Surrounding Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler in The Ugly Truth is an accomplished supporting cast made up of well-known comedy veterans who ratchet up the comic tension in the battle of the sexes. Chief among these are Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins, who play the unhappily married, perpetually competitive co-anchors of "A.M. Sacramento," Georgia and Larry, whose love life gets a sudden boost from Mike Chadway's interventions.
Hines is best known for her role as Larry David's wife on HBO's acclaimed Curb Your Enthusiasm, and has starred on screen in roles ranging from RV with Robin Williams to the critically praised indie comedy Waitress. She immediately saw a rich irony in being offered the part of Georgia. "For some reason I always get cast as someone married to a Larry!" she laughs. "But I really liked Georgia, and I liked that as a couple, Georgia and Larry are amusing and silly, yet still not that far off from what you see out there with real newscasters. Everything about the film seemed like a lot of fun."
Like Hines, John Michael Higgins is a familiar face in screen and television comedy. He has been seen in many of Christopher Guest's popular mockumentaries, as well as several recent screen comedies, ranging from Evan Almighty to Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Higgins was excited that he and Hines had a chance to bring a little improv chaos to the proceedings. "Robert purposely chose us because he wanted to loosen things up," says Higgins.
"Cheryl's work on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and mine on the Christopher Guest films made it very natural for us to push the boundaries of the script outwards. We had a blast doing it and discovered that we are very simpatico as far as the way we work."
The duo's no-holds-barred style became an inspiration to the rest of the cast. "They're comedic geniuses who are able to throw out idea after idea that really work," observes Heigl. "That to me is what's most invigorating about doing comedy: it's when people are so on their game and so funny themselves that they make the characters that much more outrageous."
Butler agrees. "I've never seen two people make a crowd laugh so much, not on a film set anyway," he says of Hines and Higgins. "Their imagination and where they would go with scenes was so entertaining, yet always stayed within the bounds of the story. I was pretty much on the floor the whole time watching them."
Cast in the straight man role as Abby's ideal love prospect - the hunky, refined Colin - is newcomer Eric Winter, best known for his role on the television drama Brothers and Sisters. Like his co-stars, Winter found the script hard to resist. "It's a romantic, edgy, in-your-face comedy that takes a pretty realistic look at dating and love," he says. "It's not a girly story, though; it has definite male appeal."
As a former pre-med student, Winter enjoyed the chance to play a surgeon. But he also faced the interesting task of trying to perfect the notion of the 'perfect man.' "Colin lives in a very ideal world," he notes. "He's got a great job, he's very stable and secure, he's very well put-together and he's a nice, down-to-earth guy. He's the exact opposite of Mike Chadway. Some people would find him too perfect, some people would find him boring, but I think Abby is just motivated by trying to live up to what she thinks are his expectations."
But in following Mike Chadway's advice instead of her own impulses, Abby starts giving out some very mixed signals. "The funny part for me is that while both Mike and Colin are just being who they naturally are, it's Abby who is not being herself," says Winter. "Colin and Mike are laying it on the line and ultimately, Abby has to choose, and figure out what's in her own heart."
Rounding out the cast are a number of other energized comic performances, including Kevin Connolly, best known as Eric Murphy on Entourage, in the role of one of Abby's poor, over-scrutinized dates and Bree Turner (The Wedding Planner) as Abby's assistant, Joy, who has the impossible job of keeping Abby's life in the perfect order she desires.
Sums up Turner: "It was a great team and I felt so lucky to be a part of it. Michael and Cheryl shine with improv spontaneity; Katherine's comedy is effortless and an inspiration to watch; and Gerry is a really funny dude himself. And then it all adds up to the 'ugly truth,' which for me, is that when it comes to love, no matter what you believe, you can't control it and you just have to go with it."
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