'The Intern': How Nancy Meyers makes hit movies about relationships

Nancy Meyers' latest film stars Robert De Niro as a retiree who decides to go back to work as an intern for a fashion website.

Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
'The Intern' stars Robert De Niro (r.) and Anne Hathaway (l.).

The newest movie from director Nancy Meyers, “The Intern,” opens on Sept. 25 and stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.

In “Intern,” De Niro stars as a widower, Ben, who decides to become an intern for a fashion site. Hathaway is Jules, a higher-up at the site and is struggling with work and how much it dominates her life. The two soon learn from one another.

Meyers, who directed and wrote the film, was also previously behind such hit movies as “It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” and “What Women Want.”

When moviegoers think of the romantic comedy genre, they most likely think of recent hits like “The Proposal,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and “Hitch,” movies that focus on younger characters than those that sometimes appear in Meyers’ films. In “It’s Complicated,” Meyers’ most recent movie before “Intern,” protagonist Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) becomes romantically involved with her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) after the two have divorced and have adult children.

Her 2003 hit “Give” focuses on Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), who starts out dating a young woman named Marin (Amanda Peet) but soon finds himself falling for her mother (Diane Keaton), who is closer in age to him. 

In an interview, Meyers said of Streep’s character in “Complicated,” who has an enjoyable job, close friends, and two potential romantic interests, “She has a full, vibrant life. It’s important to me to show that there are some parts of life that really improve as you get older.” She did add, however, “I don’t want to be known as the one who makes movies for older people. I’m just making movies about relationships.” 

While “Intern” does not center on a romantic relationship, the film has De Niro’s character, Ben, as a fish out of water in the new digital business world.  

Meyers’ highest-grossing movie domestically is still her 2000 hit “What Women Want,” which centers on the character of an ad executive (Mel Gibson) who suddenly gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts and becomes involved with his co-worker (Helen Hunt). But films like “Complicated” and “Give” became hits, too, showing that audiences will turn out for Meyers’ movies with older protagonists, and they did far better than Meyers’ 2006 movie “The Holiday,” which stars Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.

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