After Amy Schumer finished writing and starring in her 2015 hit movie Trainwreck, she learned the lesson that is known by so many actors: Your enormous Hollywood salary isn't so much for doing the work as it is for doing press.
"What a gross discovery," Schumer writes in her new collection of essays, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. Still, she admitted, "I get it. Movies are really expensive to produce, so the studios have to make sure people actually go see them."
So Schumer, well-known for her stand-up act and Comedy Central series in America, set off on an international press tour in Europe and Australia, where she was pretty much unknown. At first psyched to get a free trip across the world, she soon realised that she would spend the whole time answering the same questions, over and over. Schumer describes it as being a "good little worker bee": "I had to say yes to everything, because the studio was taking a chance on me."
Unfortunately, the tour sounds like a nightmare - partly because every journalist asked Schumer about what it was like being a woman! in! comedy!, which is every funny actress's favorite topic. Plus, as Schumer wrote, "the slut-shaming was off the charts."
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Trainwreck stars Schumer as a commitment-phobe journalist in a relationship with a famous sports doctor (Bill Hader) that she's profiling for a magazine. There's a lot of sex in the movie, and according to Schumer, it apparently gave reporters license to ask anything they wanted.
"Maybe it was just a cultural thing that made the foreign journalists seem out of line. Some interviewers brought this vibe: 'Well, you talk about sexual subject matter in your movie, so I can say anything I want to you,'" Schumer writes. "Which made me want to shower for the rest of my life."
As you may remember from one incident in Australia that made the rounds ("Watch Amy Schumer shut down a sexist interviewer like a boss"), an interviewer asked, "So your character is a skank. Do you have a word for skank in America?" Schumer describes how even after she told him it was a rude question, she had to basically smile and nod, since acting upset would have created backlash against her.
She also reveals an incident in Berlin with a male journalist who "didn't let social norms pressure him into smiling" and asked Schumer what she was like as a sexual partner. Hader was in the room at the time and was not pleased by this line of questioning.
"Bill didn't like this question and stood up for me, but I said it was fine and explained that it was like being with one of those performers who stand on boxes on street corners spray-painted entirely in silver," Schumer wrote. "The only difference, I said, is that no one ever gave me a dollar." Later, the same journalist came back and asked, "Why do you think it's OK to make people uncomfortable?" while a hole in the crotch of his pants revealed ... everything.
Not to mention some of the new titles that the movie was given overseas: A Disaster Girl (Italy); A Girl Without Complexes (Russia); Hopeless Case (French Canada) and the most direct, This Girl is a Mess (Argentina).
At the end of it all, the movie did well internationally, earning about $30 million, in addition to $110 domestically, making it a bonafide smash on a $35 million budget. Plus, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Trainwreck as best comedy at the Golden Globes (it lost to The Martian) and Schumer for best actress (she lost to her BFF Jennifer Lawrence in Joy.)
"After the three hundredth interview talking about how many people I'd slept with and then awkwardly transitioning to my dad's illness, I thought, 'F*** this. I'm never doing a movie again," Schumer wrote. "Just kidding! I am going to make more movies. But I'll never do that much press again."