‘People Like Us’ Press Day Roundtables

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(Image Credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Images North America, ‘People Like Us’ premiere)

As you all probably know, Alex Kurtzman’s directorial debut (former screenwriter of ‘Transformers’ and ‘Star Trek’) People Like Us is hitting theaters this weekend. Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the press junket for People Like Us, where I participated in four separate roundtables featuring some of the film’s cast and crew. Below, you will find the audio from these roundtable sessions as well as some of my own personal takeaway thoughts from this special event. I greatly enjoyed People Like Us, but my appreciation for it skyrocketed after all the participating talent and crew were able to fully explain this dynamic film with such heart and conviction. It’s abundantly clear how treasured People Like Us has become for those who were a part of it. Check out all that went down at the press junket after the jump…

I was lucky to part of Group 1 for the roundtable sessions, and as such our first set of interviewees were co-stars Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. Both were very energized to discuss Dreamworks’  People Like Us, and their chemistry in-person was as strong as it was in the film. Pine and Banks casually poked fun at one another in a playful way, not unlike that of the brother and sister they play in People Like Us. Their energy and zest for critical discussion provided us a great forum for which to share our own thoughts about the film. Perhaps the most interesting thing that these talented actors shared with us was how during their nationwide promotion of People Like Us, people came up to them saying how the film’s family-heavy narrative mirrored their own personal lives. I’m sure that’s probably the biggest compliment/reaction that a film titled People Like Us could hope for, and it made me realize that sometimes the most incredulous is perhaps the most real. Check out our entire audio roundtable chat below:

Chris Pine & Elizabeth Banks Roundtable:

Next to speak with my fellow press group was the incredibly affable and down-to-earth pop singer, Liz Phair. Phair has recently been more involved in composing music for television, but Alex Kurtzman recruited her for this particular film after listening to some of Phair’s music as he was writing many of the scenes for People Like Us. Liz Phair serves as the soundtrack contributor for People Like Us, collaborating with Oscar®-winning composer A. R. Rahman on a song she wrote called “Dotted Line.” The song’s lyrics embody the film’s theme of families finding one another and coming together; the added bonus of Rahman’s score serving as a wonderful texture to this song could result in a potential Oscar® nomination for “Dotted Line” in the “Best Original Song” category. Listen to the complete audio of our conversation with singer-songwriter Liz Phair:

Liz Phair Roundtable:

Here is also an official sample preview of the People Like Us soundtrack for your musically-inclined ears (Phair’s “Dotted Line” begins at 4:30):

Third up to talk with us was director Alex Kurtzman, who was joined by his fellow screenwriter team — who also happen to be his best friends in real life – Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert. Each of these guys wanted to bring a personal element to this film to ground its narrative in undeniable realism. Kurtzman’s main inspiration for the film’s story derived from his own personal experience of meeting a sister he never knew existed. This set in motion Kurtzman’s desire to bring such intimate moments of his life onto the big screen. Kurtzman and Orci have written for major blockbusters, having recently begun work on the screenplay for the 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man sequel, but this time they wanted to launch their own independent project that revealed to America the stripped-down, personal sides to these prolific Hollywood screenwriters. Jody Lambert’s father was a musician who owned a bunch of old vinyl classic records, and thus inspired the character of Sam’s dad who built his life around his passion for music. Each individual in this best friend trio brought tidbits from their own life that greatly shaped People Like Us into the genuinely heartfelt tale that it is. Here is the audio roundtable conversation:

Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jody Lambert Roundtable:

Finally, I’m honored to present to you my audio roundtable with the incomparable Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is funny, witty, and always knows how to have fun, even during the most uncomfortable of circumstances (the air conditioning in our roundtable room was turned up quite a bit). Pfeiffer had a great deal to say about her flawed yet appreciable character of Lillian, and spoke very highly about the role she was given to play by Kurtzman. The one statement that forever cemented my respect for Michelle Pfeiffer as an actress and an artist was when she (and I’m paraphrasing) spoke about how her “best performance” was still ahead of her. Pfeiffer noted that when actors finally win their Oscar®, they sort of hit a plateau creatively, reaching a threshold in their career that can rarely be topped. You will hear me say something along the lines of “it’s the journey, not the destination” in regards to Pfeiffer’s explanation of an actor’s career-span, and she was certainly in agreement. Also below, you will hear Pfeiffer’s thoughts on Anne Hathaway portraying Catwoman, formerly played to magnificence by Pfeiffer, in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises. It was a privilege to talk with acting legend Michelle Pfeiffer, and I hope the audio conversation below will reveal a bit of the fun and joy we all had conversing with this cinematic icon:

Michelle Pfeiffer Roundtable:

All in all, I can certifiably say I had a blast speaking to every single participant of the People Like Us press junket. If audiences love this film as much as those who participated in its creation, People Like Us could very easily ride a long wave of goodwill up to awards season. Elizabeth Banks and the original song “Dotted Line” are definitely Oscar® contenders in my mind, but we’ll just have to see what comes about in the new few months. People Like Us is currently debuting in theaters this weekend, so anyone who is willing to stock up on Kleenex and watch a great human drama unfold, this film is for you.

Here’s one last look at the People Like Us trailer for those deciding on what to see during this heavily-packed movie weekend:

Thanks for reading, everyone! If you haven’t done so already, check out my review for People Like Us here.