There’s often been the notion in the media that Woody Allen has stacked up a number of scripts over the years in a drawer which he churns out on a regular basis, but as his sister Letty Aronson, who also produced Cafe Society told us some time ago, her brother “might have a couple of scripts in his drawer, but he has a drawer full of ideas.”
And in the case of Cafe Society, a love triangle comedy about a young wannabe agent in Hollywood (Jesse Eisenberg) who falls for his studio boss/uncle’s (Steve Carell) secretary-mistress (Kristen Stewart) during 1930s Hollywood, the Oscar-winning filmmaker explains that the movie “was written fairly recently.”
“It was a romance that inspired me, the love story between the characters, that was the whole inspiration,” says Allen.
In regards to returning to Los Angeles as a film setting, 39 years after Annie Hall, Allen adds, “I could have made it contemporary,could have made it in New York or anywhere else, then the idea hit me to make him (Eisenberg’s character) an agent and the whole thing blossomed into a more picturesque atmosphere.”
For Stewart, it marks her third film opposite Eisenberg after 2009’s Adventureland and last year’s American Ultra. On reteaming the stars, Allen explains, “I needed two very strong people to play this. I needed a female who was that age, and beautiful and who could be believable as a naive Nebraskan secretary in Hollywood who can later transform herself in to a very sophisticated diamond-wearing, ya know, nightlife, cafe society type.”
For the actors, working with a master cinematic craftsman such as Allen proved to be less daunting and more of a collaboration than they ever imagined. Says Eisenberg, “I think it’s the strangest thing that someone, who in my opinion, is the best writer of movie scripts, who has a specific voice and cadence, is so open to collaboration. He’ll ask us to feel free to change his words, which we don’t want to, or fill in a blank if there is a blank because we’ll do long scenes in one shot.”
Amazon reportedly shelled out eight figures for Cafe Society, which kicked off this year’s Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. It was the third time that an Allen title opened the festival after 2002’s Hollywood Ending, and 2011’s Midnight In Paris. Lionsgate will platform Cafe Society this summer starting on July 15 before going wide on July 29.