“It’s just one of those great kismet things where you’ve brought the right actors together at the right time,” says writer-director Lisa Cholodenko of the critical and commercial success of her film, “The Kids Are All Right.” “It was all just so fortunate.”
When she hatched the idea for a movie about a lesbian married couple (Annette Bening, Julianne Moore) whose teenage son and daughter seek out their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo), Cholodenko was very much influenced by changes and transitions taking place in her own personal life.
“My girlfriend and I were starting a family,” she explains of her creative inspiration. “We were doing it with a sperm donor, and we were really excited, but we also had a lot of questions. It was during the process that my head was very much into my domestic life. For a while it was all consuming. So when I sat down to write a new script, I promised myself that I would let whatever came out on the page to just come out.”
She penned a first draft and then teamed with scribe Stuart Blumberg (“Keeping the Faith,” “The Girl Next Door”), with whom she co-wrote the polished screenplay.
“It was very important to us that we made a film that was truthful,” says Cholodenko, “but we also wanted it to be fun and entertaining and never apologetic. We wanted to start from a place where you have this long-term lesbian couple living in the suburbs. We started from a position of normal. It was about my own desire to see things in the world from that place.”
It’s the deft performances of Bening, Moore and Ruffalo that bring the characters to fruition.
“Mark is a wonderful actor,” praises Cholodenko. “He really knows how to beautifully pull off a sympathetic character that does short-sighted things.”
To elicit the best possible performances from all the actors — including Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson as the titular kids — Cholodenko would let the camera roll a few minutes after the completion of each scene.
“I leave the camera on to see where their character takes them,” she explains. “Sometimes the best details of a film come from the heads and tails of those scenes.”
All in all, the filmmaker is grateful for all the recognition the film has received.
“It’s nice to recognized,” she says. “Truthfully, I’m super proud of the film.”