Helen Elizabeth Hunt is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom Mad About You for seven years, and played single mother Carol Connelly in the 1997 romantic comedy film As Good as It Gets, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Some of her other notable films include Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want, Pay It Forward, and The Sessions. She made her directorial debut in 2007 with Then She Found Me. In addition to her Oscar, Hunt has won four Emmy awards, four Golden Globe awards, and two Screen Actors Guild awards.
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I'm Helen Hunt.
Looking forward to talking to you. Victoria's helping me over the phone. AMA.
Thanks so much for your questions. Hope you get a chance to see RIDE. And sorry we couldn't get to everyone - appreciate your support!
Okie here, When can we expect Twister 2?
I'm wondering that also!
I think you're a very attractive woman.
How many times a day are you told that you're beautiful?
Haha! Not enough.
Hey Helen! Thanks for doing an AMA. "Twister" was one of my favorite movies to watch growing up and piqued my interest in natural disasters.
How did you prepare for your role as a storm chaser in the movie? Did you ever actually get to see a tornado?
When we were shooting, there were a couple of tornado warnings, and it became very clear that this was NOT a profession I'd pursue in real life. I met with a few stormchasers. They're a wild bunch.
Did you ever play volleyball with Wilson while on the set of Castaway? This is very important to me, thank you for doing this AMA!
Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I didn't.
I think after the success of Mad About You, there was an attempt to typecast you.
How have you managed to avoid this and get such wildly different roles (e.g. sex surrogate)?
Just say no to the parts that don't challenge you, and say yes to the ones that do.
Would you be able to be a fan of one of your own films?
I ask this because "As good as it gets" is one of those films I go back to from time to time and it never gets old.
If I wasn't in it, I'd probably watch it all the time too.
Good afternoon Helen, and thanks for doing this AMA. How do you respond to the fact that you are definitely related to Leelee Sobieski?
I should be so lucky!
Do you prefer directing over acting or do you enjoy both the same?
I honestly hope I never have to choose. Directing suits my personality more, but I've been acting my whole life, and can't imagine not doing it.
Out of everything you have been in, which movie have you enjoyed being in the most and why?
RIDE. Because I got to play in the ocean, all day every day.
Hi Helen! I just want to say that As Good As It Gets is one of my family's favorite movies. We are very tight-knit and quote references pop up in daily conversation quite often. I was unaware of your new film but will definitely check it out now. My question is:
Do you prefer working in a small ensemble cast such as As Good As It Gets or is it more fun to navigate through a film as a stand alone star with supporting actors thrown in?
Also, can you give us any insight into how it was working so closely with Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear on such a successful film? Thanks in advance!
Always more fun to work with good actors.
I thought Jack Nicholson would be wild and unpredictable, but he's an acting student, just like me, so we got to work through all of our scenes together just like 2 actors would in acting class. It was amazing.
What book is your favorite? And what book inspires you in your life?
My favorite book is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Anything by James Helman is what inspires me the most.
Hello! Fun to see your career blossom from teenager to TV star to Academy Award winner to today.
Could you share an interesting anecdote about the making of Twister? That must've been a fun shoot, and with Philip Seymour Hoffman in an early role, I'm sure you'd have some interesting stories.
I can say that the movie was wild to make. It was before there was a lot of computer-animated help, so a lot of what you see on the film was real to make. It was crazy.
With all the reboots of 80's movies/tv happening in Hollywood any chance of a Trancers reboot or Trancers 7 happening?
You could revise your role as Leena, but instead of Jack you're the one who goes back in time. Pretty much a guaranteed Oscar.
Thanks for the AMA!
You never know - but I wouldn't hold your breath.
From your IMDB page I see you did voices on the Captain Planet cartoon back in the day. Who's voices did you do?
To be honest - I have only a dim memory of the whole thing.
What was it like working on The Sessions
It was exciting to be in a movie unlike any other movie I'd ever seen. John Hawkes and I barely knew each other when it started, which was perfectly awkward for the movie. I'm really proud to have been in a movie about healthy sex.
Has anyone ever tried to pick you up with the line, "you make me want to be a better man?"
It's so random that I decided to watch Twister out of the blue today. (You're all huddled in at the drive in right now.)
Not that I can think of!
Was it a lot of fun on-set during "Mad About You?"
Tons of fun. I got to work with some of the funniest people ever. One of the best things about Paul's humor is he's not funny by hurting other people, by making fun of other people, he's just plain funny.
Strawberry or grape jelly?
Love hearing that you surf! I've always considered myself lucky that I began surfing 50 years ago, nothing in life quite like it. How did you start and where is your favorite break?
I really, really wish I'd started 50 years ago!
I like any break that has a small wave and nothing scary on the bottom.
I got started surfing about 10 years ago.
What is your take on twisters? Yay or nay?
I'm anti-tornado, but liked making the movie.
What's your favorite show to watch on television right now?
I'm grieving the end of The Colbert Report. Very into Inside Comedy. I wish Revenge was coming back for a fifth season.
What inspired you to write RIDE?
I started surfing 10 years ago, and kept seeing all these moms watching their sons and daughters surfing, and thought shouldn't the moms have a chance to get in the water?
And that's how it all began.
I applaud anyone who begins surfing at any age. I was lucky to have found it as a 10 year old, even though my parents thought I would end up living under a pier somewhere. The most soulful people I know are water people. Ever surf at Sano? Great spot, fun at any size and a mellow vibe.
I surfed there once. It was tiny, and I was very happy.
Is there a certain genre of film you prefer acting in?
No, I like silly comedies and serious dramatic tearjerkers. I like it all.
Hi, Twister is my girlfriends favorite movie and I'm deathly afraid of tornadoes. I mean really afraid, every time the siren goes off it sends chills up my body and I pack the cats up in a beer box and hide in the bathroom shaking. Can I be in Twister 2?
Haha! I think that's a perfectly sane reaction.
That's awesome. What got you into surfing?
It's something that I always wanted to do. And then I thought - if not now, when?
What are some encouraging words you have for someone learning to surf?
You're not crazy, it's horrible in the beginning. Keep going.
How funny was Mel Brooks to work with on Mad About You?
Funnier than anyone - ever!
What is it like to write and Direct a feature film yourself, as compared to being Directed by someone else?
Do you find it difficult, or is it more liberating to be able to do things the way you like?
Both. There were times, out in the middle of the ocean, when I could've used someone to help me out, and there were other times when being able to make the actor do what i wanted - because the actor was me - was a big time saver.
I prefer to see movies at the theatre, how about you ?
Me too, me too, me too!
Hi Helen! Great to see you in the AMAs.
Is there a role or subject that you’d like to try that you haven’t been able to yet?
As far as scripts go, what would you like to see more of that you think isn’t being written right now?
How did you land the role of Carol in As Good As It Gets?
Along with myself, my mom would like to say hi and add that she’s admired you and your work for years. From both us, we’ve been watching since The Miracle of Kathy Miller and Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
I'm working on writing a piece about restorative justice, and very excited about that.
Better stories, better stories, better stories. They are rare, because they're hard to do, so any kind of support for writers they can get will make for better movies.
I auditioned. And then auditioned again, and then auditioned again, and finally got the part.
Wow. Hi to you, and hi to your mom.
Good afternoon, thanks so much for joining us!
Will there ever be a formal Mad About You reunion? I'd love to know where Paul and Jamie are nearly 20 years later..
I would be anything they're pretty much the same. No plans in place yet!
I've always thought that you're comedic timing and delivery is excellent. You've hosted SNL twice with two exceedingly different musical guests. Did you prefer Snoop Dogg or Hansen and if you were asked to host again who would you want to be the musical guest?
Hard to choose between those two! Springsteen, anyone?
Hi Helen. Do you ever think that there will be a time when traditional movie theaters will not exist due to the ability to get so much on demand from home TV, phones and laptops?
There's nothing I would want less than to not be able to eat popcorn at a movie theater.