During last summer’s solar eclipse, the country was enraptured by the brief, nearly-indescribable celestial wonder. For two minutes, all of America craned their necks to the sky — and immediately afterward they took to their phones. Social media was flooded with eclipse selfies, but one shot went viral above all others: Candice Bergen’s photo of herself, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton, and Jane Fonda sporting eclipse glasses, dressed to the nines, faces to the cosmos, captioned “Eclipse viewing on Book Club.”
The Internet was beside itself: What did we do to deserve this photo? Where did Diane get that turtleneck? How do we get an invite to this book club?
Of course, as is now apparent, this photo came to be not because the four actors were convening for their own book club, but because they were on set for the film Book Club. That means their fans may not get an invite to the next meeting, but they will get to find out for themselves what it would be like if they did.
The flick hits theaters on May 18 and brings together four of the most celebrated actresses of our time — to read lines from Fifty Shades of Grey, no less. The premise is that Keaton, Steenburgen, Fonda, and Bergen are four longtime friends whose love lives are all in varying stages of disarray — from a divorce to a stale marriage to a longtime singleton. They choose the tale of Ana and Christian for their next book club read, in hopes that their BDSM chronicles will kick-start a few things that need, well, kick-starting.
Clearly, the selling point for audiences is the chance to sit back and enjoy a blissful 90-plus minutes watching a bunch of fancy women drink wine, eat cheese, and talk about Christian Grey. That requires a fair amount of chemistry on set — something the actresses urge came very easily to them. EW sat down with Steenburgen, Fonda, and Bergen and they spilled that, yes, they had a complete blast working together and, yes, it happened instantly. Below, they answer our questions about what it was really like working together, and in the video above, they submit to the ultimate quiz: How well do they really know Fifty Shades of Grey?
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your favorite scene in this movie to shoot together?
MARY STEENBURGEN: For me, the most fun was the day we were all getting Jane (Keaton) dressed. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but she’s just a wreck. It was our first day all together and it was so lovely.
CANDICE BERGEN: Yeah that was fun, but I liked the scene where I could flop all over your lap and eat ice cream.
JANE FONDA: I did too!
STEENBURGEN: I’ve never seen an actor eat so much ice cream as the two of you did in that scene. Most people fake it a little bit. But not these two — it was, like, a massive amount of ice cream.
BERGEN: And then you told me off, which was really great.
STEENBURGEN: Yeah, that was great.
How much wine was actually consumed during filming?
BERGEN: Oh no, none of the wine was real.
STEENBURGEN: The days are just too long. The only way you could to that would be the last shot of the day, maybe.
What do you have most in common with your character?
FONDA: The only thing I think I really have in common with Vivian is that my women friendships are very important to me.
BERGEN: Like my character, I’m very happy to be on my own. To a fault. I’m married for 18 years by the way, but I value my personal space.
FONDA: Do you like cats in real life?
BERGEN: Yeah! But not five. I’m much more a dog person.
STEENBURGEN: I don’t think I’m good enough to be a chef in a restaurant, but I’m a pretty good cook. I do like to cook.
BERGEN: She makes grits.
STEENBURGEN: I make good southern food.
What is the one thing you’d like audiences to take away from this movie?
STEENBURGEN: I’d love them to take their entire book club and go together and have fun and laugh. I’d love for men not to be afraid of it because it’s fun and funny and there’s some great male performances. And young women should go because…
BERGEN: They’re gonna be old soon!
STEENBURGEN: Yeah, they’re gonna be really old soon and you wanna have fun when you’re old.
BERGEN: And it gives them a way to get out of their lives and just have a very pleasant, fun, and touching two hours.