When Hallie Meyers-Shyer set out to make her first film, the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy "Home Again," she knew it would instantly be compared to her mother's movies. After all, the 30-year-old's debut has nearly all of the trappings of a Nancy Meyers picture: It's a sticky-sweet story about beautiful people who live in a lovely mansion — the kind so immaculately decorated that it could be featured in the glossy pages of a home design magazine.
"A lot of people have asked me, 'Why didn't you want to do your own thing — like something in horror?' " said Meyers-Shyer. "But that's not me. I just wanted to be true to myself, and my mom's films are the kind of movies that I love. I don't have a big ego in that way, where I feel like I have to be different."
While the offspring of many famous directors have tried mightily to cement their own artistic style — Jason Reitman, Sofia Coppola, Jake Kasdan, to name a few — Meyers-Shyer fully embraced her relationship with her mother on "Home Again," which opened Friday. Meyers served as a producer on the film, offering extensive notes to her daughter during the screenwriting stage and serving as a guiding force on-set during production.
Meyers recently posted a teaser trailer for the film on her Instagram account that almost made it seem as if she had made "Home Again" herself: "From Nancy Meyers, the producer of 'Something's Gotta Give,' 'The Holiday,' 'The Intern,' " the advertisement read, "The feeling is back."
Her daughter shrugged off suggestions that she might feel slighted by the ad.
"I think it would bother me if I hadn't made this movie with her, but we made a movie together, so I expected it," said Meyers-Shyer. "She's learned so much and been in this business for so long, and to be able to pass that knowledge on to me I think was nice for her."
For her part, Meyers-Shyer has been immersed in the film industry virtually since she was a toddler. Her father, Charles Shyer, is a filmmaker who collaborated with Meyers on numerous films ("Father of the Bride," "Private Benjamin," "Baby Boom") before they divorced in 1999. She and her older sister, Annie, spent much of their youth on their parents' sets, riding around on golf carts, lazing around in trailers and even getting to film a few fun cameos.
As she got older, she began to take a more serious interest in how the films were being made. She'd pull up a chair and listen to the conversations her mom and dad had with the actors. During her high school years, she began studying her favorite films — Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" — to see how they were structured.
She began writing "Home Again" two years ago. The story follows a 40-year-old with two children (Witherspoon) who is newly separated from her record executive ex (Michael Sheen). She moves from New York to Los Angeles to start over. Just as she's embarking on a new career as an interior designer, she crosses paths with three young Hollywood hopefuls (Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff and Jon Rudnitsky) who are trying to make it big. The group strike up an unlikely friendship and the trio of dudes move into her guesthouse, which, predictably, does not go smoothly.
Meyers-Shyer is already thinking about her next screenplay, which she also intends to direct. And to those who say nepotism played a role in getting her first film off the ground?
"At the end of the day, nobody makes your film because your parents are in the film business," she said with nary a hint of bitterness. "Reese Witherspoon is not going to be in your film because of that. I always wanted to work with my mom. We are close, and collaborating with her was really thrilling for me. I didn't see any negative to it, I only saw a positive."