‘A.C.O.D.’ Interview with the Great Catherine O’Hara

Photo credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

WRITER’S NOTE: This interview took place back in 2013, and I have indicated the specific question I asked during it.

Catherine O’Hara is one of the best comedic actresses working today, and she never fails to give a hilarious performance in anything she does. After making a name for herself on “SCTV,” O’Hara went on to a career in movies that included unforgettable roles like the self-centered Delia Deetz in “Beetlejuice” and the forgetful mother Kate McCallister in “Home Alone.” But some of her best work to date has come from her being in the hilarious mockumentaries of Christopher Guest such as “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show.” O’Hara even received a number of nominations and awards for her role as Marilyn Hack in “For Your Consideration.”

In “A.C.O.D.” (an abbreviation for Adult Children of Divorce), O’Hara plays Melissa who, as the movie starts, is undergoing an extremely bitter divorce from her husband Hugh (Richard Jenkins). Since their marriage ended, Melissa has made it clear that she hates Hugh with every fiber of her being. Then she gets the news that her youngest song Trey (Clark Duke) has just gotten engaged to his girlfriend of a few months, but what she has yet to discover is that her other son Carter (Adam Scott) is working on getting her and Hugh together so that they can attend Trey’s wedding in a peaceful fashion. While you may think you know what happens from there, “A.C.O.D.” proves to have many surprises and takes you in directions you don’t see coming.

We got to meet up with O’Hara during the “A.C.O.D.” press junket which was held at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, California. She still looks very lovely after all these years, and her hearty laugh is more than enough proof that she hasn’t lost her sense of humor in the slightest.

Question: “A.C.O.D.” was written by Stu Zicherman and Ben Karlin who have great pedigrees as writers, and you also have Zicherman directing this movie as a first-time director. How did he do as a first-time director and what was the atmosphere like on set?

Catherine O’Hara: I wasn’t aware of him being a first-time director while we were working because he wrote it for one thing. He and Ben wrote it and they are great friends, and Ben was there all the time so you had a good support system. Stu seems like a levelheaded kind of clear, confident guy and he’s funny. When people are smart and good at what they are doing like that and have a sense of humor about everything outside of themselves and even themselves, they are not threatened by anyone giving ideas or working collaboratively. It is a collaborative venture and you can’t lose by being open to the people you’ve hired. Not in the way that it was like a free-for-all, you just knew there was a chance to discuss everything there and he’s so open and he’s a great writer. It just felt like I was in good hands.

The Ultimate Rabbit: The thing I really liked about this movie is that you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. Most comedies you kind of get a sense of the formula and where it’s going to go, but this one really had surprise after surprise. Have you read a lot of scripts like that recently?

Catherine O’Hara: No, you would have seen me in them (laughs). If I was reading them, hopefully I had a chance for them. No, there aren’t enough. They (Stu and Ben) took their time writing this and it’s based on their lives and they have been friends since they were six or seven years old. They know all their extended families and their stepparents, and they really took their time and did a great job and they really thought it out. Every character is taken care of, that’s what I love. It’s not just one or two leads and everyone else is just barely there. Where are you going now? Out of your movie…

Question: That seems to be the case with most movies, but this one gives each of its characters the attention they deserved.

Catherine O’Hara: It is, far too many. This one was really well thought out.

Question: Ken Howard who plays your second husband Gary is also President of the Screen Actors Guild. What was it like having the union leader on set?

Catherine O’Hara: There was that whole merger thing coming up (with SAG and AFTRA) and I personally was against it and he was for it.

Question: Did you talk with Ken about it?

Catherine O’Hara: I did. I asked him why is this good. He seems like a good, smart man, but I just didn’t get it. His explanation was… You could tell that he really cares about the unions and wanted the best for everyone so that was nice to hear.

Question: But you still disagree with him?

Catherine O’Hara: I’m really so not involved with the union in any way, so I had to trust him. He actually is really involved and knows what he’s talking about, so I thought okay. I just like to work and get paid (laughs).

Question: You have been in show business for a long time now. Have you seen a change because for the longest time there was this great void of roles for women over 40 and 50. Do you believe that the tide is now turning?

Catherine O’Hara: There are more and more women writing, and there are more and more good male writers who decided and learned that it’s worth writing for women. I guess the more women are present and out there in life, the more their stories will be told. Our stories have always been told on Lifetime (laughs).

Question: Have you ever thought about stepping behind the camera to direct at some point?

Catherine O’Hara: I only want to write. I don’t care about directing really. I’ve tried it and it was fun, but it’s not like something I have to do. I hate losing trust in a director, that’s awful.

Question: So, what’s coming up for you next?

Catherine O’Hara: I have a movie at the Toronto Film Festival which will hopefully come out soon and it’s called “The Right Cut of Wrong,” and I think I’m reshooting a pilot that didn’t get picked up.

Question: That’s good, and they’ll pay you to do it.

Catherine O’Hara: There you go! Work and pay. Work and get paid, and good for Ken Howard looking after us (laughs).

“A.C.O.D.” is now available to own and rent on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital.


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