There are all-star casts, and then there are all-star casts. And then there are all-star casts as assembled by Garry Marshall. For his new romantic comedy Valentine's Day, the master director wrangled what seems like half of Hollywood onto a set and paired them up, couple by couple. At this point, all we can do is list them (alphabetically), so you see what we mean: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift. Wow.
No less of a logistical challenge was how to get so many stars in one place to talk about the film, but New Line found a room big enough and Buzzine found a correspondent brave enough to go toe to toe with the entire Hollywood all-star team and sit down for a wild and wide-ranging talk of on-screen love, off-screen relationships, big cast filmmaking and the secrets of Valentine's Day...
Izumi Hasegawa: This film is a love letter both to love and to Los Angeles: What do you love about LA?
Julia Roberts: I second that.
Jennifer Garner: Farmer’s Markets.
Jessica Alba: Mountains and oceans in an hour's driving distance.
Topher Grace: The 405.
Garry Marshall: Dodger Stadium, Staples Center: where there are sports.
Jessica Biel: Real foods daily.
Hector Elizondo: I love the fact that there are five biomes here. You can get to the up in the pines, you get the desert, you get the beach, you can bird-watch, you can do all the important things like watching the wild life.
IH: I love the idea that the right one for you could be your best friend that’s been there all along. Ladies, was there a moment in your life that you realized a friendship had became more?
JR: Garry just said he and I didn’t get married because we are best friends...
GM: We’re very close and we had a nice time, a few times.
JG: Somewhere around my second kid, I thought, “This is turning into something.”
JA: I married my best friend.
IH: Did you know all along?
JA: We were friends first. It lasted ten days...
JB: I guess that’s been more my experience too.
IH: Gentlemen - What has been your best Valentine’s Day experience?
Jamie Foxx: Love in L.A. is different for me. They are all happy and satisfied, but…when I first got here, when I didn’t have the name tag, it was a little interesting to even try to date in L.A. But it was great. When I met this girl on Monday, it was incredible. We went to a party, kicked it, went back to my crib, made love, and then after that it was like we cuddled and talked. This was on a Monday. Then I woke up that morning and I smelled something. It was breakfast. She was cooking breakfast. I was like, “Wow, she’s great.” Hung out, then she left.
That was Monday. No cellphones at that time. It was landlines so I didn’t call Tuesday, and then Wednesday I didn’t call. Then Thursday I was like, “Man, what happened?” Then I was at the club and I saw her with another guy and she spoke to me. “Hey Jamie, how are you?” “Hey, girl.” She was like, “This is Michael. I told him all about you.” And I said okay, cool. And she said, “Oh, and by the way, he has a Range Rover like yours only it’s this year’s.” So that was my experience in L.A.
GM: I wish I had a crib... [Laughs]
IH: Aside from not laughing too much Garry, what challenges were there to work with this big of a cast?
GM: The key is you hire everybody whose name starts with J, to begin with: Jessica, Jamie, Jennifer, Julia… It all works out better. You can say any name - it just starts with a J. It is good for me because I knew many of these people, and to work with them recalls a shorthand because this was a tough schedule. The logistics alone were bigger than most pictures, so to work with them all was a pleasure because there was not much fighting. See how calm they are? Nobody’s pushing each other. It’s a nice group. Sometimes actors push... “I don’t want to sit in this seat.”
IH: Ashton, are you as romantic in real life as your character?
AK: I had the good fortune of playing a florist in this movie, and one of my best friends is a florist so I got to work with him, and what I really learned about that was these guys are like the real living cupids, passing these messages off from one person to the next person. The way that arrangement shows up could really dictate the result on relationships, to some extent. It’s almost like if you can find something that can really translate what it is you’re trying to say, it’s a big deal. So that was my experience on this movie. As far as me being a romantic, I don’t know. I love life and I love people, and I love sharing, so I think yes, I am.
TG: There wasn’t a Valentine’s Day that went by on That ’70s Show where I didn’t get a card or roses or something...
AK: ...I did all kinds of nice s***...
TG: ...It was very, very romantic.
IH: For the parents among you, how do you find time for romance with kids at home?
JR: My kids go to bed at 7:30.
JA: Mine goes to bed at 7:00, but I’m usually too tired, unfortunately.
JG: You change the definition of romance. Romance is romance, but in addition, romance can just be breakfast over the tops of heads. Just getting through the day, you’ve just got to create being romantic. I think most of us will be promoting a movie. That’ll be romantic.
JA: We’re pretty spontaneous. We try to squeeze in a smooch here and there, a little card, just a note to say “I love you.”
IH: And V-Day plans?
JR: For Valentine’s Day, we’re just gonna be makin’ out — for the full 24 hours...
IH: Julia and Bradley, can you talk about shooting the sequences in the plane and what that was like?
Bradley Cooper: I liked to sit down and talk all day.
JR: We caught up. We hadn’t seen each other for awhile and I grilled him pretty good.
GM: They were in a plane together and did 83 performances together.
JR & BC: 98.
GM: 98? I didn’t go through the last few. They get to know each through 98 performances on the stage together, so they just work beautifully together. They were the first shot in the movie — we started this. They were a little nervous, but Julia calmed everyone down.
BC: That was a wreck.
SM: That’s because Julia is the only one who can understand what Garry Marshall is talking about.
IH: Julia, can you give an example of how you’d translate?
JR: If Garry were to say to you as an actor, “Do the thing with the thing and then go over there and be funny. Action!” That would mean sit up straight, smile, look to your co-star, say your lines and be very funny. Action.
GM: Pretty good interpretation! This is comedy. Every time you answer the question, there’s pause before they turn the mic on. I’m gonna use that and you see that in my movie.
IH: Garry, you’re known for creating a family-like environment on-set. Do you still have that environment with such a large cast?
GM: I’ve had a lot of relatives also who were involved. Part of my thing is when you work with these stars, you have to make them comfortable. You surround them with people you can rely on. Bradley and Julia sat on that plane, and seated next to them was my grandchild who won’t say a word. She won’t grab Julia and say, “Give me an autograph.” She’ll sit quietly. So we put family members, besides Diane, who is my assistant, and her husband sat behind them and didn’t say a word. And with Ashton, my daughter was the other clerk with him, so he’s comfortable. Part of making a family business.
IH: Since this was such a large cast, many of the actors didn’t get to work together on screen. To what extent were you together as a cast away from the cameras?
GM: The food is free, so you come. You’re gonna always eat on the movie set. I don’t know if Julia met Ashton. Have you met him yet?
JR: No. Ashton, say hello. I’m sorry, people.
GM: Who else never met?
JR: I met Jessica [Biel] earlier: She is one stunning human being. I’ve never seen her in real life before. It’s sickening. Amazing. My Lord!
JB: Right back at you.
SM: I’d like to know what all the women here eat. I’d like to have a rundown of: Do you diet all the time? You are looking so fabulous. Is it worth it?
JR: You girls are slim.
JG: I’m still nursing.
JR: Well, then that’s the key. She’s nursing.
JG: Julia got to sit the whole time, and she pushed the cry button at the end.
JR: I haven’t seen it. Does it work?
JG: It’s like “ding!” I knew it was coming, so I’m like, “Don’t be crazy,” but…[pretending to cry], yes.
JR: Well, you were nursing - that’ll make you kooky too.
IH: And for you, George?
George Lopez: I would have been Julia’s character and fall in love with Bradley.
BC: Thank you, George.
GL: To sit with him and talk with him on an airplane would have been amazing. First-class, by the way.
IH: Jennifer, great work with the baseball bat - that was amazing: Where does that come from?
JG: I was going for a more Eccles thing than Lowell. I like to be compared to Papi (David Americo Ortiz Arias), but he had an off year. I would say Manny, but he’s not there anymore. I like batting cages as much as the next girl. Girls can do those things. There was a change in the Title One sports move. We grew up doing that stuff too.
GM: She’s from West Virginia. They teach them batting in West Virginia.
JG: We tip our cows like that, sir.
IH: Jessica, your character turns to chocolate. What do you turn to for comfort at disappointing times?
JB: That’s where it usually starts.
JG: I would recommend a piñata...
IH: Any ideas for a healthy Valentine’s Day?
AK: I think watching this movie is a healthy Valentine. We had a green set, so there was a lot of dedication and hard work that went in on this movie to using solar panels and clean energy and recycling. Due to the fact that the movie was shot in L.A. actually made that an easier thing to make happen. In some ways it worked out, and in some ways it didn’t, but I think every opportunity we have in our industry to make what we’re doing a more environmentally conscious effort is a good thing. So supporting a movie that was made that way, I think, can contribute to that.
JG: You get popcorn…without butter.
IH: Why does this one day matter when you put so much work into the relationship the rest of the year?
TG: You’re right. You’re so right.
JF: Women are built differently. You’ve got to remember all of these dates, and put it in your cellphone if you have to - the birthdays and anniversaries and all of that. Women have fake anniversaries, like “This is the first anniversary we went to Boa.” “What?” “This is our first anniversary for Boa. You don’t remember that?” “We go to Boa all the time.” So get all those dates down. The most important thing is four or five days before that day comes, get something for her so you’re prepared. Then you can go without doing something the rest of the year. See, you’re thinking wrong. The rest of the year you can f*** around.
JB: Just do it all day and all year long.
AK: Okay, for the movie, we’re doing a thing online. People are going to YouTube and posting their best Valentine’s Day gifts and their worst Valentine’s Day gifts. They’re going to tag it V-Day Gifts. They’re going to compile them into the 100 best Valentine’s Day gifts and the 100 worst Valentine’s Day gifts. You’re going to go to the Best list and you’re going to pick something off of that.
IH: Bradley, when you found out your love interest was going to be Eric Dane, what did you think?
BC: Phenomenal. He has a beautiful body, succulent lips, swimmer’s build…
IH: Was there an extended version of the scene?
BC: Absolutely. I have the rights to it, though...
IH: In these films and even in life, it seems like love and the pursuit of it is what everyone wants. It’s like a drug: People want to be happy, and love is really the only thing that makes us happy. Do you agree?
JR: It is a drug, though, isn’t it? Love and that feeling, and what it does to make us all tingling inside and crazy, right? It’s a drug. So find that pusher that makes it work.
AK: When it comes to love, everyone wants to receive it, but at the end of the day, you don’t get to receive it until you start to give it. I think it goes for anything in the world — what you give is what you receive. If you want the drug, you have to give the drug.
IH: What do you think is the key to a successful relationship, especially in L.A.?
JB: Laughing, definitely. Just being able to laugh and not take things too seriously.
JA: I think communicating is a big one.
JR: I think it’s the same in any city. L.A. isn’t distinctive in its uniqueness to what makes a relationship work. Two people who work at it in any town you go to — that’s what works.
Shirley MacLaine: Coming from a long line of Valentine’s Days and also a long line of cities where I experienced Valentine’s Days, and also a long line of partners, I would say that the key to a good relationship, if you’re married, is a husband that looks the other way. But mostly, to have a successful Valentine’s Day in a successful city and a successful marriage and relationship, is that you know who you are. Everything goes from there.
IH: Everyone feels the same thing across the world, and this is not an L.A. feeling...
JG: What’s great about the way Garry uses L.A. in the film is that it’s just a city. It’s not celebrity central. It’s not about Hollywood. It’s a city, and you never see it that way. You always see it as the backdrop for some other world and glitz and glamour. This reminds you that this is just a city full of people going through the same kinds of little triumphs and tragedies in their love lives as anyone anywhere else in the world.
AK: A friend of mine once told me that Los Angeles is a city filled with the second-best-looking person from every town across America. The best-looking person stays home because they have it good there.
TG: By the way, wouldn’t you like to meet the guy in Iowa who is better looking than Ashton?
IH: For the actors who already do many romantic comedies, I’m sure Hollywood offers you lots of this genre of film. What is it that makes you connect with one?
GM: The kissing part attracts a lot of people. You say, “Well, you wanna be in this romantic comedy, you know who will kiss whom.” “I get to work with…” In this picture, we kiss couples. We didn’t kiss single people. We tried to make a combination. So I think it’s a good reason to do a romantic comedy. Nobody mentioned the music. The music is what makes a romantic comedy. We have a John Debny score, great songs in the picture, so that helped us a lot in it. The music people always kind of saves the directors butt, because if you think the scene doesn’t work, suddenly you put this music in it, “My god! What a great direction and acting that is.” It helps romantic comedies.
IH: For Hector, what was it like working with Shirley MacLaine?
HE: That was an experience because, not only have I admired her work for a long time, we also are both dancers.
SM: I didn’t know you were a dancer.
HE: I started back in the pre-Harlem days — 55 years ago, before I started doing theater. So that was a treat. But the fact that she comes ready to work makes it look easy. She takes work seriously but makes it look effortless. That was cool with me. She’s not a bad kisser either, by the way.
SM: You know what we both loved about this, what we would do in this film — it’s the celebration of senior citizenship romance and that older people have romance to contend with the Valentine’s Day as the younger people do.
And, of course, in our scene, when I admit what was going on some years before, where young people might come across that conflict often, probably not with older people. The reason I did the picture was because we enjoyed that question and his older man response, having been betrayed and all of that, I thought that was important.
That being said, in a romantic comedy these days, what older people go through in relation to love is as important as what the younger ones go through.
IH: Finally, this is for Julia, Hector and Garry. How does it feel to be reunited after Pretty Woman all these years later?
JR: We have a lot of Pretty Woman people. That sounds grammatically incorrect. Our D.P., Chuck Minsky, shot Pretty Woman, and our prop department… We laughed about a lot of things — particularly how old we’ve all gotten in 20 years.
GM: In Pretty Woman, there was a scene where the prop-man was bringing out the glasses, and Julia said, “Hide those. Garry, you make me do something crazy with them. Don’t show those glasses.” And I hide them and she did something crazy. So now she doesn’t tell the prop-man to hide things.
JR: I just do whatever Garry wants me to do. I’m his comedy slave.
GM: A wonderful one. And Albert Brenner did the set design. We had a wonderful time. That was 20 years ago?
JR: Every ten years, we do this. We did Pretty Woman, and then ten years later we did Runaway Bride, and then ten years later Valentine’s Day. So I will see all of you back here when I’m 51.
GM: I can’t wait to see how beautiful you’ll be.
New Line Cinema's 'Valentine's Day is in theaters now.