Tamara Jenkins Interview: ‘Private Life’ director and writer
The idea for “Private Life,” a comedy about a middle-aged couple (Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti) struggling to conceive a child, sprung from writer-director Tamara Jenkins‘s own battles with fertility. Over a decade ago Jenkins and her husband, screenwriter Jim Taylor (“Sideways”), tried every imaginable tactic to get pregnant. Yet all those days of “injections, going to doctor’s appointments and measuring inter-muscular needles” ultimately inspired a new film. Watch our exclusive video interview with Jenkins above.
Jenkins recalls that while she and Taylor were “in the thick of it” the two “went to the movies to decompress” and ended up seeing “Knocked Up” (2007), a raunchy rom-com in which Seth Rogen impregnates Katherine Heigl after a drunken one-night stand. “We totally forget that sex was even part of an equation at that point,” she says, “because we were so involved in the medicalization of procreation.” That got her wheels spinning about what their own version of that scenario would be, which she jokingly referred to as “Knocked Out.” “That was … the beginning of some kind of inkling that there is a movie relationship in there.”
Jenkins, who earned an Oscar nom for penning the similarly autobiographical “The Savages” (2007), put the idea on the back-burner for years, but eventually came back around to it, in part because “people I knew were also going through fertility stuff,” she explains. “It was like a little epidemic among my friends” who had delayed having children for various reasons. “They had unusual lives … They were getting their careers organized, and then they were arriving at this idea of having a family. By the time they got there their bodies were saying, ‘It’s not going to be so easy now.’ So I was interested in that.”
“Private Life” premieres in select theaters and on Netflix on Friday, October 5. The film also stars Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, and John Carroll Lynch.