Josh Duhamel falls hard for Kristen Bell in “When In Rome”
In Disney’s new romantic comedy “When in Rome,” Josh Duhamel doesn’t just fall for co-star Kristen Bell, he scrambles, tumbles, and nearly breaks his neck while rolling into a moving car in pursuit of her love.
“It’s not the girl chasing the guy which you so often see,” said Bell, who plays an ambitious young New Yorker disillusioned with romance. In the movie, she takes a whirlwind trip to Rome for her sister’s wedding and drunkenly plucks coins from a fountain of love that ignites the passion of those who threw them in. Upon her return home to New York, she finds four men in a passionate pursuit of her heart.
Bell, of “Veronica Mars” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” fame, said romantic comedies often portray “the downtrodden girl who is chasing the guy all the time and revolving around his world. This (script) was opposite and who wouldn’t want all of these guys chasing after them so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it.'”
The film also stars Danny Devito as a sausage magnate, Jon Heder as a creepy street magician, Will Arnett as adoring painter, and Dax Shepard as a self-admiring model. The characters are meant to represent qualities women look for in men: wealth, mystery, creativity, and good looks – magnified to an extreme.
But it’s Duhamel, who plays a charming reporter, that catches Bell’s character off guard. The movie gives Duhamel, of “Las Vegas” and “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!,” a chance to show off his comedic skills.
“One of Duhamel’s greatest gifts is his ability to be physically funny,” said producer Andrew Panay. “He was a college quarterback in real life, so he’s very coordinated. But to watch him scramble, fall, and run into things – it’s absolutely, incredibly funny and he’s so natural.”
One scene involves Duhamel taking a tumble over a vintage car and breaking its windshield.
“This is more in line with who I am,” Duhamel said of the physical comedy demanded by the script. “I just had a lot of fun coming up with as much stuff as we could for this movie.”
For Heder and Shepard, their roles required some preparation.
Heder, who plays a creepy street magician, learned a few tricks of the trade. He said a magician taught him how to roll a coin and play with cards.
Shepard committed to a diet in line with the same enthusiasm as his delusional male model character.
“I don’t fancy myself very attractive so I thought it would be the ultimate challenge to play a guy in a movie who’s supposed to be a model and never got there with his face so he relied on working out a lot and dieting – extreme dieting.”
The movie takes director Mark Steven Johnson’s career back into comedy after directing action flicks such as “Daredevil” and “Ghostrider.” He was a writer on “Grumpy Old Men” and “Grumpier Old Men.”
“I’m a guy and I’m not a big romantic comedy guy,” Johnson said. “I wanted to make a comedy with romance, versus a ‘romantic comedy.’ I wanted to make a comedy that was really funny that also had a big heart to it. We had a lot of fun with this film, blowing out a lot of the conventions of a traditional romantic comedy. We had fun with this film blowing out a lot of the conventions of a traditional romantic comedy.”
“When in Rome” is rated PG-13. The Touchstone Pictures production opens in U.S. theaters on Jan. 29.