As Hollywood actresses grapple with wage
equality and a lack of roles for those over 40, Oscar-winning star Helen
Hunt has taken matters into her own hands.
The film “Ride,” in theatres Friday and available on-demand on May 12, is Hunt’s second big-screen feature as a writer-director.
She also stars in the dramedy, playing an
editor from The New Yorker whose life changes when she follows her
aspiring-writer son (Brenton Thwaites) to Los Angeles and takes up
Hunt, 51, says creating her own projects is her way of combating the issues facing women in Tinseltown, at least for herself.
“It’s not just in show business. There’s no equal rights amendment in the United States,” she said in a telephone interview.
“It’s unbelievable that we’re even talking
about it, but here we are in a civil rights battle, but it’s sort of a
quieter one. I read somewhere that it’s the dirty family secret of the
United States, that there’s no equal rights amendment.
“I don’t know what to do about that but yes, for myself, all I can do is I can write something.”
Hunt first did that with 2007’s “Then She Found Me,” which she co-wrote and directed.
“I think in a way returning to directing comes
more naturally than returning to acting,” said Hunt, who also directed
for TV shows including “Mad About You,” in which she starred alongside
Paul Reiser in the ’90s.
“Directing sort of suits my personality
better, but that’s the reason why I would never want to give up acting,
because it doesn’t suit my personality so well and it makes me stretch
and go to places I wouldn’t go as an artist.”
The seed for “Ride” was planted some 10 years
ago when Hunt was in Hawaii and saw a woman who was surfing and taking
breaks on the shore to nurse her baby.
“I think it spoke to a lifelong thought in the
back of my head, which was, ‘God, I’d love to surf but how is that ever
going to happen?’” said Hunt, who won the best-actress Oscar in 1998
for “As Good as It Gets.”
“As you get older you think, ‘Maybe I’ll try to make it happen now, because if not now, when?’”
Hunt took a lesson but it was “horrible” and she told herself she would never do it again.
But then she thought: “If I’m crying and
saying ‘never again,’ I should probably write about it and try it again,
so I did both of those things.”
In “Ride” she plays Jackie, who is a
workaholic until a surfing instructor (Luke Wilson) helps her discover
the thrill of riding waves. Co-stars include David Zayas as Jackie’s
“The surfing I think I performed all of it —
and most of the wiping out,” said Hunt, who got a second Oscar
nomination for “The Sessions” in 2012.
Hunt said the story isn’t autobiographical, although she related to all the characters.
When it comes to the son, she understood his insecurity as a writer.
“It’s sort of like surfing: It’s the best profession and also at times it’s the worst one,” said Hunt.
“When it’s going well, it’s better than anything and when it’s not, you want help so badly.”
But like surfing, she won’t let her “agonizing” experiences with writing stop her.
Hunt said she’s developing a TV show and doing
research for another film she wants to write, one about a true crime
story involving restorative justice. She doesn’t want to star in it but
does want to direct.
“It’s hard for me to imagine writing something and giving it to somebody else to make,” said Hunt.
“Writing is the hardest part, so the idea (of)
carrying this child for nine months and handing it to someone else to
deliver, it doesn’t seem right.”