Amy Poehler Talks Working With Tina Fey On The Comedy ‘Sisters’ [Interview]

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey

It’s easy to think of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as sisters. Since they’ve been in the spotlight, their names have been synonymous with each other. In their 20 plus year friendship they’ve been in comedy troupes together, have enjoyed a long run on Saturday Night Live, and managed to create a large body of work together on screen in comedic films. In between that Amy and Tina became one of America’s most beloved duos as they took on the Golden Globes three times as masters of ceremonies.

So, it isn’t that much of a stretch that they’re now starring in the movie Sisters together as, well, sisters. In the comedy, directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) and written by Paula Pell (SNL), the pair play Maura and Kate Ellis, two sisters who have absolutely nothing in common with each other. Maura (Poehler) is a straight laced reserved divorcee, who’s still recovering from her heartache, while Kate (Fey) is a bit of a wild child, who doesn’t really have it all together.

During the film they find out that their parents are selling their childhood home, when they’re asked by their parents to clean out their room. Realizing that they’re both stuck in their childhood persona’s the two decide to throw an “Ellis Island” party at their old home to say bon voyage to their former lives in an attempt to grow and break out of the confines that they’re held in. As you might have guessed, a bunch of funny hijinks ensue.

Actors Amy Poehler and Ike Barinholtz and director Jason Moore stopped by AOL to chat about the upcoming comedy, out in theaters on Friday, December 18.

On the basis of the movie Sisters:

Amy Poehler: This is based on Paula Pell’s journal, who is a writer for Saturday Night Live, among many other things, and is a comedic genius. She has a sister who was a lot wilder than she was growing up. Paula kept a very detailed almost serial killer like journal.

On meeting Tina Fey and writer Paula Pell:

Poehler: Tina ad I met in 1993 in Chicago and we were improvising together. I moved to New York with the Upright Citizens Brigade. She came to New York with an actual job, which was writing for Saturday Night Live — it’s always better to get paid. It’s nicer. But now kids don’t get paid with money, right? You get free app space and swag.

I met Paula when I arrived at SNL, and Paula was already writing the most famous sketches that you guys know and love, including Cheerleaders, and she went on to write Debbie Downer, and Gilly, and a million other great sketches. She and I became fast friends.

Ike Barinholtz on his connection to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey:

Barinholtz: I’m from Chicago and I performed at Improv Olympic. I started very soon after Amy went to form UCB, and she would periodically come back and teach workshops. Tina was in Second City on the main stage and I was a bus boy there, so even though we didn’t know it, we were best friends the three of us. Little did they know, that the guy picking up vomit would be picking up vomit on the set of a movie that they’re in.

On reuniting with former SNL members:

Poehler: It was fun. It was sort of a reunion of sorts because we had Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch, and Kate McKinnon and Bobby Moynihan – it was a lot of past and present SNL members. It’s very rare that you have fun making a movie and then it turns out to be good, and people see it.

On directing Tina and Amy:

Jason Moore: They have such a shorthand. They’ve known each other for 20 years, they can finish each others sentences, they can basically communicate with their eyes, which basically means they’re talking about everyone in the room. We didn’t have to worry about how they would feel as sisters. They already had a lot of love, a lot of joy, and it made my job easy and fun.

On creating realistic characters:

Poehler: Ike and I were excited to get to act a bit, because often these films are very gigantic rides that you’re on, that we actually tried to create a story that you cared about, or characters that you cared about, or these moments that felt vulnerable, is a very nice thing to be able to find in the film. So much of it had to do with Paula’s writing and Jason’s direction. They reminded us that we had to really care. It’s the reason why you’ll watch the movie again when you’re hungover a year from now on TV.

On finding the tone and audience for Sisters:

You can’t just have a movie where monkeys are throwing poop and then at the end play “Everybody Hurts” by REM and you’re like “Am I supposed to care ?” Neither Tina or I have sisters, but we talked to people who have sisters, and they said, “I can’t wait to take my sister to it, or my brother to it, or my mother to it.” It does feel like a family movie because there are such specific dynamics about people that you know so well, but also have very little in common with. You didn’t choose your family. They were given to you as punishment.

[Photo by Universal]

About The Author
Niki Cruz
Niki Cruz is a Freelance Entertainment Journalist based out of New York. With a passion for Film/TV she often contributes to Paste, amNew York and Interview Magazine. Niki spends her time off learning life lessons by binge-watching Dawson’s Creek.