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THE PINK PANTHER 2

The On-Screen Dream Team
The filmmakers hit upon the idea of accentuating Clouseau's bumbling by surrounding him with a dream team of detectives from around the world. "I think Clouseau seems funniest when he's surrounded by highly competent, really smart people,” observes Simonds. 

An esteemed international cast has been assembled for The Pink Panther 2. In addition to Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer, who return to their roles as Ponton and Nicole, respectively, several highly respected and funny actors join the cast, including John Cleese, Lily Tomlin, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki, and Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

"The entire cast is very generous,” says Jean Reno. "We each felt we were lucky to be a part of the collaboration. Everybody was in the same mood, everybody was on top of their game.”

Alfred Molina agrees; "It was a very collaborative atmosphere. Somebody would come up with an idea and we'd say, ‘Oh yeah, let's try that.'”

Ponton and Nicole

It was very important to the filmmakers that the actors playing Ponton and Nicole, Clouseau's two closest associates, return for The Pink Panther 2. Clouseau's relationships with both, now clearly established, are developed in the sequel in funny and touching ways. Steve Martin says, "Though Jean and Emily aren't necessarily known for comedy, they both do it really well.” 

Reno says that the setup of The Pink Panther 2 kept Ponton's relationship with Clouseau open for many comedic possibilities. When his wife throws him out of the house for seeming to care more about work that his family life, Ponton moves into Clouseau's bachelor pad (along with his two boys and dog). "Suddenly,” notes Reno, "the two men are pushed into Odd Couple territory. Somebody is coming to your house with the two kids, the dog, and completely making a revolution to your life. But, I think, nobody can really enter into the interior life of the character of Jacques Clouseau. Ponton knows that you must respect this or otherwise you break the dream, you break the fantasy of Jacques Clouseau, who is something untouchable.” 

Producer Robert Simonds observes, "Jean Reno is one of the most soulful people you'll ever meet. He's able to convey so much with just a twinkle in his eye.” 

Though he cuts an imposing figure, Reno is regarded by his castmates as one of the kindest and funniest people on set. "Jean Reno and I remained good friends after the first movie. I love him,” says Martin. "He's a delightful guy who is always joking and kidding around.”

"Every day, he said ‘good morning' to me in Japanese – he speaks a lot of Japanese,” notes Matsuzaki. "Jean is well known in Japan as a very cool, very serious action-hero type, but actually, he is a nice, funny man. Up until the moment Harald calls for ‘Action', Jean tries to entertain us, to make us relax.” 

Emily Mortimer also returns to play Nicole in the sequel. The Nicole-Clouseau relationships heats up in 2, flamed on one side by the jealousy fueled by Vicenzo's attentions and on the other by the betrayal Nicole feels when she walks into her own office and finds Sonia in Clouseau's arms (even if he was only comforting her!).

Mortimer says that stepping into the role of Nicole doesn't require quite as much acting as she lets on. "It is worryingly easy to access my inner Nicole,” she says. "There's definitely a side to me that's Nicole-esque. Although I pretend not to be, I'm slightly hapless myself. On the set, one of the actors would say to me, ‘Oh, I loved what you did in that scene – it was so funny,' and I'll have this moment where I realize that whatever it was, I hadn't done it on purpose.”

Of course, by identifying with her character, Mortimer raises the comic potential in every scene. "Everythin

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