Variety Screening Series: Los Angeles

Film: “Rachel Getting Married” (Jonathan Demme, Sony Pictures Classics)

Q&A: Cast members Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt, writer Jenny Lumet and producer Neda Armian

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The 2008 Variety Screening Series kicked off Tuesday night in Los Angeles with director Jonathan Demme and Sony Pictures Classics’ new bridal drama, “Rachel Getting Married.”

Cast members Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt were joined by writer Jenny Lumet and producer Neda Armian for a special Q&A afterwards.

Hathaway, who stars as a conflicted former drug-addict in the film, said she was shocked when veteran helmer Demme approached her.

“I was like, ‘Really? Me? Jonathan Demme? Did you see ‘Ella Enchanted?”'”

The 25 year-old actress quickly took a-liking to the director, however, praising the family-like nature of the shoot.

“He (Demme) listened to all of us and let us spin in our own neurotic universe.”

Rosemarie DeWitt (AMC’s “Mad Men”), who plays Hathaway’s older sister, Rachel, in the film, was also high on Demme’s composition.

“He allows you to live in the questions,” DeWitt says. “Jonathan was like a little kid watching us play in the sandbox, wanting us to get messy.”

The panel agreed, however, that being in a Jonathan Demme movie didn’t come without its initial apprehensions.

“I don’t think the pressure of doing a small budget movie affects you as much as the director can,” Hathaway said. “I remember when ‘Brokeback Mountain’ premiered in Venice, I ran out of the screening afraid of ruining Ang Lee’s beautiful film!”

DeWitt recalled her own fears, telling Variety moderator Michael Speier, “We were doing a read through for the film and Debra Winger approached me afterwards and said ‘Ya know, when we did the ‘Terms of Endearment’ reading, Jack Nicholson came up to me at the end and said, ‘Don’t fuck this movie up.’ and turned and walked away. After telling me this, she (Winger) said paused and said nothing. I felt this warped role reversal and was instantly terrified.”

Debut scribe Jenny Lumet, who is the daughter of legendary helmer, Sydney Lumet, had the audience roaring with laughter at night’s end when telling the inspiration behind the film’s quirky dishwashing-race scene. The original dishwashing duo, she said? Her father and director Bob Fosse.

“Rachel Getting Married” opens Oct. 3