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Charlie Rose
April 6, 2000

View the screen grabs or watch the video clip

Charlie Rose: Two years ago, actress and comedienne Bonnie Hunt was commissioned by MGM to write and direct a film. (laughs) The result of her labor is a film called "Return to Me," The story is about a man who loses his wife and then discovers his new love has received his wife's heart. (Shot of DD reading a magazine [the Movieline with DD on the cover] and whistling, which is cracking CR up.) Joining me tonight are actor and director Bonnie Hunt, and the star of the film, David Duchovny (DD gives a sardonic thumbs up), best known from the hit television series, "The X Files." This marks his debut as a leading man in a romantic comedy. In this movie, you'll understand why the film business has overlooked his potential for so many years as a leading man. It will establish him as a major motion picture star. (BH nods and smiles in agreement.) This movie is testing through the roof. Why? What is it about this movie that you think-- I'm now being serious...
Bonnie Hunt: Yes, honey, I realize that. (DD laughs) Now that you've taken your hand off my knee.

Charlie Rose: It's a good knee though.
Bonnie Hunt: Thank you.
David Duchovny: Lord, I know it.

Charlie Rose: Tell me what it is...
David Duchovny: I felt it up my ass a few times during the filming of this movie. (BH cracks up)

Charlie Rose: I've heard about that, too.
Bonnie Hunt: Oh, dear...

Charlie Rose: And more about that later, America. You know something about this business. You've made a film that you're proud of. What is it about this story that you think is so attractive to audiences?
Bonnie Hunt: Well, I think--

Charlie Rose: And don't give me some short answer like, "You saw the film and you're asking that question?"
Bonnie Hunt: Charlie, I'm not going to say that. I don't even know where you'd get the idea I would say something like that.
David Duchovny: Very odd.
Bonnie Hunt: Strange, isn't he?

Charlie Rose: Yes, I know. (To DD) You think I'm dreaming this David?
David Duchovny: I don't know, I don't know where you're coming from.
Bonnie Hunt: I'm waiting for someone to wake me up.

Charlie Rose: Okay, tell me about this film. Why are you proud of it?
Bonnie Hunt: Well, I'm proud of it because of the teamwork that goes into making a movie, correct?

Charlie Rose: Oh, come on, that's always said.
Bonnie Hunt: Well, jeez, Charlie. Why don't I bring a bunch of balloons in here and you can just pop them one by one and then we can go off the air.

Charlie Rose: Okay, we'll try again.
Bonnie Hunt: You know, I think that over time, one of the things that great storytelling has had, as a couple of ingredients is a fairy tale type of story with real, honest characters at the core of it. And I think that's what this film is. I think it's very accessible and very real, but also it has a story that's different and unique and unusual, and I think that makes people really happy.

Charlie Rose: Tell me a little more about the story.
Bonnie Hunt: It's a story about two people that meet under extraordinary circumstances, unbeknownst to them. A man loses his wife, he's in mourning. He's trying to get himself back in the dating world, and back on his feet, and back to his life, through the help of friends. And there's a young woman across town who's received his wife's heart, years earlier, in a transplant, and they meet, not knowing this connection between the two of them. And the audience has all the information, and the characters do not, and it makes for a nice journey.

Charlie Rose: This is a great idea. Now who's idea was it? Who wrote the original screenplay?
Bonnie Hunt: Don Lake and myself wrote the movie, called "Return to Me."

Charlie Rose: And then you went out and hired the actors.
Bonnie Hunt: Right.

Charlie Rose: And who do we have in this film?
Bonnie Hunt: Carroll O'Connor, his first movie in twenty-five years, Robert Loggia, the great Robert Loggia, James Belushi, who really is in his element in this film.
David Duchovny: He's fantastic in this.
Bonnie Hunt: He's so great, yeah. And David Alan Grier, he's one of my favorite all time funniest people I've ever known
David Duchovny: Best black vet performance since "Dr. Doolittle," I think.
Bonnie Hunt: (laughing) Wow.
David Duchovny: Don't you think?
Bonnie Hunt: That's impressive. we might use that for one of the quotes in the TV spots
David Duchovny: Thank you.
Bonnie Hunt: And Minnie Driver, of course, who I'm so lucky, said yes to me in my first directing role. And most importantly, David was the first person that I hired, that believed in it from the beginning, and never even batted an eye at saying yes, that he could believe that I would pull this off.

Charlie Rose: Yeah, when you get David to sign on, you've got something going here.
Bonnie Hunt: That's right.

Charlie Rose: You can shake the money tree, and you can do things, right?
Bonnie Hunt: yeah, well I usually shake the money tree even when I dance, Charlie
David Duchovny: (Laughing) Can I have directions to the money tree? I'd like to do some shaking myself.

Charlie Rose: Let me just establish some things here. What was it about this movie that attracted you? You get a lot of offers.
David Duchovny: It was very easy for me, because I'd heard that Bonnie had written and was going to direct a movie. And I knew Bonnie from doing "Beethoven," this movie that she starred in, and I had a little role in, in 1990, about a dog.
Bonnie Hunt: But I was in the dog suit for most of it. But still, it was a good role.
David Duchovny: Yeah, it was. And I'd just-- I'd always really liked Bonnie, and thought she was one of the smartest, funniest people that I'd met out in Los Angeles.

Charlie Rose: I'll certainly agree with the latter.
David Duchovny: Yeah.
Bonnie Hunt: He doesn't think I'm funny.
David Duchovny: Well, you're not a comedian.
Bonnie Hunt: No.
David Duchovny: So I got sent this script that Bonnie was going to do, and I assumed that it was going to be a funny script, because I assumed Bonnie would want to direct a comedy. And I read this very simple, beautiful love story -- extraordinary circumstantial love story. And I just knew that if she brought her sense of humor, more than to the words of it, I just knew that-- Bonnie doesn't really write punch lines, but she has a sense of what makes a scene funny is the interaction of the characters. And I just thought it would be a great combination of a movie, if you had this beautiful, simple love story, with Bonnie's sense of humor on top of it. And that's exactly what happened. I'm very lucky to have taken that chance.

Charlie Rose: Let me just test something...
Bonnie Hunt: Great isn't it, David? This is great for us, you know, we've been friends a long time.
David Duchovny: Well, here's the deal, it's like we've been friends, and you know, you rarely get a chance to actually take a chance on somebody professionally. I mean, you make friends, you take chances on them personally. But, here was Bonnie doing her first film, here am I, you know, trying to expand from television, and we got a chance to take chances on each other. And regardless of what happens with this movie, I love the movie, Bonnie's proud of the movie, and it's just paid off in a way that never happens.

Charlie Rose: Here is Minnie Driver and David in a scene together.

Charlie Rose: Very nice. Nice scene.
Bonnie Hunt: Yeah, it is a nice scene. And what's great is that you see that they see each other, and there is some connection there, but we justify it two ways. And it's up to the audience to decide if it was fate, and they feel something special, or because they actually did see each other earlier in the film, their characters do pass each other, so...

Charlie Rose: How do you like directing?
Bonnie Hunt: Oh my God, I think it's the best.

Charlie Rose: Really? Better than anything you've ever done?
Bonnie Hunt: Um, professionally? (DD laughs)

Charlie Rose: (laughs) Yeah, of course.
Bonnie Hunt: I don't know Charlie, you were very personal before the show started.

Charlie Rose: This is when I had my hand on your knee?
Bonnie Hunt: Yes. I felt like I could truly be a story teller from beginning to end. That was a great joy. It was incredible to have all these people that knew so much more than I did, that were part of my team, from the gaffer on up, to respect me, and to give me the time of day, and to help me make the story come to life. And everybody was there because they wanted to be. I mean, each and every actor came to meet with me -- we didn't audition anyone, because I just wanted actors to come in and talk, and see what the deal was. Just the actors alone, all saying yes to a first time director, is, for me-- I'm just so flattered, and moved by it.

Charlie Rose: Were you scared?
Bonnie Hunt: Terrified.

Charlie Rose: Really.
Bonnie Hunt: I mean, it's twenty-five million dollars of a movie, you know, of a budget, and a studio saying "Here's this money." And I'm going to my home town, hiring all my friends, and we're going to put on a show. Like my brother said, "It was really nice of MGM to let you make a twenty-five million dollar home film."
David Duchovny: (echoes) Home movie.

Charlie Rose: Your own movie.
Bonnie Hunt: All my family is in it. So for me, it was like a fantasy, it really was. And it was great. It was absolutely great, and I can't wait to try it again some time.

Charlie Rose: Are you going to do it? Do you have plans already?
Bonnie Hunt: Yes, the studio does.

Charlie Rose: Do they really? They've seen this, and liked this, 'cause it tested through the roof--
Bonnie Hunt: Right.

Charlie Rose: And so therefore--
Bonnie Hunt: They bought another movie from us.

Charlie Rose: Do you know what it's going to be?
Bonnie Hunt: It's called, "Anniversary."

Charlie Rose: Here's a point at which David's character asks Minnie Driver's character for the first date.
Bonnie Hunt: He's so cute there, it's ridiculous. I mean I'm even attracted to him, and he's like my brother.
David Duchovny: My Lord.
Bonnie Hunt: Yeah, that's a great moment.

Charlie Rose: That was a nice moment.
Bonnie Hunt: Isn't he a classic movie star, in this movie?
David Duchovny: Well, Bonnie--
Bonnie Hunt: We're turning into Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr. on this topic. (Sammy Davis voice) This guy...
David Duchovny: Yeah, Bonnie allows the moments to happen--, Like I said, the best thing about Bonnie's comedy is there's no punchlines. At least, I didn't get any.

Charlie Rose: It just sort of develops.
David Duchovny: Like, some of the other characters do have punchlines, but--
Bonnie Hunt: It's about life, it's not set up type jokes.
David Duchovny: Exactly, and it's so refreshing to act that way, 'cause you're not trying to sell the comedy, it actually is organic to the material.
Bonnie Hunt: You know Charlie, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, these guys, if they had a doorman with three lines, they got a three-dimensional character. You knew instantly who this guy was, he's probably working family man, with so many kids, just in a moment. And Don Lake and I, when we were writing, really kept that as our little light at the end of the tunnel when we were writing. Let's try to maintain that, let's try to keep it timeless. Let's not put in any trendy Starbuck's or Monica Lewinskey jokes, or something that would-- In five years, people would go, "Well what's that joke about? I don't understand." DD We've only got one -- the Sammy Sosa.
Bonnie Hunt: That's it. But he's a classic, so--
David Duchovny: (laughs) We're hopin'.

Charlie Rose: And the movie's set in Chicago, so--
David Duchovny: Right, right. There were good reasons for the Sammy Sosa line. Even though David looks nothing like Sammy Sosa.
Bonnie Hunt: I know, but that's what makes it so ridiculously funny. (DD cracks up) And those little kids-- That's how we got half my nieces and nephews in there. They're running after Sammy Sosa.

Charlie Rose: Why did you set it in Chicago?
Bonnie Hunt: Well, you know, write what you know, and that's my old neighborhood. And I think, Chicago, to me, even though it's a huge city, is like a giant Mayberry, from my perspective. It's just a neighborhood of people that work together, and I think, you know, one thing we're lacking in L.A. is that Chicago goes through these incredible winters, and windy days--
David Duchovny: And joined together.
Bonnie Hunt: And people help each other dig their cars out of the snow, and you know, you can be waiting for a bus, and just look at somebody, and in an instant, you're friends, 'cause it's like, "Can you believe we're standing out here in this weather?"

Charlie Rose: That's what's so amazing -- I lived there in 1979 when they had the great--
Bonnie Hunt: That's right, the big snowstorm. I was there too.

Charlie Rose: And it's the coldest I have never been in my life.
Bonnie Hunt: But you know what? Everybody's going through it at the same time, so it's this common experience that brings people together. Where in L.A., there's an earthcake once in a while-- earthquake--
David Duchovny: (laughing) Earthcake! I like that. (All laugh)
Bonnie Hunt: Boy, how flime ties. (CR reaches toward BH across the table) Uh oh, he's coming at me. Watch me, David.
David Duchovny: At least both his hands are above board.
Bonnie Hunt: Get the bouncer.

Charlie Rose: Oh, come on. You mentioned Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. Do you study to prepare to be a director? Or did you just take what you had learned from all of your own theatrical experiences?
Bonnie Hunt: Well, as far as directing--

Charlie Rose: Is it about looking at a bunch of movies, say, "I want to see how they did, I'm going to look at what Billy Wilder did, and what these other guys-- people did, and I'm going to take some crash course in directing." ?
Bonnie Hunt: No, they influenced me emotionally over my life, as a creative person. Certainly not directly, where I would sit down--
David Duchovny: You've digested that.
Bonnie Hunt: Yeah, and you know, technically, I've learned from all the directors I've ever worked with, certainly. You know, I've asked Sydney Pollack, "Why that lens?" and cameron Crowe, "Why're you doing this?"

Charlie Rose: When you're working with them.
Bonnie Hunt: Yes, as an actress. I got my education that way, and I felt, that when I was going to go to a studio and say I wanted to do this, that I knew which film to order, technically, that I'd be somewhat prepared.

Charlie Rose: When did you, in your life, decide that, "I want to make a movie. I want to direct a movie." ?
Bonnie Hunt: I think when I saw--

Charlie Rose: Was it ten years ago? Five years ago?
Bonnie Hunt: No, I think when I saw-- as a child, when I would watch movies like, "Notorious" and... There were certain films that really moved me, and that I thought were incredible storytelling, and there were relatives in my life that told incredible stories. You know, my Dad was a great storyteller. And I think that's an incredible experience, and you can do it free at a coffee shop, or you can get money from a studio--

Charlie Rose: (laughs) You can get twenty-five million dollars from MGM, and put your friends in the movie, and you're off and running.
Bonnie Hunt: That's right.

Charlie Rose: As long as you have a good story.
Bonnie Hunt: That's right. And that's your safety net, is having that good story, every day when you get up and go to work. You know that you've got this good story, with great characters, characters written with a strong foundation... It's just the joy of storytelling for me, it's always motivated me towards wanting to be a director, because you ultimately get to at least get a shot at telling the story from beginning to end. And as an actor, I feel the same way, when a director hires me. I want to help them tell their story.

Charlie Rose: Here's my question too. Are you surprised it's as good as it is? In any way? In other words, you're a first time director, you're out there with no net, except (gestures to DD) great supporting people, some photographers, actors, and all that. Are you surprised? Is there any element of, "Well, I would have been happy if it had been half as good."
Bonnie Hunt: Well...

Charlie Rose: In other words, you did it, you hit the ball. Not that you shouldn't be able to do it, bit it's your first time out. A lot of people make there first time movie, and it's okay, and it entitles them to come back... (turns to DD) You know what I'm saying, don't you?
David Duchovny: Well, if I can answer that question, I'm surprised, but it has nothing to do with my estimation of Bonnie, or anything like that. It's just because--

Charlie Rose: It's so difficult to make a good movie.
David Duchovny: Not only that, but this is exactly the movie that I thought I was making, that I had hoped would be made, when I thought it would be both sentimental and funny. So, I'm surprised, because everytime I go and do a piece of work, I think, "This is what it's going to be," and it never turns into that, and I'm very surprised when it happens.
Bonnie Hunt: I did get a letter from one of the executives at the studio, after he saw the first cut of the film. This is before it was tested, this was before, you know, we had any hopes-- I mean, all the attention that we're getting, we feel very fortunate that the movie is getting such a great response. But he wrote me a letter saying, "I've been in this business for a long time, and I remember the day you came in and pitched this story, and you told us what you were going to do with this movie." And he said, "And you did it. And it very rarely happens." And he said, "I thank you." And that letter was so nice for me, because it wasn't about that we had a box office success yet, or that anything was happening yet, or that any reviews were in. he felt, personally, that I had delivered, and that meant a lot to me.

Charlie Rose: Was anything surprising about this experience for you? Unexpected?
Bonnie Hunt: Well, because I've been in Hollywood for a long time, I was surprised every time when somebody listened. (DD laughs)

Charlie Rose: That's very good.
Bonnie Hunt: Yes, truly.
David Duchovny: You know, I can corroborate that, because Bonnie, when she would direct me, she would be amazed that I would listen to her. And she'd thank me. And I'd say, "What're you talking about? That's what we're here to do, to act like--"

Charlie Rose: Listen, and collaborate, and make this thing work as good as it possibly can.
David Duchovny: Yeah.

Charlie Rose: Okay, roll tape. Here it is.

Charlie Rose: Well, there it is. The film is called "Return to Me." It opens nation wide this Friday, April 7. My thanks to Bonnie Hunt, my thanks to David Duchovny.
David Duchovny: Thanks for having us.

Charlie Rose: It's a pleasure to have you here. Good luck. It's great.
Bonnie Hunt: Thanks, Charlie.
David Duchovny: Thank you.

Charlie Rose: Thank you for joining us. See you next time.

Transcribed by Barbara D.
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