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Tina Fey: 'People in their 40s really need that party'

Tina Fey teams up with her best pals for new comedy Sisters. Susan Griffin chats with the comedienne and actress about taking on Star Wars and finally getting to play the wild child

The nominations for 2016's Golden Globes were recently announced but Tina Fey, who's emceed the glamorous event with her long-time friend, Amy Poehler, for the last three years, has no regrets about handing over hosting duties to Ricky Gervais.

"I'm actually pretty excited to watch from home for once, and not be on any kind of diet over Christmas," says the 45-year-old, in jeans and a chic black jacket with white trim.

"We always got our dresses in the middle of December and you'd need them to still fit in the first week of January. So I was always like, 'Argh, that's not the time of year for that.'

The Golden Globe winning actress might not be pairing up with Poehler for the ceremony, but they can be seen on the big screen together, in new comedy Sisters.

The release date sees them going to toe-to-toe with what will almost certainly be the biggest movie of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

"A year ago the studio bosses were like, 'We've got a great idea.' But I do sort of get it," remarks Fey who, along with the rest of the cast, have starred in a spoof promo trailer titled Sisters: The Farce Awakens.

Sisters is written by Paula Pell, who, like Fey, is a veteran of the long-running American sketch show, Saturday Night Live.

Pell was looking for inspiration for her own feature script when she revisited her teenage diaries and was amused at how wildly different they were from her more outgoing sister's journals.

"They're full of pathos, no sex whatsoever and I have a lot of hope for the future," Pell remarks.

The pair first met in 1997, when Fey started working as a writer for SNL.

"They are stunning. Paula's very artistic. There are great drawings in them, and also, just where she was in eighth, ninth and tenth grade, is so heart-warmingly nerdy."

The duo worked on the concept of using the journals as the basis for a movie pitch.

Then, during the development period, another real-life event influenced the story. The parents of Pell's partner sold her childhood home.

"There's nothing as comforting as your parents' house," states Fey, from Pennsylvania.

"If you had a pleasant childhood, as I was blessed enough to have, and as Amy and Paula had, you feel safe and comfortable in your family home, and you want that place to exist forever."

Already on board as producer and collaborator, she decided to step in front of the camera too.

"I think we realised pretty early on that I wanted to be in it and I sort of poached a part," says Fey, who has two daughters, Alice (10) and Penelope (4), with her composer husband Jeff Richmond.

It wasn't the ever-responsible, overly apologetic sister Maura she was keen to play but Kate, "a wild child who's trying to get on the straight and narrow".

Pell already had the actress in mind for the role. It was Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore "who we had to convince, because it's easier to see me in the other role as the more conservative sister," adds Fey.

Poehler, the star of TV's Parks And Recreation, stepped into the role of the dutiful Maura, although she also gets to cut loose when, in response to the melancholy induced by their parents selling their childhood home, the pair decide to host a party like the old days.

"At the beginning of this movie, they're both coming back to Orlando where they're from, as their parents have said, 'Come and get your stuff out of your room, we're selling the house'," explains Fey.

The sisters return to find the house has already been stripped bare bar their old bedroom, which houses all their junk from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties "and they decide, for a lot of incorrect reasons, they should have one more high style party before they move on".

"People in their 40, they need that party," Fey reasons. "They need it a lot more than people who are 19.

"They're actually letting off steam about something."

  • Sisters is out in cinemas now

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