‘New Year’s Eve’ Director Garry Marshall Reveals His European Influences

It’s almost New Year’s Eve! Well, it’s almost time to go see New Year’s Eve, the new romantic comedy starring a million famous people who got paid a lot of money to recite some lines for a few hours. The movie opens tomorrow, so prepare for what is sure to be the most intricate ensemble picture since the brilliant Syriana. How much of New Year’s Eve will focus on the global influence of the oil industry? Let’s go right to the source: director Garry Marshall.

The famed director of the modern classic Pretty Woman and the creator of classic TV comedies like Happy Days and The Odd Couple, talks to Vulture about making his new film. It’s the second ensemble piece from Marshall, who also directed last year’s clunker, the companion piece Valentine’s Day. What does the great auteur have to say about the process of directing such a large cast?

Well, they read the script; we always have a script, we read ‘em, and then I meet with them and I say what I had in mind. And a lot of times we’re on the same page, and sometimes we’re not. Sometimes some say, “I played that already.” Others say, “I always wanted to play … ” Jessica Biel wanted to play pregnant, Michelle Pfeiffer liked to play an invisible girl. Ashton Kutcher can play anything, but he doesn’t like the cold, so he was indoors a lot in this film. He picked that part. But also, you know, ensemble, to actors, they like it because they don’t have to carry the picture, but I told them it was a portmanteau movie, which is a word that means — it’s French, I think — and I said it’s a series of stories intertwined, and it’s very nice, and it’s made by all the European filmmakers. So they said, “A portmanteau.” I said, “Yeah.” So they said, “All right, I never did that.” They did, but they didn’t know. But that was one of my selling points, take the high road.

There you have it! Ashton Kutcher hates the cold (which explains those floppy stocking caps), and Michelle Pfeiffer thought this was an ensemble piece about Halloween and had a great idea for her ghost character. And, of course, Garry Marshall doesn’t know what a "portmanteau" is. 

OK, honestly? If you made it through that paragraph, feel free to read the rest of the Q&A. I commend you for your tolerance for gibberish! I think we can all agree, however, that New Year’s Eve will surely stand up along with other classic portmanteaus like Robert Altman’s Nashville and the word "Bootylicious." 

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