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In 'Rachel,' Director Demme Casts Against Type

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In 'Rachel,' Director Demme Casts Against Type

Movies

In 'Rachel,' Director Demme Casts Against Type

In 'Rachel,' Director Demme Casts Against Type

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The new film Rachel Getting Married is getting rave reviews from many critics. Yes, it's about a wedding and has all the ingredients of a conventional movie: young couple, worried parents, an assortment of guests and the family black sheep.

In this case, that black sheep is the bride's sister, who swoops in for the weekend and disrupts the already frantic and tense preparations. Kym is a recovering drug addict with major issues. The part is played by Anne Hathaway, best known for her sweetheart roles in such films as The Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries.

The man responsible for casting Hathaway against type — and for bringing Rachel Getting Married to the screen — is Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. Demme talks with Liane Hansen about that casting decision and about how he got involved in the project.

Demme, Lumet on Getting 'Rachel' Married

Demme, Lumet on Getting 'Rachel' Married

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Director Jonathan Demme has made mostly documentary and concert films in the last 15 years. Jonathan Alvarez/Getty Images hide caption

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Jonathan Alvarez/Getty Images

Director Jonathan Demme has made mostly documentary and concert films in the last 15 years.

Jonathan Alvarez/Getty Images

Director Jonathan Demme, famous for Hollywood blockbusters including Silence of the Lambs, once made a specialty of nicely textured films about women. Lately, though, he's mostly been making documentaries, including recent studies of former President Jimmy Carter and musician Neil Young.

Now he's back at the multiplex with Rachel Getting Married, an almost universally acclaimed wedding dramedy starring Anne Hathaway in what some are calling a career-defining performance.

The movie's script is by Jenny Lumet, the daughter of another celebrated director, Sidney Lumet, and the writer Gail Buckley. (Which makes her the granddaughter of the legendary entertainer Lena Horne.)

Rachel Getting Married traffics in sibling rivalries, family idiosyncrasies, and much more, with Hathaway playing a recovering drug addict who seeks, almost unconsciously, to upstage her sister's wedding.

Film critic David Edelstein said in his Fresh Air review that "I don't think I've seen a movie with this mixture of desolation and fullness. Rachel Getting Married is a masterpiece."

Demme and Lumet join Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies for a conversation about how they came to make the movie, and what they discovered as it came together.