Recently in New York City, Media Mikes attended a press conference with Kristin Chenoweth and Olesya Rulin about their new film “Family Weekend”, which opens Friday March 29th. The film also also starring Matthew Modine, Shirley Jones,Joey King,Eddie Hassel and Robbie Tucker and it is directed by Benjamin Epps.
“Family Weekend” follows 16 year old Emily Smith-Dungy (Olesya Rulin an incredibly motivated overachiever who has grown increasingly frustrated with her parents lack of support and guidance. Her mom, Samantha (Kristin Chenoweth), is a career focused, no nonsense high powered business executive. Her dad, Duncan (Matthew Modine), is a happy go lucky artist who can’t be bothered to earn a paycheck. When they missed their daughter’s big jump-roping competition, Emily hits her breaking point and takes it upon herself to restore order in the home. With the help of her siblings, they unite and take their parents hostages in hopes of becoming a “family” again.
I’m curious to know what kind of students you were like in high school and was there anything you were fanatical about in terms of subjects and things that you did in terms of extra curricular activities?
Kristin Chenoweth: I’m a type A perfectionist personality. I did choir and drama…I know it’s shocking! I was a cheerleader. I really just wanted to be with my friends. I did church stuff. I was just a normal kid but I was in a small town. I was like the kid from “Glee” in a tiny town. Now of course they have “Glee”, so if they had only done that 25 years ago it would have been better. I was that girl.
Olesya Rulin: Me in high school? I was kind of a loner. I had a handful of friends. I was a ballerina and I was very focused on that. You kind of have to be. So that was two thirds of my week. I didn’t take theater…sorry! I went to a small school in Utah. It wasn’t developed. We didn’t have the funds for that, but I did act all through high school on film. The Disney Channel would shoot movies out there, so I was always busy. I was gone from school a lot. My teachers did not understand me either. They would ask “How did you have 70 absences in one quarter?”. But I got straight A’s and I wanted to graduate high school with my associates. I was constantly doing charity work. So I took a lot of AP courses trying to get all my credits, so I could dive into college. I’m gonna be in all the upper level classes…ah ambition! I was really into college.
KC: This girl is pretty much who you think she is and it’s really refreshing.
OR: Aw, thank you. I had fun, but I wasn’t a cheerleader or nearly that popular.
The movie opens with the parents missing the jump rope competition; Have either of you ever missed am important event for somebody else in your life or has anybody missed an important event in your life ?
KC: That’s a good question. I still have guilt from 4 years ago, my niece graduated and I didn’t make it. Granted there was a huge snow storm in Denver and I couldn’t get in. But I still had that pang that I want to be there on those important days. I wanted to make it. My mom was a stay at home mom and my dad had his own business, but even with his business he was at the important events. I wish I could tell some tale like “oh they were never there for me and I was alone”, but no they were great parents. I try to be the same for my nieces and nephews and my Godchildren. I think I do pretty good.
OR: Oh, I think everyone who misses a huge event feels a life long guilt. I am so thankful for my family and friends because they are the ones who stick with you and understand we don’t have a normal life. My girlfriends, family and boyfriends they understand I cant always be committed 100%. I almost missed being the Maid of Honor at my best-friends wedding.
KC: Now that’s unforgivable [laughs]!
OR: The day of her wedding I was supposed to work. It was during the filming of “High School Musical 3”, I talked to my director Kenny Ortega and told him I have to be there to fluff her hair and do what Maid-of-Honor’s do. This is how much I love my director, he changed the shooting and it’s very rare to have someone do that for you. If it wasn’t for Kenny Ortega that would have been my event.
You guys are playing characters from a dysfunctional family but it seems like you both grew up in healthy families so how do you channel that for the film?
KC: We’d all like to say we have perfect families. I did grow up in a great family but we have our issues. There’s a little passive aggression going on in my family. Everybody’s different, each family unit is different. I think for me tapping into that the part of me that is the type A perfectionist but so intense-staying on schedule. I’m a multi-tasker but I’m a wreck in my personal life but that’s not actually the question is it? [laughs]. That’s for therapy! For me I tapping into the part of me that is that strong woman, who wants to have it all and does. She is sort of failing at part of her job, which is being a mom in the film. Seeing the evolution of a family, that’s what makes me happy. That’s what our family the Chenoweth’s strive to do. When we get off the rails and we do we remember that really it’s all about love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is a hard thing to do but I say this a lot. If I want to be forgiven I have to forgive. That’s what we do in the Chenoweth’s, eventually this family gets there too.
OR: A family is like a kaleidoscope…you look through it and it changes. My family is like that. We are all different colors like a prism. When we have light shine, we shine and its beautiful. When it’s dark nothing shines, like a rock. Our goal in our family is to shine. We make sure each individual shines in their own way. I was really blessed with parents who never said I couldn’t do anything. They never told me “no”. I wanted to do the dying swan ballet in the high school talent show. It’s deep, it’s very intense. Your dying for 10 minutes. My mom said “K go get ’em”. She told me “Whatever you choose to do in life be the best you can be. If you choose to be a drunk, be the best drunk. If you choose to be an architect, be the best architect”. She always gave me the freedom of that
KS: It’s a great gift.
OR: Some people have told me I have child-like ambition. I never hold myself back. My parents never told me to hold myself back.
KS: They gave you self esteem.
OR: I feel I can accomplish anything. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t at all, but I’m really thankful. My mom gave me that and my dad too. We’re not perfect but without that you don’t grow
What are your pop culture obsessions?
KC: Mine are so easy. “The Real Housewives of ANY County”, preferably “New Jersey”, and “Hillbilly Hand Fishing”. I grew up in that area where my cousins did it.
OR: If you get on it take me I’ll do it.
KC: Done! When I get home at night after being so focused I just want to feel good about myself. I turn on reality TV. I know just how much I have it together and I feel great.
OR: I love blogs. I have someone building one for me right now. I write letters. I know that’s not a pop culture thing, I guess. No one writes letters.
KC: I do. I do!
OR: I have a pen pal for seven years. He lives in France and we watched our lives evolve. Pop culture, I would have to say the new show “Hart of Dixie” and Instagram. I’m all up in that. I love that.
The characters in the movie all had hobbies were they in the original script or changed to fit you?
KC: My hobby was the Blackberry and as you can see (holding up her Blackberry) I’m really good at it. I do have it with me a lot, but this one (pointing to Olesya). She had to learn the jump rope. I can barely walk up a flight of steps anymore.
OR: I trained for 4 months in L.A. and I got really built. I ate straight protein. I never craved a whole chicken before! It’s different in ballet. It’s long lean muscles but for this I had to be short and a little stocky. Your feet don’t come much off the ground.
You were using a wire not a regular rope?
OR: It’s what spies use to capture people in spy movies. We had a great training team, based in Michigan. These kids were amazing and what level of sportsmanship. I was lucky to able to jump rope with them.
KC: She was so good and she trained all day. I was at the dessert cart saying “You go girl!”
OR: I will never jump rope again [laughs].