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EAT, PRAY, LOVE

About The Locations
Production began in New York, where the reasons for Liz's need to get away is explored and established through her relationships with two men: her ex-husband, Stephen, and her lover, David.

Casting Stephen correctly was critical, says Gardner. "This is a couple that has fallen out of love – they have material blessings, but they want different things in life. They're not meant to be together, but this does not make their time together any less valuable or worthwhile. Getting the casting right for the role of Stephen was critical, because you need to convey in some way, why they fell in love in the first place, but also, why they fell out of love. And that such a journey is okay, is human, has happened before and will happen again – that such an event doesn't require a villain.”

Billy Crudup plays the role. "The story gives you glimpses of their marriage in all its stages,” he says. "You get an indication of how they came to be together, but mostly you see the beginnings of the crisis that she's having, and how, in an odd way, Stephen is there to send her on her way, on her journey of discovery.”

David, played by James Franco, adores Liz and rekindles her passions that she thinks have disappeared from her life. Gardner strongly believed that if you don't like who she goes off with after walking away from her husband, the story isn't going to work. "There was no one else in the world to play this part,” she says. "James is adorable and sexy, but also very cerebral, with an enormous beating heart and generous spirit.”

"When David and Liz meet, Liz is searching on a lot of levels,” says Franco. "She's looking for a way to connect to someone romantically, but also some deeper, spiritual meaning in her life. Maybe it's not a relationship that's going to last, but it sets her off on her journey, so there are positive things that come out of it.”

Franco and Roberts had their challenges as they had to dive in very quickly to their chemistry as a couple. Says Franco, "The first scene we shot together we made out, and by the end of the day we broke up. It was very intense.”

Liz's sounding board, conscience, and voice of reason is expressed through her best friend and publisher Delia, played by Oscar®-nominated actress Viola Davis. Delia's character is compilation of a support group of girlfriends Liz writes about in the book. "Delia is open enough to listen to Liz,” says Davis. "Even if Delia disagrees with Liz, she's still on her side, rooting for her.”

"Viola is such a wonderful actress,” says Gardner. "She is very funny and she dazzles in the parts of her role that need that. But she also brings gravity to the scenes in which Liz says, yes, she's really going to travel around the world.”

Reading the book, Davis immediately saw what made it strike a chord with readers all over the world. "A friend of mine gave me the book at a time in my life when she thought it would help me. It was a revelation – it was accessible, and appeals to people because it is brave and honest, too deep, and not too deep all at the same time.”

Murphy's intent from the beginning was for the New York portion of the film to feel claustrophobic, as if Liz is dying to break out of her surroundings. Locations in and around New York City spanned from Manhattan city streets to Tribeca (Delia's office) to Brooklyn (Delia's brownstone apartment and Laundromat) to the East Village to Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. The confrontational scene between Stephen and Liz in front of the divorce lawyer was filmed on the 36th floor of an office building on 6th avenue with a stunning view of the Empire State Building in the background.

Then, for 40 Americans, it was bon voyage for an Eat Pray Love trip around the world, working with local crews along the way.

ITALY

Italy, and specifically Rome, was the beginning of nourishment of Liz Gilbert's soul. She took time out of her life to enjoy the simple pleasures of eating, philosophizing with friends, and the joy of "dolce far niente” – the sweetness of doing nothing.

"Rome welcomes you with open arms,” says Roberts. "I have been lucky to work there several times. It's a very welcoming place and a great choice for Liz's first stop on her journey.”

"Rome is all about living in the moment – something Americans tend not to do very well,” says Gardner. "But Rome forces you to live in the moment. There's tremendous value in that, and once you get past the frustrations and settle in, you think Italians might be on to something.”

Liz Gilbert's friends were played by a charming, eclectic ensemble of European actors. Gardner says that you can't fake the kind of chemistry that Julia Roberts and her fellow actors exhibit to portray Liz and her Italian confidants. Actors like Luca Argentero, who plays Giovanni, were a perfect fit. "Every time you cast an actor, you hope the bond with whomever they are befriending in the narrative will exceed what's written on the page,” says Gardner. "This gets even harder when casting a group of friends, but the actors we cast are tremendous – at their craft and as human beings – I always wanted to be at their table.”

Argentero says, "Italians are a people of travelers, open to everybody. We Italians think of stress like a bad illness. Liz learns you can stop and think, enjoy, and be self-indulgent and not worry. It's what makes Italy so perfect as a first stop on her journey.”

In Italy, Liz was suddenly conscious of other people's joy. She watched her close friends Giovanni and Sofi (who is played by award-winning Scandinavian actress Tuva Novotny) develop an attraction for each other. She watched her friends Giulio (Andrea Di Stefano) and Maria (Elena Arvigo) in their blessed marriage and their children. She listened to advice from Luca Spaghetti (Giuseppe Gandini), and Giovanni's judgmental mom, Ruffina (Lydia Biondi). Through all this, there was a plate of delicacies being consumed with delight.

Di Stefano says, "Eating is a ritual for us Italians. Italian culture has everything to do with food. This part of the culture is passed on from generation to generation.”

Novotny says, "Liz and Sofi are both fish out of water, finding their way in this foreign place. Italian culture is an open culture where you are allowed to hug and kiss and express yourself. I think both Sofi and Liz find that refreshing, even though they are both at completely different stages in their lives.”

”The group that becomes Liz's peer group in Rome are really vibrant characters,” says Roberts. "All the scenes were very fun to shoot – speaking in Italian at a thousand miles a minute with lots of pasta and wine around.” 

The accomplished food stylist Susan Spungen, who previously provided her expertise on the hit film Julie & Julia, was on hand throughout the shooting of the Rome sequence, providing all of the delicacies seen on film. She also had the challenging task of spearheading the pivotal and poignant Thanksgiving meal scene with all the trimmings; Spungen prepped twenty turkeys for the filming of this scene sequence.

On set each day, the cast and crew chatted about the delicious pasta, fish, and meat they enjoyed the previous evening. Restaurant recommendations were rampant, and so was the weight gain for all on location. 

INDIA

If Rome was about Liz letting go of her old life and learning to be happy being alone, then India was stepping into another world. Having learned

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