Kathryn Hahn stars in a new Netflix film Private Life, and she and the movie’s director Tamara Jenkins sat down with uInterview for an exclusive scoop on the project.

The comedy-drama centers on a married couple of writers — played by Hahn and Paul Giamatti — who are struggling to have children and who deal with this infertility by seeking out other options like adoption and assisted reproduction.

Hahn — the star of movies like Bad Moms, We’re The Millers and Step Brothers — explained her and Giamatti’s characters are going through a “co-mid-life crisis.”

“It sort of comes to a head by us trying to make a family by any means necessary,” said the actress.

Jenkins wanted the film to tackle the delicate subject of infertility in a different way than other films.

“I think that there’s a lot of broad comedies that address the subject,” said Jenkins. “It was very important for me to do a human-scale portrait of what this couple was facing. That’s not to say that [the movie] is not funny. It is. But it’s a sort of human-scale comedy instead of something broad and conceptual.”

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Hahn felt Jenkins’ writing is so good that she felt it was already evident to her, for the most part, how any particular scene should be played out.

“You don’t have to worry about those things when you have a script that so perfectly rides that line [between comedy and drama],” she revealed. “It’s already written for you. You just have to kind of ride the ride that’s there.”

Jenkins talked further about the writing process by making an analogy: she compared it to drawing little “sketches” that “accumulate” over time.

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The writer-director also confessed she kept a photo of Hahn and Giamatti on her phone months before starting shooting as a sort of “talisman” to remind her that they are a real couple, and not simply a “movie version” of a couple.

Hahn finished off by saying she had never met Giamatti before, and praised Jenkins for having “spidy-sensed” that the two could develop enough chemistry to seem like a real married couple.

Molly Shannon, Denis O’Hare and John Carroll Lynch also co-star in Private Life.  

Full interview transcript below:

Q: Who is your character in ‘Private Life’? 

A: [Kathryn Hahn]: “Private Life is about um a, a kind of a co- midlife crisis in a, of a, in a marriage between Paul Giamatti and myself and in this midlife crisis we are also trying to, it kind of comes to a head of us trying to um make a family by any means necessary uh Rachel cannot um get pregnant in the old fashion way and so we are trying um yeah we are just kind of in the middle of trying whatever means necessary.”

Q: How did you approach the topic of infertility? 

A: [Tamara Jenkins]: “Well you know I think that there’s probably a lot of broad comedies that address you know maybe uh the subject and that kind of- it was very important for me to do a human scale portrait of what uh you know, what this couple was facing. Um, that’s not to say that it’s not funny because it is and there’s a lot of comedy you know within it. But it’s a sort of human scale comedy instead of something um you know, broad and conceptual.”

Q: As an actor, what do you do to strike that balance between comic and tragic?

A: [Kathryn Hahn]: “You know you don’t have to worry about those things really when you have a grip that is so um perfectly rides that, that line you don’t have to worry about like “oh what is this moment becau- is it funny, is it tricky?” because it’s already written for you, you just have to kind of ride the ride that’s there. Like I mean she just, she just has found that the perfect, she knows exactly that pocket that is like um right between the comedy and the, see you know you don’t, you don’t have to worry moment to moment um if you just kind of play what’s in front of you and just try to do her amazing writing justice.”

Q: How did you write these characters with such authenticity?

A: [Tamara Jenkins]: “How I wrote them is always tricky because writing is such a long and drip, drip, drip process its’, its’ um not like a brain birth it’s like a tiny little sketches that start to accumulate and then start to reveal themselves to you um so the characters came out of a lot of me writing scenes that don’t exist in the movie. It’s like lots of sketches until these characters started you know, showing themselves to me um and once I kind of found them uh the lived Inness and the sort of realness of them was you know, important and the Paul and Kathryn of it all it er you know the first time I got them together I took a picture of them on my cellphone. This was kind of months before we had started shooting and uh I held this picture of them on my cellphone like a talisman and looked at it you know periodically to kind of uh just to check in with them and the movie and every time I looked at it I thought “oh my god these are my, they’re like a real couple they felt- it didn’t feel like the movie version of a couple, it felt like uh real life version of the couple.”

Q: How did you and Paul Giamatti have so much on-screen chemistry?

A: [Kathryn Hahn]: “I’d never met him before this, I mean we- I never met him it’s so crazy like it’s just like Spidey sensed this this that, that kind of chemistry could happen, it’s pretty amazing.”

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