In ”Morning Glory,” Rachel McAdams plays Becky, a television producer who after being let go at a regional morning show, gets a chance at her dream job as executive producer of a national morning show in New York City. Problem is, the show has the lowest imaginable ratings and a revolving door of egotistical and often strange co-hosts.
With limited experience, Becky utilizes her energy and ambition to woo the award-winning, intimidating and unfriendly news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to share the desk with ‘Daybreak’ veteran Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Ratings and hostile antics become the daily worries of Becky, who with the threat of the show being canceled, must pull out all stops to save the show and her career.
Moviehole’s Tim Johnson caught up with the cast in New York to find out if McAdams had any hesitations playing a comedic role, who Keaton respects besides being a ‘jerk’, but first found out who Ford and Keaton modeled their on-screen personas off.
“My concern, like my character was with how I looked,” revealed Keaton. “So that’s why Diane Sawyer, because obviously she’s beautiful! But in terms of who I was playing, I thought I wanted to be more like Kelly Ripka (sic, referring to Kelly Rippa from ‘Live with Regis and Kelly’). You know what I mean? Funny. Because I’m not really playing an anchor like Harrison is. She was never taken seriously I don’t think.”
Ford on the other hand, had a very different approach. “I didn’t model my character after anybody. I wanted to be Mike Pomeroy, that specific character doing the news. Not to do an imitation of somebody else.”
Colleen and Mike are well seasoned professionals and Becky struggles throughout the film to find her own footing and to gain respect from the duo. McAdams too, had some hesitations about playing the leading and likeable character. “I tried to talk Roger (Michell, director) out of it a few times, and thankfully he didn’t listen to me. I was very nervous about playing this character and taking on this part, and I didn’t want to let him down. I was very hesitant and we talked about it a little bit and he put my fears at bay. I think what Roger did for me which was so great, was he got me out of my head and into my body. He said, just run around — wave your arms and something will happen. So that’s kind of how I got through this movie.” In his dry, signature voice, Ford adds “that’s the same direction he gave me!”
It becomes clear Becky and Mike’s relationship is key to turn around the show’s ailing ratings, and it was this relationship which attracted Keaton to the film. “I think what’s so wonderful about the movie for me, is that it’s a love story of a friendship. I love that theme. And I don’t think it’s a theme we see very often and particularly between a MUCH older man – kidding, and a very young, beautiful girl.
McAdams was able to draw ties from her own career to her character, who was given the job she had been dreaming of and felt the need to do everything she could to prove herself. “I could definitely relate to that in terms of my first TV job … It’s like ‘OK, I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and I have to make this work or I’m never going to get another chance. And it was like a three-day part and there really wasn’t much I could do with it. But I still felt like ‘This is it! This is the moment I’ve been waiting for!’ And it’s probably a good thing you do look at it that way, because you rise to the occasion.”
To prepare for their roles, both Ford and Keaton attended a TV hosting boot camp, where they found a new-found respect for the hosts of morning TV. “There are some people that are really good at what they do,” Ford said. “They know how to make you comfortable, they know how to get you through the four to seven minutes they’re going to spend with you, they understand why you’ve come — to sell your movie. Most of them are successes and hold the jobs because they’re really good. We are talking about the lowest rated morning talk show in the history of television. We’re talking about people who are not very good at what they do.” Keaton blurts, “Speak for yourself! I think I’m great at what I do.”
Keaton explained the complexities of pace, breaking news and “looking at somebody but not looking at them,” all of which she encountered during boot camp. Does this give her a new respect for the hosts? You bet. “I could never do it, ever. I really have a respect for them, even if they’re jerks.”
Pace was also an issue for the director, Roger Michell who kept the film moving forward at every opportunity. Not that the cast were aware of his intentions during shooting. “He is a really smart director, and I don’t think he ever talked about pace,” Ford says. “I think he managed to get the pace he wanted without pointing at it as a separate ambition. He fills a frame, ever shot, with activity, with energy, with information and part of the density of the film is what’s acquired visually. And for that reason, he’s one of the most adept film directors I’ve ever worked with.”
Ford shares not only a bone dry sense of humor with his on-screen character, but also a love of cooking. Not that his newlywed status to actress Calista Flockhart has changed his ‘cook-and-eat-it-fast’ habits at home. “Me? Newlywed? Are you kidding? Look at me. I’m always wed. We were together for ten years — honeymoon’s over.”
Not that there was ever a honeymoon period for the team at ‘Daybreak’ after what was more like a shotgun wedding. Becky though, does eventually begin to see a glimmer of humility in Mike and desperately tries to win him over. But it’s not Becky who needs to win over Mike, though it may take him a while to realize it.
”Morning Glory” is now playing in theaters nationwide in the US