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LIFE AS WE KNOW IT

About The Production
Everyone has a different plan for their perfect life. For Holly Berenson, it's expanding her small, high-end boutique café into a restaurant, maybe even someday in multiple locations. For Eric Messer, it's moving up from being a broadcast technician to a full-fledged director in national sports television.

But life as we plan it is seldom life as we live it. Such is the case when Holly's and Messer's plans are put on hold by the sudden and tragic death of their mutual best friends, Alison and Peter Novack. Holly and Messer have always tolerated, rather than enjoyed, each other's company, but now they find themselves co-guardians to the Novak's baby girl, Sophie.

Says Katherine Heigl, who stars as Holly, "These two people are just thrown into this situation, and have to rise to the challenge and do the right thing. But to do so means they have to sacrifice a lot of their own dreams.”

Josh Duhamel, who stars opposite Heigl as Messer, adds, "They both love this little girl, and they both feel obligated to at least try to do what their friends wanted…even though they're both going in completely different directions in their own lives, and they really don't like each other.” Backed into a corner, Holly and Messer will have to make it work…somehow.

"While they may not be able to see it that way at first, raising Peter and Alison's child is a testament to this couple they both loved,” offers the film's director, Greg Berlanti.

The original script, written by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, came first to the attention of producer Barry Josephson. "It was a wonderful screenplay that gripped me right away,” Josephson states. "It was entertaining and heartfelt, and had a strong hook. I also loved the concept, because it's something that so many of my friends with kids have talked about. Who would be the best choice to take care of their child? A friend or a relative? Who would it be?”

Josephson shared the screenplay with producer Paul Brooks, who found it "very relatable. And funny, and warm and affecting. I thought the characters were terrific, and the story felt so complete and so balanced; I laughed and cried in equal measure.”

Heigl felt the same. "I'm such a romantic comedy fan,” she says. "I love them, I go to see them in the theaters, and this one was really funny and, at the same time, had so much soul to it.”

Duhamel, agrees. "I thought this script was special. The story was very funny, but also tragic and sad at the same time. In my opinion, those are the best movies.”

The idea for the story came from a conversation Deitchman had with his wife while she was pregnant with their daughter, in which the subject of guardianship came up. "We both jokingly said we should leave her to our friends Mike and Clara. Who knows us better?”

Rusk Robinson recalls, "I laughed when Ian told me about that exchange, because I also know both Mike and Clara who, like Holly and Messer, are not a couple and have very different personalities. But we thought there could be great comedy in that, so that's what we had to write next.” Deitchman follows up, "We also liked the fact that the opportunities for humor would be grounded in something emotional that we could run with, which appealed to us right out of the gate.”

It appealed to Berlanti as well. "I was really drawn to the movie because the script cracked me up one moment, and just felt so real and raw the next. The most important thing for me is delivering an emotional experience, especially when you have a story that has so many conflicting feelings happening all at once.”

"Greg has an amazing ability to tell human interest stories, but in a way that isn't soft and isn't only geared toward either males or females,” Duhamel comments.

Heigl states, "I really couldn't have wished or hoped for a better director or someone more unbelievably collaborative. He was exceptional and just a funny, great guy who knows how to tell a mean story. Working with Greg was such a rewarding experience.”

According to Josephson, "Greg completely embraced the project. If you look at the television shows that he has written, they deal with social issues, with conflicts, with how people interact with one another. Throughout the shoot, he made sure the chemistry was working but that the conflict was there.”

"It's Saturday night. Don't you want to have fun? I can go meet my…friend…and you can go back to doing whatever you like to do. Finish a book you're reading. Update your blog.”

~ FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS ~

As "Life as We Know It” opens, we meet Holly Berenson and Eric Messer…on a blind date. A horrendous blind date. "We all know that blind date,” Berlanti attests, "that starts off badly and just goes more and more awry.”

Heigl confirms, "It's not as if Holly and Messer are just uncomfortable with each other, or just don't connect. It's awful. They hate each other.” "They don't even make it out of the driveway,” Duhamel laughs. "It goes that bad, that quick.”

Unfortunately, because of their mutual best friends, they're stuck in each other's lives and forced to be around one another on numerous occasions. They both tolerate it, for the sake of their friends and their goddaughter, Sophie. But once they're left to care for the baby girl, the situation seems, well, intolerable.

"Holly and Messer are polar opposites,” Heigl states. "He's this sort of ‘take it or leave it' guy—relaxed and kicked back, rolling with the punches—and she's…not.” Heigl's character, on the other hand, has a business and a business plan. "She's responsible, organized, scheduled, a bit obsessive compulsive. In her professional life and her personal life, she needs to know where things are heading; she's not really a girl who can wing it.”

Josephson says that, in all of Holly's planning, she had not yet planned for a family, let alone an instant one. "She was not prepared for this at all. As a matter of fact, she was preparing for a completely different life. Now she's trying to get her feet underneath her, and it's not that easy. Katherine played that dilemma beautifully.”

"In addition to the story, the reason I wanted to be a part of the movie was to work with Katherine Heigl,” Berlanti confesses. "I know how well she can do both comedy and drama, so for me she was sort of the personification of Holly.”

One thing the actress did have in common with her character was a love of the culinary arts. "I do love to cook,” says Heigl, "though I don't get to do it as often as I'd like. Once every six months or so I like to go all ‘Martha Stewart' and throw a small dinner party for friends.” Her research for the role of a chef proved fruitful in her own life. "I learned how to properly chop and julienne vegetables, which saves a lot of time!” Heigl was key in getting Duhamel on board as Messer. The friends had been hoping to work together for some time when "Life as We Know It” came their way. "I thought he'd be perfect for Messer—even though Messer is a bit of a scruffy, baseball cap-t-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy and Josh is really polished. I just knew he should play this role.”

Duhamel spent a lot of time discussing the character with his director. "Greg and I felt it would be easy to fall into the trap of just playing him as a charming womanizer who needs to learn about love, but we wanted him to be a lot more than that. We both felt that it was okay if he was unapologetic or says or does things that the audience may not like right away. Face it, guys can be like that.”

Like Holly, Messer is on a track to move up in his career,

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