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THE SMURFS

Our World
When Gargamel and the Smurfs come through the portal and into New York City, they enter the lives of Patrick Winslow and his wife Grace.

PATRICK WINSLOW is a young marketing executive for the New York City based cosmetics company Anjelou and is months away from starting his own family. He's a nervous wreck about everything – not least of which is his impending fatherhood and his new job – and his nerves are going to take a beating when the Smurfs suddenly fall into his life!

Neil Patrick Harris plays the role. "Patrick is married with a child on the way – he's an ad exec guy trying to make it in the business world, and he's constantly in fear of losing his job. So he's sort of in the very business-headed frame of mind, and that has both him and his wife a little concerned that he's not going to be a decent parent, or even be present for the birth of their child – not only physically, but emotionally.

"When the Smurfs come into his life, he has to behave in a very patient, even parental way with them, and when he does that, he realizes the potential to be a great dad that he has inside,” says Harris. "Grace is a more naturally maternal giver of wisdom to the Smurfs, while Patrick is an accidental participant who sees growth and change.”

Working with director Raja Gosnell was both a satisfying and enlightening experience for Harris. "Raj did a great job – he had to deal with so many weird little things happening all at the same time. Not only do you have all the ordinary stuff – making sure the actors hit their marks and it's all lit correctly – but you might have an animal in the scene, or maybe bowls on monofilament that in the final shot the Smurfs will be carrying around… Raj had to keep it all in his head so that when you see the movie, you never think about any of that – it's just that the Smurfs are part of our world.”

"Not only is Neil incredibly funny and charming, but he also delivered nuance to the role,” says Gosnell. "His character and Papa have a few quiet moments together, and he makes those scenes surprisingly emotional. And when you remember that Neil was talking to a little wire when he filmed it, it's an indication that Neil is also very game. A large part of acting is responding to your fellow actors, so it's incredibly difficult to work opposite characters that aren't there. But Neil jumped on it and embraced it.”

GRACE WINSLOW is a craft-furniture artist and Patrick's loving, supportive, 5-month pregnant wife. Her husband is a little rattled, what with the new baby, the new job, and the six mythical creatures that turn his life upside down… but the optimistic Grace will always be there to straighten him out.

Jayma Mays, who plays Grace, had watched the cartoons growing up – maybe a little unwillingly. "My mom loved them, so she made me watch them with her,” laughs Mays. "Just to get under her skin, I would always tell her that my favorites were Gargamel and Azrael! We had the sheets, we had the Smurfs glasses, the sippy cups, all that stuff. But secretly, I was a fan – I loved the show – but I was at an age that I couldn't admit that I liked something that my mom wanted me to like.”

"For Grace it's so exciting that these little creatures have come into her world and her life,” Mays explains. "She loves them and she loves their spontaneity and carefree outlook on life – she enjoys her own life being thrown into the air a bit. That's something she's trying to convince Patrick – it's okay to have fun and it's okay to be disrupted in your life. And since they're about to have a child, everything's going to be a bit disrupted for a while – and the Smurfs help him get ready for that.”

Gosnell says that Grace is a surprisingly tricky role. "You have to be both funny and emotional,” says Gosnell. "She was the only actress who made us believe both sides – her comedic skills are just fantastic, and she also had the enthusiasm and excitement that made us believe what we were watching was real.”

ODILE is the tough, beautiful and determined owner of the global cosmetics company, Anjelou. She's quick-tempered, even quicker to change her mind – and becomes a force of anxiety in Patrick's life when she promotes him to head a new marketing campaign for a new product… that launches in just two days. This diva CEO will do anything to ensure her company's success, even invest a little time in a misguided wizard who might just have the key for the next big skin care revolution.

As Odile, Sofia Vergara sought to draw a balance in her character, so as not to go over the top. "I wanted Odile to be believable, but also funny, strong and very focused on what she wants,” says Vergara. "This is a woman who is really into what she does and she makes everybody around her know it.”

Growing up in Colombia in the 1980s, Vergara says, "Everybody would watch the Smurfs. Even my son, who is 19 now, enjoyed the Smurfs when he was young.”

"Project Runway's” Tim Gunn takes on the role of Odile's right hand man. HENRI is Odile's fashion-forward and quick-witted lieutenant who is always eager to stir the pot – especially when it comes to Patrick! (The character was originally named Henry until Neil Patrick Harris turned him into the sophisticated Henri.)

Gunn stole the show behind the scenes. Costume designer Rita Ryack remembers, "Tim asked to keep his wardrobe upon wrap, as he hoped to wear the items on the next season of ‘Project Runway.' I was thrilled. He even went so far as to refrain from sitting in his chair while on set – he didn't want to wrinkle his suit!” Now that is a true fashionista.

The Smurfs also features cameos that make up a veritable Who's Who of contemporary New York City's most iconic personalities. For one scene in particular, an Anjelou cosmetics product launch, it was essential to make the party the must-attend New York event. Among the attendees were Joan Rivers, Liz Smith, Tom Colicchio, Olivia Palermo and Michael Musto. Each of them arrived in their own wardrobe in order to make them appear authentically themselves. Rivers, in particular, was a huge crew favorite – when she arrived early for her call time, production scrambled to find her the perfect trailer. Executive producer Ezra Swerdlow was thrilled to share his space with the comedy legend.

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