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About The Casting
Take Me Home Tonight put Topher Grace in a unique position. As an actor, he is used to being on one side of the casting desk. As a producer, he gained a new perspective on the process. "It was weird to be on the other side of the table,” says Grace. "My heart went out to everyone who auditioned. I've always feared that when I leave an audition, people roll their eyes and say, ‘Oh my God, what was that?' But I learned that people want you to do well. If you do a great job, they're happy, because they really want to cast the movie.”

The filmmakers had an eye out for young performers who might not be well-known to audiences today, but who have real potential to be the stars of tomorrow. "I'm not someone who is competitive with my peers,” says Grace. "I've had a couple lucky breaks, and I want to help some other people get there. I've watched actors I really admire reach their 30s and 40s without finding their opportunity. It was great to be able to look out at actors in their 20s and say, ‘Who do we love?'”

An avid tennis player, Grace knows the value of having a challenging partner. "I've found if I play someone who is not as good as me, I often lose to them,” he says. "When I'm playing with someone better than me, it really elevates my game. I'm so happy we found the ensemble we did. They were all perfect for their characters. No one stepped on anyone else's toes. They were a great team of people that would pass the ball back and forth and encourage each other.”

"We were really lucky that Topher was also acting in the film,” says Kaywin. "In a lot of the readings, he would jump in and we would instantaneously be able to assess the chemistry.”

After a lengthy preproduction period working closely with director Michael Dowse, Grace had to suddenly switch gears and go from producer to actor. "I've never done that before,” he notes. "My work usually starts the week before shooting. I was lucky that Michael is not only a really visual director, but he's also an actor's director.”

Dowse observes that Grace brings the same commitment and energy to being an actor that he does to being a producer. "He's completely professional and also very funny in a subtle way that surprised me. Matt is quite a hard role, because he's essentially the straight man, which is harder to play than the goofball. His comedy had to be more understated. Topher was great with his reactions and in allowing people to play off him. That's a very gracious thing that some actors don't understand. When you're the backbone of the story, many times you have to take a back seat for the greater good of the film.”

Casting the role of Tori Frederking, Matt's high school dream girl, was a delicate operation. "I was really invested in finding the right actress for the part,” says Kaywin. "It was a hard role to cast, because she represents so much to Matt. I think we read everybody in town and there were times when we were tempted to just throw in the towel. But I knew we'd figure it out. When Teresa walked in the room, it was obvious we'd found her.”

"It's a deceptively complex character,” says Grace. "There are a lot of beautiful young actresses in Hollywood, but Teresa's got something in addition to being beautiful. She's also a really ballsy chick with an offbeat sense of humor. I first met her at an audition for another movie. She was totally unknown and she playfully told the casting director that I was her third choice for the role. We needed that kind of irreverence with Tori. It would cheapen Matt if she were just beautiful on the surface.”

Dowse was adamant that he wanted an unknown actress to play the part. "Tori Frederking is somebody that we get to know as Matt does,” he says. "I wanted to avoid an actress who brought a lot of baggage with her. Teresa had just turned 21 when we were shooting and it was probably a little intimidating for her. The character is designed to be this iconic, obscure object of desire that Matt has in his head. But when you first see Teresa on screen, she is this girl, not somebody playing this girl. She is mesmerizing.”

The golden girl of her high school, Tori snagged a job at finance giant Drexel Burnham right out of college. "But she's a little bit lost,” says Palmer. "She doesn't know if that's the path she wants to take in her life. She was a brilliant character to play, because she is lots of fun and very intelligent.

"I was specifically looking to do a comedy and this was the only script that had me laughing out loud,” the actress says. "I fell in love with all the characters, as well as the idea of an ensemble cast, because every character in the movie is so imperative to the story.”

Palmer had made a lasting impression on Grace at the first audition together, and he was curious to see what she could do with the role of Tori. "We had great chemistry straight away,” she says. "We both loved bouncing ideas off each other, so he asked me to read for this. We became a real team on this movie. Topher is so experienced and I'm so new to all of this, but he was happy to help me out and give me advice. He really is egoless. He's so successful, but he makes you feel so comfortable. The vibe that he brings to the set really helps make it funny and fresh and new.”

"And Michael Dowse was amazing to work with,” she continues. "He's so open to ideas that it becomes a truly collaborative process. He trusts the actors' instincts, but at the same time, he puts across what he needs from the scene, so we can work together to get the end result he wants.”

Dan Fogler, who won a Tony Award® for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his work in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” gives a jaw-droppingly funny performance as Barry, Matt and his sister Wendy's longtime best friend. When the story starts, Barry has been fired from his dream job at an exotic car dealership.

"Barry starts out uptight,” says Fogler. "He doesn't do any drugs or alcohol. He has worked as a salesman of luxury cars since he got out of high school and it's his life. It's the way he gets ladies, the way he gets income and the thing that keeps him out of living in his mother's house. But then he loses his job, because he's really not very good at it.”

With nothing left to lose, Barry decides to pack what he thinks is the entire college experience into one night, binging on every illegal substance there is, plus a couple of legal ones. He embarks on a night of hilarious debauchery that begins with a botched burglary and careens cheerfully through grand theft auto into assault and battery and more.

With manic glee, Fogler immerses his character in an evening of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. "Dan Fogler has something I've never seen before,” says Grace. "This will be one of the first films to capture what he has. We gave him ample room to show what he's got. Just having him in a normal scene is great, but in our film, the guy's in a dance-off, a threesome and all kinds of wild situations.”

Dowse was already familiar with Fogler's prodigious talent from a screen test they shot together for a biopic about the late comedian Sam Kinison. "I became a big fan of Dan's right there,” he says. "Dan has what it takes, both comically and dramatically. He had the right physical presence for Barry, but he also had something more that elevated the part from being the pudgy sidekick character. Dan added a lot of depth to it.”

Anna Faris, wh

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