has been a screenwriter for about a decade. She made a splash with 2013’s “The Heat,” but became a household name last year with the premiere of “Ghostbusters
” — the remake that Dippold penned with director Paul Feig
. Dippold’s new film, “Snatched
,” stars Amy Schumer
and Goldie Hawn
as a daughter and mother whose tropical vacation takes a sinister turn when they are kidnapped. We talked to Dippold, who has previously written episodes of “Parks and Recreation
,” about her own relationship with her mother, why she likes summer popcorn movies, and her goal to include more women over 40 onscreen.
” opens this Friday, May 12.
This interview has been edited. It was transcribed by Joseph Allen
W&H: If I’m correct, “Snatched
” is your fourth summer comedy?
Kd: Third. “Spy
” was really [director Paul Feig’s] script, I did a punch-up pass on it but that was his movie, so I would call it my third.
W&H: Okay, so your third, that’s pretty impressive, so what’s the secret sauce?
Kd: That’s very nice. I don’t know, I guess it’s a strong love of a summer popcorn movie. I’m personally just always excited to go to the movies to see another movie when the summer starts. I just love those kind of movies so much, I don’t know if that bleeds into the way I write, I have no idea.
W&H: Okay I understand that. So this film is particularly personal because it’s based off of your experience, so how is that different in terms of your writing?
Kd: It was different, it felt different. It was a weird line because I would say it was inspired by my mom, and the character Linda (Goldie Hawn
) reminds me a lot of my mom, but the character Emily (Amy Schumer
) does not remind me so much of me.
I mean there are things I relate to in my 20s — I was a ridiculous person when I was in my 20s in New York — but for the most part it was just kind of a launching pad. I didn’t get lost in the jungle with my mom or anything, but my mom and dad were divorcing when I was in college, and while it was very friendly I noticed my mom just changed.
When I was a kid she was really adventurous and fun. She would always make crazy Halloween costumes, andI remember her waking me up to watch Princess Fergie
’s wedding, I think. I can’t remember. There was a very fun spirit to her and she was pretty fearless, and I just felt like after the divorce I saw her get more cautious and cynical, and she never sounded cynical before.
She was always a very positive, hopeful person, and it was like she was expecting to be disappointed by anyone she met — not even dating. If someone was a plumber coming to work on the house, it was like “Well, how’s he going to screw me over?”
Which, by the way, he probably did, but I just hadn’t heard her talk like that before. So this was just kind of a wish fulfillment thing. What kind of adventure could I take her on that would shake that out of her and bring her back to her adventurous place?
W&H: But you didn’t go on this trip with her.
Kd: I did not go on this trip with her, but I’m going to go to Amsterdam later in the year, which I’m very excited about, and so is she, surprisingly.
W&H: Excellent! Good!
W&H: So was Goldie Hawn
the first choice?
Kd: I’ll be honest, I had a hard time picturing anyone for either character while I was writing it, so we first sent the script to Amy and got her on board, which I was very excited about, and she really wanted Goldie and I’m very grateful for that.
Whereas before I couldn’t picture anyone, I can’t imagine anyone but Goldie now, so we really lucked out.
W&H: She hasn’t made a movie in a long time.
Kd: I know, which is crazy. She’s like a very rare gift of a performer. Watching all of her movies like “Private Benjamin
,” I forgot what an amazing movie that is. It’s insane.
W&H: I just wonder, did she say why she didn’t work? Was part of it she just wanted to not work or was part of it just the parts were shitty?
Kd: I don’t know, she never said to me so I’m not sure. If I would answer that I’d be guessing and I don’t want to do that.
W&H: Okay, so I found it interesting that there’s a bunch of high-profile, female-led movies this summer. There are always a couple, but this summer feels exciting. “Wonder Woman,” “Atomic Blonde
,” “Girls Trip,” your film, do you sense that summer is less dominated by the boy action heroes this summer?
Kd: I don’t know, I’ll be honest. My answer of “I don’t know” is because I’m not completely clear on what is coming this summer. So I hope there’s more options, I mean just as an audience member, I just want to be able to see a whole mix of movies, so I hope that’s the case, that would be good news.
W&H: Do you feel like things are changing a little?
Kd: I do, I mean it’s always slow. I think that it’s still a problem, but I think we’ve gone in a good direction. I think it’s still a problem with directors. It’s hard for me to be the one to complain because I’ve been in a very fortunate situation where the executives at Fox are either women or very strong feminists.
You know, [“Snatched” producers] Jenno Topping
, Peter Chernin
is a feminist, Paul Feig
— you couldn’t get a more female-friendly male director. He loves funny women, so I’ve been working within this group and I’ve lucked out, so it’s hard for me to complain. I do think it’s still a problem, but I think it’s getting better.
W&H: It’s so interesting how Fox News
folks should learn from Fox movie folks.
Kd: Right, that’s a very good point. I mean one of the more fascinating things about “Ghostbusters
” and it being women was that three of them were over 40. I love Amy Pascal
for green-lighting that at the time. That’s crazy in Hollywood world and I think it’s so important.
It’s so depressing that there’s this idea that your story stops at a certain age and that’s a big thing I’m fighting, and it’s a big reason why this movie exists. I want to see a woman in her 60s or 70s in a hard R action comedy.
W&H: Talk about figuring out the tone of the hard R. Your other movies weren’t as hard R as this.
Kd: It was a mix, because we wanted it to be heartfelt but we wanted it to be really funny. I didn’t want it to be soft comedy. My hope was to surprise people. It’s not a mother/daughter movie that’s all sweet, and a nice calm story. There are going to be some really surprising, shocking things in this.
I think for the first draft I turned in, it was a mix of nice mother/daughter moments, but one of the earlier scenes was the scene when she’s cleaning herself in the bathroom and she makes eye contact with James (Tom Bateman
) when the door accidentally opens. So I wanted it to have a certain feeling as well, where it’s like, “you can’t show that,” but then you show that, if that makes sense. That was kind of the goal for me.
W&H: That was a funny scene. So I would imagine this film is a bit different than “Ghostbusters
.” Now, a year out from “Ghostbusters
,” do you have any kind of sense of hindsight as to why it became such a lightning rod?
Kd: I don’t know. For “Ghostbusters
,” I get it. That film is really important to people, myself included. It always blows my mind when there’s a movie like that. To get a movie that feels like movie magic takes so many different parts and pieces to come together. The original “Ghostbusters
” is grounded, it’s smart.
You have then the funniest people in the world, and really fun exciting set pieces, and you’re scared, but not too scared. It’s not dark scary, it’s fun scary. There’s so many layers that make it wonderful, so now when I see a movie like that, I appreciate it on another level.
I get why it caused such a reaction because it is such a special movie, but looking back, I was surprised at the negative reaction, because to me that cast is four comedy powerhouses that I just wanted to see be “Ghostbusters
,” women aside.
W&H: So are you glad that there’s no writers’ strike?
Kd: I am so glad that there’s no writers’ strike. I was really dreading that, I had no idea which way it was going to go.
W&H: Everybody was on board from the Guild [Writers Guild of America].
Kd: Right, and I had no idea what was going to happen, I was really at a loss. I think the negotiating committee did a great job, I was delighted by that. I’m really glad that they were able to make that deal come together.
W&H: I was just thinking today, a lot of the conversation about “are women funny” was that whole Christopher Hitchens
thing seven or eight years ago. I’m wondering, even though the reaction was so negative to that, maybe in some way, he did everybody a favor by getting people to talk about the lack of women in comedy.
Kd: Yeah, I guess one could say that. I have a hard time saying it but one could. I guess that’s true. You know, I was just watching “Death Becomes Her.” Have you seen that recently?
Kd: It’s just Goldie Hawn
and Meryl Streep
together and they are so funny. They just have all these moments that are subtle jabs. There’s this one scene, and I paused it and I’m like, “My God, they are so goddamn funny.” I don’t even know what my point is, but I just feel like, how have we not spent every day talking about how funny they are? I truly have no point in saying that.
W&H: No, I understand what you’re saying, and that movie is maligned a lot.
Kd: I know! I looked it up on Rotten Tomatoes and I was like, “How? This is such a fun movie.”
W&H: Talk about your current inspirations, where you get ideas. What do you read on a regular basis, TV shows, bingeing, what’s your pleasure?
Kd: Right now there’s a lot of podcasts. I’m really loving podcasts right now. By the way, “Scriptnotes” I think is a great podcast for writers. I’ve now learned if anyone’s interested in writing, that’s a great thing to suggest. They go over everything.
In terms of taking in information, ever since the election I bought a New York Times subscription and I’m forcing myself to read it every morning. I feel like before the election I wasn’t reading enough, so that’s a big goal for me right now, is just to read more and read stories of other people, and not just my world, you know? I’m reading “A People’s History of the United States” right now because I want to know more, and I feel like I’ve taken it for granted for a long time and I regret that, so that’s a lot of the reading I’ve been doing lately.
” Writer Katie Dippold
Talks Writing Roles for Women Over 40 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.