Quietly Revolutionary: Abby Ryder Fortson and Kelly Fremon Craig on Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. | Interviews
When it comes to mentors, Abby credits both of her parents as huge influences, and says that it was helpful to have them present onset.
“I certainly learned from them that hard work is the most important thing, and prep work is always a must,” said Abby. “I took many different tips and tricks from my parents, who have been in the trade for so long, and they really helped me work on Margaret’s character. They helped me not only in developing her but in working on all of the big questions surrounding a lot of the topics in the film. They were such a useful resource, and I’m so lucky to have them onset and outside of it as well. Each of them brought different things to different scenes, and though there were certain scenes that one of them wanted to be onset for, they just switched off most of the time. They are incredible actors and coaches, so it was great to have them both be able to be there for me.”
As for Craig, the industry veteran who believed in her also happened to be a three-time Oscar-winner who has brought some of the most phenomenal female characters to screens both big (“Broadcast News,” “Terms of Endearment”) and small (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”).
“When I had the first movie that I wrote made, I showed up to see it and I sort of didn’t recognize it,” said Craig, referencing 2009’s “Post Grad.” “I had this moment where I was like, ‘Oh god, I think I’m done. I think I’m out of this business. This is not why I wanted to write.’ I wanted to do what Judy Blume had done for me. I wanted to write something that made people feel less alone, and it felt so far away. Then a friend of mine said, ‘Kelly, just write something for you,’ and I wrote ‘The Edge of Seventeen.’ I sat with my reps and we were talking about who to send it to. James L. Brooks is my hero, so they said, ‘Let’s send it over to him, but he’ll never read it, just so you know.’ The woman who runs his company read it, responded to it and then sent it to him. The next thing I knew, I was having a meeting with Jim.”
“In my mind, I said to myself, ‘Okay, at some point, if we do this together, I’m going to pitch myself to direct this, but I’m going to really try and earn his trust before I pitch that months down the line,’” Craig continued. “But what happened instead was during that first meeting, Jim said, ‘You know, the writing is really specific to you, so I actually think it makes sense that you direct it.’ I have never been so utterly shocked in my life. What was amazing is a couple years later when ‘Edge of Seventeen’ came out, I brought up that story and Jim did not remember it at all. He was like, ‘I said that?! That’s crazy, why would I do that?’ [laughs] In fact, I have to ask him why he took that leap. I don’t know, but I will be thanking him for the rest of my life. He’s an amazing human being, and just to be in his presence and see how he works has been such a privilege. I don’t know how other people work, I just know how Jim works and I love his process. He is passionate, and he serves the work with everything in him.”