10 Moving Facts About Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette & ‘Miss You Already’ - Hope 103.2

10 Moving Facts About Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette & ‘Miss You Already’

Director Catherine Hardwicke says making 'Miss You Already' was a personal experience for herself, Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette.

By Clare BruceTuesday 23 Feb 2016Hope MorningsGuests and ArtistsReading Time: 5 minutes

Listen: Catherine Hardwicke, talks to Emma Mullings about the very personal experience of directing ‘Miss You Already’.

It’s only been three weeks since film director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood) lost a dear friend to cancer.

So her interview with Hope 103.2’s Emma Mullings about Miss You Already, the comedy-tragedy starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, wasn’t just a chat about her work. It was personal.

Screened in late 2015 and out on DVD this week, Miss You Already is a heart-rending drama about two best friends Milly (Collette) and Jess (Barrymore) navigating their way through Milly’s breast cancer. It’s been described as an intense rollercoaster of emotion, delving fearlessly into the stark realities of living with a life-threatening illness.

That backdrop makes the following 10 facts both poignant and heartwarming.

1 – The Director Just Lost Her Dear Friend

Catherine Hardwicke, director of 'Miss You Already'

Catherine Hardwicke, director of ‘Miss You Already’, chatted to Hope 103.2

“I have several friends that have gone through what we see in the movie,” Catherine Hardwicke told Hope 103.2. “My dad had cancer, and one of my dear friends went through an experience like this and actually just passed away about three weeks ago. Fifty percent of the world gets cancer so I guess it’s touched everybody’s life.”

2 – The Movie’s Based On The Writer’s Real Experiences

The movie and its detailed emotional scenes, such as Milly showing her surgery scars, and giving her mother a lock of her hair, are based on  the personal experiences of screenwriter Morwenna Banks. She lost three friends to breast cancer over a short time.

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One of the three, Deborah, had the idea for a humorous novel which she and Banks worked on together. That became a radio play, and finally, the film script.

“When she became too ill and too tired, she entrusted the writing to me,” Banks told The Guardian.   “I was nervous of their families…but when I talked to Deborah’s husband he gave his blessing. In the end I sent the script to each family and they gave their approval.”

3 – The Women Drew Barrymore Has Lost

Drew Barrymore plays supportive friend Jess in 'Miss You Already'

Drew Barrymore, who stars as Milly’s best friend Jess, now has annual breast cancer screenings after seeing two of her close friends lose their mums to breast cancer.

Talking to the Mirror about Miss You Already, she said ran the script past her friends to see if it was realistic. “They told me it was,” she said, “and that the humour, anger, messiness and selfishness – the long, ongoing process of cancer – felt true to life. I really thought so much of them through filming.”

4 – The Head Shaving Scene Is Real

One of the film’s most moving scenes is when Milly has her head shaved by wigmaker Jill, made even more powerful because it’s happening in real life.

“That was a real deal,” Hardwicke said. “[Collette] wanted to do that. And Francis de la Tour just bravely grabbed the razor and shaves Toni’s head right there on camera. That’s commitment on both of their parts, and bravery too.”

Collette told news.com.au that she has shaved her head five times now for her art, and that it was “the least she could do”. “I would have done anything for this film,” she said. “I just didn’t want to fake any of it.”

5 – Toni Collette Was Deeply Impacted By The Film

Toni Collette is Milly in 'Miss You Already'

After playing such an emotionally intense role, Toni Collette said she struggled to return to her normal life according to Daily Life. “I found it difficult to let go, months and months later,” she said. “I’ve never played someone who has had to face mortality before and it is very confronting… to really delve into that. I was surprised by how difficult it was to get back to just my life.”

6 – The Real Doctors In The Chemotherapy Scene

The cast and crew met with medical experts while researching for the film, said Hardwicke. “Oncologists were on set on the day that we did the chemo scene,” she said. “They are actually in the scene, so that we would get it as accurate as possible. We wanted it to be emotionally accurate, and technically accurate.”

7 – Drew And Toni Have Become Close Friends In Real Life

Miss You Already 3

The filming of Miss You Already sparked a genuine close friendship between Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette. The pair bonded quickly over their shared life experiences, they walked down the red carpet holding hands at the movie premiere, they text each other from other sides of the world, according to The Carousel, they’ve even been on holiday together and even their kids have become best buds.

8 – Making The Characters ‘Toughen Up’

Hardwicke told Hope 103.2 that the movie we now see has a lot more humour than the original script.

All the different survivors and caretakers we talked to, they said, “the more you can laugh, the better”

“The first incarnation [of the script] I read I thought wow, this is so intense and so real,” the director said. “I felt like it was almost too sad. I’m like, “I think these people are going to have to be tougher because you could end up crying the whole movie”. So we kind of toughened things up. We wanted to put as much humour in as we could. All the different survivors and caretakers we talked to, they said, “the more you can laugh, the better”. So we kept trying to find humour.

Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, natural comics, improvised with the script and created many off-the-cuff comedic moments.

9 – A Breast Cancer Check Just Before Filming

“Right before I flew out to London I thought, “I’m going to be gone six months, I’ll go and get my breast cancer check up before I go” “, director Catherine Hardwicke said.   “Just by having my own checkup it put in me the question, “am I going to be ok or not?”.”

She also used the opportunity to inform herself for the film, interviewing doctors and nurses asking them about patient experiences and reactions to diagnosis.

10 – The Crew Is Deliberately Stacked With Women

In her chat with Hope 103.2, Hardwicke said it was a conscious decision to employ lots of women on the film.

“I think it’s pretty exciting,” she said. “We’re talking a lot about gender equity right now. There’s a woman director, a woman writer, three of the lead actors are women in the film, also the little girl is a very strong actress too. And we had women in the sound department and costumes and hair and makeup. I think they’ve done studies showing that as soon as you have a female director, you end up hiring more crew members that are women. We’re pushing for it. I think we’re all out there trying to change the balance right now.”