Paul Feig goes dark, kind of

Paul Feig talks A Simple Favor

It would be easy to just label every Paul Feig film a comedy.

Of course, that’s probably because “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” “Spy” and “Ghostbusters” are packed full of genuinely laugh out loud moments. 

But, amidst these laughs, Feig recently insisted to me there “are dark elements” that usually go overlooked because he wants his movies to “be good natured at the end of the day.”

So it makes sense then that Feig would turn his hand to the thriller genre, something he has done with “A Simple Favor,” which revolves around Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie, a warm and easygoing mommy blogger, and her burgeoning friendship with the dangerous and mysterious Emily, played by Blake Lively, who then suddenly disappears. 

“If you look at all my films they are genre films. One of the films I have always wanted to do is a Hitchockian thriller,” Feig recently recalled to me.

“The script was sent to us to produce. We weren’t sure if it was a drama or a comedy or a thriller. It was so crazy. I loved the script so much that I immediately wanted to direct it.” 

But while Feig was more than ready to embrace his dark side, he still believes that he wouldn’t he wouldn’t have directed the film if it was a “stand thriller.”

“It was Anna Kendrick’s character Stephanie that allowed me in. She is a fish out of water, nerdy mum, who is trying to figure out her place in the world. I knew, with her, I could make it funny and true to the thriller genre.”

“All the pieces were here with these characters. I wanted it to be fun and funny, but only if it supported the thriller genre.”

“I love thrillers. It is kind of my favorite genre. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t underserve that. It was always thriller first, then the comedy would come from the extreme of the characters.”

Feig also saw an opportunity to implement his cinematic voice into the thriller genre, too, which would help to make “A Simple Favor” unique, while harking back to the classics of the genre. 

“Ultimately, I just wanted to make it fun. I am a huge fan of the Hitchcock movies. And they are fun. They can get really dark and dangerous, but you laugh a lot.” 

“Just look at how quirky and funny his supporting characters. Even the lead characters. Look at Cary Grant in ‘North By Northwest.’ There’s a gravitas to it, but they are light and playful. I wanted to bring that back.”

“Because even though I love current thriller I think a lot of them lose their sense of humor in a way that doesn’t feel real.”

“Because life, even in the most intense and sad situations, someone will try to make a joke or something will happen that is so extreme that you just have to laugh because it is so crazy.”

“I still wanted to surprise the audience and make them go, ‘Oh my god.’ But I called this a fun thriller, which is a genre I want to do more in.”

“Because the stakes are so high and it is so dangerous that it is great for comedy, you laugh at the eccentricities of the character.”

You can see if Feig achieves just that with "A Simple Favor" when it is released on September 14. 

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