By AMY LONGSDORF
For 21st Century Media
As far as Cameron Diaz is concerned, the seeds for “The Other Woman” were planted three decades ago when she watched “Nine To Five” for the first time.
The ’80s classic, which stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as office workers who team up to take revenge on their male chauvinist boss (Dabney Coleman), instantly captured the imagination of the then-pre-teen Diaz.
‘Nine to Five’ is one of my favorite movies,” says the actress. “I watched it a thousand times when I was a child. Literally, a thousand times. My girlfriend had a VCR and she only had four movies and that was one of them. We watched it constantly.
“[Just like in ‘Nine To Five’], ‘The Other Woman’ is about three women that would never have come together except that they have this common cause. The feeling I wanted this movie to have was [very ‘Nine to Five.’] It was a huge influence on me.”
Where “Nine To Five” is about turning the tables on a bad boss, “The Other Woman” is about settling the score with an unfaithful lover. In the movie, Diaz plays a Manhattan attorney who discovers that her boyfriend (“Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is married. Diaz breaks up with Coster-Waldau but a chance meeting with his wife (Leslie Mann) leads to a fast friendship.
When the new pals discover that Coster-Waldau was cheating on both of them with yet another woman (Kate Upton), the trio team up to give the scoundrel his comeuppance.
Diaz says the screenplay was an easy one to connect to. “I think we’ve all gone through some kind of betrayal whether it’s with a boyfriend or a friend or a family member,” notes the actress whose next comedy “Sex Tape” opens July 25. “That’s why this is sort of relatable to everybody because we all know what it feels like to [experience] betrayal and heartbreak.”
“The Other Woman” might have been directed by Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook”), but it has a strong female presence behind the scenes. The film was produced by Julie Yorn and written by Melissa Stack.
The immediate attraction for Diaz was the film’s unique story. “When Julie Yorn came to me with the idea for Melissa Stack to write the script, I said, ‘that sounds like a great idea.’
“There’s nothing like this movie out there. Usually when it’s a story about three women all being involved with the same man, it ends with some eyeballs being scratched out and some wigs being snatched off.
“We decided that that wasn’t the story that we wanted to tell.”
Diaz insists “The Other Woman” is less about tables-turning than friendship.
“We didn’t want it to be a story about revenge but about utilizing the commonality of the three [women],” says the actress, 41, who made her film debut two decades ago in “The Mask” starring Jim Carrey. “Having a relationship with the same man is the catalyst that brings them together. Otherwise, these three women would not know each other.
“So, it’s not only a story about friendship and how we support one another, but it also shows how different these women are. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. They actually empower one another because of those strengths and weaknesses.”
“The Other Woman” is part of a new wave of racy comedies starring women. “Bridesmaids” started the trend. Then came “Bachelorette,” “Pitch Perfect” and “The Heat,” all of which hit big at the box office.
When “The Other Woman” was initially turned into the MPAA Ratings Board, it was awarded an R-rating. But Diaz, along with 20th Century Fox president of production Emma Watts, personally asked the MPAA to overturn the rating. The Board agreed and now the film is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic material, sexual references and language.”
“I’m not sure how common it is for actors to [go before the MPAA Appeals Board ] but we pleaded our case and they gave us [the PG-13],” says Diaz. “We’re very grateful and happy for that because we really think it’s a PG-13 film. There’s nothing that to us feels like an R in this movie.”
Diaz believes that, in some cases, the MPAA is tougher on raunchy films starring women.
“It’s really unfortunate that [members of the ratings board] see things that women do a little bit more strict — they judge us a little bit more than they do men,” Diaz told the Los Angeles Times. “A lot of the things that they’re judging — like we say, ‘You need to close your vagina.’ Like, you can’t say ‘vagina’ … What’s wrong with a vagina? Guys make reference to their parts all the times nowadays without getting the R rating.”
During the making of “The Other Woman,” the actresses became pals. According to Diaz, the affection they instantly felt for each other helped them enliven some scenes.
“It’s funny because in the script, there was no physical comedy,” notes the actress. “But we just started finding it in these little places. Leslie would basically hold onto me and I would writhe in any way possible to get her off.
“I was like, “Why are you so strong?’ Leslie is strong. Her center of gravity is really low and I’m up here teetering. Her torso is, like, all torque.”
It wasn’t just the gals who clicked. Diaz and company got along just as well with Coster-Waldau and Taylor Kinney (who plays Mann’s brother and a potential love interest for Diaz.)
“Nikolaj plays one of the ugliest villains,” says Diaz. “We had to create such a horrible guy for the movie so we took him as far as possible, as pathologic as possible. I really feel like Nikolaj did such an amazing job of bringing the fun to that character so that we could make the revenge look good and he could look bad.
“Taylor portrayed the essence of a man that we all love and appreciate. He’s a brother and a best friend and he gives heart to the movie.
“These two guys really showed up for us and they were great partners to these three women. Although we did a movie about heartbreak, we also really celebrate love in this movie. We just appreciate that these guys were there for us as partners to help us tell this story.”