Why She’s On Our Radar: Few films tickled Sundance’s funny bone this year like Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylor’s raucous feature screenwriting debut, “For a Good Time, Call..” And with good reason! The comedy, directed by newcomer Jamie Travis and starring Miller as one of the two leads opposite “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” breakout Ari Graynor, centers on two former college frenemies who, after randomly becoming roommates in the Big Apple, decide to start up a phone sex line together in order to make ends meet.
The Focus Features pickup (out in theaters this Friday) is foul-mouthed, sexy and winning, putting many of its male centric counterparts (we’re looking at you, “Hangover Part II”) to shame. “A jubilant celebration of raunchiness, ‘For a Good Time, Call…’ maintains the giddiness of a classic Doris Day sex comedy with all the suggestive dialogue transformed into the real deal,” wrote Eric Kohn in his glowing review out of Sundance.
More About Her: A Long Island native, Miller studied film at Florida State University before going to work as an assistant to Oscar-winning producer Steve Starkey (“Forrest Gump,” “Contact”). Following that experience, she put her focus back on acting and writing, appearing in such movies as “Superbad,” “Observe and Report” and “50/50” (alongside her now-hubby Seth Rogen, who appears in “Good Time” as a horned up caller), in addition to earning a New Writer’s Deal at the now-defunct Fox Atomic. She wrote two feature scripts for the studio, but they were never produced.
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What’s Next: “Katie and I are trying to write a pilot this year and dip our toes in the TV world,” Miller told Indiewire. “Then, of course we’re writing another couple features. I’m also writing something personal by myself. As an actor, before Sundance, I had five auditions a year. After this, I have eight in a week. So the tides have turned for me and I now have opportunities, which is great. I hate to talk about indie stuff because you never know what’s going to happen, but there is movement and I’m excited.”
Did you and Katie have a total blast writing this script?
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Katie actually ran her own phone sex line out of her dorm room during her freshman year of college. So we had a lot of fun drawing from her experience, and also creating this world. When you have a writing partner and you’re writing a comedy, your goal is to make each other laugh. In writing something about phone sex, that’s a little dirty, Katie considered me to be the straight one. So I loved the moments when I would write something so dirty it would make her blush. That just filled me with so much confidence and pleasure [laughs].
Who’s idea was it to write this?
We were random roommates in college. I was in the film school and she was in creative writing. If I would write a script she would read it, and if I would write a poem, she would read it. Over the years we’ve always kind of worked together. After graduation I moved to LA and she moved to New York. I did the assistant thing, trying to write on my own. Every year in her birthday cards I would write, this is the year you’re going to move to LA and we’re going to write together. But she never would! And then one year she did.
It really wasn’t, oh my God we have a story to tell. It was simply, she moved to LA and after about a month we sat down at a computer together and decided what to write. We started with us — writing what you know — and then it was like, okay, is this the time that we’re going to tell your crazy story?
Given that you two were roommates, how close are you to the uptight character that you play? You two do share the same first name…
I’d like to say I’m 40 percent Lauren. Katie and I definitely have that dynamic. When I met Katie, I asked where the recycling was, I had long hair and my boyfriend had a guitar. She called me earth girl. I remember looking over at her and thinking, when is this girl going to shut up? But that went away really quickly, much faster than fictional Lauren and Katie. It probably only took us a week before we realized we were going to be best friends.
I’d like to say it’s inspired by true events, but it’s not autobiographical by any means.
Leading up to this, you’ve led such led such a varied career, having dabbled in fashion prior going to film school, and worked as an assistant to a producer. Did you always envision yourself writing, producing and starring in your own film?
Maybe not doing all this in an indie way. From a very young age I wanted to be an actor, but I lived in a very small town in Florida where there weren’t any opportunities for that. So when I went to New York to study fashion, I realized I was finally in a place where I could do this acting thing. I’m definitely one of those people who think that everything you do leads up to the moment where you are now. I think that’s very much the case for me. All of those things gave me the ability to do what we’ve done here. I went to film school, so I certainly know how to make things quickly and cheaply. But at the same time, I have the experience of working with Steve Starkey for three years. I watched him produce some gigantic movies. I’m definitely someone who sets goals and achieves them.
Before this film, I reached a point where I felt I was spinning my wheels a little bit. I had all this experience and I felt like I could do something, but nothing was happening. I just got to a point where I needed to make it happen for myself. I was lucky enough to have an incredible writing partner. I’m a big believer in making your own destiny, and that’s what we did.
Did being linked to someone like Seth Rogen, give you the urge to stand out on your own and make a name for yourself as a performer/writer?
Definitely, in many ways. On one hand I’ve been fortunate for the last seven years to watch someone’s career go from essentially not very much to where Seth is today. Because we have so much in common, I feel like I’ve gotten a front row seat to how a lot of this has happened. It’s been great for me as inspiration. I don’t know anyone who works harder than my husband. He’s so incredibly dedicated, but also does things always with a smile. He always has a good time. That was incredible for me to learn from. Certainly watching him, it was like, well he’s doing it, I’m going to do it too then! It’s been fun. I feel lucky that I have someone that I live with who inspires me and pushes me.
The film makes no qualms about addressing the love factor inherent in many female friendships — both Lauren and Katie are so frank in declaring their overpowering affection for one another. In writing it, were you worried that guys might take it as, ‘oh, these chicks must be lesbians’?
Honestly, it was not a thought in our minds while we were writing it. What was in our minds, was that we thought it would be really funny to structure our movie like it was a romantic comedy. But the thought of, let’s do it and maybe some guys will think we’re lesbians, that was never anything close to being in our minds — ever. But I’m all for people seeing something deeper in our movie, than what’s actually there. That’s fine. But as a woman who has experienced some deep friendships with women, I know that I can be (and currently am) very much in love with my best friend. We’ve never made out, but that’s OK! It doesn’t diminish our love at all [laughs].
We just wanted to accurately portray what we know to be female friendships. Girls say, I love you. That’s what girls do, and that’s what we wanted.
Guys should follow suit.
Right! I know. Like my husband and his best friend, they never hug each other. It makes me so sad. Hug and you’ll be so happy!