NEW YORK – Rob Reiner directed one of the most famous romantic comedies of all time in “When Harry Met Sally." His latest foray into the genre, the big-screen love story “And So It Goes,” stars Michael Douglas as a grumpy real estate agent and Diane Keaton as a singer he falls head-over-heels in love with. Reiner talked to FOX411 about the idea of finding love later in life, and how his new movie is, in a way, all thanks to Jack Nicholson.
FOX411: All thanks to Jack Nicholson?
Rob Reiner: Well, yes oddly enough when we were doing the press junket for “The Bucket List” everybody would ask us, what's on your bucket list? Whenever they asked Jack Nicholson that question he would say "one more great romance," and that gave us the idea for this film. We thought it’s a perfect extension for the theme of “The Bucket List” which is, you live your life until it’s over, and if you’re lucky enough to find somebody later on in life and fall in love, don’t turn your back on it.
FOX411: Love later in life -- how do you feel it differs?
Reiner: I think it differs in that there's more at stake. You know what's involved in falling in love. You know the pain that you might go through in either having it not work out, or going through a divorce, or a death. In the case of “And So It Goes” Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton’s characters both have lost their spouses. So you know what's involved there. The stakes are just a lot higher.
FOX411: It also addresses second chances across the board.
Reiner: The main overarching theme is don't give up, don't give up on life. As long as you're alive, you have an opportunity to make good on relationships, on your work… we're living a lot longer now and with medical science advancing we'll have a hard time getting outta here... but you know, people are having second and third careers. So don't just say at age 65, I give up. Find things that are interesting to you. It's all about the doing.
FOX411: Is it right that you gave Michael the option to change the script because the one storyline may have hit too close to home with his character and his character’s son?
Reiner: When we worked on the script the idea of Oren, Michael's character, being estranged from his son and his son having drug problems and ultimately having to go to jail that was something before we even knew Michael was going to do it. When we sent it to him we certainly were aware that this might be uncomfortable for him, but when he read it he said, no this is good, I'll play this, and he does. It's really good and it's very touching and tough for him to deal with but then he certainly knew what he was doing when he played those scenes.
FOX411: Overall in terms of the marketplace and having films like this geared towards a different demographic, do you feel there’s a need for it?
Reiner: There's definitely an audience out there. We've discovered that with “The Bucket List”. We used to make the joke that of our core demographic audience, there was a 100 percent desire to see it with a 40 percent ability to get to the theater… but we know that if there's something there for this audience, we’re still the largest bulge of the population, the baby boomer generation… if there's something out there we'll go see it. So I think this works I think for that audience, but it works for anybody who wants to see a love story because I think they’re timeless and it’s the same awkwardness whether you’re a teenager or you’re an older adult in meeting somebody and getting together and having sex for the first time and all that.
FOX411: I know you’ve done much more than romantic comedies, but what is some Rob Reiner filmmaking 101?
Reiner: Well for me, I don't think of it in terms of elements because I just know how to tell the story from my experience and my observation and point of view of men and women. The way I look at it, whether it's “Flipped” 12 year-olds, college kids in “The Sure Thing”, or “When Harry Met Sally,” it’s young adults now older adults… I tell the same story basically. It's basically the way I view men and women. Women are just more mature than men, I don't care what age. They say girls mature faster than boys, that's not true… they are more mature than boys. No matter what age. So women are more in touch with their feelings, they’re more emotionally developed, they know what's important in life, and the men run around like idiots trying to figure that out until they meet a woman that can show them what's important. In the case of “And So It Goes” Michael Douglas has to meet Diane Keaton and he also has to meet this 10-year-old granddaughter that he didn’t even know he had to show him what’s important.
FOX 411: Do you have fun when you’re thinking of the roles for yourself in these films?
Reiner: Usually I don’t like to act in movies that I direct because it's kind of confusing, but in this case I had a very small budget and I had to get an actor who would work for scale, and I looked around and I found myself. Then the idea of playing a part where I get to wear a completely undetectable hairpiece… you can't walk away from that.
FOX411: You can’t, it’s quite a look.
Reiner: You didn’t notice right?
FOX411: I couldn’t notice! Until you just said it!
Reiner: Exactly see? Maybe it’s a spoiler alert.