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Casting
"Comedy is collaborative,” Goldberg believes. "You really cannot impose it.” Consequently, he fosters the kind of open atmosphere on set guaranteed to bring out the best of everyone's energy and instincts. 

"The best joke always wins with Gary, the funniest way it plays, whether he wrote it exactly that way or not,” confirms Jennifer Todd. "He's tremendously flexible and willing to change anything at the last minute and work around something new; nothing slows him down.”

In this case, "Everything starts with Diane Lane because she is in virtually every scene,” says Goldberg, who credits Lane for impeccable timing and a flair for physical comedy, as well as the more subtle ability "to play in the realm of heightened reality while never leaving the ground. For Diane to be funny, she doesn't have to step outside herself and present you with a totally different character. Not all actors can play the middle; if they're going to be funny, they really let you know it and that, in my opinion, removes the audience from the moment. You're doing their work for them. But actors like this know how to throw their change-up with the same delivery that they throw their fastball and suddenly you're right there with them.”

Lane warmed to the role from her first script reading, recognizing amidst the laughs the ring of truth the story delivers to "so many people who are realistically looking to meet someone special and facing the frustrations that entails. The fact is, there are more women looking for love than there are available men and there are a lot of people, men and women, who are investigating dating services for the first time. It's a story people can relate to.”

She also liked the element of traditional role reversal in Sarah's scenes with Jake, noting that, "it's Jake who's looking for something significant from the start. He's the one who clearly doesn't want to waste his time with someone who doesn't feel the same way he does, while Sarah is still testing the water and would rather keep things a little lighter. It's an interesting, refreshing dynamic to see a guy have that view of things, and less stereotypical.”

Indeed, Jake is admittedly looking for someone special, versus someone simply available. "If he's going out there again, he wants an epic romance,” says John Cusack, who stars as the classically romantic boat builder. "He understands there'll be some ups and downs and some exquisite agonies and he's ready to embrace it all; he's that kind of passionate character.” Not that we would expect anything less from a guy whose emotional role model is Dr. Zhivago. 

Although the part of Jake Anderson was already drafted when Cusack signed on, Goldberg was happy to bring the actor, a noted screenwriter in his own right (Grosse Pointe Blank and the BAFTA and WGA-nominated High Fidelity), into the process, to help refine and amplify the character into, "a more specific and interesting guy than I had imagined.” 

Describing their early discussions, the director recalls, "John had a lot of insight into the character, and I just said ‘write some stuff up and I'll write some stuff up and we'll get together in a room and go over it.' He wasn't sure at first, but it came down to me saying, ‘well, out of the 400 ideas you've thrown at me in the last eight minutes, I especially like 17, 21, 43…' and so on. There was certainly no shortage of energy and excitement.” Cusack cites another role reversal in the progress of Jake's and Sarah's relationship, pointing out that, "usually, I play the guy who has to chase the girl and in this case it's Sarah's story and she's the one who initiates everything with her personal ad. She's the one who's actively seeking potential matches and it's Jake who responds.”

A working actor since his teens, he likens first dates to auditions, wryly recalling "nightmare scenarios” in which, "somet

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