Attractive young folks Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel are starring as the central romantic couple in When In Rome, opening today in theaters nationwide. Bell’s playing a career-oriented museum curator who hasn’t had time to look for love since her last unpleasant break-up, and who is stunned when her little sister is suddenly getting married in Italy. So when she goes to the wedding, even though she’s completely cynical about it all, she meets Duhamel, who happens to be the groom’s best man, and they strike up some serious sparks. Of course, there’s always a misunderstanding to complicate these things, and one drunken coin-stealing trip through a magic fountain later, and she’s suddenly the obsessive love object of four unsuspecting romantic goofballs – Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard and Danny DeVito.
Bell is well aware of how important it is to find that chemistry with her love interest. “It’s definitely a difficult thing to capture,” she admits. “I’ve seen a ton of movies where I’ve believed the couple and a ton of movies where I have not believed them at all, and unfortunately, as an audience member, you check out if you don’t believe them. So we knew it was really important, and I think that’s something you trust your director to bring as well. But Josh and I got along so well right from the very beginning that I think it was just natural that it read as romantic chemistry. It’s kind of a crapshoot. You just have to hope for the best. What I liked about this was that it’s not the girl chasing the guy which you so often see – you know, the sad, downtrodden girl who is chasing after the guy all the time and revolving around his world. It’s sort of the opposite. Who wouldn’t want all these guys chasing after them?”
“For Kristen and I,” Duhamel adds, “because we had to start out so quick and fall in love so quick in order to propel the movie through, we had to really make those first couple scenes work at the wedding, because otherwise it would have felt like there was nothing there to begin with, so what’s he really chasing after? So we really focused on that wedding scene and tried 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 make some sense.”
It may sound like hard thespian work, but there were four comedy guys on the set all the time, and their easy back-and-forth banter gives us a pretty good hint of what the actual mood on set was. “Very serious. Yeah, we delved into some pretty tough stuff,” Arnett joked. Shepard clarified that “Will and I were no longer allowed to be in scenes together by the end of the picture. A lot of horseplay, a lot of roughhousing, some fisticuffs.” “Tomfoolery,” Heder suggested, before Bell offered the term “malarkey.” Arnett concurred that there was “some malarkey, yeah. The police report said ‘malarkey.’”
This eventually led to the question of what drew these guys to their supporting roles. “We felt it was high time to really address the topic of love,” Arnett deadpanned.
“And more importantly, magic fountains,” Shepard added. “You and I have had a charity for years to try and get more magic fountains into inner city schools. That’s why inner city kids aren’t doing as well, because they don’t have enough magic fountains to make wishes in.”
Arnett agreed. “If we could turn this economy around, we could start putting people to work building magic fountains.”