Cheat Sheet: Nancy Meyers


Nancy Meyers

Date of Birth:

December 8, 1949

Place of birth:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Special moves:

Writing, directing, producing

Films include:

The Parent Trap , Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, It’s Complicated, What Women Want

What you probably already know

Very possibly nothing much at all, besides some vague idea that she was involved in that really clean looking chick-film you weren’t that keen on. Nancy Meyers is the writer behind such films as The Parent Trap, Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated and What Women Want, and whilst that sounds tiring enough, she’s the producer and director of them and all. She also wrote both of the Father Of The Bride flicks, so is almost definitely mates with Steve Martin – what’s known in the industry as ‘The Dream’. She earned herself a Golden Globe Best Screenplay nomination for the Meryl Streep/Alec Baldwin comedy It’s Complicated and was at one time the most successful female director ever (having grossed $183 million in America for What Women Want in the days pre-Gibsongate). She’s known for pushing the age limit of her rom-com protagonists above and beyond that glass ceiling of around 30, offering genuinely funny (if slightly throwaway) takes on love, life and exquisite American mansions that tend to be near the sea. Hardworking, talented, successful and for all we know has Big Steve on speed-dial – not too bad for a lady in her 60s, especially in the famously ageist realm of Hollywood.

What you might not know

It’s all too easy to imagine that a lady with as many credentials as Miss Meyers must have had a leg-up somewhere along the way – a father in a helpful industry, a mother with loose morals, good legs and nothing to lose – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Nancy grew up in a pretty standard neighbourhood in Philadelphia, with a dad who worked as an executive at a voting machines manufacturer (we don’t know either) and a mum who stayed at home except for the odd excursion to help out at the Home of the Blind. Deciding to give Hollywood a whirl after getting herself a journalism degree (presumably mainly to get away from her mum saying things like “I’m just off to The Home Of The Blind again”) within three short days she’d landed herself a production assistant job on CBS’s The Price Is Right . She took a few writing classes, got hooked up with directors such as Martin Scorsese (hey, it’s Hollywood after all) and supported herself by running a small cheesecake business. Seriously. There are a few parallels between Meyer’s life and the plot of her latest film It’s Complicated (her husband Charles Shyer left her for a younger woman like one of those bastards we’ve heard so much about), but she has always insisted her films aren’t autobiographical. She’s never wanted to be labelled as the woman who makes films for an older audience, preferring to think of her films as accessible romance/comedies for everyone. With loads of really nice food in.

Nancy Meyers Quote:

‘I have a friend who has this theory, that once all of the stress of being a younger couple – raising families, career pressure – is gone, that’s when you could actually have the best shot at having a decent relationship.’

What to say at a dinner party:

“In an industry inundated with positive male role models, it’s undeniably refreshing to come across a multi-talented female whose success doesn’t – and has never- relied on the way she looks. Even if she did make Father Of The Bride 2.”

What not to say at a dinner party:

Father Of The Bride 2. Stick to the cleaning love, yeah?”

Final thought

Nancy Meyers may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s safe to say that she’s an independent film-maker who has carved out her own niche in a chock-a-block industry. And heck, is there anything so wrong with watching Meryl Streep making a variety of lovely cakes? Of course not. Especially if Steve Martin’s plasticine face is hovering in the background.

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