But it’s just not. Everyone is insecure, it could be physically or mentally. We all have feelings of inadequacy, whether they are real or imaginative. I gravitated to the material because I have felt like that. I want people to walk out of this film with confidence. It is so easy to feel inadequate in every single facet of life, especially because of social media. This movie shows what a little bit of confidence can do. We’d all be a lot happier if we just stopped comparing ourselves.

Was this a topic you were actively looking to approach?
Not necessarily. I read so much. And it is so hard to find great material. But there was just something that touched me. I do love stories of female empowerment. And this really is a female story, and we are always just trying to take a new approach and make sure that everyone is represented. The idea had a hook, the concept was easy, it was very marketable and it is incredibly relatable. Amy is just so easy to watch and so approachable and she is just amazing.

Could anyone else have played Renee?
I don’t think that anyone else could have done this to the degree that she does. She pulls it off 100%. It was amazing to watch her on set. Because she’d have to change from confident Renee to unconfident Renee every other hour basically. I am sure it was grueling on her, but she never said a word and was great.

When did Amy Schumer get involved?
We brought her on as a producer shortly after she had read the script. She worked on the script, too, but then I really wanted her creative input throughout. And she really earned those producing stripes. She got involved to such a large degree, by helping to put together sequences, and even became involved in post, recommending songs. I just can’t say enough great things about her. A lot of her came into the project. She was able to take on her insecurities. She talks about it a lot how when we are little girls we have all of the confidence in the world, but then over time people just wear you down and we lose that.  

How did you feel about the backlash to the trailer? Did you expect it?
I wouldn’t say I expected it. I have to say I was really disappointed in that reaction. It was a few comments that wound up turning into more of a story than it really was. Because I really like the early trailers. It is so hard to make a trailer. You have such a short amount of time to get across what the concept is without ruining the movie or giving away the end. Because if we showed you the end of the movie, why would you come and watch? You want to come along for the journey.

It was always going to be the case that the film wouldn’t have a negative message.
I know! I wish people would wait to comment until they have seen something. If you want to judge the film after you have watched it that is absolutely your prerogative. But to do so after a 30 second spot that was not intended to create that response was disappointing. Especially because Amy Schumer, Aidy Bryant, a female director, female producers are involved. It was disappointing that people didn’t research a little and add 2 and 2 together, because obviously Amy wouldn’t do anything that was body shaming. The female force behind the movie was intentional. Early screenings have cleared that up. Because the film couldn’t be more inspiring and uplifting. Amy and Aidy have just been honest throughout promoting it, they love the movie and the message, and we hope that audiences can judge the movie themselves and not be spun by a few polarizing voices, none of which have seen the film.

“I Feel Pretty” is released on April 20.