For a producer, getting the right cast for a film is a major challenge, so the minds behind Smart People must have been relieved when Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City), Ellen Page (Juno) and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) all agreed to sign up for the quirky comedy.
“The cast as a whole is really what makes the film.” Quaid said in a New York interview with his co-stars Parker and Haden Church.
In the movie, Quaid plays Lawrence Wetherhold, a hapless widower college professor who rediscovers his family and purpose after falling in love with a former student (played by Sarah Jessica Parker).
“You think about it to the degree that you can,” Parker said of the casting. “You can ponder who would be great (to star alongside) but the script was really beautiful and really smart and well-written and I thought it was perfect that they had cast it (the way they did).”
No arguing there. Even more fortunate was to sign on Page who, despite being absent from the interview, was present in Pittsburgh where they filmed Smart People just before her huge break with Juno, which earned her an Academy Award nomination.
“I recall (producer Michael London) very vividly saying she’s this remarkable young woman,” said Parker of then-little known Page.
“She finds that angst which is such an overused cliché,” added Haden Church about the Halifax native. “But she really finds the pain and that static-electric kind of energy with her character that I thought was wonderful.”
Written by acclaimed novelist Mark Poirier, Smart People revolves around the world of academia. With the comedy, the novelist-turned-screenwriter wanted to explore the aspect of family life within a group of intellectuals who, while being book smart, display frailties in other aspects of life.
“They’re like every other family,” said Quaid. “(They might) try to rip each other’s heart out at any given moment.”