Helen Hunt, Throwing Herself into Her Latest Role She's been acting for nearly 40 years; now she's taking a stab at directing, producing and writing. And she's doing all that — as well as acting — in one film: Then She Found Me. She tells NPR why.
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Helen Hunt, Throwing Herself into Her Latest Role

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Helen Hunt, Throwing Herself into Her Latest Role

Helen Hunt, Throwing Herself into Her Latest Role

Helen Hunt, Throwing Herself into Her Latest Role

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89695259/89775889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Helen Hunt at last year's Toronto Film Festival, where she launched her film Then She Found Me. Mike Cassese/Corbis hide caption

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Mike Cassese/Corbis

Helen Hunt at last year's Toronto Film Festival, where she launched her film Then She Found Me.

Mike Cassese/Corbis

Hunt says the movie, which she adapted freely from Elinor Lipman's novel, is "a pretty intimate look at some deep part" of her own psyche. THINKFilm hide caption

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THINKFilm

Hunt says the movie, which she adapted freely from Elinor Lipman's novel, is "a pretty intimate look at some deep part" of her own psyche.

THINKFilm

From 'Then She Found Me'

'Would You Like to Know Who Your Father Was?'

'I Want You to Know Me'

Helen Hunt has been acting for nearly 40 years. TV's Mad About You made her a household name, and then she took home an Oscar for 1997's As Good as It Gets.

Now she's taking a stab at directing, producing and writing. And she's doing all that — as well as acting — in one film: Then She Found Me.

Hunt read Elinor Lipman's novel as far back as nine years ago, she says.

"It was just a new idea — a grown woman whose birth mother finds her, and they forge a relationship," Hunt says. "And it's rare, when you're thinking about being in a movie, to hear a new idea."

She came across a "very faithful, well done" screenplay adaptation and shopped it around. No luck.

She tried working on a rewrite, with a writing partner. Still no luck.

So Hunt put the story away for a while, and she began to think about whether there was something missing in the screenplay — something "that was perfect in the novel, but not there in the screenplay."

For inspiration, Hunt confesses, she turned to her own life.

"I was wanting a baby myself, very much," she says. "And this was a mother-daughter story where what the protagonist wanted, in the novel, was a sort of subtle, internal thing."

Something difficult to put across onscreen, in other words.

"And it occurred to me, this woman should want a baby."

An essay on betrayal, by the writer James Hillman, provided another spark.

"And once I latched on to this idea that the movie would be about betrayal — a comedy about this horrendous subject called betrayal, betrayal by God, in the case of this character that I play — I started to feel a sense of authorship of the movie, and then all of the elements fell into place."

Hunt tells NPR about the movie's long gestation process, about the difficulty of finding a studio to green light it and about why "underneath, to be honest, it's all me."