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WHEN IN ROME

About The Production
For director Mark Steven Johnson, who is best known for comic book adaptations like "Daredevil” and "Ghost Rider,” a comedy like "WHEN IN ROME” is a bit of a departure. In this movie, jokes the director, "no one's head explodes,” but the film is a return to Johnson's roots. "Comedy is where I started—writing ‘Grumpy Old Men'—and I really wanted to get back to it.”

Johnson, along with producer Gary Foster, recognized the comedy potential of "WHEN IN ROME.” "I'm a guy, and I'm not a big romantic-comedy guy,” says the director. "I wanted to make a comedy with romance, versus a ‘romantic comedy.' I wanted to make a comedy that was really funny that also had a big heart to it. We had fun with this film, blowing out a lot of the conventions of a traditional romantic comedy.”

Producer Andrew Panay came to the project with comedies like "Wedding Crashers” and "Old Dogs” under his belt; he helped bring that signature sense of humor to this film. "We have a very strong male perspective and a strong female perspective, and you meld it together and get something for everybody,” says Panay.

For the film's leading lady, the filmmakers called on Kristen Bell. "Kristen is incredible, an amazing actor,” says Johnson. "I have never worked with anyone like her. I really felt like you could build a whole movie around this girl and it was really exciting.”

Bell portrays Beth, a young curator at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. "Beth is a ‘gallerina,'” says Bell, "which is a term I've learned for young women who run any sort of gallery. It's sort of a high-pressure job, which is why she's always so frazzled.”

And her life is about to get even more frazzled, thanks to a wedding, some champagne and a few magic coins, says Bell. "My character goes to her sister's wedding in Rome and has one too many glasses of champagne. She ends up wading through a fountain, gathering coins.” What she doesn't know is that the coins belong to people who've wished for love, and are now magically inclined to pursue the woman who holds their coins. "When she gets home, these suitors start to come after her. They're madly in love. There's a lot of chasing, a lot of running in heels.”

"I just wanted to surround Kristen with the funniest people I could,” says Johnson. "The script was originally written with Kristen as more of the straight man, reacting to all these funny guys, but she's so funny I kept giving her more to do—more physical comedy—because she really has the ability in a way I haven't seen in a long time.”

Josh Duhamel was tapped as Beth's leading man, Nick, whom she meets at the wedding, finds an instant connection, then fears he's under the same spell as the rest of her pursuers. "I would say Nick and Beth have the same outlook on life,” says Duhamel. "Both of them are very driven in their given professions and neither is really looking for love. It's one of those things, I guess, you usually find it when you're not looking.”

The unexpectedly awkward quality that Duhamel brought to the character made him that much funnier and more endearing, says producer Panay. "One of Josh's greatest gifts is his ability to be physically funny. He was a college quarterback in real life, so he's very coordinated. But to watch him scramble, fall and run into things—it's absolutely, incredibly funny. And he's so natural.”

Producer Gary Foster adds, "Josh is from South Dakota, and he has just got this very authentic way about him. He's really kind of ‘aw shucks.' He works really hard. He's a very competitive guy, a former athlete, and that drive is still there.”

The filmmakers turned to top comic performers to cast the strange suitors that give Duhamel's character a run for his money. Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Jon Heder and Dax Shepard were called on to pursue Bell's char

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