Amy Poehler on Feminism Smart Girls and Getting Down and Dirty in The House
Comedian, director, producer, mum – Amy Poehler’s had many titles throughout the years. She was the lovable and nutty seal trainer in Arrested Development, Regina George’s infamous implanted, Chihuahua-toting mum in Mean Girls, and everyone’s favourite bureaucrat in Parks and Recreation, after going on to produce and direct millenial favourites like Broad City.
Now, Amy returns to the big screen to star alongside Will Ferrell in The House, a hilarious account of two parents who desperately need to raise money to send their daughter off to her dream university. After concocting a scheme to open their own casino, things go awry (of course) and they find themselves dealing with more than they bargained for.
We caught up with Amy Poehler to get her thoughts on portraying relatable women, the future of female comedy, and how young people are set to rule the world….
So, The House is hilarious. Was there one particular scene which was so funny, the cast just could not get it together and stop laughing?
Oh god, yes. There’s one scene where Will is trying to desperately remember some information, and all the equations from A Beautiful Mind appear around his head. He was doing the silliest stuff to recall something totally basic, and it was making me laugh so hard. I just love how for such a big alpha man, he can be so silly. Most funny people don’t walk around constantly being hilarious, and Will is so even-tempered and normal until the camera turns on and he becomes a total maniac.
We’re so used to seeing these pristine, glossy movie mums who don’t muck in as much as their male counterparts. Was relatability a key factor when it came to portraying Kate in The House?
Well, I think if I tried portraying pristine and classy, it would take hours of hair and make up so that would just really take a big chunk out of our filming schedule! We definitely wanted Kate and Scott to be a team, so she rolls up her sleeves and gets down and dirty just like her husband does.
Do you think she’s part of this new tribe of ultra-relatable female characters, like Abbi and Ilana from Broad City?
Even though I produced it, I watch that show like a fan because I love seeing their relationship – it feels so familiar. I think there’s a huge hunger in general for women to start seeing things that feel more familiar to them, because quite frankly, we’ve exhausted watching things from the male perspective. So, we not only want things that we recognise, but we also just want things that are surprising and new. I think the idea of two women who are each other’s support system, who live unapologetically, and who aren’t obsessed with finding The One because they’ve already found each other, is so refreshing and real. So that still feels like a lot of unexplored territory as far as I’m concerned.
Where do you see that unexplored territory in, say, 20 years?
Oh gosh I don’t know! I think anytime one tries to predict what’s coming next, they’re limiting the possibility – also, I think that my imagination probably couldn’t expand large enough to imagine what will be like 20 years from now. But I do know that the young women that I have the pleasure of working with, and other women my age who are continuing to dominate, will be producing great works of art for many years to come.
What are some of the most important challenges that women today need to overcome?
I think that we live in a very patriarchal system which we are constantly having to fight against. It’s not always there to help us or support us, so we have to try to help and support each other. Women need to celebrate each other’s lives and stories while not judging or comparing them. For me, personally, I think we need to apologise less, take up more space and then be sure to hire women when you get to a position of power.
Can you talk to us about your Smart Girls initiative? What inspired you to start it?
We started it many years ago as a web series to provide content for young girls that was almost like an antidote to what’s usually circulating around the internet. It then grew in to a much bigger movement where we’re now trying to engage young women and men who are interested in motivating positive change, asking questions like, ‘how do we stay engaged, how do we make change? What’s going to happen in the next 20 years?’ All the young people are the ones that will have an answer, not me. So it was just an opportunity to engage them and provide fun stuff for them and funny stuff for them. They’re the one’s that are going to save the world!
THE HOUSE IS RELEASED IN UK CINEMAS ON JUNE 30TH