About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Studios Home
October 2008
An Interview with Screenwriter Jenny Lumet

An Interview with Screenwriter Jenny Lumet
by Wilson Morales

October 2, 2008

Like it or not, but when your grandmother is a living legend in many facets of the entertainment industry and your father is also a famous director, somewhere along the lines, the itch to be a part of 'the game' becomes intense until you actually get in. Such is the case for Jenny Lumet.

Lumet is the granddaughter of the legendary entertainer, Lena Horne. Her mother is Horne's daughter author/writer Gail Buckley; and her father is acclaimed movie director Sidney Lumet. Her ex-husband is actor Bobby Cannavale.

Besides being a 7th and 8th grade schoolteacher at Manhattan Country School, a progressive Independent School that promotes diversity and social responsibility, Lumet's written several screenplays in the past, but her latest, 'Rachel Getting Married', is the one that took off and will be shown in theaters this Friday. The film stars Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger, and Anna Deavere Smith.

Directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), 'Rachel Getting Married' is a contemporary drama with an aggressive sense of humor about the return of an estranged daughter to the family home for her sister's wedding. Kym's (Hathaway) reemergence throws a wrench into the family dynamics, forcing long-simmering tensions to surface in ways both hilarious and heartbreaking.

In a recent interview, Ms. Lumet talked about writing the screenplay.

Where did the idea come from?

Jenny Lumet: I had a very specific image in my brain, that was like a stone in my shoe, of a young woman in her bridal gown in her bridal chamber, enjoying herself and the moment and then her sister comes in and destroys the moment. That lived in my brain for a couple of months. Eventually I was listening to what they were saying. That's where the idea started.

Was it a challenge to write a screenplay about one day/event?

JL: It's much easier to write about one family and one household over one weekend I can imagine than writing a sprawling epic that takes places over generations. That would make me nuts.

Where did the cultural mix come from?

JL: That is what it look like in my house. My mom's black, and my dad's white, and I have Asian cousins in California, and I personally think that is what American families look like, and the other stuff in the film is essentially a myth. It's also a myth that is misrepresented in movies, and I wanted it to be a sexy wedding and a sensual wedding with color and things that smelled good and naked Brazilian girls. If you see a wedding with the red and white glass and all the usual stuff, you just want to screw that wedding up. You want that wedding to go to hell. The original title was called 'Untitled by Jenny Lumet'.

How about writing about the sisters?

JL: I think the sister thing is so interesting. We're always seeing brothers in films, and how they connect and talk about anything, but sister relationships are rarely explored; and if it is, it's probably in a way where they are both after the same guy. I wanted to go into some powerfulstuff. Siblings in general have much of an impact on each other as parents do. I was going to write a story and what's the worst thing that could happen in a family. The baby dies and whose fault is it? Someone in the family has to be blamed. Sibling stuff is more weird that parent-child. I am a parent and I see a love and forgiveness for my children, and with siblings, you don't necessarily have to. I think it is a choice. Maybe I'm wrong.


Terms of Use | Privacy Policy