Here’s everything we know about the workplace comedy co-starring Emma Thompson.
At this year’s Sundance Film Festival there was one movie that sparked more interest than anything else: Late Night.
Written and co-starring Mindy Kaling, the film told the story of the nightmare host of a late night television show, played by Emma Thompson, forced to hire an up-and-coming writer to diversify her team (Kaling). Imagine The Devil Wears Prada or Morning Glory, but with even more jokes. This is a romantic comedy in which the love story is between two women – boss and employee – falling for each other as colleagues, and falling for their work.
“Everyone thought the first thing I would write would be a romantic comedy because I love them so much, but this is a workplace movie,” Kaling told the Los Angeles Times.
“I didn’t want to play the girl who wants to wear cute outfits and get a husband… I’m 39-years-old and there’s a girlishness about me, but I wanted to do something that was about my grown-up ambitions and anger.”
The movie and its timely subject matter resonated with audiences at the film festival. Late Night sold for $13 million (£9 million) to Amazon Prime in one of the biggest sales in the festival, and the reviews from the critics were glowing.
Now, with the release date for the movie finally announced, we examine everything we know about the movie thus far:
What is the plot of Late Night?
Katherine Newbury (Thompson) is one of late night television’s stalwarts, a member of the old guard who has held down a talk show for almost thirty years. But her ratings are bad and the network wants to hand over the reigns of her slot to an odious millennial white male comedian played by Ike Barinholtz.
In the past, Newbury has resisted hiring women because, as she admits, she doesn’t like them. Her writer’s room is full of men and her closest confidante is a man. But in a desperate bid to cling to relevancy she decides to give a job as a joke writer to Molly Patel (Kaling), a television newbie with plenty of determination, passion and ambition.
As Patel strives to make a name for herself and salvage Newbury’s show, the film explores how these two mismatched women can fall for each other, and the amazing work that they do together.
Is there a trailer for Late Night?
There is. You can watch the whole hilarious thing below.
Who is in the cast of Late Night?
We’ve already talked about Thompson and Patel, who are blisteringly funny as the two female leads of the film. Barinholtz, who we also mentioned, has turned the arrogance dial up to 11 to play the comedian vying for Katherine’s television show.
John Lithgow takes on the role of Katherine’s husband, while Denis O’Hare plays her right hand man. As writers populating the backstage of Katherine’s show are Reid Scott, Max Casella, John Early, Paul Walter Hauser and Hugh Dancy.
Kaling wrote the wrote of Katherine expressly for Thompson after seeing her in Bridget Jones’ Baby. “She was so funny in a very small part,” Kaling told The Los Angeles Times. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to see this woman in a huge funny role.’” As soon as Thompson read the script, she knew that she wanted to do it, and it became a question of finding a time that worked for both Kaling and Thompson to make the film together.
Who is the director of Late Night?
Kaling not only wrote the script for Late Night and stars in it, but she also hand-picked the director. Kaling chose Nisha Ganatra, who she had previously worked with on her sitcom The Mindy Project and who is best known for directing episodes of Girls, Mr Robot and Dear White People.
Ganatra has spoken about how difficult it was for her as a woman of colour to break into the film industry as a young director. Male filmmakers benefit because they remind Hollywood’s old guard of themselves, and they are more likely to be given opportunities and breaks as a result.
In an interview with Variety, Ganatra used the example of Colin Trevorrow, who was rumoured to have secured the job of directing Jurassic World after Steven Spielberg saw an early screening of his 2012 independent movie Safety Not Guaranteed.
“Steven Spielberg saw himself in that director and hired him,” Ganatra explained. “That didn’t happen for me. There was no Indian female Spielberg saying, ‘Here, plucky young one: Take care of my billion-dollar franchise.’”
Is Late Night based on a true story?
Kaling has been open about the fact that she drew on aspects of her own life and experience in television when writing the script for Late Night.
“It was the first time in a script I fully identified with both my character and Emma’s character, which made it such a joy to write,” Kaling told The Los Angeles Times.
“[I was] a completely new comedy writer, no chops, with a delusional sense that what I have to say is important,” Kaling recalled. “Some of the things I did as a new writer, like feeling that your job is to criticise what’s wrong, really make me cringe.”
And though Kaling is “not a venerated, legendary talk-show host… I do employ people, I have high standards and I can be grumpy and impatient.”
What are the critics saying about Late Night?
Vox noted that Late Night’s desire to avoid clichés and represent its female characters as complex and unlikeable is one of the best things about the movie. “It’s a breath of fresh air, a cheeky bit of entertainment that will have the side-effect of prodding other star-led comedies to try a little harder,” they wrote.
For The New York Post, the movie is Kaling’s “best [project] so far.” The New York Times called it a “smart comedy” that “gives Thompson the room she needs to turn a cliché into a striking character.”
Collider praised Thompson’s “terrific performance in the vein of Meryl Streep’s turn in The Devil Wears Prada” and said that they “wouldn’t be shocked if she lands in the awards conversation later this year.”
IndieWire said: “stuffed with truisms and heart, Late Night is also the one thing that any and every late night talk show has to strive for: funny as hell, and with something to say.”
When is the release date of Late Night?
Late Night will be released on Amazon Prime Video on 6 June.