The original film, which dates back to the 1970s, took a dark look at the humor that unfolds when a man who won’t ever be happy falls in love with a woman (other than his wife) while on his honeymoon. That strange tale of inappropriately formed relationships has gotten a shiny new coat of paint at the hands of the Farrelly brothers (Fever Pitch, Shallow Hal). Just like the magic they worked with Cameron Diaz in another Stiller flick (There’s Something About Mary), these guys have once again extracted winning performances from two very talented ladies.
“I initially auditioned for the role of Lila,” confesses Monaghan, but in the end, the brothers had a different actress in mind.
When Akerman walked in to read for a role in the film, no one had any idea who she was. Although the blonde beauty appeared in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and HBO’s “The Comeback,” she was still unknown to the men that would later become her directors. However, after testing nearly 60 women, it was clear who the stand out was.
“Malin is a real discovery,” admits Bobby Farrelly. “She’s a gifted comedienne and really, really surprised us. We knew she was pretty. We knew she was a good actress, had good timing skills, but we had no idea that she could hit the comedic high notes that the part called for.”
Much of Akerman’s clever kick comes in the form of some pretty outrageous physical comedy. She executes the Farrellys’ R-rated schtick like a seasoned pro. Not since Lin Shaye’s saggy-breasted sunbath in Mary has a woman put herself out there so unabashedly.
Monaghan’s performance doesn’t contain any of the hysterical gross-outs that her costar delivers; instead, her focus is reactionary. While that may seem easy to some, it’s got to be difficult appearing in scene-after-scene with Stiller.
Fortunately, he gives her a huge thumbs up: “She’s the most likable person – sweet and just genuinely fun – and that personality is what the character is in the movie. I have to fall in love with her very quickly, and the audience has to believe that I would go for her, and she’s the right person. She has that naturally.”
Peter Farrelly concurs, “She feels like an old-time movie star from the ’40s, which is a dream come true for this role.” That description seems true of the starlet in real life. Her personal style is classic and sleek, and she could easily pass for a young raven-haired Lauren Bacall.
It’s impossible to think that a gifted woman like her would ever be able to relate to the romantic hardships of her character. Unfortunately, Monaghan knows her way around cheaters a little too well.
“I had one boyfriend that was just, like, a serial cheater,” she says, laughing. “I caught him once, and I’m sort of a big believer in ‘You made a mistake. Let’s make it through this.’ [But] he did it again!”
While Akerman is a bit more tight-lipped about her romantic travails, she does admit to falling under the spell of her on-camera nemesis. “Michelle and I are really good friends now.”
The future seems bright for both actresses. After playing Tom Cruise’s fiancée in Mission: Impossible III, Monaghan has continued to build an impressive resume. She has roles in Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, as well as Eagle Eye, opposite It-boy Shia LaBeouf.
Akerman, a former Ford model, is currently shooting Watchmen with Billy Crudup and spends the rest of her time rocking out with her band, the Petalstones. When asked which she likes better, she can’t decide. “The music and the acting –either one! If one were to take off, I’ll be happy either way.”
In the meantime, indecisive men everywhere now have two stunning reasons to give into their roving eyes.
The Heartbreak Kid releases in theaters October 5.