Original-Cin Q&A: Mary Steenburgen talks Book Club, accordion and 'magical unicorn' Diane Keaton

In the new comedy  Book Club, four lifelong friends get together each month and spice up their literary meetings with a reading of Fifty Shades of GreyThe film stars four Hollywood veterans, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen and by all appearances, these four got along famously on-screen and off. 

Original-Cin’s Bonnie Laufer chatted with Mary Steenburgen about the film and her new found friendship with her co-stars. 

ORIGINAL-CIN: I really had a lot of fun at this film, especially watching you, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Diane Keaton together.  Since your characters dive into the Fifty Shades of Greybooks, I have to know if it was required reading before you began filming? 

MARY STEENBURGEN:  “No but we had all kind of visited it before the movie started, unlike our characters. And, in my case, I will admit that I skimmed it for the naughty bits, so I couldn’t really tell you what the whole story was about. I didn't really read the whole thing, but it  was just a great catalyst to get us all talking about what we were missing in our lives, what we dreamed about and just taking stock of one's own sensuality. So it was good.”

 Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen and Jane Fonda get literary in Book Club

Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen and Jane Fonda get literary in Book Club

OC: Can you tell me about the first time the four of you got on set together. I can’t even imagine that there wasn’t constant giggling going on? 

MS:  “We haven't stopped giggling. There’s still hilarious text chains that go on every day! The texts went on pretty late last night because I don't think they realized I was on the East coast while they're on the West coast. 

“What is truly amazing is that none of us had worked together, which is bizarre given how many movies and shows we've all done. No combination of us had ever worked together and I remember what I was thinking when we first met up. It was, ‘Please let them all live up to my image of these extraordinary women.’  

“I immediately realized that they far surpassed it, they were all so magical.  Jane Fonda is beyond extraordinary, she is just the most alive human being of any age I know. Someone recently asked me to describe her in one word, and the word ‘glittering’ came out of my mouth. Because she just glitters, she's just so alive. Candice is so real and tells it like it is and is so deeply hilarious and then there's Diane who I can only describe as our  magical unicorn.”

OC:  I don’t want to give anything away but there’s a very funny scene in the film where Fifty Shades author E.L James shows up. 

MS: “She was lovely and we were thrilled that she and her husband flew over from London just to do a small cameo in the film.  We chatted for a bit and she was absolutely thrilled that we were using the book as the choice for our  “book club.”  I think she had a fun time doing the scene.”

OC: Not only are you an accomplished Oscar-winning actress, but you write your own music, and you play accordion! Is there really anything you can't do and how does your husband (Ted Danson) keep up with you? 

MS: (Laughs) “I don't know how Ted puts up with me! It’s got to be hard to live with somebody who constantly says, ‘Honey I’m just going to slip downstairs for fifteen minutes to play my accordion.’ It is pretty amazing. I don't know how, but he somehow puts up with it.”

OC: I was so sorry to hear about Last Man on Earth getting cancelled. (The post-apocalyptic comedy series with Will Forte). Your character, Gale, was my favorite and I never missed an episode. Just something about that quirky group of people being thrust together like that made me smile every week. It must have been a complete joy working on that show with those actors. 

MS: “It was so much fun. Will Forte is really a genius, and on some days it was very hard to keep a straight face.  

“I feel like I am going through a bad break up right now. I'm coping but it's the idea of not seeing them for eight months a year, every morning bright and early, that’s the hard part. I love them all so much. And I loved playing Gale, especially her willingness to keep trying to live even with a broken heart and her way of anesthetizing herself with every kind of liquor known to man.” 

OC: I can’t say enough about how much I laughed during Book Club.

MS: I have to agree, it is really funny and heartwarming too. 

OC: Plus, it is so nice to see women over 40 getting roles  like this. Keep them coming! 

MS: Trust me, I’m trying! Thank you so much.