Written and directed by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (who also co-wrote the hugely successful Scary Movie trilogy), Date Movie began simply as a concept to create a film spoofing one of the most successful genres of all time: the romantic comedy. In the film, Hannigan plays Julia Jones, a young and morbidly over-weight twenty something who comes from an unexplainably multicultural family. Julia is a hopeless romantic who is hindered by her appearance until she is "pimped" by the MTV show, "Pimp My Ride," and turned into a beautiful woman who is determined to meet Mr. Right and live happily ever after.
Julia finds her prince, Grant (Adam Campbell), when she wins a date with him on a reality television show, much to her father's dismay. Now, before they can have their "Big Fat Greek Wedding, they'll have to Meet the Parents, hook up with The Wedding Planner, and contend with Grant's friend Andy (Sophie Monk) - a spectacularly beautiful woman who wants to put an end to her Best Friend's Wedding."
"I loved the idea of spoofing romantic comedies. I had never done a spoof before, and it's a little intimidating," says Hannigan explaining her initial reaction to being approached for the film. "You just go into it like you're doing a romantic comedy."
She also expands on her thoughts of the Scary Movie franchise, saying, "My favorite is the original…it was so funny. I was struck by how talented everyone involved was; I just thought they did such a great job. I was definitely a fan when I met (Seltzer and Friedberg)."
Since the writers had Hannigan in mind when they formulated the script, there was never another actress considered. Unfortunately, Hannigan faced scheduling conflicts that the filmmakers would have to deal with. "At the point [when the film was scheduled to start shooting] I had already done the pilot to 'How I Met Your Mother,' and so time-wise it was getting a little more stressful whether or not I would even be able to do the movie because if the show got picked up we probably wouldn't be able to fit it in with my time schedule," says Hannigan.
"There were three options: one, I could be out of both jobs; two, I could have a show but not be able to do the movie; or if the show didn't get picked up I could do the movie…meanwhile, they were trying to cast the movie. They were trying to find someone else because they didn't think it would work out because the show might be picked up. Thankfully, they didn't find anyone they wanted more and they just made it work with six-day work weeks."
Thanks to the efforts of Friedberg and Seltzer, the best of both worlds happened-Hannigan got the show and the movie. Hannigan claims that "it was just meant to be."
For her lead role, Hannigan was forced to endure filming in an enormous fat suit. She explains the torture she was forced to undergo for her craft: "The suit took two hours of makeup just for the face and the arms, and then the actual suit part, probably a good half hour of trying to wiggle in. I think the final count was 10 days [of shooting] in it, two of which were from the dance sequence, [which were] probably the worst days of my life. It was that horrible heat wave we had; it was in the high 90s. The suit is quite warm anyway; I [was] just drenched with sweat by the end of the day. It was insanely hot."
The filmmakers decided to start the shooting of the film with Hannigan in the fat suit. She says, "The first couple days of the movie we did the restaurant scenes (in the fat suit), which was really nice because I could get a sense of the character. The third day I came out as me and people were like "Hi, nice to meet you.'" The cast did not recognize that Hannigan had previously just been in costume until she explained, "No, I am the same person. The makeup was phenomenal."
While on the set for Date Movie, Hannigan, an avid fan of Hugh Grant, was fortunate enough to be filming on a lot right next to him. Grant was filming American Dreams. Her encounters with Grant were not flattering for Hannigan. "[It was] so humiliating, of course it happens to me," she says. "I always thought [Hugh Grant] was very charming and cute. Two times I saw him, one I was in the big suit right after they had hosed me down and I was just a mess. And the other time I was normal but I had just gotten this huge prosthetic zit on my chin. Oh God, of course I have to have a two inch zit on my chin. He was like 'What are they doing to you?' He was really polite and sweet and nice."
Say Anything is Hannigan's favorite romantic movie out of the multitude of films parodied in Date Movie. "I am such a sucker for romance," says the actress. "I am slightly scared I have completely sabotaged any chances of ever being in a real romantic movie, but that's alright, this was fun to do."
Hannigan thought Date Movie most successfully parodied My Best Friend's Wedding. "I have such a warm spot in my heart for the singing around the table from My Best Friend's Wedding. I really loved that. That was everybody involved."
Hannigan had the opportunity once again to work with such comedic geniuses as Fred Willard and Jennifer Coolidge, whom she previously worked with in American Pie. "I'm in such awe of them, and they're just so wonderful and I just sit there and watch them together and they're so brilliant. [It is] so interesting to watch comedians together. It's such a different element. I love watching them, I learn so much."
The film may have contained extensive potentially offensive content but Hannigan found the movie hysterical. She did, however, have to stop every once in a while when preparing for a particularly heinous scene and ask, "Really? Are you sure because it just seems so horrible?"
Hannigan has proven to be the prefect fit for the lead of this romantic comedy spoof, as she is a young woman who believes in love just like Julia Jones.
Date Movie releases in theatres.