The romantic comedy Prime, now out on DVD, pits Bryan Greenberg between two very imposing women: Uma Thurman as the WASPy (and 14 years older) stunner he dates, and Meryl Streep as his Jewish mom who also happens to be Uma's therapist. Playing traffic cop in this tricky triangle is writer-director Ben Younger, who was more than happy to talk to TVGuide.com about his second big-screen adventure. (Oh, and did I mention he's dating Las Vegas' Vanessa Marcil?)
TVGuide.com: How does one make the leap from 2000's gritty Boiler Room to this?
Ben Younger: I had the idea for Prime before I made Boiler Room; I just wasn't in a place to write it. Prime was much more difficult to write.
TVGuide.com: Is Prime based on any real-life experience? Have you ever dated an older woman?
Younger: No, I think that would have made it easier if I had. That's why I was so nervous about writing it, because I didn't really understand the dynamic.
TVGuide.com: Who is a bigger force of nature to deal with: Boiler Room's Vin Diesel or Meryl Streep?
Younger: [Laughs] Um, I don't think there's any contest there Meryl Streep is in another league. She's the greatest living actor, I really believe that. Can you name a better living actor than her?
TVGuide.com: Did the very prospect of directing Meryl freakin' Streep make you nervous?
Younger: Oh, yeah. She's the only person I've ever worked with that I got, like, physically nervous around. Anyone else I've met since I got in the business I've been OK with. But she made me nervous. Of course, once you get to know her. She's the nicest lady. You assume you're going to have to work 20 years before you get to work with her. You don't think you're going to get her on your second movie.
TVGuide.com: How did it come about that she did your film? Was she a "reach school" for you?
Younger: Yeah, she was, kind of. I had just switched to CAA and I sort of made a joke, "I'm going to switch, but it's really all about Meryl, if you can get me Meryl." I didn't really think that was going to happen, but I guess she liked the script. And then we had this meeting where she "auditioned" me. I had to try not to drool. Actually, when I first sat down I kept talking right over her, we kept talking at the same time. I couldn't get a word out.
TVGuide.com: The biggest flaw in Prime is the notion that a man would choose Nintendo over sex with Uma Thurman. Did you realize that scene was a stretch when you wrote it?
Younger: [Laughs] No, I think that is a male pitfall, that no matter who the woman is, at a certain point you have to sort of remind yourself of what you have. Otherwise, things like Nintendo start to look good!
TVGuide.com: Prime has a rather unexpected ending. Did you have any trouble selling the studio on it?
Younger: No. It's interesting you bring that up because I [didn't have] a great experience with Boiler Room. If you ever get to see that DVD, my original ending is one of the deleted scenes. It was completely different from the theatrical [release]. Similar to Prime, it wasn't a traditional ending. No one ever questioned changing the ending of Prime. The only thing we worked on was the lead up to it.
TVGuide.com: With two features under your belt, do you feel you're building up, as George Bush would put it, "capital"?
Younger: Yeah, I'm going to go get a ranch now. [Laughs] No, I just got financing for 17 Bullets, a very cool, high-concept Mexican Western set in the late 1800s with an all-Mexican cast except for one American.
TVGuide.com: Brad Pitt.
Younger: No, we're looking a bit older. A Chris Cooper type. The whole thing will shoot in Mexico. And I'm writing a movie right now myself, about the Isle of Man. Do you know what that is? It's a small island between Britain and Ireland....
TVGuide.com: That's not where the folks from Lost are holed up, is it?
Younger: [Laughs] No. The oldest motor race in the world is a motorcycle race that takes place on that island every year. Over 200 people have died in that race. My script is about an Irish-American racer who's competing for the U.S. without a factory ride. But it matters less about what bike you're on than the skill you have.
TVGuide.com: You know, your buddy Vanessa has an exotic look. Any chance of putting her in the Western as a saloon barkeep?
Younger: Uh, I don't think she wants to work with me. [Laughs] I'm serious! Vanessa is happy doing her thing. She is a very independent woman.