HFPA In Conversation: Jay Roach Wants To Connect People

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros September 16, 2020
Filmmaker Jay Roach, Golden Globe winner

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Golden Globe-winning producer, director and writer Jay Roach has a desire of making people smile and connect them with storytelling. His work includes dramas like Recount, Game Change, and Bombshell, as well as comedies like Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, and Meet the Fockers. “I try to use storytelling to connect, to start looking in each other's eyes, and hear about peoples' experiences, and then talk about my own experiences. Then I make up stories that connect everybody's experiences”, Roach told HFPA journalist Margaret Gardiner.

His recent work is HBO’s Coastal Elites, a series of monologues written by playwright Paul Rudnick and starring Bette Midler, Issa Rae, Sarah Paulson, Kaitlyn Dever, and Dan Levy. “Mostly it's five people, none of whom are particularly elite. Which is one of the funny things I like about what Paul did, was use that sort of buzzword, "coastal elites", which is almost like saying basket of deplorables about the Trump followers. It's a way that people on the right lump all people who disagree with them into being, "Well, they disagree with us because they're the coastal elites," and it's meant to be a disparaging comment, but it's really about five people who love America and love, again, the ideal version of what government can be like and what politics can be like, but are now completely unraveled by what's going on in the world.”

It is a contemporary story that allows the audience to eavesdrop on each person's attempt to understand. "It’s almost like they would talk to a therapist or be in an AA meeting or something, except it's Apocalypse Anonymous instead of Alcoholics Anonymous. Each talks to the camera, and we filmed it in a pandemic style, and they're darkly funny, but about the pain and sort of heartbreak of what all of us are going through these days.”

Listen to the podcast and hear why his dad called him an overachiever; why he went to Stanford and studied economics and communication; why he was intimidated by the arts; how he became addicted to the visual expression; when he started to drift into writing and directing; how he met his wife Susanna Hoffs; why he likes to get feedback from his friends and preview audiences; how he gets the best from the actors he works with; why he likes to do comedies; what kind of cautionary tales he likes to tell; how Covid-19 and current political situation affected the production of Coastal Elites; how much his dad, who is a military worker and a patriot, influences Jay’s stories; how was it to collaborate with Charlize Theron in Bombshell; how he balances work and family; and how he reacts when his kids pitch ideas to him.