Girl Power :: The Stars of ’The Hot Flashes’
It took several weeks, publicists on two different coasts and a persistent Rage Monthly writer to get four of the most talented women working in film, stage and TV today (including a favorite out lesbian comic) together for a conference call interview. The occasion? A new movie called "The Hot Flashes," which is scheduled to arrive in theaters on Friday, July 12.
Wanda Sykes, Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah and Camryn Manheim play classmates and former high school star athletes who reunite in their mid-40s to form a basketball team. They challenge the current high school girls’ state champions in the hope of winning the local tournament’s cash prize, to raise breast cancer awareness and hopefully save their late friend’s mobile breast cancer clinic.
The film is directed by one of the industry’s first female directors, Susan Seidelman ("Desperately Seeking Susan," "Making Mr. Right," "She-Devil") and also stars Virginia Madsen and Eric Roberts. It is hilarious, heartfelt and, most significantly during a film season dominated by special effects, human.
While I scrambled to keep up with their conversation, it was immediately apparent that Manheim (who hails from Long Beach and whose parents still live there), Sykes, Hannah and Shields developed a strong bond while working on the movie, which is set in Texas but was primarily shot in New Orleans. Sykes and Manheim struck me as particularly close, with Manheim referring to herself as "Wanda’s wrangler" while they were working in the Big Easy. Here’s what else the ladies had to say...
What was the experience making this film like for each
Manheim: It was life changing in many ways. We came down to make a movie about a human issue, a women’s issue; I think the message sucked us all in. Then you’ve got five strong women, five women in our (ahem) 40s, and we bonded on so many issues and became this incredible group who took over New Orleans for two months.
Sykes: I agree. We became a team on and off the court and we all became drinking buddies!
Shields: It’s a rarity to have women together where there was no ego. It was a celebration of women, with our age and life experiences. We were able to celebrate our differences and were equal pieces of the puzzle. We didn’t fit into one category but we all got along so well.
Manheim: I want to second that. We all got to be who we distinctly were. Daryl would literally talk to the animals!
Sykes: Funny story: One day, there was this huge bug on the car’s dashboard and someone said, "Kill it before Daryl adopts it!" (Laughter)
Shields: Daryl (who plays an initially-closeted lesbian in the film) is amazing when it comes to animals and was always like, "I’m swimming with the dolphins and running with the wolves!"
Hannah: I’m not quite that woo-woo. (All laugh.) It was (A) great to learn how to play basketball finally and (B) I just loved getting to see these ladies every day. New Orleans wasn’t that bad either.
Sykes: It’s such a weird thing in our society and especially in the entertainment industry that older women are not celebrated more.
Was this story particularly personal for any of you regarding the topic of breast cancer, either your own or a family member’s or friend’s?
Sykes: Yeah, I have new boobs night now.
Shields: And they are pretty too!
Sykes: Actually, while we were filming I delayed surgery to have my real fake boobs put in.
Hannah: While we were making the film, my best friend was having a lumpectomy and then had to have a mastectomy.