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The Overarching Theme Of Friendship Sold Paul Feig On The Task Of Directing The School For Good And Evil

Paul Feig's most recent directorial endeavor is the 2022 Netflix fantasy film, "The School for Good and Evil," which is based on the novel of the same name by Soman Chainani. The film follows two best friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), who begin attending The School for Good and Evil and suddenly find themselves rivals — Agatha is assigned to the Good side, while Sophie is assigned to the Evil side. At the school, Professor Clarissa Dovey (Kerry Washington) acts as the Dean of the School for Good and Lady Leonora Lesso (Charlize Theron) acts as the Dean of the School for Evil, while the School Master (Laurence Fishburne) oversees the whole program.

"The School for Good and Evil" definitely boasts an impressive cast of big names — besides Washington, Theron, and Fishbourne, the film also features Michelle Yeoh, Patti LuPone, Rob Delaney, and, in a voice role, Cate Blanchett — but Feig signed on to direct for another reason: the film's themes. Specifically, Feig was drawn to the role that friendship plays in the narrative. Here's what the director has to say about the theme.

Feig loved the message of not giving up on your friends

In October 2022, Paul Feig spoke with ScreenRant about directing "The School for Good and Evil" and revealed what drew him to the project in the first place. Feig was quick to point to the film's themes.

The director said, "I loved the script. I loved the story. I thought the story of this friendship between these two young women was just so wonderful. It had so many lovely moves in it, but also, I just love that it was about not giving up on your friends. I thought that was just a really lovely theme, and how you can tell that on a very big canvas by getting to create a brand-new world for this."

Feig went on to praise the books and Soman Chainani's writing for evoking a compelling friendship that saves both Sophie and Agatha. Further, Feig revealed that he finds himself drawn to female friendships, such as in this film. The director continued, "I think those friendships that I've observed throughout my life are some of the strongest kind of relationships I've ever seen. And I think there's something lovely about how non-judgmental it tends to be and how supportive it is. This just seemed like a really big way to tell that kind of a dynamic."

Stars Theron and Washington was drawn to the story's themes as well

Similarly, two of the film's stars Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington have spoken about being drawn to the themes of "The School for Good and Evil" as well. One thing that Theron liked about the themes of the story is that they feel relevant to what is going on in the real world.

In an October 2022 interview, Theron told Entertainment Weekly, "We are living in a time right now where you want to compartmentalize things in a way that just isn't part of life — it's not part of the human experience, but it's coming from a place of fear and not knowing. There's safety in trying to label and compartmentalize things, right? If we know what's good and we know what's bad, then we can gauge and control that." Theron continued to praise the film for showcasing the fact that the world is much more complicated than something that can be compartmentalized. Rather, she elaborated, "The School for Good and Evil," focuses on empathy and understanding the complexities of one another.

Washington agreed, chiming in to note that, despite the school at the plot's center trying to separate the world into good and evil, the events that play out actually prove that such a simple compartmentalizing isn't possible. She, too, was attracted to this theme. Washington continued, "For me, that was the reason to do it, because it really challenges us to be more willing to live in the gray. Most of us live somewhere in the gray and have the potential for both good and evil."