Life As We Know It

From Page To Screen

"They cared about Sophie more than anything - and of everyone else in the world - they picked us..."

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Everyone has a different plan for their perfect life. For Holly Berenson, it's expanding her small, high-end boutique café into a restaurant, maybe even someday in multiple locations. For Eric Messer, it's moving up from being a broadcast technician to a full-fledged director in national sports television.

But life as we plan it is seldom life as we live it. Such is the case when Holly's and Messer's plans are put on hold by the sudden and tragic death of their mutual best friends, Alison and Peter Novack. Holly and Messer have always tolerated, rather than enjoyed, each other's company, but now they find themselves co-guardians to the Novak's baby girl, Sophie.

Says Katherine Heigl, who stars as Holly, "These two people are just thrown into this situation, and have to rise to the challenge and do the right thing. But to do so means they have to sacrifice a lot of their own dreams."

Josh Duhamel, who stars opposite Heigl as Messer, adds, "They both love this little girl, and they both feel obligated to at least try to do what their friends wanted... even though they're both going in completely different directions in their own lives, and they really don't like each other."

Backed into a corner, Holly and Messer will have to make it work... somehow.

"While they may not be able to see it that way at first, raising Peter and Alison's child is a testament to this couple they both loved," offers the film's director, Greg Berlanti.

The original script, written by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, came first to the attention of producer Barry Josephson. "It was a wonderful screenplay that gripped me right away," Josephson states. "It was entertaining and heartfelt, and had a strong hook. I also loved the concept, because it's something that so many of my friends with kids have talked about. Who would be the best choice to take care of their child? A friend or a relative? Who would it be?"

Josephson shared the screenplay with producer Paul Brooks, who found it "very relatable. And funny, and warm and affecting. I thought the characters were terrific, and the story felt so complete and so balanced; I laughed and cried in equal measure."

Heigl felt the same. "I'm such a romantic comedy fan," she says. "I love them, I go to see them in the theaters, and this one was really funny and, at the same time, had so much soul to it."

Duhamel, agrees. "I thought this script was special. The story was very funny, but also tragic and sad at the same time. In my opinion, those are the best movies."

The idea for the story came from a conversation Deitchman had with his wife while she was pregnant with their daughter, in which the subject of guardianship came up. "We both jokingly said we should leave her to our friends Mike and Clara. Who knows us better?"

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Rusk Robinson recalls, "I laughed when Ian told me about that exchange, because I also know both Mike and Clara who, like Holly and Messer, are not a couple and have very different personalities. But we thought there could be great comedy in that, so that's what we had to write next."

Deitchman follows up, "We also liked the fact that the opportunities for humor would be grounded in something emotional that we could run with, which appealed to us right out of the gate."

It appealed to Berlanti as well. "I was really drawn to the movie because the script cracked me up one moment, and just felt so real and raw the next. The most important thing for me is delivering an emotional experience, especially when you have a story that has so many conflicting feelings happening all at once."

"Greg has an amazing ability to tell human interest stories, but in a way that isn't soft and isn't only geared toward either males or females," Duhamel comments.

Heigl states, "I really couldn't have wished or hoped for a better director or someone more unbelievably collaborative. He was exceptional and just a funny, great guy who knows how to tell a mean story. Working with Greg was such a rewarding experience."

According to Josephson, "Greg completely embraced the project. If you look at the television shows that he has written, they deal with social issues, with conflicts, with how people interact with one another. Throughout the shoot, he made sure the chemistry was working but that the conflict was there."