WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
From the first roll of the dice, the odds were good that What Happens in
Vegas would quickly land in front of the cameras. On the strength of a winning
pitch by screenwriter Dana Fox and producer Michael Aguilar, the studio
immediately commissioned a script and the comedy was off and running.
Recalls Aguilar, "We sold the pitch in the spring, Dana delivered the
first draft in the fall, Cameron [Diaz] and Ashton [Kutcher] soon became
attached based on that draft, and we were shooting the following summer. By
Hollywood standards, that's pretty much warp speed."
According to Dana Fox, What Happens in Vegas was actually an amalgam of
several movie ideas she'd been working on. "I'm really interested in
stories about finding love or getting to know someone through dysfunction or
adversity. I first came up with this story about two people who strangely get to
know each other while divorcing. Around that time, I kept hearing the phrase
'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' and thought, if it wasn't already taken,
it would make a great title for a film.
"Then, out of nowhere, Britney Spears goes and gets married in Las
Vegas. And, it's like, yeah--one of the things you can do in Vegas is get
married on a whim, sometimes even to a total stranger. Of course, the other
thing you can do there is win a ton of money. And then it hit me: what if both
of those things happened on the same night?" And, thus, What Happens in
Vegas was born.
Cameron Diaz thinks the film's title evokes quite the vivid scenario.
"Vegas is a 24-hour city," she says, "you can't tell what time it
is, you don't know how much money you've spent, how much you've drunk, how much
you've slept, and so on. There's kind of a built in safety net, though--because
anything is possible in Vegas, you're given the permission to basically do
anything there that you'd probably never do anyplace else at any other time in
"It's really like a free pass to be your wildest, craziest, funniest
self," declares Ashton Kutcher, "because no one's supposed to ever
find out what you do there."
Diaz and Kutcher were both excited by the chance to bring the film's kicky
"what if" scenario to life. "I loved the script's 'grass is
always greener' theme," confirms Diaz. "People in relationships often
think their single friends are the lucky ones, while the singles just want to be
in a relationship. In life, it's ultimately about finding your own happiness.
It's not enough to be happy just because you're in a relationship; first you
need to be happy with yourself. That's something I think my character Joy learns
the hard way."
"Jack and Joy are kind of flip sides of the same coin," Kutcher
asserts. "They're both relationship challenged, even though Jack's pretty
relaxed about it all while Joy's more uptight. Romantically, they've both been
looking for the wrong thing, which is probably what draws them to each other to
begin with--even if they are really, really hammered at the time."
Director Tom Vaughan (Starter for 10) was taken with Fox's script after
reading just the first act. "The story setup is so incredibly dynamic,
fast-paced, and inventive, it absolutely had me hooked by page 30 or 40,"
reflects Vaughan. "It's a classic sparring comedy with two characters who,
deep down, are wildly drawn to each other, though of course they can't see it.
"This kind of dynamic has been going on in movies since Cary Grant first
laid eyes on Katharine Hepburn--and well before that. Basically, you put
together two fantastic, attractive movie stars in a small, confined space, and
let them fight it out until they realize what their relationship is all about.
And, as always, it's how they get there that'
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