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Video/Q&A: 'Friends with Kids' star/writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt

March 07, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

In “Friends with Kids,” platonic friends Jason (Adam Scott of “Parks and Recreation”) and Julie (writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt) decide, for lack of a better option, to have a baby together. Westfeldt says the decision might happen more often than we think.

“Since working on this film, both writing it and shooting and editing, I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘Oh my God, a friend of mine propositioned me in just that way!’” says the 42-year-old actress/filmmaker. “I think it’s not a bad solution; I think as long as there’s love and commitment in a relationship and love for a child, a lot of non-traditional approaches can work.”

In fact, Westfeldt’s managers, a man and woman who are not romantically involved, recently had a baby together too. In the film, of course, a baby eventually complicates things between Jason and Julie, who are eager to avoid the way parenting harms the romance between their coupled friends (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd and Maya Rudolph). Westfeldt, who has been dating Hamm and been friends with Scott for almost 15 years, chalks the cast’s overlap with “Bridesmaids” to “a wonderful coincidence.”

At the Trump Tower, Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein,” “Ira and Abby”) talked about the surprises that come with kids, her desire to challenge the status quo and if Hamm has adopted any Don Draper-like qualities over the years.

What is the rasher decision: Platonic friends deciding to have a kid together (like in “Friends with Kids”) or a woman who says, “Maybe I’ll become a lesbian” when she’s not finding a man (like in “Kissing Jessica Stein”)?
[Laughs.] Gosh. I don’t know. I guess there is this current running through the three films I’ve done, and they all sort of ask the same question about, “Why can’t we do it differently? Why can’t we change the rules?” If the person you find that you connect with the most just happens to be a girl, so what? Why can’t I do that? In “Ira and Abby,” if half of marriages end in divorce, don’t you have as good a shot with a stranger as you have with someone you’ve known forever? And in this one, if many relationships have a strain to their romance with parenting and that transition, why not do it with your best friend and keep romance with someone else?

So what’s the most extreme?
Gosh. What do you think is the most extreme?

I’m just here to ask the questions.
I think they’re all sort of extreme in their own way and yet they also make sense to me. I think I’ll have to think about that answer and get back to you.

People have been having children since humanity began.
That’s why we’re all here, right? Someone did that for us.

Why are people still so surprised by the impact when kids come along?
I think probably because everybody has this view of it as being the most incredible, joyful, amazing thing. Which it is, obviously, but people I think underestimate the challenge too, and the strain and the massive life shift that you have to make. The sacrifices, the compromises; it’s a game changer and it’s one that lasts forever. And most of my dear friends…, after they’ve had kids, when they’ve first become parents, they say, “This is the most inexplicable, most amazing love I have ever experienced, and it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” And I think that last bit is what surprises them. They expected the other, that the love is just beyond description, but I think that the challenges people don’t really talk about them as much.

Jason and Julie have some fun playing a “Would you rather?” game in the movie.
[Laughs.] Yes. A very morbid one, right?

So let’s do some of our own.
All right. Bring it on.

Would you rather go skydiving naked or wrestle an octopus?
I think skydiving naked. That would be kind of exciting. Without a camera. [Laughs.]

Live on the moon or eat only chicken fingers for a year?
I have no interest in living on the moon, so I’m going to have to go with chicken fingers.

Act in a movie written by monkeys or direct a cast of only monkeys?
I love monkeys. I love all things monkey. That would be fun for me to direct a movie with monkeys.

What can we expect from the family film spinoff, “Kids with Friends”?
Oh God! God. Jeez. I don’t know. I didn’t know there was going to be a spinoff, but I’d like you to get started on that and we can just be in discussions and we’ll figure it out. We’ll hatch something fun.

That seems like a firm commitment.
OK. Yeah. We’ll talk about it later, we’ll email through and maybe next year in a better winter we’ll shoot it.

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