Katie Aselton played Diane Keaton’s daughter in Bill Holderman’s 2018 comedy Book Club. Now, she’s Keaton’s director in the new body-switching comedy Mack & Rita.
“It’s the funniest way I’ve ever gotten a job before,” Aselton told MovieMaker ahead of the movie’s release on Friday. “I played Diane Keaton’s daughter in the movie Book Club, and that movie was produced by Alex Saks, who I have been friendly with for years since she worked at ICM, which is my old agency. And so we had always been friendly, got to be much better friends on Book Club, ended up going to the same pilates studio, which is the same pilates studio that you see in the movie, which is not an accident. And one day, she just said, ‘Katie, are you ever going to direct again?’ Because I had taken a beat. And I was like, yeah, no, I really am thinking this is my year. And she goes, ‘Great, I have a script for you.'”
That script was for Mack & Rita, which stars You actress Elizabeth Lail as a 30-year-old who just wants to be a grandma already so she can unapologetically be herself. When she meets a very mystical, crystal-wearing spiritual guide (Red Rocket’s Simon Rex) with a magic tanning bed, Mack gets her greatest wish — just not the way she imagined it. She steps out of the magical contraption as the 70-year-old version of herself, who she calls Rita (Diane Keaton).
Katie Aselton, an accomplished actress (and wife to director Mark Duplass) known for Legion, The League, The Gift, Black Rock and The Freebie — the last two of which she also directed — wasn’t sure the script was for her when she first read it. But Saks convinced her.
“I was like, I don’t know, babe. Like, this is a big, broad, body-switching comedy. And I make really small, like, gritty little indie movies for no money that are just about feelings,” Aselton said. “And [Saks] was like, ‘Alright, well, like, let’s be straight here. Like, it’s still not going to be a lot of money. And it’s ultimately a movie about feelings that just happens to have some body-switching elements to it. But it also has Diane Keaton and like, are you going to say no to that?’ And I wasn’t.”
The result is a heartwarming rom-com — also starring Schitt’s Creek star Dustin Milligan as the love interest and Taylour Paige as Mack’s best friends — that draws inspiration from other classic body-switching rom-coms like Freaky Friday, Big, and 13 Going on 30.
“The body swapping device of storytelling is so useful as a tool of sort of teaching a lesson. And it’s a great way of being able to show perspective,” Katie Aselton said.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Hollywood legend Diane Keaton in your movie.
“I’m still pinching myself that I got that opportunity because she is just quintessentially, like, the most Diane Keaton you could ever, ever hope for. Like, the Diane Keaton that we all know and have fallen in love with as audiences is exactly who she is, which is so great, because for this movie, that’s it, right? It’s all about showing your your most true self, your most authentic self. And she just really epitomizes that, like she is unapologetically 100% herself,” Aselton said.
Watch our full interview with Katie Aselton above.
Main Image: Diane Keaton in Mack & Rita
Mack & Rita is now playing in theaters.