Opening this Friday is director Mark Waters “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”. The film stars Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Douglas, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster, Anne Archer, and Emma Stone. Here’s the synopsis:
Celebrity photographer Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) loves freedom, fun and women…in that order. A committed bachelor with a no-strings policy, he thinks nothing of breaking up with multiple women on a conference call while prepping his next date. Connor’s brother Paul is more the romantic type. In fact, he’s about to be married. Unfortunately, on the eve of the big event, Connor’s mockery of romance proves a real buzz-kill for Paul, the wedding party and a houseful of well wishers–including Connor’s childhood friend Jenny (Jennifer Garner), the one woman in his life who has always seemed immune to his considerable charm.
Just when it looks like Connor may single-handedly ruin the wedding, he gets a wake-up call from the ghost of his late Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), the hard-partying, legendary ladies man upon whose exploits Connor has modeled his lifestyle. Uncle Wayne has an urgent message for his protege, which he delivers through the ghosts of Connor’s jilted girlfriends–past, present and future–who take him on a revealing and hilarious odyssey through a lifetime of failed relationships.
Together, they will discover what turned Connor into such a shameless player and whether he has a second chance to find – and this time, keep – the love of his life.
Anyway, a week ago I attended the press day for the movie and got to participate in a press conference with Jennifer Garner and Matthew McConaughey. During the interview they both talked about why they wanted to make this movie, what they have coming up, and they both told some great personal stories about love and family and some of them were quite funny.
Again, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” opens this Friday everywhere.
As the press conference started, Matthew wasn’t yet seated…
JG: Let’s talk about him [Matthew] before he comes.
Question: What can you tell us about him?
JG: It’s just embarrassing to talk about him when he’s here, so if you want to ask, do it now.
How was it working with him?
JG: It was great. He’s like the nicest best guy, such a brilliant actor and I really, really liked him. I hope I get to work with him again!
Was he that charming, as he was in the film?
JG: Yeah, he is, he really is [Mathew enters room now]…he really is a charming, smart, funny, nice guy who has a good sense of humor about himself. Good, I’m all done. I told them if you want me to talk about him, do it before he’s here.
Jennifer, reflect on motherhood now with the second one at home?
JG: Same thing but crazier…no, everything is going really well, thank you very much. Everybody is happy, healthy and it feels like it’s only one more but it feels like three more…I don’t know if you any of you…yeah, okay, good – then you know what I mean.
Then it doesn’t get any easier after the first?
JG: The second child is easier. The experience is easier with the second, but the overall thing is just chaos…happy chaos.
It’ll be easier in about 20-25 years.
JG: Yeah, get back to me.
Happy birthday, by the way.
JG: Thank you. Thank you.
MM: That’s right. That’s right…I just heard that. You know some people let you know or they let someone kind of let you know [in audible] you didn’t let anybody know, did ya? I had no idea.
JG: You know, this year it just doesn’t…life is full. I don’t need to – normally, I am the person that says ‘you know my birthday is in three weeks, just so you know. I’ll see you tomorrow. It’s my birthday,’ but, today, I figured you guys would be pretty on top of that.
MM: Happy birthday!
JG: Thank you. It’s a good one.
With a romantic comedy, do you have to accept certain things, maybe a little unrealistic, that go with the territory that aren’t romantic?
JG: You mean like the ghosts?
MM: Yeah, the ghosts were a big unrealistic thing, but that’s just one of the things that made this one original. Because usually it’s just guy-girl, guy-girl, guy-girl, you know we’re going to split up, look at the poster, you we’re going to get together at the end but, hopefully, you’re going to be entertained in how we get together at the end. This had a huge twist. Ghosts, we had go back—
JG: We had flashbacks. We had flashbacks all the way back to
MM: –to kids. I go get fiancé to go back with brother to get them married and then get lucky enough to have second chance with childhood sweetheart. It was viewed in some really interesting ways, this one.
JG: I am going to celebrate it right here with you and the ghost of girlfriends past – no, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.
Did you learn anything from this?
JG: Well, I think yeah, of course, there are messages to the movie: that you have to take a chance on love. That it’s worth the risk.
MM: That partying with Uncle Wayne [Mike Douglas] is fun.
For both: did you have someone/something you could think about when playing the role? Bad guys you couldn’t resist?
JG: I never had a problem resisting somebody that I knew was going to break my heart. Going after ‘the bad guy’ has not been a real issue for me. One thing that I liked about the role was that it sounded like a version of conversations I’ve had with tons of girlfriends where it’s just ‘stay away from him! Oh I can’t. I see what he could be…’ or, you know, just ‘leave it alone. It’s never going to happen.’ So that made it kind of fun.
Matthew, have you ever used any of the lines he uses?
JG: Yeah, Matthew.
MM: What are his lines? Did Connor have lines?
He uses the book ‘The Game.’
MM: Oh Connor was around long before there was a book. He learned from Uncle Wayne. The Game the book you’re talking about [someone explains the “The Game.”]
JG: Uncle Wayne invented The Game.
MM: Uncle Wayne’s game. No there wasn’t somebody I thought of besides the Uncle Wayne character written in. And he was sort of – I always saw him as this sort of Bob Evans type. But, then, he’s got some brilliant dialogue in the movie. And, so, to go ‘all right what was this guy’s advice?’ take it, heed it and then master that advice, that’s who Connor should be. And not someone who’s…I mean, that’s Connor’s thing. He loves women. He loves all women. That’s the problem here. So, he didn’t…there wasn’t anyone I necessarily thought of. It’s easy to be attracted to – it’s a fun role and you see those first like twenty pages – you usually don’t get a character that starts off with that much sort of bite in a movie like this that you’re going ‘I can’t believe they said that’ or ‘woe.’ And so it comes off in the beginning with a lot more bite and less pander than most sort of stories like this do. And, then, gives it further, I know for me I enjoyed, further distance to go through, and then you got ghosts that come in and scare the hell out of me, and scare some sense into me. That’s a much better movie device for me than having the conversation where they sit down and go, ‘now what you should do…’ So, no, it wasn’t anybody in particular, but it was sort of written in there – following Uncle Wayne and having that guy to look up to in the beginning, and the viewers get to see sort of who was my father figure and why I am who I am, and do what I do.
I’ve heard you talk about what advice your father gave you and always worked?
MM: Respect women. That was the…I think I was asked recently and then asked about it today, what was the birds and bees talk that I had, and it was always pop talking about respecting a woman. I think I’ve said this before.
JG: You want me to tell it for you? So, um, his thing was that he said, look, you know you’re coming of an age where you’re going to start to have different kinds of feelings towards women, and you’re going to have certain desires and when you are with a woman, if she even hesitates for a split second, stop. Don’t go any further, don’t ask, leave it totally alone. Don’t go back there tonight. That night, leave absolutely alone. Chances are she’s going to want to come back. If she does, say no, and then next time, but absolutely respect the woman, and in doing that, you respect yourself.
MM: Bingo. That’s what he said. And so yeah, if that’s what you mean by worked, um, but it wasn’t like a play, it was never written in a book, but, yeah, that was it.
Carrie Underwood has been apologizing for hitting on you at the CMA’s – do you think an apology was necessary?
MM: I heard something about this. I thought that was hilarious. That was a great off the cuff comment she made. I didn’t know that there was a big apology. [now talking to Garner] I told some story at the CMA’s about when I was a kid, me and my brother went to see Dwight Yoakum, met a couple girls, they got very interested in us, we got interested in them. They said ‘what do you all do for a living?’ and we just lied and said, ‘we custom make all George Strait’s boots.’ And we have an exclusive contract with him. Then they got really interested. So we said, ‘as a matter of fact,’ in the trunk of the car, in the parking lot, we have his next year’s, unreleased, exclusive signature series white ostrich quilt boots, if you want to see them.’ And they said, ‘can we? Can we?’ The point of the story is we got lucky that night, thank you, George, who was in the audience.
JG: Is that true?
JG: I thought I knew all your shtick, okay. We can do another movie together if you still got that in there.
MM: So, yeah, then she won the award. And then I gave the presentation and among her saying thank you she was like, ‘I’d like to see those boots.’ And it was hilarious. It was a big laugh. Everyone in the whole stadium laughed. It was cute. It was really kind of adorable.
Treading to close to what people…
MM: What? It was true. It’s a great story. I was seventeen. It was a great story. That’s all.
Talk about Michael Douglas – what was it like working with him?
MM: It was a ball working him, and I really enjoyed some of the time offset between shots talking about producing and just the movie business as a whole. I learned a lot of cool things from him just talking the film business, making movies and just a lot of experiences he had, Wall Street, Coo Coos Nest, things like that.
Did he offer you advice for your own production company?
MM: Yeah…yeah. I’m trying to seek and learn as much as I can on any producers and anyone that’s made successful films. Acting or producing, I’m always trying to seek out something.
Talk about the invisible scenes?
MM: No actually you get more freedom.
JG: It was kind of weirdly nice to have you there in the invisible.
MM: Was it fun to act like
JG: Yeah, it felt like you were the audience of one and I don’t know it just gave it a different twist.
MM: That was really fun. When you’re getting married and I’m like right there in your face – and this was fun to do. And we talked about what were the rules. I couldn’t do this because obviously my hand would pass through.
JG: And that’s expensive.
MM: Yeah, that’s a lot of [inaudible]. But, yeah, to do this and to be yelling and then she’s having a conversation at this level with the guy behind me, was kind fun.
JG: Yeah, it was a different way of doing it.
Was it hard for you, Jennifer?
JG: No, I liked it. It informed the scene to have Matthew there. Whether it was the scene with Brad where I was putting a cake back together – I know for everyone when Breckin was doing the he’s my brother speech, to have you there, that was – he really liked that. I remember you talking to him about it.
MM: And you just get to ignore me.
JG: Yeah, maybe that’s just my dream, just to ignore you.
MM: There he is – I don’t see you.
JG: As a matter of fact, you’re invisible to me right now.
Ideal date and rules around marriage?
JG: The rule with marriage is the less you talk about it the better, as far as I can tell. So, go ahead, I’ll leave this to you, Matthew.
MM: I’m not married.
JG: Yeah, but the ideal date, Matthew – what’s it like?
MM: The ideal date?
JG: I’ll tell you – it has to do with food.
MM: Yep. It has to do with food. And I’m cooking it. My date’s cooking it. And we’re trying to make it last as long as possible because then we can have another glass of wine plus the later it comes on, the better it tastes because you’re really hungry. No, it is good. It changes…
JG: It’s very involved.
MM: Maybe a trip down to the store for something fresh on the meat side, but other than that, we want to basically may clean out of the fridge. And, we make bake something – we may also use the grill – and then we may end up with everything in the same pot by the time it’s time to eat.
JG: Same bowl. One bowl dinner. One bowl, one fork, good to go.
MM: But different marinades and different sauces, yeah.
JG: The McConaughey Way.
What experience have you had with the angst of weddings? And did you feel comedy was harder than drama?
MM: You wanna talk about weddings? I’ve been in a couple of weddings where the coolest people that were the most day before so mellow and then the day of the wedding freaking out.
JG: Yeah, disaster.
MM: Not about getting married but about this is not being pulled off. What’s happening? The things that go wrong. At that time, you’re walking a tightrope I suppose.
JG: I was telling a story earlier this morning that I am usually part of the disaster of a wedding if I’m a bridesmaid which I’ve been lucky enough to be several times. One time I had my dress altered and had not tried it on again and there was four to six inches left of the hem and we had to duct tape it up, but last minute because I never get ready until to the last minute because I’m hanging out and chatting, doing girls’ makeup which I should not be doing. I went to walk down the aisle one time in front of my friend and the curlers were still in my hair. So I’m not a good bridesmaid in that way.
MM: But you also, I bet you didn’t freak out when that stuff happened.
JG: No. I say, “Somebody’s got duct tape.” “Does anyone have needle and thread?” I was like no, screw that. You can fix anything.
MM: Yeah, okay, I have curlers in my hair.
JG: They’re gonna come out. I’m going to have very bouncy ringlets. It’ll make the pictures funny.
You’re doing another movie with a wild concept, a world where no one’s ever lied?
JG: Ricky Gervais, he wrote it with Matt Robinson and they directed it as well together. The concept, it’s just one of those little movies but it has a very big idea which is imagine a world with no artifice whatsoever. So for example, an add for Coca Cola would say, “Coca Cola, it’s bad for you but it’s sparkly and tastes good. Please continue buying Coca Cola. It’s really famous.” Ricky’s character is the one exception to the rule. He learns how to lie and just that one person learning how to lie changes the entire world. It’s really, really fun and there are a lot of great cameos in it. It’s just a kooky little movie.
MM: That guy’s timing is unbelievable.
JG: I know, he is good at what he does.
What was it like being directed by him? Is he very specific?
JG: He is very specific about things. The worst thing about Ricky as a director is that if something is funny, if something is funny at all and it was very improvisational, he breaks and laughs and ruins your take. I would say, “It’s your movie. Just leave, just grr, just go in another room. Let me just do it because now…” He’s like, “Just do it again.” I said, “Ricky, it’s not the same. You suck.” But he knew exactly what he wanted.
Matthew, will you be a groom in the future?
MM: Am I getting married in the future? Not today. Honestly, not today. I don’t have any plans for it. I was asked this earlier. It’s not an institution I’m against at all. I’m actually for it, believe in it and have seen it actually be very, very healthy for many relationships. Some people go through it some great ways. It’s just not something I plan on doing right now and that I feel like I need to do right now, but I’m not against it at all.
First loves, 7th grade dances?
MM: I had mine at the dance, very similar to the dance in this film. I had mine. What did they say in the movie? “He’s a senior, there’s going to be tongue.” It wasn’t that. But I was buzzing for weeks after that because I pulled it off and went for it.
What was the song?
MM: It was before Careless Whisper. Remember Careless Whisper? Wham.
MM: Wham. George Michael’s. It was before that.
JG: Careless Whisper on the dance floor. Mine was Groovy kind of Love which I knew because I had played it in the marching band for homecoming.
MM: Was that with the guy?
JG: The trumpet player, yes. But the bands for homecoming as the homecoming queen and her court were coming out, the band played Groovy Kind of Love and then at the dance, I was trying to dance with the trumpet player when Groovy Kind of Love was playing and my friends were saying, “Will you dance with her?” And he wouldn’t. It didn’t happen. It was my first dance.
MM: But you didn’t have your instruments on you?
JG: No, we did not take our instruments to the school dance, thank you.
MM: Oh, this is after the dance. Okay. So he wouldn’t dance with you. When’d you get the kiss?
JG: Oh, I didn’t get the kiss for a couple more years. I was like 18 when I.
MM: So that was the first time you wanted to kiss though, and you didn’t get it.
JG: Yeah, and my friends went and said, and he was like.
MM: Two more years of trumpet playing and he finally came around?
JG: I never got a kiss from him, no. He’s got four kids now. His name is Tim Miller. I think he lives in Kenova, WV.
MM: These guys come up a lot.
JG: Tim Miller? Yeah, you know, heartbreak.
During filming, Matthew was about to be a father. Did you have any discussions, Jennifer give you any pointers?
JG: I give him lists all the time. I’m constantly e-mailing him, “Are you doing this? Please, can I have Camilla’s direct line because I would love to talk to her about this.” I mean, sure. I’m sure we talked about it.
MM: I’m sure we did too. I don’t remember exactly what we said now that I’m doing it. I’ve said this though, what she was great at in hindsight after now having a child, it was very seamless how you handled being a parent and being an actress. It was very seamless, at least it seemed seamless.
JG: To you.
MM: To the outside. It never felt like a stop start, okay, now I’ve got to get into this. You made it seem very, very seamless. Very dexterous.
JG: Thank you. I only had one then.
MM: Now it’s not as seamless?
JG: Yeah, now it’s messier.
MM: It’s like, yeah.
JG: Next time I work it’s just gonna be agh, agh.
Talk about the movie stardom ride. Is it what you expected? How’s it going?
MM: I never had an expectation.
JG: Neither did I.
MM: Because I didn’t know what the hell it was about and didn’t expect it. I didn’t even know I was going to be acting until I was 21. I like how it’s going. I’m happy. I love my job. I’m starting to like it more actually than I used to. I think one, because I understand it a little bit better. I understand where and how my job’s more like the rest of my life and I also understand where it’s different and where it’s separate. Sometimes I want it to be very seamless with where I am in my own life at that time. Other times, I want it to be a complete trip for me, a journey away from where I am. So I’m enjoying it.
What about the attention?
MM: The attention? I don’t have much of a strong opinion on that because, and I think I know what you’re getting at. You said public eye and you said attention, because it’s inevitable and I personally don’t choose to go, I’m not going to retreat or go hide out.
JG: You are very chill about it.
MM: I don’t get emotional.
JG: It doesn’t bother you. You don’t let it bother you.
MM: Appears, like you would on the set with the girl. No, I mean, something is inevitable unless I can work on changing some laws.
JG: Mm hmm, yeah.
MM: Unless you can handle it in a legal way, I go ahead and just don’t advertise it but take a breath and just go do what you do anyway.
JG: Oh, the movie stardom ride? I certainly never expected to be in front of a camera one day of my life. Even when I was studying acting, I wouldn’t even go into the film school of my school. I was only about stage. I was a total snob. And then when I moved to New York and was trying to get a job on stage and was buh-roke and got offered a TV movie, I was like, “Hot dog, put me in front of that camera. Let’s do it!” So now that it has continued to evolve, I too love my job and just looking at it as a working mom, there are a lot of great things about what I do as a mom. I work really intensely for a while but in a way and in a place where people are very respectful of my and of my kids and if I need to take a break and feed a baby, they let me, which isn’t always the case for women in the corporate world. I have help and I have the support that I need. I have a great partner in raising kids and he’s super involved and there with me and then I just got to take nine months off from work which who gets to do that? So it’s so far so good.
How important is it to change it up? Like if this is a hit, would they force you to do another romantic comedy together? What about the Lincoln Lawyer?
MM: You’ve always seemed to do things different.
JG: What’s the Lincoln Lawyer?
MM: Lincoln Lawyer’s a very cool Michael Connelly book, courtroom, defense attorney gets a client.
JG: Oh, that’s cool. You didn’t have anything decided on last time I saw you.
MM: Yeah. To answer your question on my side, that’s, well, one, because of interest but two, yeah, I’m going to that and I’ve got another thing with Bob Benton that’s a political drama about LBJ. Then I’ve got a wild ass comedy called The Crackle. So keeping my eyes open for good comedies that have romance like this. This is a really good one and I like doing them and they’re fun and I’ve had some success with them. That’s pretty cool. But you’ve always kind of changed. I wouldn’t be able to connect you to a genre.
JG: It depends. I’ve been lucky to be able to change because I did become known out of the gate so much for action that I’m really happy that I didn’t get stuck there. But yeah, you guys have probably heard me say before, the whole point to me of being an actor is to get to do different things or else you might as well just go to an office and show up every day. Of course, you’re always looking for how to flip it for yourself, as well as how can I surprise people. That’s the fun.
Any plans to celebrate your birthday?
JG: I am going to celebrate it right here with you and The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. No, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.