Don’t let the title fool you. The Year of Spectacular Men, which opens in theaters tomorrow, is really about women — sisters, in fact, played by real-life siblings Zoey and Madelyn Deutch, the latter of whom also wrote and scored the film. The family factor continues with the mom, played by their real-life mom Lea Thompson — who also directed, her first time doing so after a long and steady career as an actress (Back to the Future, Caroline in the City). Zoey is a producer, as is Howard Deutch, who, if you haven’t already guessed by now, is their father and Thompson’s husband. Here, we chat with the sisters— plus, Madelyn shares an exclusive playlist inspired by female friendships.
The decision to make this film a family affair…
Madelyn Deutch & Zoey Deutch: We wanted to give each other jobs that no one else would. As women in this business, you’re often operating from a place of scarcity versus abundance — and opportunities to make your own content are not necessarily banging your door down. The conceit of the project was that Maddie would write, star, compose the score, Zoey would produce and star, and Lea (our mom) would direct and star. Also having a small budget gave us a great excuse to multitask!
The best part about working with family…
ZD & MD: The boundaries are so different that you can lean on each other in ways that you would never be able to with a normal costar, or coworker.
And the most challenging part…
ZD & MD: The boundaries are so different that sometimes you cross them without even realizing!
An example of how our real-life relationship bled into the film…
ZD & MD: Mostly in the improv! Especially in the walk-and-talk scene in the pharmacy. Our mom would keep rolling the camera after the scene was over and it would send us into these high-energy situations where we’d be pushing one another to see how much more we would discover, or who was going to make whom laugh first.
Any of the scenes in the film where it feels like an even exchange of energy and less like an older/younger type of dynamic is much closer to who we are as siblings. We each have things we’re better and worse at, and we try our best to show up in the spots where we need each other.
ZD: The scene on the sidewalk at the end of the film in San Francisco. It’s very touching to me and feels like a love letter to sisterhood. And what I think makes this movie so cool is that that’s really the essence of the film.
MD: The fight scene with Jesse Bradford outside the party, because we weren’t supposed to shoot it that night. Something about the spontaneity and the leap of faith required from the actors, the director, the crew, etc., was really important for the tone — and I think the adrenaline of the unexpected added so much to the chemistry of the scene. Also, selfishly from a writer’s POV, it makes me incredibly happy that the scene remained as written, made it into the film, and was not chopped up in the edit. It was a tough scene emotionally, and I love that it gets to have a life.Favorite line and why…
ZD & MD: We love “Bitches need bitches!” It’s funny but also poignant.Favorite behind-the-scenes anecdote…
ZD & MD: There’s a TON of Tory Burch in the film!! We had such a small budget, we had to pull from a lot of our personal relationships with designers, and Tory was incredibly generous with us and so supportive of our female-led project.Between takes, you’d find us…
ZD & MD: Cracking up on and off camera, with our mom yelling from the other side of set for us to be serious!!
”This playlist features all women musicians who are friends and contemporaries of ours!” — Madelyn & Zoey Deutch
- Chicken Woman — Starcrawler
- Only Songs — The Wild Reeds
- Trust Me Baby — Empress Of
- Release the Hounds — Jarina De Marco
- All of the Love in the World — Lily Kershaw
- Hear You Now — Taali
- It’s Over, Bobby — Charlotte Dos Santos
- When We’re High — LP
- Not You — Leslie Powell
- This Is Our Youth — BLEITCH
More to explore in Culture
- Culture 1.29.20 Invite Yourself to This New York City Dinner Party ASAP
- Culture 1.25.20 Celebrating Chinese New Year with Fei Fei Sun
- Culture 1.24.20 An Uncomplicatedly Delicious Lunar New Year With Chef Jenny Dorsey
- Culture 1.23.20 The Hot Ticket: Medea at BAM
- Culture 1.21.20 Our Lunar New Year Red Packet Explainer