With a title like “In the Land of Women,” you don’t know what to think. Images of a man trapped on an island only to discover he is surrounded by beautiful native women immediately come to mind ... or maybe that’s just me. But that’s not Jonathan Kasdan’s first film. “In the Land of Women” stars Adam Brody (“The O.C.”) as a young writer escaping Los Angeles for suburban Michigan. While taking care of his ailing grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) he meets the neighbors from across the way. Meg Ryan plays a woman in an unhappy marriage.
I sat down with Brody and Kasdan at the W Hotel and was struck by how new this was for them. Even though Brody has had fame with “The O.C.” and Kasdan comes from a Hollywood family, being on the press tour still meant something.
We talked about “The O.C.,” long life-changing walks and fame.
Bayer: (to Brody) Did you take this role when you knew you were done with “The O.C.”? Brody: No, I took this movie so long ago. We were in the beginning of the second season filming. Kasdan: This has been a long time coming. Brody: We filmed in between my second and third season. But it’s still been done a while. Kasdan: Yeah, it’s been done a year, in search of a release date (the studio) thought was good. Brody: Initially it was a Warner Independent Movie and rated R. Not a hard R, but it was definitely R. It was made for a significantly smaller budget than the advertising budget is now. Warner Bros. wanted to do it bigger sans the R rating. It’s amazing that (Kasdan) wrote this little drama and we get ... Kasdan: … to come to Chicago.
Bayer: (to Kasdan) Where did you get the title? Kasdan: It strikes certain people as funny and it strikes others really well. If this were the title of an independent film you would never think about it for a second, but it’s now a Hollywood movie called “In the Land of Women” and what is it?
Bayer: How did casting work? Who came aboard first? Kasdan: The movie had tremendous momentum without a cast yet, which is very rare. And I went to Meg Ryan immediately because I felt like almost unconsciously I had written that role for her. And she responded to it exactly as I had hoped and fantasized that she would. She came aboard. And then the most important decision of the entire process was who was going to be this guy at the center of it. I looked for a long time, and couldn’t find that John Cusack thing I was looking for. A relatable funny guy you are rooting for. And we opened it up to TV actors and Adam was the first one I met and that was the end of the story.
Bayer: (To Brody) I have two “O.C.” questions for you. First, is your musical taste similar to Seth’s (his character on the show)? Brody: Initially, and then I think it veered. In the beginning of the series “Death Cab for Cutie” was my favorite band. I never pushed anything on Josh Schwartz; he just knew I liked that band. Ben McKenzie really does like Journey, so he threw that in as Ryan’s favorite band. It was sort of an accident, at least as far as I am concerned.
Bayer: For the die-hard “O.C.” fan, is there anything they don’t know? Kasdan: You dated that one girl. Brody: I think they might know that. ... There is a Hollywood basketball league in Los Angeles that is too legit for me. It has jerseys and refs. Ben McKenzie, myself and Chris Carmack were on the same team with McG and Mark McGrath and Bill Bellamy. It was too serious, and we got so little (playing) time. Bellamy was like Kobe without talent. And we sat on the bench mostly, which is why I don’t do it anymore.
Bayer: (to Kasdan) So Adam’s character is based on you? Kasdan: It’s certainly a representation of me. The character that Adam plays is more confident than I am, more compassionate, and he’s naturally giving to these women in a way I aspire to be. In that way he’s a fantasy, and in other ways he’s very much me. His experiences mirrored some of my own.
Bayer: (to Kasdan) How long did it take to write the screenplay? Kasdan: It was my first feature-length film. Previous to doing this I had written another screenplay, a pilot for the FX Network. And there was an element where the series would have an older woman-younger man relationship. As a result I was able to write really fast and it took about four weeks, which I was never able to do before or since.
Bayer: (to Brody) Do you have any Meg Ryan movie moments? Brody: Well, “Top Gun” was a big movie for me when I was 5 or 6. “When Harry Met Sally” I actually discovered (later on), but “Joe Versus the Volcano” was theaters for me. She’s been in a hundred movies. I was pretty intimidated before we started filming because of everyone she has been opposite with. Truly, I mean it’s Russell Crowe, Val Kilmer, Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hanks — only the biggest, A-list movie stars. And I thought: I hope she’s not profoundly disappointed the first thing we do. Kasdan: She also dated quite a few of them, too. Brody: Yeah (joking), how can I satisfy her physically? And on all fronts it worked out.
Bayer: Carter and Sarah go on long, life-changing walks in the film. How rare is that today? Kasdan: Very rare. Brody: Especially in Los Angeles, it’s unheard of. Kasdan: It was based on a thing that actually happened to me. … But conversations that change your life almost never happen, and that’s one of the things I love about movies.
Bayer: (to Brody) You’re on a lot of “sexy” lists. Do girls actually scream when they see you? Brody: No. ... Well, if they are young enough, and there are enough of them, then yeah. That’s the hysteria of teenagers and celebrity. I don’t think that is specific to my sex appeal. That’s a pop-star thing when you appeal to that demographic in any way. Kasdan: It’s also the power of TV that is superior to movies in that way. Teenage girls have a guy come into their house every week for an hour, they start to think of them being a real person. Brody: I definitely disagree with that “living room” notion that everyone says about TV. I think that is wrong. I think if you do the math it’s way different. I don’t think it has to do with the home. I think it has to do with two things. One, the amount of people that see a poorly rated show on any given night vastly outnumbers the people who saw the No. 1 movie that weekend. Two, if they do watch a show, even if you’re a Will Ferrell fan and an “Entourage” fan — and I’m a bigger Will Ferrell fan — but I spent just as much time starring at Adrian Grenier’s face as I have Will Ferrell because I have seen all the seasons. (TV’s) more recognizable. They are a star just because you have spent so much time looking at their face.
Bayer: (to Kasdan) Your dad (Lawrence Kasdan) wrote “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Empire Strikes Back.” Is that insanely cool? Kasdan: It was as insanely cool as it can get. Especially for someone who, from a very early age, was interested in writing and stories. This was always my passion, I don’t know if it’s because of that or in addition to that, whatever. (The movies) were the best popular entertainment to come out of that time. My dad was able to give it a voice that worked. And on Christmas we would get big boxes of toys from the Lucas Ranch. It was the dream.
Bayer: So there was never a moment that you thought “Raiders” wasn’t cool because your dad wrote it? Kasdan: No, I was fanatical. I was doing the same kind of fan films with my friends like people all over the country were doing, and occasionally I would see if he could give me some advice on how to shoot that.
Bayer: (to Brody) The TV show is done, have you signed up to do anything since it has ended? Brody: No, I haven’t. I certainly would have. One way or another I am going to do something soon.
Bayer: Is there a genre you would want right now more than others? Brody: I would love to do an action-comedy. Not necessarily the comic relief, but if I could be the regular guy in the f**ked up situation, that would be amazing. Kasdan: The kind of movies we love to go to aren’t exactly like “In the Land of Women.” And the kind of things I write aren’t necessarily what I am lined up to see. I’m the guy who would go see “Hot Fuzz.”
Bayer: I have an on-going chain. My previous interview was Shia LaBeouf. So this is from him to you ... “Why is he trying to be me? I’m just (messing) with you. I’d ask him when we can work together. I do think he’s talented as sh*t. He’s pretty funny.” Brody: Well, when he’s done working with Spielberg ... Wait, I’m saying this, we can work together as soon as he gets Spielberg to have us be brothers in whatever movie he makes next. So who do I get to ask?
Bayer: Molly Shannon. Kasdan: She is so irresistible, it’s so easy to fall in love with her if you spend any time with her. She’s so appealing and so attractive, I’m smitten. Brody: (after a while of thinking) Would she ever do nudity if it was tasteful and steamy?