Director Lynn Shelton’s Laggies, which had its East Coast premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October, is out on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, February 10. Dan’s Papers sat with Shelton at the festival to chat about her film.
Shelton’s previous film credits include Humpday and Your Sister’s Sister, and she’s directed episodes of popular television comedy series New Girl and The Mindy Project, as well as the pilot episode of new show Fresh Off the Boat.
Laggies stars Keira Knightley as Megan, a 28-year-old woman experiencing a quarter-life crisis who befriends 16-year-old Annika—played by Chloë Grace Moretz—who in many ways matches Megan’s maturity level. Annika won’t judge Megan for dodging important life decisions.
Shelton explained, “She’s getting a lot of pressure to find her way and make big, major life decisions. And she’s just not ready to make them, and realizes that she doesn’t want to be pushed anymore—that she needs to take a time out and really assess want it is she actually wants to do.”
An unwanted marriage proposal sends Megan into hiding. She stows away at Annika’s house, and finds a romantic interest in Annika’s father, portrayed by Sam Rockwell.
Laggies is Shelton’s sixth turn at directing a feature film, and the first that she did not write herself.
Novelist Andrea Seigel, working with production and management company Anonymous Content, wrote the screenplay.
“I read a lot of really great scripts but very rarely do I read one that I connect to personally enough that I feel like, ‘Oh, this is in my wheelhouse—I can direct this movie, I should direct this movie, and I really, really want to,'” Shelton said.
She admitted that a quarter-life crisis is not a new idea for a film—The Graduate came to her mind as the first that made an impression—but said, “for a change it’s about a woman.”
Typically in movies, women are relegated to the sidelines and toe tapping, waiting for the men to catch up, Shelton said. The women aren’t flawed and fumbling like men. She enjoyed having a female protagonist who gets to make mistakes, lie, and not be sure of herself.
Laggies was written for Orange County, California, but Shelton moved the setting to Seattle, her hometown and where all of her previous films took place. “It’s in my bones,” she said of Seattle.
Her early films were micro-budget and homegrown, and the crew became like her family, Shelton said. “I love nothing more to bring films to my family.”
Knightley is best known for big budget adventures such as Pirates of the Caribbean and period dramas such as Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, but she gets to show off her comedy chops in Laggies. Shelton said Knightley liked the script and attached to the project after just one phone conversation, and Ellie Kemper, of The Office, only took one day to say yes to the role of Megan’s friend who gets married.
Shelton counted herself fortunate not only to have Moretz in her cast, but also Kaitlyn Dever, who was one of Hamptons International Film Festival and Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch.
“I had two of probably the top two 16-year-old actresses,” Shelton said. “There are a few others, I’m sure, but they were just incredible to work with.”
Dever plays Annika’s best friend Misty, who has a smaller role but is charming and gets some of the biggest laughs. “She really makes her mark as this indelible character that you can’t forget,” Shelton said.