“This is the hippest hotel I’ve ever been in,” Brittany Murphy exclaimed as she and Marley Shelton entered a conference room for a joint Dallas interview promoting their new film, “Uptown Girls.” Her exuberance extended to the picture, a contemporary comedy about Molly (Murphy), a suddenly impoverished New York party girl who becomes a nanny to a spoiled, precocious eight-year old (Dakota Fanning, of “I Am Sam”). Shelton is Molly’s best friend, who helps her get the job.
“I love this movie,” Murphy said. “Besides ‘Clueless,’ it’s the only film that I’ve been involved with that spans such a wide range of viewers–it’s not a chick flick. I think it’s a family film, awesome for teenage boys and girls and young kids. Adults can enjoy it while taking their kids to the film. It’s also a cool date film…good for guys to see through the looking glass and actually see what goes on. It’s for humans and children of all ages.”
Shelton agreed. “It’s a little bit of everything,” she said.
The two starlets were chosen for their parts by director Boaz Yakin. Murphy recalled, “I was sent the script, and Boaz asked me to play the role of Molly, which I couldn’t believe. It was overwhelmingly special, it was magical, like someone sprinkled pixie dust on it or something. There was something about it that was also quite similar to me–obviously quite lighthearted–[more] than any of the other characters that I’ve ever…portrayed in pictures. It felt almost as if it were a calling or duty instead of a job offer. It just felt right, and that’s how I’ve always made choices.”
Shelton was attracted by the writing, too. “I just thought the script was magical and really, really unique,” she said. “And I wanted to shoot in New York City, and the movie is kind of a love letter to New York in a lot of ways.” She recalled with particular pleasure an elaborately structured scene of a “garage sale” shot outside on the street. “It was almost like learning a dance,” she said, “the choreography and the timing of hitting your camera marks and getting the lines. That was fun and different.”
Both stars were enormously impressed by young Fanning. “She’s not pretentious in any way, shape or form,” Murphy said. “She’s not a showoff. She’s a big ham and has the greatest sense of humor, and an infectious laugh–giggle–and she makes everyone feel so special.” Shelton added, “She’s very pure in her acting and pure in heart.”
The girls were almost as enthusiastic about another set of performers in “Uptown Girls”–a pair of pigs that together played Molly’s pet. “They were reared in New Jersey for the making of this film,” Murphy said. “One for the more rambunctious work, the other…for the calm work. They were so clean and so sweet and had such distinct personalities–and very smart animals. The only problem was that there was a lot of jealousy–their trailer was humongous, so the rest of us cast members had a really difficult time dealing with that.” Shelton took up the joke: “We’re still working out the feelings,” she added with false regret.
“Uptown Girls” is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release.