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Jerks, Tempters And Friends
"I won't have another conversation about how crazy this is, how sorry I am, how bad my judgment is and how I won't ever touch you again.” – Dr. Pomatter

With its themes about the power of female friendship, solidarity and maternal love, the drama and comedy of WAITRESS is often driven by its characters' hilariously familiar conflicts with the men in their lives. Knowing this, Adrienne Shelly gave careful consideration to how she cast the male roles, aiming for multi-dimensional performances that would keep the characters funny, infuriating but also true.

To play Jenna's louse of a selfish, jealous, controlling husband, Shelly always had in mind Jeremy Sisto, with whom she had first worked in 1999 on a small New York thriller entitled DEAD DOG. Since then, Sisto's career has taken off, with his riveting roles on HBO's award-winning series "Six Feet Under” and the acclaimed feature film THIRTEEN opposite Holly Hunter. He most recently starred on the NBC drama "Kidnapped” and has become known for his indelible intensity. "I knew Jeremy would be really powerful as Jenna's husband, and he is,” Shelly told an interviewer during the production of WAITRESS.

Sisto was impressed with how Adrienne Shelly flipped a typically bleak situation like a disastrously dysfunctional marriage on its head in her sunny, humor-laced screenplay. "She allows the audience to laugh at certain characters that other films might make it hard to watch and yet, she doesn't sacrifice any of the poignancy,” he comments.

It was Shelly's script that convinced Sisto to do something he has long avoided – try his hand at comedy. Sisto admits he isn't usually attracted to the genre, but the chance to work with Shelly compelled him to take on this rare satirical role. "I'd always admired Adrienne's work as an actress and a director and I thought the script was really sweet and funny and quite different from the stuff I've done,” he says. "This was real life comedy, so I could handle something like that. It's not about punch-lines. It's about character quirks and personalities.”

To get inside the quirks of egocentric Earl, Sisto had to develop a bit of empathy for him no matter how egregious his behavior as a husband. "I think Earl's basically very insecure,” observes Sisto, "which makes him intent on keeping his woman close to him. He definitely has many layers and contradictory personality traits -- which is what made me so interested in the character.”

Portraying the other leg of Jenna's yin-yang love triangle is Nathan Fillion in the film's most romantic role as the new and only OB-GYN in town, Dr. Pomatter. To play the good doctor who finds himself with an adulterous attraction to a pregnant patient, Adrienne Shelly said that she wanted to find "the quintessential sort of handsome guy who has no idea that he's handsome.”

For Shelly, Nathan Fillion, an up-and-coming star who gained a cult following in Joss Whedon's fantasy television series "Firefly” and feature film SERENITY, was perfect in that regard. "He's really a big dork,” she laughed on the set, "but he looks like Harrison Ford or something. He was perfect for the role.”

Fillion notes that his role was also a bit of a departure: "I've played space captains and chiefs of police, but this is the first time I've played a gynecologist!” Like his cast mates, it was the humor and poignancy of the story that drew him to the part. "My favorite thing about the screenplay is that this isn't a story about presidents or spies – it's about real people in a real café,” he comments. "It's a slice of life, a slice of life pie.”

Rounding out the main cast, Shelly was able to recruit the legendary Andy Griffith to take on the role of Joe, the cantankerous owner of Joe's Pie Diner, who has a secret sweet spot for Jenna and her plight – even if he never quite le

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