risten Bell and Josh Duhamel discuss When in Rome's travel itinerary
Kristen Bell stars in When in Rome as an ambitious young woman who is disillusioned with romance. On a trip to the romantic Italian capital, she scoops a handful of magic coins from a fountain: A fountain of love. The result is that she inexplicably ignites the passion of the various men who threw in the coins. So when a charming and handsome reporter, (Josh Duhamel) also pursues her, how can she be sure his love is genuine? Is he, like the other men, under the influence of a potent spell?
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, When in Rome is set to make its DVD and Blu-ray debut on June 15th. To help usher in this hilarious romantic comedy are its stars Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, along with director Mark Steven Johnson. Here's what they had to say about the release:
Kristen, how much fun was it being pursued by all these guys?
Kristen Bell: Well first of all, being surrounded by these guys was great and it is so flattering, because they are all wonderful and funny. I love their comedy and style and I often laugh out loud at them. I was grateful for the opportunity of working with all these guys. I'm glad that they had the faith in me to be able to pull it off and I just tried to do the best I could. Sometimes I could not stop laughing on set because they are all so funny.
Can you explain a little about what happens to your character when she is in Rome?
Kristen Bell: She goes to Rome for her sister's wedding - and in a drunken stupor, wades into the fountain and takes out several coins. Then the guys that have thrown them in wishing for love or passion start to stalk her. There's a lot of chasing and running around in heels. I loved being the object of affection of all those men, from Will Arnett to Dax Shepard. Oh yes, and did I mention I get to kiss Josh Duhamel?
Josh, can you talk about Nick's relationship with Beth?
Josh Duhamel: We really hit it off in the beginning. It almost seems like love at first sight; it's going that well. And then something happens and she doesn't want to talk to him again. After that it's all about him trying to get her back, a lot of the story is how he is trying to figure out what happened. He thought that everything was perfect, and then all of a sudden it wasn't.' Then he finds out why and he discovers that he's competing with these other guys, and he doesn't know why he's doing that either. So it's pretty chaotic.
Kristen are you driven in real life - like your character? What comes first for you - career or romance?
Kristen Bell: Personally I think your significant other should be way more important than your work. I love to work, but I don't know that I'd say I'm a workaholic because I also love relaxing. I have a great balance I think and love both.
Do you believe in magic and superstition?
Kristen Bell: I am not very superstitious at all. I never have been. I'll walk under ladders. Who cares? I like to smash mirrors any chance I get. (laughs).
Josh, what was it like playing the romantic good looking leading man?
Josh Duhamel: To be truthful, more than being the good-looking guy, I had to be the straight man. They decided it would be funny if I took some pratfalls and bumped into things, so you see me doing a lot of that in the movie.
Can you talk about the physical comedy. Did that come naturally - did you get injured at all?
Josh Duhamel: There was a scene where I was supposed to run into this car but the stunt coordinator had it set up so that the car was going to sweep out my leg and I was going to roll under the front of the hood and roll up onto the windshield and look in and see that it's my friend Puck. It wasn't the most well conceived stunt ever performed - it took us a few times to get it right. So I'm running at this car and the first two times we did it, I literally went right over the top of the car and one time fell on my shoulder or on my neck. And then another time I fell over the other edge of the car and they almost pulled the plug on the stunt. But I talked them into letting me do it one more time and I figured it out. But to answer your question, this kind of comedy fits in with the way I am anyway. I'm clumsy in real life, so I just had a lot of fun coming up with as much funny stuff as possible in this movie.
Kristen and Josh, how did you build the relationship between you? Can you explain the rhythm of the romance and the comedy?
Kristen Bell: It is definitely a difficult thing to capture. I've seen a ton of movies where I've believed the couple and I've seen a ton of movies where I have not believed them at all. And unfortunately as an audience member you check out - you don't stay connected if you don't believe in the couple, so we knew it was really important. I think that's something you have to trust to your director to bring to the film as well as doing your best to capture those moments.
Was it natural?
Kristen Bell: It was. Josh and I got along so well right from the very beginning that I think it was just natural. But after that, you just have to hope for the best, because you really don't know until you're in the editing room what will happen and he figures out whether or not we captured it. What I like about this story is that it's not the sad downtrodden girl who is chasing after the guy which you see all the time. This was the opposite. Who wouldn't want all of these guys chasing after her? So I said 'okay, I'll do it.'
Josh how did you build the romance and comedy?
Josh Duhamel: We had to start out so quickly and fall in love right away in order to propel the movie along. We had to really make those first couple of scenes work at the wedding as well as the scenes afterwards, when we get back to New York, otherwise it would have felt like there was nothing there to begin with. Then the audience would wonder: what's he really chasing after and why? So we focused a lot on that wedding scene, trying to establish as much of a "love at first sight" thing as we could, so that when she got back to New York and all these guys were chasing after her, it would all make some sense.
Kristen Bell: And the other thing I will say - and I don't know if this is strategic on Mark Steven Johnson's part - but we shot that wedding scene very, very late in the game and so Josh Duhamel and I by that time had already established a friendship. It was much easier to connect immediately. We knew each other's rhythms and we knew how we were going to play it. Our first meeting was actually the end of the movie and I think that the way in which you shoot a movie can be really beneficial to the actors sometimes, so we lucked out this time.
What was the atmosphere like on the set amongst all of you?
Kristen Bell: Loud. Very loud.
Josh Duhamel: It was great because I'm a big fan of everybody here. These are all the people that I've always wanted to work with, so I was thinking: be careful what you wish for sometimes - which is the theme of the movie. It literally involved me staying out of the way and wiping my eyes a lot and trying to just keep everything on track, because everyone's so good, everyone's so funny. That is always the challenge - getting all the funny stuff and making sure we're advancing the story at the same time as letting everybody run loose, it was great.
Were there any particularly funny moments we might see on the DVD?
Kristen Bell: There was a lot of laughing off camera. There was a lot of ruining other peoples' shots because we were laughing so much.
Mark, could you describe what Kristen and Josh bring to the comedy?
Mark Steven Johnson: To be honest with you, we hired both of them because they're such great actors and they look so great together and they're just so likeable. And then the idea was to surround them with the funniest people we could get, the best actors, the best comedians. We got all these great guys. But honestly, they're both so funny themselves too so it worked really well.
Specifically in terms of comedy what does Kristen bring to the movie?
Mark Steven Johnson: Kristen Bell obviously is so beautiful and she's such a great actress, but she brought so much more along with that. What I didn't anticipate was her gift for physical comedy, which is so hard to do, to play drunk is challenging. That is really tough and she was great.
What about Josh?
Mark Steven Johnson: It is the same with Josh Duhamel. It would have been very easy to have the classic romantic leading guy who just needs to look good and be there to keep things moving, but Josh Duhamel is great and he is so physical. He's so great with his body and that's why we just kept slamming him and you see him take so many pratfalls. We wanted to do a real, classic, screwball, romantic comedy. We were not afraid to let people run loose a bit and the more we did that and slammed Josh Duhamel, the funnier it got and the more you like him in the movie.
Kirsten, you've got some very funny scenes. Do you subscribe to the view that you've got to play the character with the utmost seriousness when you're doing a comic scene?
Kristen Bell: Yes and no. You have to be the character but luckily for me, the character was written as a fairly clumsy girl and it is very realistic. People embarrass themselves on a daily basis. I know I do and this character did that a lot, which I think is what makes her likeable and also leaves room for a lot of funny comedic moments. There is a vase- breaking scene that allowed me to get really physical which is very funny. Also, I'm very clumsy in real life to begin with and we just capture that on film. There wasn't much training or stunt coordinating going on. I would just trip. Mark would happen to be rolling the camera and we would put it in the movie.
So you're saying you constantly fall over things in real life?
Kristen Bell: There's a fair amount of that, yes. I also bruise like a peach. I knock into things and I am not the most coordinated person in the world.
What was it like filming in Italy?
Kristen Bell: Glorious.
Josh Duhamel: I loved it, I fell in love with Rome, but it was just so hot. We were in the middle of a heat wave when we were shooting the scenes in Rome.
Kristen Bell: And Italy has not discovered air conditioning; that was different for us, because usually we're so spoiled with every room being air conditioned.
Josh Duhamel: I loved Rome because I have studied a lot of history in school and college and it was always a dream of mine to be able to go to Rome and so that for me was the best part of it. I had a day off sightseeing. I rented a Vespa and just went out and got to see as many of the amazing sights in Rome as I could. I still can't believe that I was brave enough to do it, because there are nine million people on Vespas riding around Rome as well as cars and I had no idea where I was going. It was really scary and I couldn't believe I had the guts to face some pretty wild drivers, but it was a great day.
Of course the story is focused on Kristen and Josh, but you have these other great actors who are also chasing Kristen. How did that work, Mark?
Mark Steven Johnson: It was the idea that you have to be careful what you wish for. We have a wealthy guy offering to buy her anything that she wants, somebody who's mysterious, that's the street magician, somebody who is artistic, Antonio, somebody who's handsome, that is Dax. It was the idea of taking all those archetypes, taking the things that women want and magnifying them by a hundred and having fun with that. I will say that when the guys all got together, everyone was so funny. And it was great because they are also fans of each other. The guys were all working together and playing off each other.
Mark you have had some fantastic experience in comedy, you wrote GRUMPY OLD MEN and GRUMPIER OLD MEN with two of the greatest comedic legends of our time: the late actors Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. You went away from the genre for a little while. What brought you back into comedy with this particular project?
Mark Steven Johnson: It's just so much fun to do comedy. It is fun to do conflict movies too, but this is so immediate. You know if a joke is working or not. It just felt good going back to what I was doing originally. Looking back to those days being on set with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, I was like a kid, just watching wide-eyed and learning as much as I could and I feel that way with these guys on this film quite honestly. I think that these guys are some of the funniest people working today and I feel really lucky to have had this experience.