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Archive for the ‘As Sick as They Made Us’ Category
Posted by Sara on April 06, 2022

The family depicted in “As They Made Us” is unhappy in its own way, but even Tolstoy would have to admit that these folks aren’t as interesting as they could be.

Mayim Bialik’s feature writing and directing debut was inspired by some of her own relationships. The movie rings true, with just enough convincing, oddball details to distinguish it from the generic run of dying parent dramas. Still, this fictionalized family — let’s call them the fraying Frays — seems like it could have been imagined with more distinctive traits, anxieties and issues.

The film is worth watching thanks to a flawless central performance by “Glee” alum Dianna Agron, solid elder annoyance shtick from Candice Bergen and Dustin Hoffman, and Bialik’s “Big Bang Theory” co-star Simon Helberg locating his pain and relishing every minute of it.

Burlingame High School graduate Agron plays the stressed but resilient Abigail Fray, a divorced mother of two rambunctious boys with a nice enough ex (Charlie Weber) and a decent house, despite her only apparent income source being a column for Modern Jew magazine. She almost never works on that, by the way, and we can tell that her parents live modestly because Abi is always running over to their place.

Barbara Fray (Bergen) calls or texts whenever dad Eugene (Hoffman) falls and can’t get up, or she has to fire another caretaker because they gave Eugene pot gummies or something. The movie jumps around in time, from Abi and brother Nathan’s childhood with their combative, sometimes physically abusive parents, to various stages of the heroine’s adult life. Every period is marked by different problems with the elder Frays that all, more or less, play out the same.

Barbara is stubborn, often wrong, likes her wine and always says the most inappropriate things. That reaches an embarrassing/amusing peak when Mom calls while Abi tries to get her cute landscaper Jay (East Bay native Justin Chu Cary) to come on in her kitchen, but Barbara’s more often just flat-out appalling. Eugene’s mulish too, but grows vulnerable as his never-specified degenerative condition moves inexorably into its final, fatal stage.

Nathan, played by Helberg as an adult, cut out on the domestic drama 20 years earlier after Eugene slapped the lad for wanting to have sex with his girlfriend. Odd, since the parents aren’t religious and claim to be arty types from the Swinging ’60s, but we all have relatives who get weird over things they shouldn’t. Anyway, lots of Abi’s fixer energy goes toward luring Nathan home to reconcile with Dad before it’s too late.

There’s something admirably centered about Agron’s work. She waits until the last, logical moment to indulge in overt breakdown behavior, with a few nicely played steam-releases earlier on. Unlike her brother, Abi never lets well-earned exasperation with the elder Frays strangle her love, despite the many times they’re just asking to be throttled. Both Bergen and Hoffman strike the right notes of obnoxiousness, agony and regret whenever required. But they’re consummate pros plying their trade; Agron’s is the only organic presence.

With cinematographer David Feeney-Mosier, Bialik displays a subtle sense of lighting and composition that makes “As They Made Us” look like more than a TV movie. The material is the kind of stuff that TV actors would consider a creative stretch, but this is hardly “The Father.”

The project’s original title was “As Sick as They Made Us,” no doubt changed for reasons of taste. But if a dysfunctional family is going to make an impression, good taste should not be a factor.

L“As They Made Us”: Family drama. Starring Dianna Agron, Candice Bergen, Dustin Hoffman and Simon Helberg. Directed by Mayim Bialik. (R. 96 minutes.) Opens at the Summerfield Cinema in Santa Rosa and available through video on demand starting Friday, April 8.

Posted by Sara on April 06, 2022

To promote their new film, As They Made Us, Dianna and Mayim Bialik sat down to discuss, well, pretty much everything! In the over one hour long episode, we get to learn more about Dianna’s choice to choose smaller projects following her time on Glee, making art after processing grief, her experience growing up in hotels and so much more. It really is an incredible interview that I recommend listening from start to finish, as we get to know many new details about Dianna we’ve never heard before. The episode is also available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, so that you can easily listen to Dianna speak even if you’re in the middle of a busy schedule keeping you from watching the video of the recording!

Dianna Agron (As They Made Us, Glee, Acid Man, Shiva Baby) joins us to discuss what it was like to work with Mayim on her new film, As They Made Us. She opens up about her experiences growing up in hotels and her family’s struggles after her father’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Mayim and Dianna bond over the scrutiny they faced while publicly coming of age on a television show, the inclination to make art after processing grief, and the benefits of healthy compartmentalization. Mayim explains the process of writing her film in response to the loss of her father and why Dianna’s character was the most difficult for her to write. She discusses body and emotional awareness in another installment of Moments of Peace and Calm.

Posted by Sara on March 29, 2022

Dianna talked to Allison Kugel recently, the owner of podcast Allison Interviews, and she just released an almost 20 minutes long sneakpeak at their interview! You can listen to it below. The full podcast episode will be released on April 8th, so make sure you check it out on whichever podcast platform you prefer.

Dianna Agron took television fans on a multi-layered emotional ride playing complex popular girl, Quinn Fabray, on the hit television series Glee, which ran for seven seasons on FOX, and was nominated for and won multiple Emmy, Golden Globe, People’s Choice and Teen Choice Awards during its tenure. Through the series, Agron’s character portrayed a foray of teenage girl issues, ranging from the common to the more dramatic. From cattiness and romance drama to matters of celibacy, teen pregnancy and adoption, her character may have appeared to be the beautiful, blonde popular cheerleader but harbored a great range of complex issues.

Since wrapping the show in 2015, Agron has gone on to build her resume in films, including winnder of this year’s Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award winning film, Shiva Baby, and this most recently, As They Made Us, starring Agron, alongside Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergan and Simon Helberg, and written and directed by Mayim Byalik.

April 8th. Listen to and watch the entire interview on the Allison Interviews podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and on YouTube.

Posted by Sara on March 08, 2022

We have the first official trailer for Dianna’s upcoming film As They Made Us! You can check it out below, along with an article about the film by USA Today. It looks really good, and thankfully we only have to wait another month before we can see it!

I have also updated our gallery with the first official still, promotional photo, film poster and several behind the scenes photos – big thanks to all our incredible followers on twitter who donated pics to us! And thanks once again to our friend Mike for some great enhancing work on several of the pics.

Mayim Bialik had no intention of directing a movie.

The “Big Bang Theory” star and “Jeopardy!” host began writing as a therapeutic exercise after her father, Barry, died in 2015. Seven years later, the result is “As They Made Us” (in theaters and on demand April 8), a mordantly funny family drama starring Dianna Agron (“Shiva Baby”) and two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman. The movie’s trailer is premiering exclusively on usatoday.com.

“I consider the whole thing this wonderful accident,” Bialik says. “There’s a very specific year of mourning that we do in traditional Judaism. After that year, I felt an urge that I’ve never felt before to start putting down in writing a lot of my experiences and memories of grief. And literally, I ended up with a screenplay. I’ve never written one before.”

“As They Made Us” follows the tightly wound Abigail (Agron), a newly divorced mother struggling to raise her two kids while looking after her father, Eugene (Hoffman), who suffers from a degenerative condition that makes it difficult for him to walk and move around. Even as Eugene’s mind and body fail, his wife, Barbara (Candice Bergen), remains firmly in denial, and lashes out at doctors and caregivers.

Bialik’s “Big Bang” co-star Simon Helberg plays Abigail’s estranged brother Nathan, whom she tries to reconnect with before their dad’s death. The film uses flashbacks to show how Eugene and Barbara’s tempestuous marriage, combined with Nathan’s teenage rebellion, led to the family’s present-day dysfunction.

Bialik, 46, shot “As They Made Us” in New Jersey last summer. She caught up with USA TODAY to chat about what inspired the movie, reuniting with Helberg and whether she’ll direct again. (Read the full interview with Mayim here)

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Posted by Sara on February 10, 2022

I just came online to some exciting news, Dianna fans! Quiver has acquired Dianna’s upcoming film ‘As They Made Us‘ (originally ‘As Sick as They Made Us’), and it is set for release in theaters and on VOD on April 8. That means we get Dianna back on our big screens in just two months – make sure to save the date! You can read the Deadline exclusive below.

DEADLINE EXCLUSIVE: Quiver Distribution has acquired Mayim Bialik’s feature directorial debut As They Made Us, starring Diana Agron (Shiva Baby, Glee), Simon Helberg (Annette, The Big Bang Theory), Oscar nominee Candice Bergen (Let Them All Talk, Starting Over) and two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (The Meyerowitz Stories, Rain Main), slating it for release in theaters and on VOD on April 8.

The dysfunctional family dramedy written and directed by the former Big Bang Theory star follows Abigail (Agron), a divorced mother of two, who is struggling to balance the dynamic forces within her dysfunctional family as she attempts to cultivate new love.

Justin Chu Cary (Blindspotting, Black Summer), Charlie Weber (After We Collided, How to Get Away with Murder) and Bialik’s Call Me Kat co-star Julian Gant round out the cast. Yale Productions’ Jordan Beckerman and Jordan Yale Levine produced with Anne Clements, Michael Day, Mark Maxey and the late Ash Christian, with Quiver Distribution Co-Presidents Berry Meyerowitz and Jeff Sackman exec producing. BondIt Media Capital served as the film’s financier, with Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor exec producing for the company.

“We are thrilled to be able to share Mayim’s feature film debut with audiences,” said Meyerowitz and Sackman in a joint statement. “With a stellar cast in an intelligent and funny film, this relatable family story and Mayim’s touching script will surely hit home with viewers across many generations.”

“As a first-time director, it is nothing short of a dream to write for and direct a cast this accomplished, passionate, and intellectually committed to this film,” added Bialik. “As They Made Us is about a family’s tumultuous and hilarious journey from chaos to serenity. Making one’s first film is also that journey.”

Quiver Distribution is a film production, acquisition and distribution company founded by Meyerowitz and Sackman that recently acquired Kew Media Distribution’s library of 700 titles. It produced and this year will release Walter Hill’s Western Dead for a Dollar with Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, and Rachel Brosnahan, and Neil LaBute’s Out of the Blue, with Diane Kruger, Ray Nicholson, Hank Azaria and Chase Sui Wonders.

Past releases include the disaster thriller 13 Minutes with Amy Smart, Thora Birch, and Paz Vega; The Survivalist starring John Malkovich and Jonathan Rhys Meyers; Crisis starring Gary Oldman and Evangeline Lily; the iTunes and Amazon bestseller Paradise City starring Andy Biersack, Bella Thorne and Cameron Boyce; Viggo Mortensen’s directorial debut Falling, in which he starred alongside Lance Henriksen and Laura Linney; Chick Fight, starring Malin Akerman, Alec Baldwin and Bella Thorne; I Am Woman, starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle McDonald and Evan Peters; Becky, starring Kevin James and Lulu Wilson; and The Lost Husband starring Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb.

Lawrence Greenberg negotiated the As They Made Us deal on behalf of Quiver, with Film Mode Entertainment’s Clay Epstein on behalf of the filmmakers.

Posted by Sara on March 30, 2021

Super exciting news, Dianna fans! Our girl has been cast in a new project, the upcoming Mayim Bialik directed film “As Sick as They Made Us”. Dianna will play one of the leading characters Abigail, and will star alongside Simon Helberg as Nathan, Dustin Hoffman as Eugene and Candice Bergen as Barbara. What a cast! Very little information has been released about the film so far, but the official plot line reads: “A divorced mom tries to make peace with her dysfunctional family as she finds a second chance at love.”

Mayim Bialik did an interview with Forbes on February 18 this year, where they wrote the following about the upcoming project: Next, Bialik will be bringing her production knowledge and firsthand experiences surrounding mental illness to the big screen as she adds writer and director to her resume for the feature film As Sick As They Made Us. “I did write a story after my father passed away about growing up in a home with mental illness and how that impacts siblings differently and how it impacts the entire family,” Bialik reveals. She goes on to say that as of now, the project is scheduled to start filming this summer in New Jersey and will star Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergen, and her Big Bang co-star Simon Helberg. Bialik says of her upcoming filmmaking experience, “It’s very terrifying and exciting. I’ve always viewed things from behind the camera perspective, even as an actor when I was younger. With a mighty director of photography, I’m hoping to create a beautiful story that’s also visually pleasing.”

Dustin, Simon and Candice were cast back in November 2019 alongside Olivia Thirlby (who it seems Dianna has replaced), but I can imagine the pandemic put a pause to the remaining casting and production. I’ve posted an article Deadline shared about the project back in 2019 when it was first announced for those interested!

Deadline – EXCLUSIVE: We can reveal that Mayim Bialik, known for her role as Amy in The Big Bang Theory, is set to make her directing debut on comedy-drama As Sick As They Made Us and has gathered a starry cast for the pic. Starring are Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergen, Olivia Thirlby (Juno), and fellow Big Bang Theory cast member Simon Helberg. Bialik also wrote the screenplay, which is about a successful divorced mother of two who rekindles love in her life amidst the crazy antics of her dysfunctional family. Now she attempts to convince the stubborn, and comically unfortunate family members to hold it together while they embrace one final farewell.

Project comes from producers Anne Clements (Stage Mother), and Ash Christian (After Everything) and Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment, which is shopping it at AFM.

Bialik is a two-time winner of the Critic’s Choice Television Award for best supporting actress for The Big Bang Theory, she also played the title role in 90s sitcom Blossom. Her production company, Sad Clown Productions, recently inked a multi-year deal with WBTV including a talent-holding provision for her acting services; she also holds a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA and has published four books.

“It is an incredible honor and a writer and director’s dream come true to work with actors I’ve respected and adored my entire life. I cannot wait to see what we can create together,“ said Bialik.

“We can’t wait to see this stellar cast bring such lovable and interesting characters to life. It’s evident that these amazing actors share our love of the materials and we are thrilled to see Mayim’s vision become a reality,” added Epstein.