Billy Crystal and Bette Midler first ran into each other in the 1960s at an improv club in New York ”“ and yet they hadn’t worked together until now.
The song-and-dance-and-acting veterans ”“ now both in their 60s ”“ star as a pair of zany grandparents trying to watch over three energetic grandkids in family comedy Parental Guidance.
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler on why they need Parental Guidance
December 19, 2012
Midler said of Crystal: “I’ve always been a big fan. I love to laugh and he’s made really funny, wonderful movies. He never disappoints.
“So when he called, this was a big thrill for me, because I’ve always wanted to work with him and there’s not that many jobs. And there he is, he called me up. Wow! Sent me the script, read it, I said this is so funny. I’m in.”
Crystal says there was no other actress he considered for the part. “Who else?” he said. “This is a giant for such a long time and a game-changer, who was unique and was totally her own and took us by storm. And the winds are still blowing.”
Crystal said he came from a large family with many aunts, uncles and cousins, and entertaining them at gatherings is in part what pushed him into show business. Now he’s hoping Parental Guidance works for an intergenerational trip to the theatre.
“To be able to entertain a family with this movie means a great deal to us,” he said. “Because we set out to make something that everybody could relate to, be really funny, be a little edgy, and also be just a satisfying entertainment.”
Crystal says the film is based in part on his own experience as a grandfather. He says it’s his “grandparent film”, as City Slickers was his mid-life crisis film.
“Both characters are sort of reluctant to be where they were,” Crystal said. “In this movie Artie doesn’t even want them to call him grandpa.
“He says: ‘Call me Artie. My name is Artie.’ He doesn’t want to be reminded that he’s older and he’s got this responsibility. He hasn’t really been responsible as a parent that well. So he just really would rather be their pal.”
Midler continues the thought: “He’s like an old kid. Like somebody who never grew up. And you actually do grow up in this movie, just like they do in a way.”
Parental Guidance also stars Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott and Bailee Madison, and is out in UK cinemas on Boxing Day.