Amy Schumer couldn't envision anyone but Goldie Hawn playing her mother. She'd grown up watching "Shampoo" and "Private Benjamin" and treasured her copy of the actress' spiritually infused memoir, "A Lotus Grows In the Mud."
So when it came time to cast her costar in the mother-daughter comedy "Snatched," Schumer was clear: Goldie or bust.
There was just one little problem. Hawn, now 71, hadn't appeared in a movie for well over a decade. Though the Oscar winner has appeared in some of the most iconic comedies in film history, the picture's backers worried her box-office clout had faded. Twentieth Century Fox, the studio releasing "Snatched" on Friday, offered Schumer, 35, a preferred list of actresses over 50 who could play the part. Hawn wasn't ruled out, but she was subject to the third degree.
"There were natural questions that I think we all had, and I was asking them to the point that I think I was embarrassing Amy," director Jonathan Levine recalled of his first joint meeting with Hawn and Schumer. "Just, like, 'Why haven't you worked in so long? What do you think the challenges of going back to work will be? Do you think you'll be able to learn lines?' The scary thing for me, as a director, was not knowing if Goldie was used to what it was like to make a movie in 1992" versus 2017.
Hawn wasn't offended by the blunt line of questioning — an attitude that ultimately helped her land the role.
"You can't be upset with someone because they're not thinking about you for a movie," she said with a shrug. "That's the way it goes. It's horse racing."
"But you do have to think at a certain point: Are you crazy?" Schumer interjected. "There's no one better."
The actresses were sharing a couch in a Santa Monica hotel bungalow a block from the ocean, clearly at ease with one another. Schumer had just swapped her heels and photoshoot-ready dress pants for flip-flops and leggings, and Hawn was ready to enjoy a mug of hot tea as she sank back into the cushions. But as she took a sip of the drink, her face scrunched up in disgust.
"What's the story with that?" Schumer asked.
"It's beyond lukewarm," Hawn replied.
It didn't take long for the pair to bond. Before production even began in Hawaii, paparazzi pictures surfaced of the actresses on a weekend boat getaway, swimming with dolphins and jumping off the deck alongside Hawn's daughter, Kate Hudson.
"Unspoken," Hawn said of her connection with Schumer. "Have you ever met anybody where you just go, 'I get you?' Doesn't need a lot of talk. We didn't have huge, long conversations. But you feel them."
"We're never 'on,'" agreed Schumer.
"We're very well-matched. We could sit all day and never talk," said Hawn, who speaks with the cadence of a sing-songy earth mother. "We're two instruments, and we're different, but we're playing the same symphony."
Their characters in "Snatched," however, aren't quite on the same page. Schumer plays Emily, a retail saleswoman eagerly anticipating a romantic getaway in Ecuador with her boyfriend. But when he dumps her a few days before the trip, she persuades her mom (Hawn) — a cat-loving homebody who lives with her eldest son — to come on the vacation with her. Yet just as Emily's risk-averse mom feared, the trip goes horribly awry: The mother and daughter get kidnapped.
The film marks the second film role for Schumer, who made her big-screen debut in the 2015 hit "Trainwreck," which she also wrote. "Snatched," written by Katie Dippold ("Ghostbusters," "Parks and Recreation"), is a movie that Jenno Topping, one of the film's producers, thinks "pushes Amy into different terrain."
"'Trainwreck was a great movie, but at its heart, it was a romantic comedy," Topping said. "This pushes a little deeper into what your insecurities might be, what your relationship with your family members is. Even though it's really funny, there are moments where Amy is doing things I definitely haven't seen her do before."
Schumer has been going nonstop since "Trainwreck," releasing a memoir, a Netflix comedy special and a fourth season of her Comedy Central series, "Inside Amy Schumer" — which is now on indefinite hiatus. She was so run down that by the time she filmed "Snatched," her body had started to break down, and she came down with a case of bronchitis so bad she had to be hospitalized for a week, shutting down production.
"I'll never book myself like that again. That period's over," she insisted. "I no longer feel that urgency to showcase what I can do. I'm not, like, 'What's the role? Will I get an award?' I'm like, 'Get out of here. What will feel good? What can I do best?'"
As for Hawn, meanwhile, getting back into the movie business has presented its own challenges. Since filming 2002's "The Banger Sisters," she has largely been focusing her efforts on charity work and raising her youngest son, Wyatt, with Kurt Russell. The longtime couple — who have been together since 1983 but never married — moved to Vancouver for a spell to support Wyatt's fledgling professional ice hockey career.
"It was a very powerful time for me," Hawn said. "When you think you're doing nothing, you're actually doing a lot — your brain is incubating into the next step. And I never looked back about acting — ever. I didn't miss it. I was so vitalized and doing something I cared about."
But when Wyatt moved to Europe to pursue a hockey career — he has since become an actor in his own right — the family sold their place in Vancouver. Russell threw himself back into acting and is appearing in two massive franchises this summer, "Fate of the Furious" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."
So when Schumer went to bat for Hawn in "Snatched," the timing felt right.
"I'm not new on the block, so I know what goes on when a gal gets to be at a certain time in her life in this business," Hawn said. "You don't get things like this. But look what I got. I got Amy and me together in, basically, a two-people movie. How awesome to not play an ancillary role? It was an awesome way to re-enter."
Still, on the first day of shooting, Levine said, he showed up prepared to hold Hawn's hand through the process. "I was empathizing that it's gotta be scary going back on set after so many years," he said. "But she has this easy confidence that let me know I didn't need to worry about a thing."
There was one thing Hawn didn't feel particularly comfortable with on-set, though: Improvisation.
"A lot of times, a script will be underwritten on the page and you get a funny person to come in and give you 10 bonus jokes," the director said. "Goldie did not want to do that. That was not something she was comfortable with. So we worked on the script with her to punch up the jokes and talk through the scenes in advance."
Still, the experience was so heartening for Hawn that she's now considering a more full-fledged return to acting. Asked if she would consider teaming with her daughter, Hudson, on a film, she seemed skeptical.
"We would love it, but it's really interesting — unless it's something great, honey, you don't do it," she said. "And I'll tell you another thing: mother and daughter, or son or whatever — sometimes it doesn't work. You have to look at the reality, because we're very well known apart. There's a lot of expectation coming into it. You want to talk about baggage!"
She was more enthusiastic about the idea of doing a family film with her entire brood — Kurt, Wyatt, Kate and her other son, actor Oliver Hudson.
"I want to see that, like, today," Schumer said. The comedian also incorporates her family into her career: Her sister, Kim Caramele, was a writer on "Inside Amy Schumer" and helped Schumer punch-up Dippold's "Snatched" screenplay. "Trainwreck" was, in large part, based on her relationship with her father, who has multiple sclerosis. And in her book, "The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo," she wrote candidly about her mother, even acknowledging her mom left her dad for her best friend's father.
"She wants me to tell my story. The only thing in the book that she disputed was that I said Hebrew school was on the wrong day," Schumer said. "In 'Snatched,' there are some exact moments from us that I put in — one line where I say, 'Just because you can't control this situation doesn't mean you have to lash out at me' — that's directly from one of our conversations. And she laughed so hard. We laugh at ourselves. But at the end, I was bawling. It really hit me, seeing it with my mom. I mean, it was awkward. I couldn't control it."