The Mirror Has Two Faces
Opened November 15, 1996
“The Mirror Has Two Faces” Production Notes from TriStar Pictures:
Directed by Barbra Streisand, The Mirror Has Two Faces is a touching romantic comedy that explores the modern myths of beauty and sex and how they complicate relationships.
Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, George Segal, Mimi Rogers, Brenda Vaccaro, Elle Macpherson, Austin Pendleton and Lauren Bacall star in the romantic-comedy that reiterates the fact that our most sophisticated moves are no match for nature's unrelenting hand.
Marking Ms. Streisand's third feature as a filmmaker, The Mirror Has Two Faces continues her big screen exploration of the mystery of appearances, the intricacy of primal relationships, the possibilities of personal transformation, and the part love plays in it all.
Her earlier directorial challenges, equally difficult and successful, were the musical Yentl in 1983; and The Prince Of Tides, a multi-layered family drama released in 1991. With The Mirror Has Two Faces, she turns her directing talents to romantic-comedy, the style in which she earned legendary preeminence as a film star beginning with an Academy Award®-winning debut in Funny Girl.
The director says, “I've always been interested in telling stories about positive transformations and the possibility for human growth, about individuals who realize their potential and refuse to be governed by other people's rules. I am curious about how love and compassion can heal and liberate the soul—send the spirit soaring.”
Jeff Bridges explains, “What good comedy and good drama have in common is a search for the truth. And that is what Barbra Streisand brings to every artistic endeavor with inquisitive intensity — a passion for truth and understanding.”
To tell her story of love as the 21st century closes in, Streisand assembled a remarkable cast. With Jeff Bridges as her love interest, Pierce Brosnan, the movies' current James Bond, was selected to portray her simple but nevertheless rich and handsome fantasy lover, Alex. The incomparable Lauren Bacall stars as Rose's mother Hannah, a self-obsessed creature for whom external beauty is life's only currency. The highly regarded actress Mimi Rogers joined the cast as Rose's unusually selfish sister Claire who thoroughly believes their mother's empty philosophy. Rose's best friend Doris is played by the award-winning actress Brenda Vaccaro, while long-popular film star George Segal is Henry, Greg's peer and confidant. International model Elle Macpherson appears as Candace, the young beauty who symbolizes Greg's problem, and Austin Pendleton plays Barry, the nerdy suitor who demonstrates Rose's predicament.
Jeff Bridges, Academy Award® nominee for performances in The Last Picture Show, Starman and The Fisher King, describes his character as “a man whose obsessions about romance, sex, love and beauty are causing him nothing but grief, even ruining his life. He spends much of his time in a state of sexual obsession. It’s all he can think about.”
“That's why it took him 14 years to write one book,” Barbra Streisand points out. “When his body is working, his mind completely shuts down.”
Bridges elaborates, “Greg reacts, or overreacts, to women the way our culture instructs. But he desperately hungers for a true partnership, someone he can explore and share life with. He’s a math wizard, so his mind devises a logical plan for salvation.”
“Rose is the answer to his prayers,” Streisand explains. “They enjoy so many of the same things, like music, museums, food, long conversations and being together.”
“Best of all,” Bridges adds, “is that he has absolutely no physical attraction to her. They won't be constantly tortured by being in love. They'll share a genuine affection. They're much too valuable as individuals to be made miserable by the problematic concept of love. He loves her mind, her humor, her passion for ideas, things of substance. Those things last. Sexual ardor and physical beauty fade so fast, he thinks. Everything gets utterly confusing when he realizes he is attracted to her.”
And what about Rose, the woman of his dreams? Streisand says Rose “has a 'good' life. She loves teaching, baseball and eating, though possibly not in that order. She still lives at home in the shadow of her vivacious sister and overpowering mother. She has no energy left for the dating ritual, which she likens to an endless job interview.
“Rose says in fairy tales and other myths, people meet, fall in love and marry,” Streisand continues. “But we don't stick around to see what happens afterwards — how they drive each other crazy. She has accepted the fact she will never marry, yet she longs to have someone who really knows and understands her.”
It was impossible to be involved with the making of The Mirror Has Two Faces without reexamining personal concepts of beauty, romance and love, and how greatly they are influenced by slick magazine and TV ads and traditional film love stories. That is, of course, one of the main objectives of the picture.
Physical beauty, wearing various faces, has wielded exceptional power over humans through the ages. It inhabits our oldest fairy tales, and today's obsession with it consumes billions of our dollars each year. It has inspired wars and great art, toppled crowns and devoured lives. Beauty has been sought everywhere in every way. It holds us in its spell with mythical promise. Have we ever truly believed, “beauty is only skin deep?” Have we ever truly cared?
Jeff Bridges says, “Sometimes when I'm asked what excites me about a woman I give that politically correct answer about sense of humor, adventure, intelligence. And that's true. Other times, I get a bit more graphic, and that's also valid. I love everything feminine. But while making this movie, I finally realized the supreme attraction: It's the mystery, the eternal mystery of women, that I'm drawn to. Why did Columbus have to sail into the unknown? Why do we have to go into outer space? It's mystical and mysterious.”
Streisand reacts strongly to Bridges's words on the subject. “Yes! You know what you are. But what is that other being? That male energy. That scent. It's so foreign to a woman, so intriguing. The unknown, the mystery of that other life, is intoxicating.”
On a personal note, Bridges admits, “I prefer women who are less gussied up, and I have a feeling most men do. I appreciate that natural look more. I like a woman who is comfortable, vulnerable, accessible. That look resonates something deep inside me. I remember when I fell in love with my wife. She had just survived a terrible automobile accident and had a broken nose, black eyes, was just really temporarily disfigured — not your typical covergirl when I first saw her. But what a beautiful face!”
Bridges reveals, “You know, I find Barbra more appealing in casual clothes, comfortable shoes, no makeup or fancy hair style, than when she's on stage in a spotlight as this great superstar.”
Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese, whose credits include The Fisher King, The Bridges Of Madison County, A Little Princess, The Ref and Unstrung Heroes, examined a major difficulty in contemporary romantic relationships when he wrote The Mirror Has Two Faces. LaGravenese relates, “The illusion of superficial beauty and the sexual intensity it assures creates enormous problems. We are bombarded with advertisements, movies and television commercials in which impossibly perfect people hear fabulous music when they are attracted to each other. Normal looks, normal attractions, normal emotions seem somehow lacking. Isn't it curious, and confusing, that while more and more people are devoting greater effort to working on their inner selves, the frantic search for beauty is more desperate and intense than ever?”
Helping bring Streisand's vision to the screen, her creative production team includes directors of photography Andrzej Bartkowiak and Dante Spinotti, production designer Tom John, costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge and film editor Jeff Werner. Marvin Hamlisch composed the score which adapts the “Love Theme” composed by Barbra Streisand. Hamlisch, like Bartkowiak, John, Aldredge and Werner, continues a long relationship with Barbra Streisand.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
The Mirror Has Two Faces was filmed entirely in New York City, where the story takes place. Actual locations used include generally upscale spots like the quintessential New York meeting place, The Monkey Bar, Bloomingdale's department store, Reebok Spa, as well as Columbia University, a magnificent three-story penthouse on 57th street, Tavern on the Green and Central Park.
“We utilized New York’s gloss, not its grit,” says production designer Tom John, Emmy-honored for his work with Barbra Streisand on her early TV specials. “People who live their lives in nice surroundings do have problems, you know. While there is certainly an audience for stark reality, I really do think people like to see the upside of Manhattan.”
Many film technicians from the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state area were employed on the film, as were a number of New York actors. Of special interest to movie buffs is Taina Elg, former 1950s MGM contract player who starred in Les Girls and The Thirty-Nine Steps, and, more recently, 60 installments of the One Life To Live daytime serial. She is the woman who introduces Professor Greg Larkin to his Columbia University peers as he promotes his new book.
Every motion picture unit faces problems unique to its components. A primary concern faced by director Streisand, as well as all the other important filmmakers working in Manhattan at the time, was the weather. While this story spans four seasons, it was photographed at the height of the most brutal winter in memory, the 1995-96 season that broke all New York records.
Another unusual aspect of the production was the fact that its director was also star and producer, and that one person is well-known for attention to every filmmaking detail.
Jeff Bridges, who more closely than anyone observed Streisand in her many hats during the busy schedule, is amazed that, “I never once felt I was acting in a scene with the director. She was totally Rose each time the cameras rolled. Yet she has this uncanny ability to view the entire scene and all the characters — but you're never aware of it during the scene. Then, immediately after we cut, she knows everything that's happened and what was perfect and what needed to be changed. It is astounding.”
Streisand returns the compliment with, “What's great about directing Jeff is that while he must ultimately surrender to the director's vision, he does so without ever surrendering his own interpretation and integrity.”
Responding to repeated questions about working with the legendary Barbra Streisand, Bridges says, “As a director and as an actress, she is so inclusive, so collaborative and curious.
Making a movie is like a dance. She helps you feel the rhythm, trust your partner and make it appear effortless. In a way, it was reminiscent of playing as a child. We talked a lot about the playacting we were about to do. Quite often, our discussions were in musical terms — the rhythm, the instruments, the balance, the harmony, even the dissonance.
“I have to thank two women for what turned out to be a great experience,” Bridges acknowledges. “Barbra for offering it to me, and my mother for insisting I do it. She's a romantic and said very strongly I should accept the offer. She just loved the script.”
When Streisand initially heard that Mrs. Lloyd Bridges was enthusiastic, she sighed in relief, “Okay, we've got him. His mother loved the script!”
Streisand's father, the late Emanuel Streisand, is seen in photos as Rose's dad. And, in the movies at least, he is teamed with a very fetching Lauren Bacall as represented by several of her 1940s Hollywood glamour shots.
The director called on a number of former associates to join her creative team. Executive producer Cis Corman has been involved in four Streisand films, including Nuts and The Prince Of Tides while cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak also worked on Nuts. Production designer Tom John was involved in two of Streisand's stunning early television specials, Barbra In Central Park and My Name Is Barbra, for which he received Emmy Awards. Theoni V. Aldredge designed costumes for Streisand's first Broadway show, I Can Get It For You Wholesale.
Additionally, editor Jeff Werner worked on four of Streisand's movies and directed documentary segments for HBO's Streisand concert tour presentation. Marvin Hamlisch, who was her piano player for Funny Girl on Broadway, was musical director and arranger on her record-breaking 1994 concert tour and the Barbra Streisand: The Concert TV special, which brought him two Emmys. He also won two Academy Awards® for the Barbra Streisand-Robert Redford classic film, The Way We Were.
More From Barbra on “Mirror”
“I like to make films that make people feel,” Barbra Streisand said. “I like to make films about positive transformations.”
For The Mirror Has Two Faces, Barbra's sixteenth film (and third as director), she concentrated on the nature of beauty, mother-daughter relationships, and love. Her character Rose in the film “says in fairy tales and other myths, people meet, fall in love and marry,” Streisand continues. “But we don't stick around to see what happens afterwards — how they drive each other crazy. She has accepted the fact she will never marry, yet she longs to have someone who really knows and understands her.”
“I'm always making these movies that have sad endings,” Barbra stated. “And I thought, No, it's about time to dance in the streets.”
Streisand had a reading of The Mirror Has Two Faces at her home with actors, but put the script aside, feeling it needed more work. She was committed to filming Larry Kramer's play, The Normal Heart, about the early days of the Gay Men's Health Crisis when AIDS was rampant in the homosexual community. "I was very upset that we couldn't get [The Normal Heart] financed," Streisand said. "I had wanted certain actors to be in it — one said he would do it, but the schedule was off. It was at a time when I had just bought my new house and was trying to design it. I didn't want to be here for construction, so I thought, I'm going to do The Mirror Has Two Faces!"
Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese told writer Patrick McGilligan the history of his script: “It was based on a French film which TriStar had bought as a comedy for John Candy [...] so I watched the French version and came to them with a different take, a romantic-comedy take.”
As for working with Barbra, LaGravenese was starstruck, as he told Movieline: “I love her. She's a really great collaborator. I went out to California and we spent a week together, 10-hour days through lunch and dinner, just working on the script. And it was great. She's really smart, she's really funny and... And she's Barbra Streisand! C'mon. I got to watch My Name Is Barbra with her in the room, while she was redoing the tapes. I was dying.”
The classroom scene near the beginning of the film in which its major themes are expressed by Streisand: “We worked on that [scene] together,” LaGravenese told McGilligan. “We did a lot of reading on the subject, and then had long discussions across the big desk in her house. For us it was addressing a core idea in the movie, and we spent a log of time on it. But we definitely wrote it together.
- Cinematographer Spinotti was let go from Mirror and replaced by Bartkowiak, who photographed Streisand in Nuts. Both cinematographers are credited in the final film.
- Newspapers printed rumors that Streisand fired a lot of crew members on the Mirror shoot. The reality is that when Spinotti left—Streisand told columnist Liz Smith it was a “mutual parting of the ways—they just didn't have a 'shared vision' about the movie”—his crew left with him, which is not unusual on a film.
- Dudley Moore was originally cast as Henry Fine. The part was recast during production with actor George Segal. “They fired me because I couldn’t remember my lines after a certain point,” Moore said. A few years later, Dudley Moore revealed that he was afflicted with the terminal degenerative brain disorder Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. He died in 2002. Streisand remained mum (and professional) at the time and did not discuss Moore's dismissal from the film in public.
- Definitely a "New York movie," locations used were: Central Park, 505 West End Avenue, Columbia University, and others.
- Both George Segal and Austin Pendelton acted on other Streisand films: The Owl and the Pussycat, and What's Up Doc?, respectively.
- Lauren Bacall, cast in Mirror as Streisand's mother, attended Barbra's opening night of Funny Girl on Broadway. Bacall was also married to Jason Robards, who was Barbra's co-star in The Belle of 14th Street television special in 1967. (Photo, right:) Peter Sellers, Lauren Bacall, and Streisand, circa 1965 .
- Jeff Bridges took on-set photographs with his Widelux F8 camera. Bridges gifted some of the cast and crew with a book of his panoramic shots. Later a few were published in his 2003 book, Pictures by Jeff Bridges.
- The Mirror theme song was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song. Natalie Cole was set to sing it on the Oscar broadcast, but fell sick. Celine Dion stepped in at the last minute and sang the song. Streisand, who was in the audience that evening, went to the bathroom when Celine sang the song. (Watch Celine sing "I Finally Found Someone" on the 1997 Oscars). She denied that it was any sort of snub toward Dion. In fact, Streisand recorded a duet with Celine shortly after the incident and included it on her album Higher Ground.
- Nearly 10 years later, Barbra sang "I Finally Found Someone" live during her concert tour of Europe with The Broadway Boys. (Watch the clip on You Tube here).
- In the film, Streisand (as Rose) places a photograph of her father and mother. The photo is actually of Streisand's real father. A picture of a younger Lauren Bacall has been superimposed over Streisand's real mother's face.
Photos by Jeff Bridges from the 'Mirror' Set
Jeff Bridges shot these photos with a Widelux, a camera without a shutter or viewfinder that captures panoramic images (about the same aspect as a widescreen film).
Barbra included an alternate version of the "love theme" on The Mirror Has Two Faces soundtrack album titled “All of My Life”. However, there was another alternate version that remains unreleased! It's called “It Doesn't Get Better Than This” and featured the same love theme, but in a more upbeat song. Ultimately, the Bryan Adams duet was used.
Hear a sample of “It Doesn't Get Better Than This”:
About the song, Barbra told the press: "I had written a love theme, and the Bergmans started a lyric based on the theme, although we didn't complete how the theme integrated with the bridge ... It was very difficult musically, because when you play something orchestrally, you can do all sorts of wonderful keys, but when the voice has to sing it, it changes that pattern. Then, I asked my friend David Foster, who produced a lot of records for me, 'Please, please, please become involved.' He had one week, a five-day period that he could give me time. And he came to Sony one night, and we just played around—asked five of my favorite musicians who were playing on the score to hang around and we kind of had a jam session and made this track. I was humming the words, because we only had some of the words. And David recommended what about singing the duet with Bryan Adams. So, I sent him this track, and he fell in love with my little theme and around this theme. And that's how it happened. He's a doll. Talk about a perfectionist!"
Premiere and Awards
The Mirror Has Two Faces premiered at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre on November 10, 1996.
|BEST ACTRESS (nominee)||Lauren Bacall||British Academy of Film and Television Arts [BAFTA]|
|BEST ACTRESS (winner)||Lauren Bacall||SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS|
|BEST ORIGINAL SONG (nominee)||“I Finally Found Someone”||Oscar (AMPAS)|
|BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (nominee)||Lauren Bacall||Oscar (AMPAS)|
|BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - MOTION PICTURE (nominee)||Marvin Hamlisch||Golden Globe (Hollywood Foreign Press Association)|
|BEST ORIGINAL SONG - MOTION PICTURE (nominee)||“I Finally Found Someone”||Golden Globe (Hollywood Foreign Press Association)|
|BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE (winner)||Lauren Bacall||Golden Globe (Hollywood Foreign Press Association)|
|BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - MUSICAL OR COMEDY (nominee)||Barbra Streisand||Golden Globe (Hollywood Foreign Press Association)|
- Barbra Streisand: The Complete TriStar Roundtable Interview
- Linda Ellerbee interviews Streisand about “Mirror”
- Hollywood Reporter Special Streisand Edition
- Streisand: Perfectionist or Tyrant?
- Watch the music video of Barbra's duet with Bryan Adams, “I Finally Found Someone”.
Navigate to other Streisand films using the jump menu below: