27 Dresses

James Marsden Interview

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The accomplished actor James Marsden displays a very different side as the charismatic Kevin in 27 DRESSES. In a film in which the leading lady Katherine Heigl is hooked on the romance and sheer fantasy of happy ever after weddings, Kevin is a refreshing antidote. He writes gushing, flowery prose about marriage (under a pseudonym) – but he doesn't believe in any of it. When he meets Heigl's Jane, he is fascinated in a journalistic sense by a woman who has actually been a bridesmaid 27 times – wearing 27 dreadful dresses that she keeps in a closet. Yet this lovely woman has never walked down the aisle herself. What a tailor-made story for a newspaper. Befriending Jane and edging his way into her life, he decides to write a feature about her – without being upfront about his intentions. At the same time, he becomes increasingly interested in his subject and attracted to her.

Meanwhile Jane herself would never look twice at Kevin. Indeed she's madly in love with her own boss George (Ed Burns) although he has no clue about her secret passion. He has his eye on Jane's stunningly sexy sister Tess. And when the two meet, Tess makes a beeline for George. This is definitely the stuff of classic romantic comedy. Will these four likeable characters ever find their true destiny... or will they end up chasing false dreams and finding their hopes dashed at every turn? There is fun, romance and an astringent wit, energizing this film from Twentieth Century Fox - directed by the vivacious 'dancing director', former choreographer, Anne Fletcher.

James Marsden, 33, was born in Oklahoma and started his career in television, guest starring in SAVED BY THE BELL and PARTY OF FIVE. He went on to appear in the American show SECOND NOAH. He appeared in the movie DISTURBING BEHAVIOR, then GOSSIP opposite Kate Hudson. Marsden recently starred in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND reprising his role as 'Scott Summers/Cyclops' in Twentieth Century Fox's hugely successful franchise based on the Marvel comic book series. He starred in all three X-MEN films. He also starred in THE NOTEBOOK, SUPERMAN RETURNS, HAIRSPAY and the upcoming ENCHANTED with Susan Sarandon, Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey.

He is married to Lisa Linde and they have 2 children. Wearing an open necked blue shirt and jeans, the handsome actor talks about his role and shares his own insights on marriage and romance.

Q: What appealed to you about Kevin and this film?

A: "In the last six or seven years of my career I have managed to find my way into a lot of love triangle movies. And I've always been the guy who doesn't end up getting the girl. My character is usually nice and you can't help but love him, but he is not really central to the story. So I definitely had an appetite for something that allowed me to be the leading man... not that I get the girl in this film - it is more complicated and I will not give away the story and plot. But this is a central role so great fun."

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Q: How did you get the role?

A: "My agent sent me the script and I was making HAIRSPRAY at the time, working with Anne Fletcher who was one of the choreographers on that film. She was about to direct this one. I was joking with her and said: 'What is the movie all about and why aren't I in it?' It sounded so great with Katherine Heigl whom I love. I was giving Anne a hard time and she said: 'That's a really good question, actually, you should be in it.' I told her I was only kidding. And that is how it started. Just a few weeks later she called me and said: 'You know you made that joke about the movie I am doing? Now I want you to be in my movie.' And I said, 'I was really kidding. You don't have to give me a role in this movie.' (laughs) She said: 'I actually think you're perfect for it. I want you to read the script,' and she sent the script and I read it and loved it. It fell into that category of something light and fun and comedic and my character was also a leading man. I thought it was very clever and it just hit all of those elements that I was looking for."

Q: What is Kevin like?

A: "Kevin works for the New York Journal and he is in the 'Vows' section of the paper, the 'Commitment' section, covering weddings. He writes poetic, beautifully constructed little articles and pieces about people getting married – and women love the way he writes. He almost writes in a romance novel sort of way, so you really get a feel for the story about the partners who are getting married. But he hates it and does not see it as real journalism, he is a cynic. He doesn't believe in marriage and romance and thinks it is all ridiculous and meaningless. But he is doing it because he wants to get into the real newsroom at his paper, covering subjects that are more interesting to him. He is begging his boss for a real story."

Q: How does he meet Jane – Katherine's character?

A: "He meets her at a wedding - she'd been in two weddings in one day, which he thought was peculiar. And then he grills her about marriage, finds out her views and explains that he doesn't really believe in it, he tells her there are the statistics to prove that marriage only has a 50-50 chance of working out. But she is obsessed with weddings and being a bridesmaid, so they are at odds and there is a very amusing dynamic which reminds me of the classic romantic comedy WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. That is the kind of antagonistic relationship Kevin and Jane have. Then he decides to write an article about Jane – unbeknownst to her and during the course of researching this article about her, he starts to appreciate her more and more and to find her attractive. He discovers that she is special. So he begins to have some remorse about his article that he is writing and he's worried that it will get published and really upset her and that's the foundation for the relationship, I think."

Q: What was it like working with Katherine?

A: "We have a good rapport. Katherine is so talented and professional. She plays with the scenes a little bit and we have fun, and maybe go off the page here and there and just sort of explore the comedic aspects of the movie. And she's a great audience because if I manage to say something funny or think of something clever; she actually values and appreciates it. So she is a very good fun and has a great attitude. Working with her makes the scenarios and story more believable to be honest, so that I think you believe the chemistry between the two of them."

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Q: It actually looks like there is great chemistry?

A: "Of course, it would be hard not to be attracted to somebody that looks like Katherine Heigl. Jane's a really cute girl, she is gorgeous and Kevin is definitely distracted. He has had his heart broken before and, he's very cautious about lifting his guard to anybody and just wants to keep himself busy with work. That is quite common with men. In fact a friend at Kevin's work thinks he should be meeting girls and having a good time, sleeping around with different women, but Kevin is not interested in doing any of that. His passion is his job, and he wants to advance in his career. When he meets Jane, he is not looking for a relationship; he just feels he's got a pretty good idea for a story about her being a compulsive bridesmaid. Then that's when he finds himself in a pickle, a big one. It all becomes very complicated."

Q: Women of course tend to love romantic comedy; do you think men enjoy this kind of film too?

A: "I think they will enjoy this film you know, I've been trying my best to sort of inject a fair amount of 'guy humor' into the movie. You do have to be careful, because a lot of romantic comedies have too much femininity - there are all the dresses and the weddings and everything but this film is smart and witty. Personally, I think it will appeal to everyone, I don't believe that a movie is a guy movie or a girl movie. It is just a good movie. I think you can make romantic comedy that will appeal to guys as well. And so, I'm trying to represent the guy's perspective on all of this, which helps to make it all realistic. Kevin sees Jane keeping 27 dresses in her closet, dresses that look ridiculous too by the way, and he sees that as crazy and amusing. But it's interesting to him at the same time, so he digs for more information about her."

Q: Can you say a little more about the relationship between Kevin and Jane?

A: "He tells her what she doesn't want to hear. He is sarcastic and expresses his view on all the ridiculous aspects of the spectacle of weddings and how that eclipses the real meaning of what it's about – which is love. Every guy can identify with that. I am thinking about films like FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and LOVE ACTUALLY, which was also great. I think that is the kind of appeal this film has."

Q: Are you romantic?

A: "Yes I am – I loved THE NOTEBOOK and so did a lot of guys I know. That was the quintessential romance movie. And I remember going to the premiere afterwards. I was in the bathroom and there were grown men splashing water on their faces, they had been in tears. Men may not admit liking films like this all the time, but they do love seeing them with their wife or girlfriend. It puts them in touch with a vulnerable side. I love romantic comedies when they are good and well written."

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Q: What is it like working with your director, Anne Fletcher?

A: "I can't say enough about Anne. First of all she sets the tone because she is such fun and so energetic on set, always dancing around and that disarms everybody. And you really feel like everybody's enjoying themselves, that you're allowed to have a good time within the obvious parameters of getting your work done. But she's not interested in working on something that doesn't allow room for fun. So I believe that good work can come from that approach and philosophy. Then on top of that, more importantly, she is so sharp and has great instincts and a feel for what is right for this movie and what exactly she wants. I've worked with directors who were perfectly nice fun people, but don't necessarily know what they want. And Anne is very specific about what she needs from the actors. Sometimes you will agree and sometimes you might disagree a little bit but it's always a harmonious collaborative effort under this umbrella, which involves having a great time. So, it's a pleasure working with her."

Q: Do you like the screenplay?

A: "I do, it is very tight and well written. You know, we're not doing SCHINDLER'S LIST, this is not serious drama (laughs) but it is clever, it's smart, it's sarcastic, it's touching. And I think people want to see these types of films. We're only halfway through. But it feels good to me. You don't always get this feeling halfway through, but I feel that we are making a film that people are going to enjoy."

Q: At this stage of your career, how different was this for you, what different challenges did this film pose?

A: "Ultimately for this film, my challenge is to come to the plate as the leading man and, and the guy that you want to win. You want to root for this guy and you want to see these two characters – Kevin and Jane come together, because they have chemistry and they are good people. In the past it was enjoyable for me being in ensemble movies and being involved in these love triangles or whatever, without the pressure of carrying the film or being the one that the movie rides on. But this is very different; the audience has to believe the leading lady likes this guy I am playing. I recently made HAIRSRPAY and ENCHANTED, two movies that are bright and colorful and energetic with a lot of fireworks to them and the characters are a little more exuberant and a little more exaggerated. So, I think the challenge with Kevin is to be a normal, average guy who is funny without really trying, but also charming and likeable."

Q: Can you talk about the comedic skills that you brought to this role?

A: "The comedy is there in the script. Jane is in love with this guy who in her mind is perfect. George (Ed Burns) climbed Mount Everest, he's got a beautiful house, he's likeable, he's charming, he's beautiful, so Kevin is like this sort of mutt, he is not a good prospect. He comes into her life and drops some bombs about weddings being ridiculous and bursts her bubble. I've always been a fan of very smart comedies. I'm a big fan of Christopher Guest and his films and I believe that subtlety is the key to good writing and humor and biting irony. It is important with this brand of comedy, not too hit it over the head too hard. To her credit, Anne gives us the freedom to explore the comedy and find the funny moments. And the script feels authentic and real. Katie has a very dark sense of humor and so do I. So I felt comfortable exercising that of dark side of my humor with her."

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Q: In real life are you romantic? Do you enjoy weddings? Obviously, you've had one yourself?

A: "My wife and I were together for a long time before we were married and I was really just clueless when it came to romance. I didn't know what the protocol was in terms of what you were supposed to do with the engagement rings and the stuff that you're supposed to know as a guy. I think most guys are sort of clueless in fact. Also, my parents were separated when I was young, so I guess I had a pessimistic look about the commitment of marriage. But in the end I realized that I was committed and that there is something different about being married and choosing that commitment. It is something that you have to do whole-heartedly. I think then, your relationship grows because of it. Obviously we have children too, so that adds to the level of commitment. Ultimately I believe in that honesty and deep commitment, more than I do the flowers and the dresses and the champagne and the spectacle of it all. My wife has exactly the right attitude. She got a beautiful gown for our wedding. There was wine spilled on it and dirt and mud and because we were celebrating in a field. So the dress looked like a mess. And she loved it because she enjoyed the hell out of herself and so did I. It was the most fun I've ever had in my life, on my wedding night. But I remember going to another wedding where the bride was in the bathroom for about an hour and a half, because somebody spilled wine on her dress and she was bawling. And I thought God bless her. It was a shame that she got so upset. That side seems so irrelevant really. The dress and party and trappings are beautiful and nice but really it's about the connection of these two people and this commitment you share. You can overanalyze anything and I tend do it with everything. I'll go to a sandwich place, and I can't decide what sandwich to get, it's terrible. It is my one big character flaw and I think it is the same with Jane's character, it's safer for her to 'live in neutral' and it's easier to vicariously experience all of these weddings and these beautiful ceremonies through other people because she doesn't have to do it herself. Kevin tells her you aren't getting married because it's easy and it's safer to be the bridesmaid. But when will you allow yourself to be more than that? Because it's a choice you make for yourself."

Q: How happy are you with your career just now? You seem to have some exciting roles?

A: "I am delighted, I'm happy to be working and I would happily do what I've been doing for the last 15 years for the rest of my life if I continue to get 'invited to the party' and to get great roles in good films. The only thing that makes me nervous is the escalation of celebrity. Fame is I something that I just have no interest in whatsoever, yet it is a necessary thing when people are counting on you to star in a big movie. So I just need to accept it and go along with it and realize that there are pluses and minuses in everything. Ultimately at the end of the day, I'm proud of all my work."

Q: When did you become interested in acting?

A; "I was not interested in acting to be honest when I was a kid. When I was in high school, I was in plays and musicals and I found that immediately gratifying, more so than anything else. I enjoyed the process of acting and singing and entertaining but it was never anything that I just knew that I had to pursue. I spent a year and a half at college studying journalism and then I thought I would give acting a shot. I just kind of maintained steady work and got very lucky and it's all worked out. And now, I enjoy it more than ever."