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“I refuse to be upstaged by Mother Nature!” shouted actor-musicianHarry Connick Jr. in a rattling West Hollywood hotel room recently.

“I refuse to be upstaged by Mother Nature!” shouted actor-musician Harry Connick Jr. in a rattling West Hollywood hotel room recently. See, together with co-star Rénee Zellweger, he was promoting their latest movie when a California earthquake suddenly struck.

Only it didn’t. After a few minutes and some nervous laughs, everyone realized the vibrations were in fact, due to some aggressive machinery on the floor below and indeed not Mother Nature.

Still, if nothing else, the impromptu moment gave us all a glimpse into the type of unrehearsed levity the pair had just experienced making their latest romantic-comedy New In Town — in theatres next Friday.

“The prospect of working with Renée and the idea I had about working with her (was what) really made me want to do it,” says Connick Jr., before joking dryly: “Unfortunately none of the things I thought would happen happened, but still the idea of it was great.”

The story of an ambitious executive (Zellweger) who temporarily relocates to Minnesota to shut down a plant run by a rugged union boss (Connick Jr.), New In Town was actually filmed in Winnipeg last year during a record-breaking cold snap. Like the earthquake-that-wasn’t, the cast refused to let Mother Nature dampen their spirits.

“I don’t think there was a day when we weren’t laughing until our eyelids were frozen together from tears,” said Zellweger, adding that such extreme weather may have actually helped bond the group.

As for living in Manitoba over the winter, Zellweger was happy to remain “new in town” herself and admits, like her character, she too lacks a certain doggedness to reside in climates where the temperature is low and the snow is deep.

“The tenacity of the people was just so impressive. To me, when you look outside, you think, ‘where’s the road? I guess there’s no driving today?’ but that’s not the case,” said a surprised Zellweger. “Everybody just gets up and gets on with it like it’s normal.”

 
 
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