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GUESS WHO?

Who's Invited?
really wanted Guess Who to reflect the feeling every father has when realizing that he's got to let his daughter go,” says producer Topping. "Most fathers have the expectation that their daughter will choose a man similar to them in temperament and substance. But then to meet somebody who's not only nothing like you, but a nervous, skinny white guy. It was a way of portraying all those dashed expectations in a relevant and comedic way.”

And yet, despite their differences, the characters of Percy Jones and Simon Green also share some underlying traits. Observes Kutcher: "There are certain people that you talk to who don't lose verbal arguments. They're the best people to play with precisely because they refuse to lose. The thing about these two characters is neither will allow himself to lose a verbal argument about anything. It's like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. They're both so stubborn and steadfast and they have great conviction. All of that potentially makes for great comedy.”

Sullivan's background as an actor-writer-director and producer was beneficial when it came to the artful blending of Guess Who's comedic elements and its more serious underlying themes of love and racial stereotypes. "All the comedies I really admire emerge from character,” says Sullivan. "I like that kind of dimension. I like to enjoy the film and laugh at it and then have something else to chew on afterwards. I also love to challenge stereotypes. It's always fun to flip things on their ears. If you're going to make a movie about two people from different worlds coming together, you've got to be willing to take on some of the unchallenged ideas that are in people's minds and the assumptions that accompany them.”

It's precisely such reasoning, says Topping, that made Sullivan the perfect choice as director for Guess Who. "We were lucky with Kevin. He was not afraid of the racial elements in the material and very courageous in his approach. His strength as a director was crucial because Bernie and Ashton have very strong presences.” Adds producer Goldberg: "Kevin has a great sense of drama as he showed in Barbershop II and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. He's a really strong storyteller.”

"The concept of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was ripe for re-exploration. It's a relevant topic in today's world,” says Sullivan. "One of the first things I said to Bernie and Ashton was that race was the hook of the song but love was the melody. And truly, love is the body and soul of this film.”

Mac and Kutcher concurred with Sullivan's assessment of the film's themes, which explored various aspects of love — from the familial to the fears presented by new relationships to the trials and tribulations of long standing ones.

"At its heart, Guess Who really is a love story,” agrees Kutcher. "Percy and Simon both love Theresa, but don't see eye to eye about almost anything else. Ultimately, in order for them both to move on with their lives, they have to learn to respect and even love each other.”

And love, as Kutcher sees it, goes deep under the surface. "True love has nothing to do with the physical. It's not skin. It's not blood. It's energy. It's the energy the person has. What you love about them is what they give.”

For Mac, Guess Who was a way to get back to themes of romance and love that made the films of Hollywood's heyday resonate so meaningfully for him. "I don't think you see much about love on television or film today the way you did back in the day,” he says. "We've gotten away from romance, respect and true love. I wanted to go back to the basics and show the love that exists in this family and to thread it throughout the story.”

The mutual respect of the family members resonated with Mac, particularly in the pride Percy takes in the raising of his<

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