The movie Mother’s Day is the latest venture from 81-year-old director, Garry Marshall who is better known as the director of Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries, two of Marshall’s most successful films. It is unfortunate that Mother’s Day hasn’t fared so well.
The film has received absolutely dreadful reviews from numerous critics as well as many theater-goers. However, nobody involved with the film seems to have regretted working on it. According to Mother’s Day producer, Michael Karz, the stars actually jumped at the chance to work with Marshall.
“So many actors and actresses want to work with Garry,” says Karz in a press release. “People feel that it is an honor and a privilege.”
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For Julia Roberts, Mother’s Day was her fourth Garry Marshall film and she was the first one to sign on … at a Little League game. “We watch Little League together because her son plays against my grandson,” says Marshall. “I don’t call her people,” says Marshall. “I just say, ‘There’s a movie I might want to do. It’s about mothers.’ I drove to her house, shoved the script in the mailbox and drove away. She read it and said, ‘All right, I’m in.’ A surprising thing happens when Julia Roberts says she’ll do a movie. Many other people say they’ll come too.”
“I want to make him as happy [on the set of Mother’s Day] in Atlanta as I wanted to make him on the soundstage 25 years ago,” says Roberts in an interview for L.A. Times. “But that’s why you keep working for somebody. You don’t want to work for somebody that you don’t really care what they think about what you’re doing. And for him, I just always want it to be some kind of triumph. And of course, my greatest joy is if I can make him laugh at something that I whip up.”
“How do you say no to a Garry Marshall movie?” asks Jennifer Aniston who played a large role in the film as a newly divorced mother. “With him on your side, the world is pure joy. He walks with sunshine wherever he goes and I know a lot a people were there just to work with him.”
Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars) is one of those people. Mitchel is a huge fan of Marshall’s work and says that she has re-watched Pretty Woman over a hundred times. “He’s a legend,” says the actress who admits that working on Mother’s Day was a dream come true. She also told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on NBC’s Today that only Garry Marshall could get her in a bikini.
Kate Hudson says that “Garry is Family” and the experience of working with him on Mother’s Day was sort of a life repeating itself. Back with Marshall was directing the film Overboard with Hudson’s mother, Goldie Hawn, Garry let Hudson sit on his lap and yell “action” to her mother. For this film, Marshall allowed Hudson’s daughter, Ryder, to sit on his lap to do the same thing. When Marshall approached Hudson about doing the film, she agreed before she really gave the film any thought.
“We didn’t even really have a conversation,” says Hudson. “He said, ‘It’s about mothers and it’s going to be funny.’ I said yes before I knew anything more. It is a movie celebrating mothers and what it is to be family, which is so perfect for Garry. He creates an atmosphere that makes for really wonderful days and a happy set. It doesn’t even feel like work.”
Playing Hudson’s husband in the film is Aasif Mandvi who says he has been a fan of Garry’s since watching Happy Days on television. “I am a huge peanut butter fan and Garry assured me that there would be lots of peanut butter on the set because he is also,” the actor says. “Garry and I would just sit and eat peanut butter and talk about the scene.”
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Jason Sudeikis plays a widower and a father of two in the film. He says that before he signed on to do the film, he heard a lot of great stories about what’s it’s like working with Marshall and apparently, they’re all true.
“He makes you want to do right by him,” says Sudeikis. “It’s very satisfying to make Garry Marshall laugh. Whenever he asked me if I wanted one more take, all I could say was ‘not if you’re happy.’ He’s a writer first, so he’s got great instincts that you have to trust.”
Hector Elizondo doesn’t just star in Mother’s Day. He has had a role in every one of Garry Marshall’s films – 18 in all. For him, working with Marshall is like wearing a pair of comfortable old slippers.
“But you have to understand the language. He has his own vocabulary. When he says, ‘play piano,’ he means find an activity, do something while you’re talking. If you’re too far away, he says, ‘No, no, you’re in Chicago.’ Once you get it, you don’t have to talk much. He feels comfortable with people he knows both in front of the camera and behind. They take care of him and he takes care of them.”
So, why did Marshall make Mother’s Day? “I do rom-coms and holidays,” says Garry. “I celebrate all holidays, but I thought Mother’s Day would make a much better movie than Arbor Day.”
[Image via Open Road Films]