Five years ago Bill Holderman and Erin Simms crafted a smartly conceived, grown up romantic comedy in Book Club, the $100 million global hit featuring a quartet of renowned stars—Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen—as septuagenerian pals whose lives and loves comically flowered after analyzing a little book named Fifty Shades of Grey. The unexpected hit upended commercial expectations, financially successful in its depiction of adult friendship and intimacy while giving its regal stars a movie revival of sorts, reminding us how much we missed seeing such greats in substantial big screen adventures.
One pandemic later finds writer-director Holderman, writer Simms, also co-producers, and their estimable company of actresses, as well as actors Don Johnson, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson and the legendary Giancarlo Giannini back in action in Book Club: The Next Chapter, en route to bel paese Italia for a fairy-tale girls’ trip and, just maybe, a wedding (but not before plenty of warmly funny misadventures along the way). It’s an infectiously entertaining concoction, one as much about the ravishes of Rome, Venice and Tuscany as about those of its welcome leading ladies, each in superb comic form, Fonda leading the way in old-school glamour, wit and heart.
I caught up with Holderman and Simms—a delightful pair of simpatico collaborators tasked with crafting an audience-pleasing commercial entertainment befitting a cast of movie royalty—for a chat about their ambitious new picture and the charms of their extended ensemble, shooting in magical Italy, crafting dimensional roles and believable friendships for mature adults and more.
- 00:11 – The idea for a sequel
- 02:12 – Crafting authentic characters
- 05:30 – Thematics of a key scene
- 10:20 – Anatomy of a fairy-tale sequence
- 14:03 – Ciao, Italia! Shooting on location
- 18:07 – The men of Book Club: The Next Chapter