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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment

July 7, 2005

In the ensemble comedy/drama Happy Endings, an ill-conceived moment of passion between teen stepsiblings Mamie and Charley leads to an unwanted pregnancy and sets the stage for a web of dysfunctional relationships. Years later, an adult Mamie (Lisa Kudrow) is approached by film student Nicky (Jesse Bradford), who offers her a proposal: he will reunite her with the child she gave up for adoption if he can film it as a documentary. None too keen on the idea, Mamie instead offers to let him shoot the story of her immigrant boyfriend Javier (Bobby Cannavale), a masseur who offers his clients "happy endings"--massages capped with a sexual twist.

Meanwhile, Charley (Steve Coogan) is trying to convince his partner Gil (David Sutcliffe) that Gil is the biological father of a lesbian couple's child; and elsewhere, a manipulative girl named Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is sleeping with wealthy widower Frank (Tom Arnold) and his gay son Otis (Jason Ritter), who secretly fantasizes about Charley.

Happy Endings is written and directed by Don Roos (Bounce, and the critically acclaimed The Opposite of Sex). In this interview, Jason Ritter and Tom Arnold talk about working on this project.

The Interview

MEDIA: [to Tom] How did you get the role of Frank?

TOM: Probably no other director would have cast me in this. The advantage I had, which I guess is a big advantage, is that Don had known me personally for a while, and when he wrote it, when he gave it to me, he said, "I see you. This is how I see you."

What was it like shooting the scene where Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, Jude, first meets Frank?

TOM: Maggie just walked in the door. You know, the first time I saw her was when I walked in the house and she was topless eating a cookie. It's casual. So I just walked in. There was Maggie in my living room, and I acted like I would act if it happened. I'd be surprised, but not sad. Not sad. But yet also trying to act like it's cool, cuz I'm cool, and this happens a lot, you know...or whatever.

You both have love scenes with Maggie. Was the experience awkward?

TOM: [to Jason] Go ahead.

JASON: Well, was supposed to be kind of awkward, which I was happy about because I don't know if I could have done much else. I was very nervous, and she's such a great actress, I was very intimidated by her. But she totally made me feel as at ease as I possibly could--which still wasn't that much at ease, [laughs] but at least I could be at ease in my uneasiness. But it was really a lot of fun and we got to play the comedy of the scene. I leaned in a little too fast at one point and bumped her tooth, and her lip started to bleed, and I felt so bad.

TOM: [to Jason] But didn't she say just keep going?

JASON: [to Tom] Yeah.

TOM: Yeah, that's Maggie!

JASON: She's just a pro. Between the two of us, I would say I was the one who was more nervous and uncomfortable with the whole thing, and she was just, "This is what it is, let's just do it."

[to Jason] What about the scene in which you have to kiss a guy? Was that awkward as well?

JASON: Again, I was a little nervous about doing that. He was so great, though. We both kind of felt each other out...

TOM: [coughs]

JASON: [laughs] ...emotionally! No, we were trying to see, "Are you the type of guy who we're going to have to jump up and go, 'Eeewww!' or are we going to just do it? Or are we going to make fun of each other or tease each other? Or are we just going to be professional and do it and pretend like we are really attracted to each other?" And so that was very simple. It was like, "All right, you're going to kiss me, and I'm going to lean in and kiss you, and then we're going to fall over." But yeah, it was interesting. It felt strange to have someone's stubble rubbing on my stubble, and it hurt a lot. And I finally understood that age-old complaint. But it was fine. He was really great about it. He made me feel very much at ease.

Related Material

Interview with Lisa Kudrow and Jesse Bradford
Interview with writer/director Don Roos
Movie Coverage: Happy Endings


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