The legacy of Sex and the City lives on with He’s Just Not That Into You, an adaptation of the S&TC-inspired book by authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Adapted by the writing team of Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (Never Been Kissed) and directed by Ken Kwapis (License to Wed, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), He’s Just Not That Into You is an ensemble romantic comedy positioning itself strongly to be your Valentine’s Day fare this year. The junket featured a panel studded with the likes of Drew Barrymore (and her ex Justin Long), Scarlett Johansson, Ginnifer Goodwin, as well as Bradley Cooper and Kevin Connolly all being coaxed out of slightly embarrassing details about their personal lives—as pertains to the movie, of course. Some of the A-listers were more conservative about details than others, but Drew in particular was game on giving her opinions on how to conduct oneself in the romantic arena.
He’s Just Not That Into You hits theaters everywhere Friday, Feb. 6, 2008.
I have a question for the ladies on the panel. I would love to meet a girl like Gigi who is so open to meeting to new people, and sometimes I feel like I’m living in She’s Just Not That Into You. So my question to the ladies is, where do you think are some good places or good ways to meet women? Like the ones in the film?
DREW BARRYMORE: I go to see bands play all the time, but that’s just me. Where to meet a lady? I don’t know. I never look for a lady. Maybe you should ask the guys that question.
GINNIFER GOODWIN: I was rocking out to an ‘80s cover band last night.
BRADLEY COOPER: Where?
GOODWIN: Y’all missed it.
JUSTIN LONG: At the Key Club.
GOODWIN: At the Key Club.
LONG: So go to the Key Club. ‘80s–
GOODWIN: Where I can never now go again—not because of you. You and I will talk later.
So, music in general.
BARRYMORE: Yeah. Girls who like music.
GOODWIN: Supermarkets. Whole Foods is always good. Library.
LONG: Bathhouses (laughter).
Drew, you’re listed as one of the producers of this movie. I was wondering why you selected for yourself one of the smaller roles.
BARRYMORE: Because I identified with that character, and I worked with my partner, Nan[cy Juvonen], who’s the producer, and the writers, and I was in the middle of Grey Gardens and directing this film, Whip It!, and there were so many other great roles. There were so many awesome actors and I just wanted to step back. I liked my character, I wanted to make her the one who is dismayed by technology. It was just a perfect fit for me. I really liked her, everything happens organically for a reason. I felt like a ‘Mary’—my character.
Drew, one of the best scenes is the movie is when you talk plaintively about an age when everyone is dating electronically. How close to that was the way you feel?
BARRYMORE: I wrote that with the writers and Nan. I just said I wanted to express how difficult it is. I still have a wall phone. I love tape, and shoot on film. So this whole, like, you’re in your pocket and you have to respond immediately and be quirky and quippy. No guys call anymore! It’s all text! I’m awkward enough on the phone—I’m awkward answering this question. It’s really difficult, so I wanted to discuss this in film because it’s so important in our day and age of Facebook and MySpace and the Internet and texting. It’s just a new ballgame, so I wanted to address that.
For Ginnifer, everybody in this has great performances and you had a very, very hard role and you had a great performance. Could you talk a little bit about the edge you had to walk because you could have been very annoying, that role, being needy and you weren’t at all. I just wonder if you found it hard as an actress.
GOODWIN: Awww! I’ve been asked a lot about the neediness and the annoyance, which is something I clearly never thought about because I don’t know that anyone thinks that she’s needy or annoying, right? But in playing her open and resilient and choosing to have her walk boldly, even in the wrong direction, I think it certainly can come across as desperate and clingy, but I think that our entire goal with Gigi was to play her as intelligently as possible. Because I thought it was important that she not stumble out of ignorance because none of us can relate to that in that doesn’t every woman think that she’s brilliant? I hope. I hope that’s not me being narcissistic. But I think that every woman thinks that she’s brilliant, and we make decisions based on the information that we have. And so the point for us was that the information that she has is misguiding. And therefore her falling on her face with commitment should be humiliating in a really relatable way. Is this making sense?
BARRYMORE: We’re all like, ‘Oh yeah.’ (laughs) I’m following.
GOODWIN: So it was actually great fun and I didn’t feel I had to walk any particular line. I’m rejected on a daily basis in what I do for a living, so it was easy for me to play a character who embraces rejection herself in her personal life. And I had really great fun trying to just always live in the moment and not play the end of the story, which is knowing that she’ll be okay, because I think that is what I think we always see in movies and that is what I find incredibly boring and what was so refreshing about this script.
For everybody, can you share anecdotally any memorable getting dumped or eventually realizing you had been dumped stories? Or if you really want to be daring, a bad way you dumped somebody?
COOPER: I’ll go. (laughs) I think I talked about this yesterday.
LONG: Yeah. Ad nauseam.
COOPER: I spent half the day talking about it. And then I called you later just to give you more details.
LONG: Remember when this happened?
COOPER: I left this part out! No, I used to host this trek show for the Discovery Channel called Globetrekker. We were in Peru, and we got there late so I hadn’t acclimatized. You had to keep your feet above your head and I had an oxygen tank on. I was dating this girl at the time, and I had always been like, ‘No no no, once we graduate school we should go our separate ways.’ But I had clarity in Peru, so I called her, which took like 10 minutes to figure out how to reach her in New York to tell her this mid-breath of oxygen and she was just not on the same page. And I was like, ‘Baby, I’m up here and I really think we should do this—‘
GOODWIN: You said BABY?!
COOPER: (laughing) I did. I did. Maybe I was doomed from the start. Maybe we were just talking about McConaughey. I was just channeling.
LONG: He was dating a Sherpa.
COOPER: And she was not on the same page. She said, ‘You know, that is so interesting.’ We had been apart for, like, 15 days, and she said, ‘I’ve actually really enjoyed myself.’ And she’d just seen a play the night before with a famous actor who had seen her in the audience.
LONG: And you’re not going to say the actor’s name. You said it yesterday.
COOPER: But I felt bad.
LONG: –Without even hesitating.
COOPER: I didn’t even hesitate yesterday!
LONG: It was Dom DeLuise. (laughter)
GOODWIN: Who was it?!
LONG: Of course, it was Gabriel Byrne. It absolutely was Gabriel Byrne.
COOPER: It was Bruce Vilanch. Goddamn him. Anyway, that’s my story.
LONG: He got burned.
COOPER: In Peru.
LONG: That should be the title if you write that story up. ‘Bradley Cooper Gets Burned.’
I read the book and the movie had a sweetness, a non-judgmental factor to it. Especially for Brad and Scarlett, my question is: When I took a look at the character, I was like, ‘Oh, that husband-stealing girl, oh that scummy guy.’ How did you guys come to those characters and manage somehow to make us still see them as people? We all are friends with someone like that, we all know people who have been in those situation.
SCARLETT JOHANSSEN: Well, I think even though there was somebody that was being hurt in the process, I don’t think that my character was–I think that the two characters really like each other. They connect, and so you can’t really hate them because it’s not like they’re being vindictive. She’s not looking to steal a married man. He’s not looking to have an affair. I mean, they both go into it knowing there is a third person in the relationship, but they really feel like maybe this is the point in their life—Even Drew’s character is saying, ‘Sometimes these things happen and you don’t want to miss the boat. Who knows? This could be the person you have children with and get married to and spend the rest of your life with.’ I think that these two characters feel that way about each other, they make such a connection. I think through Bradley’s character’s fault of not being able to man-up and admit—
COOPER: Well, let’s not judge him.
JOHANSSEN: (laughs) Because he has so many weaknesses—
COOPER: Oh, okay!
JOHANSSEN: Because of his character’s weaknesses—
COOPER: We already said that!
JOHANSSEN: They don’t actually—what could have been something, ends up being… she sees that he’s not able to be truthful and commit. She sees that weakness and it all falls apart. But you can’t hate them because they don’t go into it with malice, they don’t go into their relationship with a purpose to hurt somebody. So is life, I guess. These things happen, I guess. Don’t they?
COOPER: They were both well-written characters. I remember reading the script and reading that character and I thought, ‘Oh man, I’d love to play that.’ It is so easy to vilify him, especially, but it’s not really in the writing. In the writing, you just feel sorry for him and the wreckage that he’s caused because he’s not really a man. But you can understand him, I guess is the point. I’m glad you said that. Thank you.
This is a question for Scarlett. In my opinion, the most interesting couple in the movie was the one played by Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck. Ben doesn’t want to get married and Jen comes to think that marriage isn’t everything. Scarlett you just got married, so I just wanted to know for you what does marriage bring that the absence of marriage wouldn’t to a couple in love?
JOHANSSEN: I have no perspective on that. I think you should maybe ask me that question in 25 years.
To me, the movie was also about who is the rule and who is the exception. So my question to you is: Is there such a thing and do you feel you are the exception or are you the rule in love? Drew, maybe.
BARRYMORE: Oh my God. I hope that is being asked of me as a producer. I believe there are no rules, I really do. I think it’s a case by case basis, but I think at a certain point something clicks and you’re just not wiling to accept or give less than what your heart desires or less than what you deserve. You run into that wall and you hit your head so many frickin’ times that it’s just there and bloody on the floor and you’re like, ‘I get it.’ So I’m going to say the exception is that infinitesimally small chance. There are those moments. Maybe he did get hit on a bus or he’s on an oxygen tank in Peru, things like that do happen. But for the most part I think a person has a certain pattern and behavior and you have to look at that and say, ‘What works for me? What works for this person?’ And not repeat the same B.S. over and over and over or accept less. As much as I don’t think there are rules, I think there is a good global case-by-case basis of how you should treat someone and how you want to be treated. And anything less—these clichés, they’re clichés for a reason. They’re true and they’re happening, so don’t buy into it. It’s so great when that clicks.
Drew, you have nine story lines in there. I’m wondering if there are any that were left out to make it less complicated. Did you have a favorite story line?
BARRYMORE: I love all of them. That’s what’s so great about an ensemble. I was watching The Big Chill the other night and you’re just fascinated with everybody’s storyline. It’s so good. It’s such an amazing honor to be in a film with all these people and to get a group like this together. It’s rare and extraordinary. That’s a better question for Nan. Everything was fleshed out on purpose for a reason. I think she covered a lot of bases without anything getting lost and all the stories feeling extremely well-interwoven without it feeling like oh, isn’t it coincidental that everybody knows everybody? I think her and [director] Ken’s [Kwapis’s] tone was just perfect.
Drew, this project popped on a lot of people’s radar because of the cast you were able to get for it. It’s rare to get such big stars in a project like this. Can you talk about that? Was it more difficult than you and your partner expected? Also, yesterday you mentioned to another reporter that you were doing Charlie’s Angels III.
BARRYMORE: No, they said ‘You should do a Charlie’s Angels III’ and I was like, ‘No shit.’ As in, ‘I would love to.’
My question is are you actively working on it and if you are going to do a fourth angel any idea as to who it would be?
BARRYMORE: No, not yet on Charlie’s III. It’s still incubating in all of our hearts. And as far as getting the cast, Nan and Ken and [screenwriter] Mark [Silverstein] and [screenwriter] Abby [Kohn], again they had a vision, they had a tone, the writing. Everyone was able to—the most important thing is the script, the temple you can’t go in and do anything without it. Everyone obviously decided to do this because of the writing, because they liked the idea of working with each other, the characters, and because Ken and Nan’s tone was to make this real and honest. People are in sweatpants and they’re talking and the dialogue isn’t bubblegum. It’s real life. It’s exciting to come across a project that’s a good discussion and a look inside what we’re all really going through. These are not fantastical storylines where somebody misses someone in an airport, and someone’s a prince and someone’s your boss—this is what we’re all really dealing with. So it’s an amazing opportunity for all of us to get to work on a project that’s relatable.
This is for all of you. I was wondering if you had read the book and if there was one piece of common sense advice from the book that you wanted to get through in the movie? And if you felt like you succeeded in doing that?
JOHANSSEN: Kevin’s read the book.
KEVIN CONNOLLY: Am I the only one?
GOODWIN: Kevin, why did you read the book? How did it come to pass that you read the book?
CONNOLLY: I read the book because I was in the movie.
BARRYMORE: I read it.
CONNOLLY: I’m sorry what was the question?
Is there anything in the book that you really wanted to get through and do you feel like you did that?
JOHANSSEN: First say how you read the book.
GOODWIN: No! Come on!
JOHANSSEN: It’s such a sweet anecdote.
BARRYMORE: I want to hear it!
CONNOLLY: I just, I had a girlfriend and she had it on the nightstand and she’s be, like, reading it and hemming and hawing and complaining and asking me strange question. So when she was not there I started flipping through it and I realized this was a bad idea. I put it down. So I was very aware of the book, so when the movie came along and I got the role I read the book. And I’m the only one.
GOODWIN: I bought the book.
BARRYMORE: I read the book.
LONG: I glanced at the cover.
CONNOLLY: I’m the only guy in the movie that read the book.
GOODWIN: My character can’t have this information until the end of the story because even as she’s being–
LONG: Yeah yeah–
GOODWIN: Come on, come on, give me some props her! She still doesn’t get the point, my character, throughout her lessons from Alex the bartender. She becomes obsessed with the sign-reading and wasting life in that way. I did buy the book and I did a lot of other homework.
LONG: You don’t like to prepare for your roles. We understand.
GOODWIN: But I read the book the second we were done with the film. And I’m glad I didn’t read it before—
CONNOLLY: So you have read the book.
GOODWIN: I have now. I mean, clearly before this conference today I had to go home and cram something in last night after all the Hell y’all gave me yesterday. No, I did read it after we wrapped. I don’t think you can read that book without gaining some inner strength and becoming a little less tolerant of foolishness and I did not want to have that strength in my heart while filming.
BARRYMORE: I think there’s something so great, too, about Justin’s character and your friends not coddling you but being honest. You think you’re helping your friend by making them feel better when maybe the truth will get them so much further in life. So sage wisdom about how to keep evolving in relationships is fantastic.
LONG: Sometimes that wisdom is so much simpler than what the person is actually looking for, how they’re looking for it. People tend to overanalyze a lot in these situations. Ginny’s character is a good example of that, just deconstructing it to the point where it doesn’t make any sense–
GOODWIN: –And then deconstructing your lessons to the point where they don’t make any sense.
LONG: So at some point you just need someone to shake you and say, ‘Shut up. It’s right there. (singing) He’s just not that into you.’ But sing it like that.
Ginnifer, what is your advice for getting over a broken heart?
GOODWIN: Well, I’m a girl’s girl. I have honest to God had girlfriends and sisters come pick me up from breakup locations. I have actually said in the middle of breakups, ‘I’m so sorry. I need to call a sister.’ (pretending to call) ‘Can you please come get me and bring me some Starbucks?’ This has happened. I have the best girlfriends in the world. I have learned about myself that it’s absolutely fine that I have a certain level of codependence. That is, I might need to slumber party for a week straight and eat an awful lot of boxes of cookies. I’m just all about embracing the girlfriends.
LONG: I forget the question. Do I like cookies? (laughs) I would say the same exact thing. (laughs) Slumber parties and cookies. Specifically Samoas.
LONG: Yeah. Makeovers. (laughs) Just being with family and friends and being with people who love you, who you love, and just doing that.
For the guys, the women in the movie are always talking with each other, like we do, about their relationships. Do you guys have good guy pals and you get together and talk about things? Or do you just not talk about it?
CONNOLLY: I usually keep everything built up (laughs).
LONG: I don’t think you’re joking.
CONNOLLY: I’m serious.
COOPER: No, that’s shocking.
CONNOLLY: I take naps. That’s what I do.
COOPER: Naps did you say?
CONNOLLY: When I feel bad, I take a nap.
COOPER: I do the same thing.
CONNOLLY: It’s the greatest thing.
COOPER: I take like eight naps a day.
Seriously, though? You don’t talk to guy friends?
GOODWIN: And now they’re actors.
COOPER: I do actually. I do. I have a couple of close friends I talk to about everything.
LONG: I think guys talk just as much as women. Unless I just have very gossipy, yenta friends. I definitely do. I rely pretty heavily on them.
I have a question on that note. There have been a lot of guy-oriented romantic comedies lately courtesy of Judd Apatow, which have been accused of being ‘women just don’t understand us’. Is this a response to that? And also, to what extent does public knowledge of your personal life insinuate itself in a romantic comedy like this?
(laughter, confusion from all talent)
Julia Roberts famously does not like to comment in any way about how parts of her personal life parallels parts of movies. It’s the one thing you could get her to walk away from an interview by saying, even though, you know what I’m saying.
LONG: Not really. Too bad she’s not here right now.
You’re on stage. People see you also at six o’clock on ET and Extra. They may have seen you involved in a breakup or a marriage or something. Do you think that carries over onto the screen? Is that part of the persona you bring to a movie?
LONG: Yeah, I still don’t understand.
GOODWIN: I don’t think we have a choice. I can tell you, and I think on behalf of all of this particular cast, we are all extremely discreet. I’m sure that these folks agree with me that it’s important, surely your opinion of a character is affected by what you know about the person in real life. So the very nature of the question would ruin what we are trying to do with by trying to represent the movie here and talk about how we expressed our characters and why. Because truly we are playing other people we’re hoping that you empower us with—Can someone help me here?
JOHANSSEN: You don’t want to see the man behind the curtain. Our process is an introspective one. It’s strange to share that with a bunch of, with the general public. Just as you probably wouldn’t want to tell us all about your own therapy sessions. In a way, acting is a very cathartic experience. You’re imparting your own personal experience into the characters you play. I’ve never quite been able to grasp the concept of giving away all your secrets, in a way, and wanting to talk about your method and your process. It’s one thing if you’re part of the Actors Studio and you’re working with a bunch of other actors and you’re discussing these types of things, but guaranteed no other actor is going to ask you what you’re working from, what you’re drawing from. Just in that same regard, it makes no sense to me anyway as to why we would want to share that with anyone else certainly.
What about the male romantic comedies?
BARRYMORE: I love the Judd Apatow movies. Personally. That’s just me.
The cast on this is so star-studded. I know that my listeners really want to know, how many of these other actors did you know before? What preconceived ideas did you bring to them? What was it like when you finally met them? I know watching it, I’m thinking, ‘What the heck was it like when the cameras weren’t rolling? Did these guys get along? Did they know each other?’
BARRYMORE: We all actually did pretty much know each other. In different ways. Yeah, absolutely.
COOPER: I actually didn’t meet Jennifer Connelly until the first day. The first scene we shot was in the Wall-Mart, or the Costco. I didn’t even know her, which was so crazy, and we had to shoot that scene. I didn’t know Scarlett, either, before our first day.
BARRYMORE: Like I said, we all knew each other.
COOPER: And I never met Drew before.
BARRYMORE: No we went to dinner!! We got to know each other.
COOPER: After I got the part.
BARRYMORE: Oh, shit. All right.
COOPER: It meant a lot to me!! Anyway (laughing).
BARRYMORE: No, I knew Justin, I knew Scarlett. I met Ginny on this. I knew Jennifer Aniston. I knew everybody.
JOHANSSEN: You’ve been around the block.
BARRYMORE: I have.
JOHANSSEN: Thirty years in the industry.
BARRYMORE: 33. Yeah. 33 years. God.
What surprised you about each other?
CONNOLLY: For me the whole thing was pretty humbling. Just a great bunch of actors, and one of them more professional than the next. Bradley and I were joking around yesterday. Somebody asked us something to the effect of ‘How did we come to choose these roles?’ And it was like, there wasn’t much choosing. Lightning struck. Bradley and I were fortunate enough to get on pretty early before—
COOPER: The big guns–
CONNOLLY: –The big guns signed on or we probably wouldn’t have gotten the role. The whole thing was just great. Everybody was fantastic to work with. Very humbling.
COOPER: I was always a huge fan of Jennifer Connelly, but I wasn’t as familiar with Scarlett and that’s what blew me away. You have a real actor here. She’s one of the best. I’m excited to see what she’s going to do, but she blew me away.
JOHANSSEN: I’ll give you your $20 later.
COOPER: It’s true, it’s really true. I was blown away.
Do guys need a mack truck to hit them over the head to show them what they have?
LONG: From the movie? The characters? I think sometimes, yeah, we could all use a good hit with a mack truck or some large blunt object.
COOPER: I’m going to say no. Disagree.
LONG: I’m sorry I even started talking. I think that sometimes sure it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Absolutely.
For the girls, when I saw this film I had sympathy for Gigi’s character trying to interpret the signs. Have you ever had a misreading experience that you can laugh looking back at?
GOODWIN: I do every day and now I get paid to put it on screen.
LONG: What were you going to say?
Kevin, is this a script that E would have passed along to Vince? Also, for everyone, one of the things I was struck by was that this takes us to the edge of the bedroom scenes, but it doesn’t rub our noses in it. Scarlett, I was very grateful for the red outfit. But were you grateful for that? Or you think it should have gone all the way to the bedroom?
GOODWIN: Well, we clearly didn’t need to, did we? The script was so subtle, so balanced. I don’t think that the message could have been so powerfully imparted if it wasn’t so subtle because life is subtle, that’s what makes it relatable. Right?
LONG: Although it would have been nice to have a little more skin.
CONNOLLY: Are you saying how did we get away with not having any hard core? I had a hard enough time with the post-sex thing with Scarlett. That would have been a disaster?
COOPER: The spooning? You had a hard time with that.
CONNOLLY: I did. So traumatized.
BARRYMORE: That’s such a good scene. It’s one of my favorites.
CONNOLLY: We had to reshoot it too, which is the worst.
COOPER: We shot the scenes, they just didn’t—At least I did in my head.
Which character out of the film do you most identify with?
GOODWIN: I so want Justin to take this. It makes me so happy.
LONG: Oh, man. They were making fun of me the other day because I kept saying I identified with some of the female characters. But I really did. There was a little bit of truth that I connected to in all of the story lines, even Bradley’s. Though I’m not married, have never been married, I’ve been in serious relationships and there was something in there that I was able to draw from. Certainly Ginny’s character, which I think is what she’s trying to get me to say. I identified with all of them. The only one I didn’t identify with was my own, oddly. (laughs)
Has there ever been a guy or a girl who was just not that into you?
COOPER: Never for me.
GOODWIN: We all have had only amazing experiences in love. Always. All the time. We’re actors now.
LONG: I went out with a girl in college. She was the first girl I ever worked up the courage to ask out blind without any preamble. She spent the entire time asking me about my friend James Duffy.
LONG: They ended up going out. They ended up dating for a little while. But literally everything I said, I was like, ‘How’s your coffee?’ And she was like, ‘It’s good. I wonder if James would like this?’ And I finally was just like, ‘Do you want me, uh—‘ and she was like, ‘Could you? Would that be weird?’ And I did. James like, ‘Would that be weird?’ And I was like, ‘I guess not.’
Drew, what is the classiest way to end a relationship? Is there any good way to do it that’s not in person?
BARRYMORE: Oh, no. You’ve answered your own question. I think it’s rhetorical.
BARRYMORE: (laughs) No. The in-person is first and foremost, 101, a must.
JOHANSSEN: What about in an emergency?
BARRYMORE: Fly. Do whatever you can. The older you get, the more un-okay it is to do it over any technological device. In person is the starter, right there. And then hopefully as kindly and honestly and sweetly and nurturingly as possible.
How was filming in Baltimore?
JOHANSSEN: Baltimore is awesome. I love Baltimore. I was actually walking around like, I could live here. It’s really a great city. I’ve got a lot of friends that come from Baltimore and that live there. And the music scene. It’s really just a happening spot. What was that museum we went to? The Visual… The Aquarium is huge. The Maritime Museum… It’s a very happening spot.
CONNOLLY: The stadiums are on the street. It’s the weirdest thing. You’re walking down the street, you turn around, it’s Camden Yard.
JOHANSSEN: We ate a lot of crab.
LONG: I shot a movie there a year earlier and I was lobbying Ken to write me a background scene where I just walk in the background with a dog or something—
In the book and the script: if a guy wants to be with you, he’ll do anything to be with you. Yes or no?
BARRYMORE: Men build bridges if they want to get from here to there. They can find your phone number. I think.
LONG: That’s dangerous to say.
LONG: I don’t know. That could invite some potential stalkers. (laughing)
BARRYMORE: I’m not saying call me. I’m saying they will find you if they want to find you! I was not inviting that upon myself. That was a Just Not That Into You-ism! Oh God!