Gurinder Chadha & John Landis
Jacques, Adam, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
How we met 'As with actors, a lot of directors are weird, so you don't become friends with many'
Gurinder Chadha OBE 50
is an award-winning writer, director and producer whose films have included 'Bhaji on the Beach', 'Bend it Like Beckham' and 'Bride & Prejudice'. She lives in London with her husband and two young children
I was in LA for the first time, back in 1994, when my debut movie - Bhaji on the Beach - had just come out. I was chatting with a writer who I'd met for lunch and she handed me a note from John Landis saying, "Loved your movie; can I buy you dinner?" I was a fan of The Blues Brothers and American Werewolf..., so I thought, "This is ber-cool."
I called him and he seemed delighted to hear from me; he's a big talker, and he went on and on... He invited me for dinner at his home in Beverly Hills; it was beautiful, with amazing views of LA and filled with stuffed gorillas of every shape and size. I was overawed, but his wife was wonderful and I immediately warmed to John; he was very Punjabi: loud, jovial and opinionated, but not pretentious. He talked about his kids and general stuff, while his wife kept saying, "Now John, let someone else speak."
We struck up such a friendship that I would see them whenever I was in LA and vice versa when they came to London.
One of the last dinners I had in LA was at his house a few years ago. He called me up and said "Come over for dinner, we're having roast chicken." So I turned up and there were six eminent directors there, including Frank Darabont [Shawshank Redemption]. I've been trying to get a bunch of female directors to my house to do the same sort of thing; he's taught me how to behave socially with other directors.
John's movies are fantastic in their representation of race: Trading Places was one of the smartest films I ever saw. He has made some seminal films, but Hollywood has a short memory. The last time I saw him in LA, he was reading bad scripts, so I told him to come to London. I set up a meeting and he found a script he liked [for Burke and Hare] and it all worked out [Landis has just finished filming in London].
Since I had kids, we've got even closer. He adores them, and now he's over here, he sees them a lot. I went on to the set of Burke and Hare recently with my twins and they loved it. He's always sending little gifts and books for them, most recently a beautiful little story about a gorilla; they call it "John's book". We're much more about our families now than about work.
John Landis 59
is an American and screenwriter best known for his comedies 'The Blues Brothers' and 'Trading Places' and horror classic 'An American Werewolf in London'. He divides his time between Los Angeles and London, where he is working on his latest movie 'Burke and Hare', alongside his wife, costume designer Deborah Landis
I was at Sundance [Film Festival] in 1994 and a woman writer I was talking to mentioned she was meeting Gurinder Chadha after. …