The most uncomfortable thing for a movie star to be forced to do is answer questions about their love life. Unlike most red carpet c-listers who live and die on whether their photo is on the biggest gossip sites, most actors just want their private live to remain private. So, imagine a scene where you have some of the most recognizable names in the world on a podium where all they are going to be asked are questions dealing with romance, because that's what their latest movie happens to be all about. That was the scene at the Beverly Hilton Hotel a few weeks ago when the stars of "Valentine's Day" converged in front of the media. And this journalist can rarely remember a more uncomfortable press gathering than this 40 minutes or so.
Almost the entire cast of Garry Marshall's expected blockbuster was there including Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher, Hector Elizondo, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Jamie Foxx, Topher Grace, Bradley Cooper and, thankfully, Julia Roberts. The only prominent members of the troupe not in attendance were Emma Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Patrick Dempsey and Queen Latifah. But, as one of the more experienced A-listers on the stage, Roberts did everything in power to diffuse the situation. In fact, considering how rarely she's spoken to the media over the years, it was fairly obvious she was the only one willing to tackle this awkward monster head on. (Yes, Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon would have been proud.)
Marshall's third film with Roberts (they joked they seem to only work together every 10 years), "Valentine's Day" features numerous interlocking storylines that all take place on the romantic holiday in question. Besides the starpower of the cast, what's most noteworthy about the film is how Marshall has done everything in his power to make it his own tiny love letter to Los Angeles. Neighborhoods that haven't seen the light of day on the big screen such as the NoHo Arts District are prominently featured and there is little gawking at expected LA landmarks (except for a quick fly by Marshall's beloved Dodger Stadium). Now, granted, edgier and hipper hoods such as Silverlake and Koreatown are skipped over, but the effort is there.
As for the press conference, there was some amiable banter during the period as the talent did their best to discuss a number of topics. A few choice moments.
Hollywood says you can marry your best friend
One of the themes of the film is that your soulmate may be that best friend right in front of you. When asked if they'd married their best friend the answers were expectedly short.
"Somewhere I thought around the second kid, 'This is turning into something," Jennifer Garner volunteered.
"I married my best friend for sure, We were friends first. It lasted 10 days," Jessica Alba said doing her best to try to get a laugh. (It didn't really work.)
The best way to make a movie is hire actors who have names beginning with J
Besides Roberts, Marshall did he best to keep the mood light. It appears he'd been working on his material since the film was in production. He suggests, "The key is you hire everyone whose name begins with J. It all works out better. You can say any name just start it with a J. It is good for me,because I knew many of these people. This was a tough schedule. The logistics alone were worst than most pictures. See how calm they are? No fighting. It's a nice group. Sometimes they push."
Ashton Kutcher begrudgingly admits he's romantic
When asked if he was as romantic as the character he plays in the film, Kutcher tries to deflect the question at first noting, "Well, I had the good fortune of playing a florist in this movie, and one of my best friends is a florist. So, I got to work with him and what I really learned about that was these guys are sort of like the real Cupids, passing these messages of love on from one person to the next person. It’s almost like if you can find something like that that can really translate what it is that you’re trying to say, it’s a big deal. So that was my experience on this movie."
After a slight pause after delivering his talking point, Kutcher adds, "As far as being a romantic, I don't know. I love life and I love people and I love sharing. So I think, yes, I am, I would say."
His former television co-star Topher Grace than quips, "There wasn’t a Valentine’s Day that went by on 'That ‘70s Show' where I didn’t get a card or something."
"I did all kinds of nice sh-t," Kutcher volleys.
"It was very, very romantic," Grace says.
Whew, that might have been some real laughter in the room.
What will these stars be doing on the real Valentine's day besides celebrating box office receipts?
Oh, this was a fun one and Roberts immediately jumps in saying, "My kids go to bed at 7:30."
Alba adds, "Mine goes to bed at 7, but i'm usually too tired. "
Trying to be serious Garner suggests, "You change the definition of romance. Romance is romance, but in addition romance can be breakfast over the tops of heads. You just have to make that be romantic. I think most of us will be promoting a movie."
"We're just gonna be making out. For the full 24 hours," Roberts says getting a good laugh.
Shirley MacLaine has the most blunt relationship advice (of course)
The senior dame of the group rolled her eyes just as much as you'd expect at some of her co-stars answers, but the blunt Oscar-winner didn't hold back on her advice for those looking for love.
"Coming from a long line of Valentine’s Days and also a long line of cities where I experienced Valentine’s Days, and also a long line of partners, I would say that the key to a good relationship if you’re married is a husband that looks the other way," MacLaine says as Roberts bursts out laughing. "But mostly to have a successful Valentine’s Day in a successful city and a successful marriage and relationship is that you know who you are. Everything goes from there."
And after a pause, she ads, "We’ll have the next seminar in two hours."
Kutcher delivers a sobering reality about Los Angeles for the rest of America
When asked about what makes LA so different from other major cities, Kutcher answers, "A friend of mine said LA is the home of the second best looking people in America. The best looking person stays home because he's got it good there."
Sensing an opportunity to poke fun at his buddy, Grace asks, "By the way, wouldn’t you like to meet the guy in Iowa who is better looking than Ashton?"
Kutcher meekly adds, "Casey Prince."
You're a star Mr. Prince. And yes Ashton, your friend's observation is 100% correct.
Did Julia Roberts really call out her younger co-stars for being so slim? Oh, yes she she did
Trying to keep a conversation going on the podium, at one point Roberts notes to Alba, Garner and Biel at a table below her,"You girls are slim."
Garner responds, "I’m still breast feeding, but after I’ll puff back up."
Roberts digs, "All right, well we’ll stay tuned for that."
Ouch. Hope they still all come back for that rumored "New Year's Eve" sequel after that.
For showtimes and tickets for "Valentine's Day," click here.
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