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Set Secrets from “Hot Pursuit”

Director Anne Fletcher on comedy, camaraderie and the joy of bloopers

In the new comedy Hot Pursuit, Reese Witherspoon plays a cop desperate to get one thing right, and Sofia Vergara stars opposite her as a mob informant’s wife intent on staying alive. Here, director Anne Fletcher explains what makes the two stars work so well together and how her history as a choreographer plays into every film she makes. 

How did you find this movie?

Well, as Reese would say, she kept after me. At the time it came to me, I wasn’t in the mindset yet to do a project like this, but she was like, ‘You’re perfect for this,’ and with a little persistence, the brilliance of the pairing of these two women really excited me. I am a full-blown sucker for buddy comedy, so I really loved the script and I loved the idea of them and off we went.

Did you have any classic buddy comedies in mind when you started working?

Well the basis for this movie was Midnight Run because I find it to be a classic, brilliant piece of filmmaking on every level with two so familiar and comfortable actors at the core. That is definitely the basis of where I started with this movie, really wanting to tip my hat a little bit to those movies from the 1980s because they were so well done. 

The buddies, in this case, are wacky but still totally modern.  

I so enjoy these two women together, and you can tell while you’re watching the film unfold that we had a great time. So, why not give the audience a little taste of what the movie was like to make with these two very special women and how silly and how funny they are and how they just have a good time when they’re working? I always think the audience appreciates that.

Is there a common bond in the movies you make?

Physical comedy is something I live for and love so very much, so whenever I can do it, I will. I have fortunately been able to work with people who absolutely understand physical comedy—because not everybody does—and I feel like the lucky girl who gets to make people do crazy things. I think my movies have a happiness about them, and I feel that the making of the movie has been so enjoyable in all the movies I’ve done—the people I get to work with, my crew, my cast, have been such incredible people, and I think that just comes across on the screen.

Did Reese and Sofia have to go off to bond or did you toss them straight into working?

Can you imagine if I did a survival set up and I said, OK, I’m going to throw you out into the wilderness with nothing but a switchblade and let’s see how you come out? 

Who would make it back? 

Chemistry is something that just is, and inherently actors are from the same ilk. These girls just happened to fall in love with each other and I think at the core it’s because they are genuine women who love women. They really support, honor and take care of each other and it’s not bullshit. It’s a real thing.

How does your experience as a dancer and as a choreographer plays into your filmmaking?

I love staging things. Every movie I do, once I’m picking locations to shoot in that starts to develop and I have to go in every day and play each role physically because I need to know how it’s going to feel. If it doesn’t feel authentic to me, then it’s not authentic. So far, I haven’t had anybody kick back and be like this is ridiculous! That’s part of my process.