In the new movie, The Oranges, life turns upside down for two New Jersey families when 24-year-old Nina Ostroff (Leighton Meester) breaks up with her fiance and comes home to spend Thanksgiving with her parents, Cathy (Allison Janney) and Terry (Oliver Platt). As usual, the Ostroffs are joined by their neighbors and close friends, the Wallings : David (Hugh Laurie), Paige (Catherine Keener), their successful son Toby (Adam Brody), and their socially inept daughter, Vanessa (Alia Shawkat).
Both families hope, none too secretly, that Nina will fall for Toby, thus truly uniting their families forever. But instead, a seemingly unseemly romance blossoms between Nina and David -- not the union anyone had pictured. TheaterMania recently spoke with some of the film's stars about working on the movie.
THEATERMANIA: What first attracted each of you to the script?
HUGH LAURIE: I think we all shared the same response. I read the script and I thought it was hugely funny, but I also thought it took people's lives and feelings seriously. It wasn't condescending or judgmental in any way, but rather very humane. It's a very delicate line to tread -- although it's not Lolita -- and I thought Julian Farino directed the film with elegance and grace. He could have gone for the "ha-ha-ha" but that would have been neither a believable nor a respectful portrayal of the relationships.
OLIVER PLATT: For me, it was about how people think they should respond to an event like this and how they actually do. It's set at a time of year when there is all that pressure on everyone to be humane and loving. It's the holidays, so what better environment to lob this sensational grenade into and then watch the consequences. That is part of the brilliance of the script.
TM: Did the fact that many of you had worked with each other before help you on this film?
ALLISON JANNEY: Knowing Oliver and his great sense of fun, and how much I like being around him, gave us some real common ground. And we have such mutual love and respect for each other.
OP: When you like a person and you respect them tremendously as an actor, that's already two big boxes checked. It was really great to go to work every day -- and due to economics, they put us all together in this house down the street. The doors were always open. Hugh played jazz on the downstairs piano.
HL: It was undeniably a terrific help [that Leighton and I had worked together on House]. Apart from anything else, I knew that I liked Leighton a lot, so I knew that we could work together and we could play scenes together. She is an absolute hoot.
TM: Allison, we've seen you be both serious and funny before, but the degree of physical comedy you exhibit here is something new. Where did that come from?
AJ: You know, whatever I'm doing comes from the same place of grounding it in reality. I never concern myself with things like "this is a funny person." But I know what's funny -- and basically it's my mother. Things are so important to her and she invests herself fully in whatever it is. So for me it translates into that same investment. If I have to hide behind a lamp post, then I will hide behind that lamp post and you will not see me!