Writer Director, Justin Zackham has worked with some of the biggest names in the business including Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (The Bucket List). Though nothing could prepare him for the privilege of collaborating with a dream cast of A-listers in this week’s The Big Wedding. Recently, I chatted with the passionate and amiable guy about the amazing experience of snagging Oscar Winners Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams for his film, not to mention bossing around “Bob” DeNiro.

First, we gotta talk about this cast. How did you get everyone on board?

“When I write, obviously, I picture my ideal cast in my head, but that doesn’t mean I actually believe that I’ll get them. I wrote the part in Bucket List for Morgan Freeman and was literally shocked when he agreed to take it- same with this one. I wrote Ellie (in The Big Wedding) with Diane Keaton in mind, having been a fan forever. To my delight and surprise, she signed on immediately and then we gave the script to Bob (De Niro)and he came aboard. “

“It turns out, when you have Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro in a movie, shockingly enough, a lot of other actors want to be in it. I’d known Katy Heigl for over 10 years so that was an easy phone call, but after her, it became an embarrassment of riches as Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Christine Ebersole, I mean literally these amazing actors, all signed on! Of course they’re all tremendous (in the film), and were a joy to work with. I was phenomenally spoiled!”

Is it harder to direct or write for superstars?

“Truthfully, even after (The Bucket List, which he wrote but did not direct) I was extremely intimidated, but once we started, it was great. I wrote the script, so I knew the characters and where the story was going, although obviously, you’re not gonna tell DeNiro how to pick up a cup. But you will tell him to block a scene. “

“Fortunately, (the entire cast) was open to anything and everything. You throw a new idea at them and they take it and understand it instantaneously and then make it better than you had ever imagined. I knew that they respected the fact that I had written the script, but it was amazing to see everyone leave their egos at home and dive into the collaborative process. We filmed over the summer in (Greenwich, Connecticut )and I have to say, it was literally the best summer of my life.”

You seem to have a fascination with people who are experiencing a vital  second or third act in life. What is it about this subject matter that attracts you?

“I feel like there aren’t a lot of films out there for that particular audience and my own taste gravitates towards movies that I think are more appealing to an older crowd.  A love story is more interesting between two people who have lived a lot of life already. The things that would inform a typical romantic comedy about 20- or 30- year-olds take on a different resonance when both characters are in their 50’s, 60’s, or beyond; truthfully the dialogue is more interesting.”

Is it also because they seem to allow each other to live and let live?

“Yes! One of the big concerns I had with the script was would people hate De Niro’s character for having an affair with his ex wife? Susan, Diane, Bob, and I all talked about it together and the three of them were like no way! It’s an insane situation to begin with but the truth of the matter is, Susan’s character gets over it immediately and is like, ok, have we gotten that out of our system? Can we just be together now? I think in a movie about younger lovers, that wouldn’t happen. It’s more about can we now have a life together because I know you love me and you know I love you? It’s less of an emotional injury than it is about you messed up, ok, can we move on now?”

They are a family who love each other, no matter how badly someone screws up!

“Exactly! Families in this day and age come in many different sizes and permeations.. They are the people you choose to love and have in your life, and don’t even necessarily have to be related to you. This group of people realize that they are a family, as messed up as they are, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”