"The Perfect Man"

Movie Production Information Page 2

Funny, fresh and full of surprises, The Perfect Man is a humorous story of love, longing and leaving and what can happen when good intentions go awry. At the story’s heart is the romantic notion of finding the perfect partner...and on the not-so-romantic flipside is a portrait of a family that’s just dealing with the ups and downs life brings while trying to stay together and stay put—at least, that’s what the story’s protagonist, teenager Holly Hamilton, is hoping for.

Producer Marc Platt, no stranger to comedy with his hits Legally Blonde and its sequel among his credits, found the premise of the film “witty and clever. The story had ideas and emotions that I cared about, and ones that I thought the audience would care about,” says Platt. What truly appealed to Platt was the idea that everyone has a destiny and that somewhere, there is someone for everyone.

But almost more than the romance of story, the strong family connection between mother and daughter—and how growing up can affect that dynamic—struck a chord with Platt. “As a father myself,” he continues, “I was also immediately drawn to the family aspect of the film, of a mom trying to raise her two daughters, and of a teenager who comes up with the idea that if she can find the perfect guy for her mom, maybe they’ll stay in one place for a while...and get the chance to become a real family unit.”

Director Mark Rosman says that he “found the concept of the script just wonderful. The fact that a daughter tries to find the perfect man for her mother is completely hilarious but, at the same time, very endearing. But what I found moving on an adult level is the truly universal theme of how mothers and daughters are connected— this is something every mother with a teen can relate to,” observes Rosman.

For the film’s young heroine, the free-spirited teen Holly Hamilton, filmmakers chose the charismatic and multi-talented Hilary Duff—the role and the actress seemed to fit as if tailor-made. “I can’t think of anyone besides Hilary to play this role,” says Platt.

“She brings her own likeability to the role. Hilary is the kind of actress that is accessible to everyone, whatever age. She makes you root for her and root for the character she’s portraying. I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many young actors and performers throughout my career, and none has impressed me more than Hilary in terms of the kind of person she is, her generosity, her charm and her heart.”

Rosman, whose ongoing directorial history with Duff includes 11 episodes of the hit series Lizzie McGuire and, more recently, the feature film A Cinderella Story, agrees.

“I thought this was a great vehicle for Hilary, and a great opportunity for her to do something that wasn’t just another high school story but, rather, a mother/daughter story.”

At the beginning of the film, Holly and her family embark upon yet another journey, relocating to a new town (this time around, Brooklyn) that will hopefully offer Holly’s mother, Jean, her longed for fresh start. In addition to the physical journey, however, are the personal ones, undertaken by mother and daughter—both of whom have lessons to learn about what it takes to make relationships (both familial and romantic) work. At times, the roles in the film seem reversed as Holly finds herself cast as the nurturing mother, while her mother acts like, well, a typical teenager who quickly moves away from past mistakes without trying to locate the lessons they contain—theirs is indeed a complicated relationship, one that appealed to Hilary in her latest film vehicle.

“Holly loves her mom,” explains Hilary, “but she really disagrees with a lot of the ways she lives her life.” Part of what appealed to the performer was the chance to comically explore this kind of dynamic that does not figure into the relationship Hilary enjoys with her offscreen, real mother.

“We’ve never gone through that weird ‘I hate you/I hate you, too’ stage,” says Hilary. As Holly’s mother, Jean, searches for the perfect man, her daughters are temporarily left in the wake.

“Along the way,” offers Heather Locklear, who plays the romantically-challenged single mother, Jean, “she finally realizes where her priorities lie, and they are with her children.”

“Heather Locklear is incredible,” enthuses director Rosman. “She comes with this wonderful body of work, playing women who haven’t always been nice. Yet she is just the sweetest actress, very giving, and very generous to the other actors. Heather’s very creative and brings that creativity onto the set with her and she gets everyone involved. She and Hilary make a wonderful on-screen mother and daughter.”

That chemistry was true both on the screen and off.

“Heather is such a genuinely nice person,” says Hilary, “and she’s so much fun to be around. I loved working with her. And who could get a cooler mom than Heather Locklear?”

Locklear also plays mom to six-year-old Zoe, a role won by Aria Wallace. Marc Platt calls young Wallace “an adorable, precocious, unique little girl who brought her charms not only to her character, but to everyone around her on the set.” Casting an age-appropriate actress came with its unexpected challenges, however.

Director Rosman recalls the second day of principal photography, when Wallace lost her two top front teeth. By then, several of the film’s later scenes had been shot, so a set of false teeth—replete with two front chompers—were built for the youngster.

“A true Hollywood story,” jokes Rosman. “Who would have thought we’d have to make false teeth for a six-year-old?” False teeth or no, the young Wallace became a devoted surrogate little sister to her on-screen sibling, Duff, as well as her stand-in mom, Locklear.

“They’re both so cool,” says Aria. “Hilary’s the kind of friend you can tell your secrets to...kind of your real sister, only here, we’re sisters in heart. And Heather...well, she’s just awesome!” Not so awesome is Locklear’s on-screen persona, Jean Hamilton. While caring and devoted to her daughters, she has a somewhat cockeyed view about life’s little failures: when the going gets though, the family gets going...from one city to another, trying to outrun her continuing romantic mishaps.

Jean believes in the restorative powers of a fresh start, continually hoping that this time, her choices will be better. What she may not stop to realize is how the choice of rootlessness is affecting her eldest daughter. So Holly’s idea to conjure an ideal mate for Jean is motivated by more than just love for her mother—she herself is looking for a chance to “settle down,” finish more than a year of classes at the same school and build lasting relationships with a circle of close, real friends.

But that will come—first on Holly’s list is to find Mr. Right-For-MyMom. Chris Noth’s indelible role as Mr. Big (Carrie’s elusive, on-again, off-again love interest) on the phenomenally popular HBO series Sex and the City rendered him watercooler conversation for legions of female fans. His red-light/green-light handling of the show’s heroine seemed to divide the Sex fan base into two camps: Big Fans and Big Haters. But for producer Platt, Noth is “charming, intelligent, and erudite,” says the producer. “He exudes the kind of warmth and sensitivity towards women that makes him the perfect man to play, well, the perfect man.” Holly’s scheme doesn’t involve actually hooking her mom and her friend’s Uncle Ben up—Ben’s seeming unavailability would preclude a real romance.

So she does what any blog-writing, internet-savvy, creative teen would do—she absconds with his persona and fashions a real world (orchids and love letters) and cyberspace (emails and instant messaging) courtship between Jean and “Ben,” a restaurant owner (which he actually is), sadly currently out of the country, opening a new eatery in China (a convenient lie). Noth’s charm worked its magic on the cast of the film, but it was not a one-way street—he loved working with Duff, with whom he shares a majority of his scenes.

“She’s a ball of fire. I think she’s a great role model for kids her age; she’s got great energy and she’s completely unpretentious. With all the success she has, she remains fun, spontaneous, full of zest and optimism,” offers Noth. But while Holly does take some poetic licenses with “Ben” and his life, for the most part, he is based on Uncle Ben, who himself possesses some admirable qualities for a secret admirer: he’s a sensitive, caring guy who owns a restaurant, the popular local River Cafe; he likes to cook; he does The New York Times crossword...in pen; and seems to possess an uncanny knowledge of just what women want. (Because of the nature of the storyline, it was somewhat of an irony that Noth and Locklear, the two intendeds in the romance, actually shot only one scene together.

After filming the scene, Locklear joked with Noth, saying, “You may be the perfect man, but I guess I’ll never really know for sure!”) The idea of Ben’s creation (and somewhat haphazard construction—a restaurant in China!) is a hurried product, sped by the encroaching, possible romance between Jean and a baker at her new place of employment, a Brooklyn deli—the arguably lovable goof Lenny Horton, played by Mike O’Malley. Lenny, hopelessly stuck in the ‘80s and possessing the wooing aplomb of a teenage boy, pursues Jean with the perseverance of a puppy dog; in the wrong hands, his chasing after Jean could almost resemble stalking...but in that romantic comedy, harmless kind of way.

“If we had written this character with anyone in mind, it would have been Mike,” says producer Platt. “He just embodies the fun and spirit of Lenny. He’s hilarious, but he’s also charming and very endearing. And in the film, you find yourself liking him very much, even though you know he’s not the perfect guy for Jean.”

Rosman agrees, adding, “Mike brought a warmth and a lovability to his character that would make audiences really understand how a woman like Jean could even consider a guy like that.” O’Malley defends his on-screen character when he says,

“There is a charm to Lenny that makes you not want to write him off so easily.” In one scene, when a lovestruck Lenny is trying to win over Jean with a serenade, O’Malley took the sincere route in the playing of it. “I think the sincerity in his approach is the bit of charm that Jean locks onto. That makes it somewhat understandable that she could ever be interested in a guy like Lenny...rather than just writing him off from the very beginning as some fool.” For both Noth and O’Malley, being hired to woo Heather Locklear appealed to the performers as one of the most pleasant acting experiences they could find.

“She’s a delight,” enthuses Noth. O’Malley found her to be “as sweet as the proverbial ‘girl next door’...but then, again if ‘girls next door’ really looked like Heather Locklear, people would never leave their hometowns.” Holly’s cohort in the Ben conspiracy is her new best friend, Amy, played with a no-nonsense Brooklyn charm by Vanessa Lengies (of television’s American Dreams), who kindly, though not always willingly, supplies her uncle as the model for Jean’s imaginary suitor.

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2005 Entertainment Magazine / EMOL.org