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In light of the screenplay's deft mixture of drama and comedy, casting the film was exceptionally important. Freundlich developed a concept that drove his choice of actors: "I liked the idea of having people in the movie who were a little bit of a surprise in a comedy,” he explains. "Obviously, Julie, David, Maggie and Billy have done a lot of different things, but you don't think of them as comedians, necessarily, and you don't think of them as romantic comedy stars.” This strategy lent the film "a basis in reality, which was important,” says Freundlich. "I could go as far as I wanted but still have a real, emotionally rooted story.”

Casting went smoothly, according to Tim Perell, mainly because of Freundlich's popularity as a collaborator. "Bart is a real magnet for actors,” says the producer. "They love working with him, so that made it easy.” First and foremost, Freundlich hoped that his wife, four-time Oscar® nominee Julianne Moore, might agree to star as Rebecca, a neurotic actress, wife and mother who constantly fears she's one play away from career oblivion. Freundlich had previously directed his wife in WORLD TRAVELER and THE MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS.

"For Rebecca, he always had Julianne in his head,” says Perell. "That character needed to be played by somebody with a tremendous amount of strength, independence and resolve, and that is who Julie is. She was a very easy fit for that character.”

"I thought the script was great. It's very funny, entertaining, realistic and, finally, moving. It's just an absolutely delightful, charming script,” says Moore.

In addition, she continues, "The movie is very frank about relationships and the way that we deal with each other, and also the differences between men and women.”

Freundlich was especially excited to work with his wife on this particular role, as he was eager to display her rarely shown comedic side. He explains, "There's no doubt in my mind that she's the best actress alive—I also think she's very funny. People don't use her in that way a lot.

"I want to challenge Julie, because I know she can do anything,” he continues. "It's like wanting to watch someone who's really talented try something new, because you know they're going to come up with something better than you could have possibly imagined. As a director, and even more as a writer, that's such a gift. You just know that she's going to mine the material for more than you could have hoped for.”

Moore indeed saw much to explore in the material. "I think what you see with these characters is what a regular downtown New York life is like,” she says. "It's really about the inside of anybody's relationship, about what your life is like as a married person, and the family. It celebrates male and female friendships as well. Bart himself values marriage and relationships and what it means to be in a family, to have a community and friends and to be married - the romanticism as well as the reality of it. Bart shows the pitfalls and the difficulties, but then celebrates the joy of it all, too,” adds Moore.

Since Freundlich also wrote the part of Tom specifically for friend David Duchovny, the actor was the next to receive the script. It was Duchovny's hilarious turns playing a preening, sexually malevolent version of himself on "The Larry Sanders Show” that convinced Freundlich and Perell that he could really shine in the part of Tom, Rebecca's husband, who has quit his advertising executive job in order to be a stay-at-home dad but falls into an affair with a mother at his son's school.

Duchovny read the script and liked it, and quickly agreed to sign on. "Those of us who know Bart know that he's got a terrific sense of humor and is a talented filmmaker,” says Duchovny. "We've been waiting for him to make a comedy. I think that his movies, although they've been great, haven't reflected his sense of humor.”


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