“It’s a Lot of Cocktails”: A Day in the Life of Director Paul Feig During Lockdown
With a Fox TV pilot on hold, the always-dapper comedy master shares his own photo essay of life at home in Burbank and talks about his new nightly mixology show on Instagram.
Like the rest of Hollywood, Paul Feig is doing his best to take the lockdown in stride. The Bridesmaids, A Simple Favor and Last Christmas director, 57, was shooting a Fox comedy pilot in North Carolina when production shut down. He’s since been holed up in his Burbank home with wife Laurie Feig (the two have been married since 1994) and their beloved Scottish terrier, Buster. He now fills his days conducting Zoom meetings, catching up on writing projects and hosting a nightly cocktail-making show on Instagram (@paulfeig), which includes callouts of nonprofits that need help right now — all of which he documented April 20 for THR.
So … how are you?
PAUL FEIG I am doing well under the circumstances. Yeah, I can’t complain. Just trying to get by and do what I can to help other people out.
Is this the most time you and Laurie have spent together in a while?
This is the most she’s had me around during the day since we started dating. Even then, I don’t think I was around as much as I am now. Obviously, it’s been very hard on her.
Are you discovering new things about each other?
What we’re discovering is how much we enjoy being around each other. We’ve been having a nice time. I mean, we’re both busy with stuff. I’m still writing, and I’m doing this cocktail show every day on Instagram. All I can say is — thank God for the internet.
How did you come up with the idea for your cocktail show?
I went into quarantine 41 days ago because I was in North Carolina shooting a TV pilot. They pulled the plug, obviously, so I came back here and thought, well, OK, I can either sit around all day or write and try to get work done. I’m not a medical professional, so there’s not a lot I can offer to the world other than making donations and trying to raise money and trying to entertain people, which is my job as a comedy person. I love cocktails and I always wanted to dabble in mixology but never really did other than making martinis and Negronis all the time. So I thought, well, I’ve got all these cocktail books, maybe every day at 5 p.m. I’ll do a live stream and highlight a new charity and try to make people laugh and we’ll make a drink and try to have some fun. We just did our 40th show.
That’s a lot of cocktails.
It is a lot of cocktails. I already invented two originals [including the Squeaky Door, with gin, cherry liqueur, orange curaçao, St.-Germain, lemon juice and club soda].
What show were you working on?
We were shooting This Country, an adaptation of the BBC show [about young people in a U.K. village; the Fox version stars Seann William Scott]. [Fox has] ordered a few extra scripts, so I’m going to write one and then Jenny Bicks, the showrunner, is writing one. I’ve got a movie in the pipeline that I’m doing a rewrite on. And I’ve been working on some book projects. I’ve had a backlog of stuff that I haven’t been able to get to, so now I’m trying to use the weird time to try to get ahead.
Do you think things will get back to normal in the industry?
Everybody is ready to, definitely, but the question is, when is it going to be safe? In North Carolina doing that pilot, we had a very small footprint crew-wise because we’re a mockumentary. But still, we had this one scene where we were in this little room and there’s only like five crewmembers and the actors and I — and everything felt too close and too weird. That’s when I pulled the plug. Quite frankly, until there’s a vaccine, it’s going to be a very interesting gear-up to see how we do it. It’s hard to make a movie without people standing next to each other.
You’re known for your great fashion sense. Is it hard having everything to wear and nowhere to go?
Fortunately, I have my cocktail hour every day, so I always put on something. I definitely have a chance to get dressed up. I have a rule that I always dress up for Zoom meetings. I think a video meeting is no different from a meeting when you go to somebody’s office, so I wouldn’t roll into one wearing my sweatpants and a pajama top with my hair all over the place, unshaven. I try to bring that same ethos to the conference call going on.
If there was one thing you could do in Hollywood involving crowds, what would it be?
I’m craving to just go to a restaurant. I really want to be in a restaurant and go to the bar first and have a martini and then go and sit at a table with everybody and just joke around face-to-face. I think that’s going to be the very first call to order of mine when we get out of here.
Any restaurant in particular?
I’m dying to go back to Musso & Frank. I would just love to be at Musso & Frank having a martini, sitting around in a booth with a bunch of friends.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the May 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.