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I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE

Casting The Leads
At the heart of I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE's humor and human observation is the character of Richard Cooper, a well-heeled investment banker who appears on the surface to have absolutely everything of which a man could dream. He lives with his lovely schoolteacher wife, Brenda, and their two young children in the suburbs of New York City and commutes everyday to his job as the sole black executive at the prestigious investment firm of Pupkin & Langford. But Richard has one hazardous weakness: a wandering eye. No matter how much he loves his wife, he can't help but see ridiculously gorgeous women everywhere he goes -- on the train commuting to work, on the streets walking to work, at work, on his way home from work, everywhere. He just can't seem to escape them, or the reminder they carry that a certain part of his life is over for good.

There was never any doubt for Chris Rock, who knew this character inside and out, that he would play Richard. For Rock, the character's mix of family devotion and over-active fantasy was perfect for his kind of comedic portrait. Producer Lisa Stewart notes that Rock kept adding layers and lines to the character even as the film was in progress. "He's still Chris Rock so there were all kinds of ad-libs,” she explains. "We'd be doing a scene that was already beautifully written but then he'd just go off on a tear – and everybody had to try to keep up!”

Says Rock of the character: "I always say that there are two types of guys who think about cheating. There are those who just hate the opposite sex, and it's just a way of letting out their frustration. But then you've got guys who simply love women. They're just always a sucker for a damsel in distress. And to me, that's Richard Cooper.”

Despite his mischievous imagination, Richard never even considers cheating on his wife until one particular damsel provides a terribly tempting opportunity. This is the stunning Nikki Tru, the girlfriend of a friend of Richard's from his long-past clubbing days, who appears at Richard's office door one day looking for help finding a job, and looking very fine indeed. As Nikki and Richard start spending innocent afternoons together during Richard's late lunches, their relationship gets more and more complicated by mutual attraction.

Yet even as Richard begins to falter at keeping Nikki at bay, he becomes more and more keenly aware of what's at stake – the entire life he has created. "Richard definitely goes from being very selfish to figuring out what he wants in life and also seeing how his actions affect a lot of people,” explains Rock.

For Rock, Richard's ultimate need to make a choice is what makes his predicament not only filled with hilarious circumstances but very real. "There's no black or white in this situation,” he comments. "Hopefully when people walk out of the theater, there's a debate that will continue over who he should be with.”

Key to creating Richard's crisis of temptation would also be casting the character of Nikki Tru. Rock knew he needed an actress who could make Nikki absolutely, unavoidably alluring, but without being the clear-cut villain. Even while he and Louis C.K. were writing the screenplay, Rock had asked Kerry Washington to take the role of Richard's wife during an informal reading. The two had worked together years ago on the comedy BAD COMPANY and Rock had watched with pleasure as Washington ascended to critical acclaim with diverse performances in such films as the Oscar®-winning RAY and the recent LAST KING OF SCOTLAND. Now, he saw her in a whole new light.

"Kerry was like that kid in the neighborhood you still think is a kid and then you come home and – she's sexy! ‘You think – hey, what happened to you?'” Rock explains. ”I saw her on the cover of some magazine, and I was like, who the f--- is this? She was so hot, and I was lik

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