"It's Saturday night. Don't you want to have fun? I can go meet my... friend... and you can go back to doing whatever you like to do. Finish a book you're reading. Update your blog."
As "Life As We Know It" opens, we meet Holly Berenson and Eric Messer... on a blind date. A horrendous blind date.
"We all know that blind date," Berlanti attests, "that starts off badly and just goes more and more awry."
Heigl confirms, "It's not as if Holly and Messer are just uncomfortable with each other, or just don't connect. It's awful. They hate each other."
"They don't even make it out of the driveway," Duhamel laughs. "It goes that bad, that quick."
Unfortunately, because of their mutual best friends, they're stuck in each other's lives and forced to be around one another on numerous occasions. They both tolerate it, for the sake of their friends and their goddaughter, Sophie. But once they're left to care for the baby girl, the situation seems, well, intolerable.
"Holly and Messer are polar opposites," Heigl states. "He's this sort of 'take it or leave it' guy - relaxed and kicked back, rolling with the punches - and she's... not." Heigl's character, on the other hand, has a business and a business plan. "She's responsible, organized, scheduled, a bit obsessive compulsive. In her professional life and her personal life, she needs to know where things are heading; she's not really a girl who can wing it."
Josephson says that, in all of Holly's planning, she had not yet planned for a family, let alone an instant one. "She was not prepared for this at all. As a matter of fact, she was preparing for a completely different life. Now she's trying to get her feet underneath her, and it's not that easy. Katherine played that dilemma beautifully."
"In addition to the story, the reason I wanted to be a part of the movie was to work with Katherine Heigl," Berlanti confesses. "I know how well she can do both comedy and drama, so for me she was sort of the personification of Holly."
One thing the actress did have in common with her character was a love of the culinary arts. "I do love to cook," says Heigl, "though I don't get to do it as often as I'd like. Once every six months or so I like to go all 'Martha Stewart' and throw a small dinner party for friends." Her research for the role of a chef proved fruitful in her own life. "I learned how to properly chop and julienne vegetables, which saves a lot of time!"
Heigl was key in getting Duhamel on board as Messer. The friends had been hoping to work together for some time when "Life As We Know It" came their way. "I thought he'd be perfect for Messer - even though Messer is a bit of a scruffy, baseball cap-t-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy and Josh is really polished. I just knew he should play this role."
Duhamel spent a lot of time discussing the character with his director. "Greg and I felt it would be easy to fall into the trap of just playing him as a charming womanizer who needs to learn about love, but we wanted him to be a lot more than that. We both felt that it was okay if he was unapologetic or says or does things that the audience may not like right away. Face it, guys can be like that."
Like Holly, Messer is on a track to move up in his career, before things get derailed. "He's basically the guy that pushes the button, but he's waiting for his shot to finally direct, which, not to be cliché, is what he's always wanted to do," Duhamel continues. "When he does get his chance and things don't go quite as planned, he blames Holly and that adds to the tension between them."
"Josh Duhamel is too good-looking, has too much hair, is too tall, too nice, too charming, too good at what he does," Brooks deadpans. "Seriously, though, he was a bit of a revelation. Great instincts, great timing. And I think the chemistry between him and Katie was just brilliant."
Berlanti couldn't agree more. "Josh is one of those guys' guys who men would want to hang out with and women love, which is exactly what we needed him to be in this role."
Josh Lucas plays the other man in Holly's life, Sam. "There were Joshes everywhere on this film," says the director, referring not only to two of his stars, but also to Heigl's husband, Josh Kelly, who occasionally came to set. "You threw a rock, you hit a Josh," Berlanti jokes.
The filmmaker loved what Lucas brought to the role. "Josh Lucas is so inherently charismatic and likeable. As a director, you're looking at a situation where there's another leading man who has been on screen for 20 minutes, and this new guy has to come in and compete for the affections of the leading lady. Josh Lucas could do that, and you believed it. Sam is really comfortable with himself and his place in life, which is something that Messer really isn't yet, and that's appealing."
"Sam has been coming into Holly's café, hoping to catch her eye and have a moment to flirt or ask her out," Lucas says. "But circumstances cause them to keep missing each other."
At the center of the film's romantic triangle is the person who has brought them all together: Sophie, left in their charge by Alison and Peter Novak, played by Christina Hendricks and Hayes MacArthur. The baby was played by triplets Alexis, Brynn and Brooke Clagett.
While twins are frequently used to play one baby on screen, it is rare to find identical triplets. "We thought, 'Let's increase our odds of getting all of the different emotions we need by having three babies play one," Josephson relates.
The girls were adored by cast and crew alike. "The wonderful thing about working with babies is just how natural they force all the other actors, and everybody around them, to be," Berlanti observes. "I think it brought a wonderful sense of realism to the scenes."
"I love being around kids," Duhamel reveals. "I actually came to the production a week or so early in order to get to know the babies, so they would feel comfortable with me and we'd be able to bond a little."
The timing of the shoot was unexpectedly serendipitous for Heigl. "I was literally experiencing new motherhood on film at the same time I was experiencing it in my own life."
The actress wasn't sure how it would be working with triplets, however. "At first I was really nervous," Heigl says, "but by the time we got to their last day and we had to say goodbye, I almost started crying. I had grown so attached to them."
While Messer and Holly are making their way through parenthood, they share not only parental duties, but a residence. As part of the arrangement to care for Sophie, they move into Peter and Alison's house, where they become quite an attraction for their new and fairly nosy neighbors.
Berlanti offers, "I would hope that most young parents have a support group of young parents or couples that are also kind of going through the same experience. With that in my mind I thought 'Okay, let's go out and get some real comedians to add to the humor of the situation.'"
The filmmakers sought out several actors they knew could handle the art of improv and really add to the uniqueness of each character. "We got Melissa McCarthy, Andy Daly, Rob Huebel, Jessica St. Clair, Will Sasso, Bill Brochtrup-all individuals who would be able to do their thing over and over again while I just let the cameras roll. What they brought to the film was immeasurable. Every time the neighbors show up on screen I know the audience is going to have a great surprise, yet everything they did fits right in with the tone of Holly and Messer trying to make it through this first year with Sophie."
Both Heigl and Duhamel couldn't have had more fun working with the ensemble. "They made the neighbors quirky, eccentric, silly, funny... but they were still real," the actress affirms. "No one went so broad that you couldn't relate."
Joining Holly and Messer at their respective jobs are DeRay Davis as Holly's second-in-command, and Reggie Lee as Messer's boss. At home, Britt Flatmo portrays the babysitter they couldn't live without, and Sarah Burns plays the social worker who needs convincing that Sophie should live with her godparents.
The filmmakers were thrilled with the entire cast. "I can't remember a movie where I've had more fun every day, and that's largely due to our cast," Josephson says. "They are terrific on screen, and we had very much the same vibe on set. Everybody seemed to love what they were doing and to be really passionate about their roles, big or small."
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