Twenty-five years after "Thelma and Louise," Susan Sarandon is taking a different kind of onscreen road trip with "Tammy." Sarandon stars as the alcoholic, pill-popping grandmother to the titular Tammy (Melissa McCarthy), out to cause trouble across the Midwest.
You've been doing a lot of interesting smaller projects lately, like "Ping Pong Summer." And even this, though it stars Melissa McCarthy, is from a first-time director.
Yeah, yeah… that's hard. I feel a little bit like I've used up my coupons for first-time directors, actually. Mark Duplass called me and told me to do this one, and then Mark and Jay Duplass called me to tell me to do "Ping Pong Summer." I always feel like if someone asks you to do something that's a favor to help get a film up and it's a one-and-a-half week commitment, that's a hell of a lot easier than a month and a half.
I would imagine that happens a lot, smaller projects with first-time directors seeking you out.
Yes. And you know, sometimes it works and other times it's very frustrating. First-time directors are very often trampled on by whoever buys it or the studio or whoever. It's hard because you want to give everybody a shot, but at a certain point you want people to make you better. I mean "producer" is probably the job you can be the least qualified for. There can be nine producers on a movie — you know, they gave a little bit of money or found the project or knew somebody or whatever. But on this, everybody that was involved and was there while we were shooting really, I felt, was very protective and very positive and lent their expertise in a really, really positive and influential and good way on this one. They had a great team of people on this one.
In your mind can, you connect this film to "Thelma and Louise" at all?
You know, it's so funny that we didn't think of "Thelma and Louise" — I mean, it didn't come up. I thought of it, but it didn't really come up while we were filming. We were so focused on what was going on. And then a year later when we went to do the press photo shoot, they had a convertible and a desert setting, and I said, "Are you sure you want to do that? We're about to have another anniversary for 'Thelma and Louise,' and I think there's going to be a lot of that. Do you want to do that comparison?" And they were like, "Oh my god, I never thought of that." And they struck the car! They took the car away! But while we were filming it didn't actually come up. Maybe because it wasn't as cool a car, I don't know.
Or as serious a story.
Right. Although I don't know, I think of "Thelma and Louise" as being funny up and until the end. [Laughs]
Speaking of "Thelma and Louise," so far during your press tour, how many people have asked to take a selfie with you?
[Laughs] Nobody, nobody! Oh no, one on-camera reporter did. That's so funny that that became such a big thing. We just did it as an after thought. We did a whole photo session of them uniting us, and there was a Polaroid and we did do something there. And then we were doing the interview for the Hollywood Reporter, and at the end of it I said, "Let's just do one," and we did one with my phone. [My dog] Penny tweeted it, and now it's a thing.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick