• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Helen Hunt on First Time Directors

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors, and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind – over 10,000  items – is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.  In 1992 we had our first press conference with Helen Hunt Mad About You – had just launched, and Hunt had a movie about to open: The Waterdance, directed by newcomers Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg.Working with Neal Jimenez and Mike Steinberg were interesting because they were first-time directors in the best sense of the word and were also incredibly open to Eric (Stoltz)’s and my input. I felt like the four of us were really a team and we decided together, for example, how that love scene should be shot so I never left like these guys are trying to get me to show my body. I felt like all four of us were saying how can we make this the most intimate, most poignant, sexiest scene we can make it so in that sense working with someone who had never directed before was terrific.And then you get to work with someone like Francis Coppola (she had worked with him in Peggy Sue Got Married) and you just sit there and watch him design these shots out of his mind from God knows where and do it 60 times in a row. Kind of I wish every director had to take an acting class. That’s what my secret wish is because, you know, the first thing is that they have to know what they want and the second thing is to know how to tell an actor how to do it or how to get there and it’s very rare that you have the second thing and that’s what you learn in acting class. If a director says well, I want you to be more sad, that’s not a great direction but if you’ve been in an acting class you can translate that into something you can do.”