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Nancy Meyers Talks Cary Grant Inspiration, Meeting Hollywood Icon, in ‘TCM Picks’ Video

Nancy Meyers has written a love letter to Cary Grant by recommending his screwball comedies and classics like North by Northwest and The Philadelphia Story as part of the December 2023 Turner Classic Movies lineup in her own TCM Picks video.

“He’s a brilliant prototype for a leading man in a romantic comedy certainly. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t think of him sometimes as I’m writing. You can picture him doing it and it makes you better,” Meyers, whose rom-com canon includes box office performers like Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and What Women Want, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Her TCM movie picks follow Meyers insisting she has viewed most Cary Grant movies dozens of times, not least to study the iconic star’s slapstick humor and verbal sparring with leading ladies to see beneath his debonair looks and onscreen charisma, to the impeccable comedic timing working in tandem with co-stars like Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

It’s obvious Bringing Up Baby, the 1938 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, with Cary Grant dressed at one point in a feathery dressing gown as he stars opposite Katharine Hepburn, has left Meyers in stitches.

“What can I say? The whole thing is laugh out loud funny. It’s a wonderful performance from Cary Grant, truly unlike any other movie he ever made, any other performances he’s ever given,” she says in the TCM video.

Another favorite is North by Northwest, the Alfred Hitchcock thriller that has Grant playing Roger Thornhill, a Madison Avenue ad man on the run after being mistaken by villains as a top U.S. spy, and proving to be at his most sophisticated and charming opposite Eva Marie Saint.

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, 1959

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, 1959. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

“The dialogue is so excellent, so witty, so provocative. And the actors make it look so easy and natural,” Meyers says.

As the suave pal to so many leading ladies onscreen, it’s easy to see how Grant informed the romantic comedies Meyers made over the years as a celebrated Hollywood writer, director and producer.  

She also alludes in the TCM Picks video to the 1963 film Charade, where co-star Audrey Hepburn asks Grant at one point: “Do you know what’s wrong with you?”

“No. What?” Grant replies.

Hepburn then leans in closer to Grant and answers with a slight smile: “Nothing.”

“She spoke for all of us,” a cooing Meyers adds.

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, 1959

Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, 1959. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

But what’s not in the TCM video is the Hollywood director recounting a chance meeting between Meyers and Cary Grant, not on a red carpet or at a glitzy Hollywood party, but over what can be described only as chutzpah on the part of a young woman new to the movie game in 1976.

As Meyers tells it, she had been friends from college with Chicago film critic Gene Siskel, who was invited by Grant to go to Palm Springs for a weekend. So they hatched a plan for Meyers to drive Siskel to the airport and be introduced to the golden age star before his party boarded a private plane and she waved goodbye.

So, as planned, she and Siskel waited on the airport tarmac until a town car pulled up and Grant and a young woman emerged and Meyers was introduced. But then came a delightful screwball moment worthy of the Nancy Meyers comedy universe.

“He [Grant] assumed Gene brought a date. So he put his hand on my back and said, ‘Oh, marvelous. This is wonderful. Let’s go!’” Suddenly, Meyers finds herself pushed toward the private plane, up its steps and into a seat, without a protesting word leaving her lips.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures

“I went. I don’t know. I can’t imagine myself doing anything like that. But I did it,” she recalled of the carefree innocence that had Meyers jetting to Palm Springs and, nearly 50 years later, still shaking her head in wonder.

“I went with them for the weekend. And we had a fantastic time. He [Grant] was everything you would hope he would be,” she added, having during her career met many celebrities and discovered not everyone in person is as they appear to their fans.  

“He was exactly like Cary Grant. I don’t know whether he morphed into the characters he played or he was just like that. But he was open, he was funny, he was kind. He was super entertaining. He was a gentleman and he was amazing,” she recalled.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby Cary.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby. Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures

Grant even remained the gentleman when Meyers over breakfast confessed to having come to Palm Springs entirely uninvited, and with not even a toothbrush in hand.

“When you put your hand on my back, I couldn’t resist and I came,” Meyers recounts telling Grant. At that point, the iconic actor brought his fist down on the breakfast table, as she distinctly recalled silverware popping up.

“That’s the greatest thing!” Grant then blurted out, before, according to Meyers, adding: “I do not know a single woman that would ever do that, go away without her clothes and makeup.”

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures

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