John Corbett and Ryan Guzman vie for the affections of Jennifer Lopez in the exciting psychological thriller, The Boy Next Door, directed by Rob Cohen from a screenplay by Barbara Curry. Lopez, who also produces, stars as Claire, a middle-aged woman struggling to get back in the dating game after separating from her cheating spouse of 18 years. Corbett plays her estranged husband, Garrett, who unwittingly finds himself competing with Noah (Guzman), the 19-year-old stud next door, whose budding friendship with Claire turns into a dark and dangerous obsession that threatens their entire family. Ian Nelson and Kristin Chenoweth co-star.
At the film’s recent press day, Corbett and Guzman talked about what it was like working with Lopez, the casting process, the film’s tight shooting schedule, Guzman’s preparation for playing such a dark character, his intense love scene with Lopez and how they developed a sense of trust with each other, his harsh words for Chenoweth, their stunt driving experience, how they dealt with the extreme cold while shooting the film’s climactic finale, why they enjoyed working together, and their upcoming projects: Guzman’s Jem and the Holograms and Corbett’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
RYAN GUZMAN: (Laughs) And the young stud.
How was it for you guys to work with Jennifer?
GUZMAN: (Joking) Horrible. No, no, no. Probably two different perspectives, but I think we can both agree that she’s an amazing woman. I had the greatest time joking around with her and getting to know her as a person and realizing the stigma around her that she might be a diva is not true. She’s Jennifer, not JLo or anything, and I can respect that now. I have a totally new respect for her.
CORBETT: Yeah, same here. I’ve done some of those romantic comedies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Serendipity and Raising Helen and things like that and I always wanted to work with Jennifer. When I saw her the first time really, she was great in that George Clooney movie, Out of Sight. That was in the late 90’s, and I thought I’d sure like to work with her one day. Maybe we’ll do a romantic comedy or something like that together. And that never happened. It was funny, I was at someone’s house and my agent called and said, “Hey, Jennifer Lopez wants you to come to her house tomorrow to talk about this movie. You don’t have a lot to do in it, but I think it’s going to be a really good movie.” I said, “Send the script to me.” He emailed it and I read it, and I thought, “This is a great movie for Jennifer. What a great part to play.” This was before Ryan was even cast, I think. (to Ryan) Maybe you were already cast?
GUZMAN: No, I was the last cast.
CORBETT: Were you the last cast?
GUZMAN: Yeah, I was the last piece of the puzzle.
CORBETT: Yeah, because I don’t think they had the boy next door yet. I showed up at her house and we talked for about 15 minutes, and Rob Cohen, our director, was there, and a couple of other people, Elaine (Goldsmith-Thomas), Jennifer’s producing partner. At the end of the meeting, it’s usually, “Thanks for coming. We’ll be in touch.” But they just said, “What do you think? You want to do it?” And that doesn’t usually happen.
CORBETT: It doesn’t happen. I’m telling you.
GUZMAN: I was flying in from Vancouver on my birthday, spending my birthday in the airport on my last audition and hoping to God I got the part. I came back and I heard a rumor that they went with somebody else. For two weeks, I’m like, “Crap! You thought you did good but just keep on moving forward.” And then, two weeks later, I think it was a couple weeks before we actually started filming, I got the call from my manager saying, “You got it.” Then Rob called me, and then Elaine called me, and then everybody. The calls started pouring in. I started jumping up and down because I was so excited to be a part of this film and the opportunity to work with such a great cast, a great director, and great producers. Everybody on this film from the camera guys to the boom operators to everybody was an amazing person and an amazing experience to be a part of.
Ryan, Noah is a pretty terrifying character and you were very convincing. What kind of experiences, if any, did you draw from in order to portray him in the way that you did? What kind of preparation did it take to get into such a dark place?
GUZMAN: Anybody that knows me knows that I’m nothing like that character. So, for me to even pull anything from my own experiences is stretching the limits. It was more of a collaboration with my trusted captain, Rob Cohen. He had a vision of what he wanted for the character, and we broke down the character into two different characters. Noah Sanborn was the likeable guy that everybody fell in love with, and then the other one was this guy that was going to do anything and everything possible to get his way. And if that comes up with collateral damage, sorry. That’s the kind of mentality you had to go in with this, so not questioning anything that I was doing but just living in the moment and then thinking everything I was doing was right and for the right cause. In the wrong scenario, no matter what you’re doing, it can be taken two different ways, and that way obviously is the wrong way, and I embellished on that even more so I could scare and thrill people.
GUZMAN: Ah man, that was so bad.
CORBETT: I couldn’t make it down here because I live a couple hours north of here, so they sent the film to me and I had to watch it on an iPad. I actually rolled that back when you did that because it blew me away, those harsh words that you said to her. I didn’t know this guy when he did that scene. I played it back and thought, “Wow, this is intense. It’s really good.”
GUZMAN: Man, those words, they hurt when I said them. I apologized to Kristin like I don’t know how many times after saying that line.
CORBETT: It was a good scene, man.
Ryan, how far into filming did Jennifer and you shoot that very intense love scene? Also, how did the two of you develop that sense of trust to be able to do that?
GUZMAN: Oh man, it’s never anything but awkward when you’re doing those kinds of scenes, even if you prepare yourself to the fullest. Luckily, I met Jennifer a couple of times beforehand and we’d worked for a week before filming that scene. It was always in the back of my mind because I was so nervous. Then I finally had to come to her and say, “Hey, look. I’m really nervous about this. This is my first time getting naked in front of a bunch of people I don’t really know and you.” I’ve got to wear this little sock on my…you know. (Laughs) It’s pretty emasculating. But then, she pulled me off to the side and told me, “You know, it’s just part of the film industry. We’re just telling a story and we’ve got to tell it to the best.” Without that passionate scene, nothing else sells. There had to be so much intensity and so much passion that the audience felt it, even if they weren’t looking or even if they didn’t want to be a part of it. So, we wanted to make it memorable and we did that, I think.
GUZMAN: (Laughs) You might want to ask him some questions. You’re going to get some interesting answers.
CORBETT: I will tell you this though about that scene. All it says in the script is, “They make love.” And then the director does whatever he’s going to do with that. I remember asking you the next day when I saw you, I said, “How’d it go?” You didn’t say much. You said, “It went pretty good” or something like that. And I said, “Really? Okay. That’s that.” And then when I saw it, I was really blown away at how far that scene went, because now you got Jennifer Lopez in a scene where we’ve never seen that before. I’m not even sure, because I only saw it once, that you see her naked, but in my mind she’s completely naked in it. And you may not even see any nudity of hers in it, but the way it’s shot and slippy hands here and things like that.
GUZMAN: I think you see me more naked than you see her.
CORBETT: Yeah, I think so.
GUZMAN: I remember there was one point in time in that scene where Rob tells the cameraman to get behind me and go around me. So, the whole time my back is arched and my butt is in the air and I’m doing what I got to do for the scene and I know this camera is going to make its move as I’m doing it and I know it’s coming towards my butt, so I was trying to make it look as good as it possibly could the whole time.
CORBETT: Well, the guy who directed The Fast and the Furious directed this, so of course I ended up with a purple hot rod, which at first glance I thought, “You’re kidding me, right?” But then, you jump in that thing and you become… I’m 54 almost and you become 17. I mean, that thing is a 6-speed. They souped it up and I’d drive it around the block. I’d have to pull it up in front of the house maybe 15 feet and the kid would get out, and then they’d say, “Okay, back to one” and I could just back it up. But I’d go vroom! And I’d go all the way out to Hollywood Blvd. and go around the whole block. I think it was fun.
GUZMAN: You had fun with yours. See, I had a big old truck. I couldn’t really do much with it, except for the one scene that I had where I was doing off road terrain with the truck. That was the most fun because they closed off the street and had all these stunt drivers.
CORBETT: On that chase scene where you find out somebody isn’t who you think they are?
CORBETT: That’s a great one when you jumped that curb. You could see your whole body in that thing going.
GUZMAN: Well they had a camera inside the whole thing. It was weird how they had this contraption set up, and the camera is literally on my face. I’m thinking if I hit a bump, I’m going to bam, hit that camera. So that’s the only thing I was conscious about. Doing that, again, I felt like a little kid. It was fun.
You guys were on a pretty short shooting schedule. Without giving too much away, can you talk a little about doing the climactic final scene? How long did it take and what did you like and not like about the intensity?
CORBETT: The downers were…
GUZMAN: It was cold that first night, man!
CORBETT: It was very cold. We were out in… Where was that town? It was off the 14 past Palmdale. It was really cold. We worked until the sun came up.
GUZMAN: Wasn’t it Disney Ranch?
CORBETT: Yeah. Disney Ranch I think they called it.
GUZMAN: It was super cold for the first shot, the first time we went through it, and then we did some reshoots that were luckily warmer. I remember at one point in time, without giving away too much, I had to throw gasoline everywhere. It was just cold, cold water. It kept on getting on me and soaking me, and then, throughout the whole night, I just froze up and I had frostbite on my toes.
CORBETT: In the scene where he’s throwing it, I’m tied up to this thing and you see him try to throw it on me, and I remember I did not want to get gasoline on me, but I definitely didn’t want cold water on me.
CORBETT: It looks like I’m trying not to get doused, but it was sheer wanting to stay dry. The thing is, it sounds like we’re wimpy actors complaining, but it was so cold that the whole crew had these parkas where we could just see this much of their face and then steam coming out. Of course, we get to put those on when they say, “Okay, cut.” And then, it’s even colder when you have to take those off because you just get to wear a shirt. I can handle the cold, but it was extremely cold for some reason.
GUZMAN: Aside from that, I probably had a different viewpoint on what actually happened that whole time. Again, I can’t give away too much, but my depth perception was gone because of something that happened to me. I remember I could only see out of one eye. I was walking into walls. It was long and tedious, but man it was fun. The whole time it was fun. We had a little skirmish.
CORBETT: We had fire, too, in this old barn. They literally would light the barn on fire and then put it out after a couple of minutes. They put flame retardant around. I remember I was tied up, and you know, people get tired. I thought, “Hey man, don’t forget to untie me.” If this 100-year-old barn really catches on fire, everybody goes scooting out of there. I remember that.
GUZMAN: It was intense, but I loved every second of it, even the cold parts.
CORBETT: I was impressed with Jennifer. He has to throw her around quite a bit and she was taking it like a champ. She’d just go flying across the floor, crashing into barn stalls and things like that. The thing is too, if I’m going to be completely honest, which you should probably never be, I remember thinking as we’re in there, and I’ve got prosthetic things on where he’s beaten me up, you look in a make-up mirror, and it just looks bad, like you went to the Halloween store and glued some stuff on. I remember thinking, “This scene is kind of corny. It’s going to be a little corny.” And then, bang, that movie magic happens in the camera, and they edit it right, and it’s a really intense scene. There’s not anything corny about it.
Ryan, how did you juggle your shooting schedule to transition from this into Jem and the Holograms? What was it like to switch between those two characters?
CORBETT: (to Ryan) What’s Jem and the Holograms? What’s that?
GUZMAN: It’s a film I did. It’s a live-action remake of this cartoon from the 1980s. I play the male lead. I sing in that actually for the very first time.
CORBETT: Oh really? That’s cool, man!
GUZMAN: That was nerve wracking. I was sweating, more than the sex scene. (Laughs) Yeah!
CORBETT: “Can I just please take my clothes off?”
GUZMAN: (Laughs) Yeah!
CORBETT: “Gimme the sock again!”
GUZMAN: But nah, it was fun. The hardest transition was I literally hopped from Step Up All In and flew from Vegas on a 9 o’clock flight to get on set for The Boy Next Door with two hours of sleep going straight into filming. That was the hardest transition. Yeah, I don’t even know if you knew that. With Jem and the Holograms and The Boy Next Door, I had a couple of months to prepare and try to talk the director out of casting me because I wasn’t a singer. I didn’t believe in my singing, but he had faith in me. Thank God he did, because I enjoyed that movie more than I ever thought I would and to know now that maybe I could probably sing. I don’t know. We’ll see. It’s awesome.
CORBETT: It’s fun. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and in a lot of ways I would like to retire by 60 because life’s too short. I’m sort of at the end of this thing, and it’s so cool to see him at the very beginning because people don’t really know him the way I think they’re going to know him. I mean, I think Ryan is just going to have a big career, especially people do know him from those dance movies. This guy’s got 200,000 people that follow him on Twitter. That’s a lot of people, man. But they only know him really from Step Up. And when they see him, I think Hollywood is going to start knocking, man. You’ve never done anything like this before, The Boy Next Door, have you?
GUZMAN: No. I have not. I’ve never had sex with Jennifer Lopez before in front of a camera. I paid him to say that, by the way. (Laughs) This guy is one of the best guys I’ve worked with. No joking. He had us cracking up on set non-stop, even before serious scenes. It was just the lightheartedness he brought to it and the playful atmosphere he gave us made it so much easier to work and do what we had to do.
CORBETT: We didn’t have many scenes together, just a couple. I’d like to do a movie where we have a lot of stuff to do together. (Laughs)
GUZMAN: That’d be a different movie if me and you were working together.
Are you guys single?
CORBETT: I’ve been with my gal for almost 13 years in March. I’m with the lovely Bo Derek. We’ve been a couple for 13 years. We were set up on a blind date for an Oscar party. So Oscar is a big night for us. We always have some fun and have too much wine.
GUZMAN: I’m single now. Yeah, newly single.
CORBETT: Sorry to hear that, I guess. Next question!
John, what’s going on with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2?
CORBETT: We’re making it in May. We have a director, Kirk Jones, who did Waking Ned Devine. I can’t tell you too much because I haven’t got permission from Nia (Vardalos), but that little girl is now 16 and in high school and all of the things that can happen with that. I don’t know how I can say anything else without giving away big story plots.
Will you be shooting overseas?
CORBETT: No, we don’t go overseas. Nope. We don’t go to Greece.
It’s good to see you guys together again. It’s been 16 years.
CORBETT: In real life, it’s been 12, but at the end of the last one, we had our little girl walking down streets so she was already older.
Is there a possible return for Sex and the City?
CORBETT: I keep hearing rumors, but I’m like the last to know about some of that stuff. I wish HBO would let those guys come back for a limited maybe 10 episodes a year. That would be the perfect place because it’s the original home and they could do whatever they wanted. That would be nice to see. I want to see more of those girls. I don’t think there’s a place for Aidan. I think that ship sailed, but I want to see more of those girls as they get older. Everybody who’s watching it is also getting older so it’s fun. I’d do cartwheels if they asked me to play Aidan again, but I’d like to see what’s going on with Carrie and Mr. Big.
The Boy Next Door opens in theaters on January 23rd.