The Spy Who Dumped Me director and co-writer Susanna Fogel discusses the female-fronted action comedy starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. Fogel got her start working on the web series Joni & Susanna, but made her theatrical directing debut with Life Partners. The film starred Gillian Jacobs and Leighton Meester as best friends in a co-dependent relationship; it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. After working on the drama TV series Chasing Life, Fogel returns to film with The Spy Who Dumped Me.
The movie focuses on Audrey (Kunis), an aimless 30-something who's recently been dumped by her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux). However, she learns that he's actually a spy and he gets her mixed up in his world of espionage. With the help of her best friend Morgan (McKinnon), Audrey must go to Europe in order to complete a mission. However, with other spies making contact - including Sebastian (Sam Heughan) - Audrey isn't sure who she can trust. Aside from Morgan, of course. Together, the friends will have to survive their mission and the world of spies.
Now, Screen Rant sat down with Fogel to talk about The Spy Who Dumped Me and the writer-director spoke about her and co-writer David Iserson's inspiration for the film, working in the realm of action, and what's next for her.
Screen Rant: So first off, I have to say, I love this movie, I laughed so much.
Susanna Fogel: Oh good! That makes me really happy.
Screen Rant: I wanted to ask, what was your inspiration for it?
Susanna Fogel: The inspiration was actually that my friend David [Iserson] and I were both looking for ways to tell our small observational dramedy ideas and stories on a bigger canvas and we were also obsessive watchers of action movies. One day I was reading an article in a newspaper about some spy caper, like real true story, and I forwarded it to him and I said, ‘God, if we were just the kind of writers who could write this, this would make a great movie. I’m sure someone’s optioned it, I’m sure someone else had the idea, but oh my god, what if we wrote this? We would finally get a movie made.’ And then that day at lunch he said, ‘Well why don’t we just try to do something like that. What if we tried to make Bridesmaids meets Bourne.’ From then on, we just barreled ahead and tried.
Screen Rant: One thing I love about this movie is the relationship between Audrey and Morgan, and female friendship was at the root of Life Partners as well. So how was it tackling this friendship as opposed to that one because the genres are so different?
Susanna Fogel: Yeah, y’know honestly, it was similar in a lot of ways because I think despite the framing and the toolbox and the resources of this movie, what’s important to me is the friendship and I think that’s the hinge on which everything either works or doesn’t. So I don’t know, trying to really connect to actors who have really never met before we started rehearsing and really get them to talk about their friendships in their life and - it was the same kind of like touchy, feely rehearsal process with both pairs, of figuring out how much we all have in common and how important all of our friendships are in our own personal lives. Once we got into that, we had Kate and Mila, who are both girls who have great, deep friendships and a lot of like warmth and groundedness. So, it was different only in the sense that we also had to contend with these other elements, which were stunts and a giant crew and a little bit more potential to have things be a little more serious because we had a lot to do. But it was still great. I mean, Kate and Mila’s dynamic and their chemistry is completely real. Like, the first day of rehearsal, without having met, Kate just like laid down in Mila’s lap - I don’t know why she did that, but that friendship was formed.
Screen Rant: I saw someone made an observation based on the trailer, that Audrey’s character plays shooting video games and that sort of translates into having some kind of skill with an actual gun and that’s the kind of wish fulfillment we see with male characters more often than female characters.
Susanna Fogel: Oh yeah.
Screen Rant: So that was intentional?
Susanna Fogel: Y’know, it’s funny, when I think about the gender politics of the movie, it’s mostly… I just write from a place of my own experience and my own kind of truth, which is that I’m a girl and that’s just my reality. So, it’s only after I’ve written it that I realize on some level, it becomes political just because it’s an underrepresented person or type of thing, but it’s not like it’s necessarily like the intention of it or intentionally overturning a trope or something. I’m thrilled that that’s the outcome. So that wasn’t intentional, but it was definitely important to me to make a movie where the action is just as good as a guy action movie and just as real - wasn’t softer - and the humor wasn’t softer because it’s not really my taste and I didn’t want to mitigate it for the sake of some idea of what women want to see because I think women are actually more hardcore than we get credit for.
Screen Rant: So you’ve done a smaller film and now a bigger film, what do you want to do next?
Susanna Fogel: It’s interesting, I want to keep doing both. I’m directing a pilot this fall that’s very small and dramatic. It’s not something I wrote, but it’s this very nuanced, subtle, kind of My So-Called Life-esque drama. And at the same time I’m writing a huge Millennial female superhero movie, so - the two. Yeah, anything that feels different. I want to be someone who takes risks, but also stays engaged by trying new things. I had a good experience with this movie trying something really different and just taking the plunge and having it be a great experience where I learned I could do more than I might have thought and I’d like to see what my limits are in other areas, too.
- The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) release date: Aug 03, 2018