Lauren Miller is hardly a stranger to Hollywood. Since the mid-2000s, she has received many mentions in magazines and blogs as the girlfriend — and now the wife — of Seth Rogen. But with “For a Good Time Call…” Miller shows audiences that she’s got a funny bone, too.
The brown-haired, blue-eyed comedian co-wrote, produced, and stars in the R-rated comedy, which tells the story of two girls who, struggling to pay rent, start their own phone sex line. Miller and her co-writer, Katie Anne Naylon, began writing the screenplay three years ago and shot the film on their own, with a limited budget and few resources. Their entrepreneurship paid off: the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it was picked up by Focus Features.
“I still can’t believe it,” says Miller. “It’s the craziest thing ever.”
Miller describes the film as “a friendship story with a lot of heart and a lot of raunch” — the kind of light-hearted comedy that young women will flock to, but with blunt and overtly sexual humor that keeps it from falling into the clichéd “chick flick” category. The characters, says Miller, are loosely based on herself and her co-writer, and actually share the same first names. Miller plays an ambitious, organized, and rather prude girl from Long Island, while her unlikely roommate, played by Ari Graynor, is just the opposite: wild, outgoing, and somewhat reckless. Justin Long stars as the girls’ gay best friend, and Rogen even makes an appearance as a customer of the phone sex line.
Backstage chatted with Miller about the film and what’s next for her.
What gave you the idea for the screenplay of “For a Good Time, Call?
Lauren Miller: Well, my writing partner Katie and I sat down, and we were like, “We’re going to write a script together.” We decided to write about two girls who are friends, and Katie actually ran a phone sex line out of her dorm room in college, so we decided to set our story in the world of phone sex.
Did you know from the start that you also wanted to act in the film?
Miller: No, not when we wrote it. It was certainly a dream, but honestly, it couldn’t have been further from our minds. We wrote these characters very loosely based on ourselves. So the character was infused with things about me, but we were just trying to get the film made and I wasn’t going to be acting in it. And then one day I had this epiphany that if it was ever going to happen for me as an actor, then I was going to make it happen myself. So I sent Katie an email and said, “We’ve got to do this on our own, and I’m going to be in it!”
Your character in the film, Lauren, is a bit of a goody-goody. Are you more like her, or the other character, Katie?
Miller: Oh god no, I’m definitely much more of a Lauren than a Katie. I hope I’m not as much of a stick in the mud as Lauren is, but I am the girl who has a plan and sticks to it and knows what she’s doing.
The humor in “For a Good Time, Call…” is pretty raunchy. Were you inspired at all by last year’s film, “Bridesmaids?”
Miller: Oh yeah, it was really exciting to see how “Bridesmaids” was accepted and how well it did. We knew about ‘Bridesmaids’ before it was even shot, and we certainly knew how that was going to change the landscape for R-rated female comedies. We’re just super excited to be compared to “Bridesmaids.” It’s an honor. But I do think that our story stands alone and has some heart to it.
According to IMDb, the film was shot in 16 days. Is that true? Why such a short time?
Miller: Yes it is, very painfully true. We didn’t have any money. That was all we could afford, 16 days. So we did 15 days in LA and one day in New York.
Was it stressful?
Miller: It was absolutely stressful to do it in such a short time, and I can’t say that I would ever jump at doing something like that ever again. But when you’re making an independent film, you have to have the passion and drive to make it under any circumstances, so that’s what we did. We had 16 days, and we said, “OK, how can we make 16 days work?” And they were long and they were hard, but we had an amazing crew and we made it happen.
What are you working on next?
Miller: After making this movie, obviously there have been more opportunities, which is awesome. So I just get to go on more auditions, whereas before I didn’t get to go on auditions at all, which is great. And on the writing side, it’s similar — Katie and I have a bunch of stuff that we’re working on. We’re going to keep going.
Will you stick to comedy, or explore other genres?
Miller: We’re totally open to everything. Writing is such a weird emotional thing. It’s hard. If you sit down with a plan to write something, it’s going to be harder. I love comedy, and I think that’s sort of what comes naturally to me.
What advice would you give to an aspiring actor or writer?
Miller: If someone else isn’t making it happen for you, make it happen yourself.