To wrangle an all-star cast as large as the one in Valentine’s Day, it takes a very particular director, and TV and film veteran Garry Marshall was just the man for the job.
The king of the romantic comedy, with films like Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Frankie & Johnny and Overboard under his belt, the 75-year-old writer, director and merry prankster knew just what the trick for getting the most impressive cast of big-name actors possible.
“I always like to shoot in L.A., because in that case you usually pick up the mothers,” Marshall says, grinning. “We get a list of those people, we know they might be around. I was glad to see Julia Roberts, because she was about to take her family to India, so I said, ‘Why don’t you stay in the neighbourhood for a few days here? We’ll do a picture.’”
Re-teaming with Roberts was a particular treat. “Julia’s just so calm now and centred and together,” Marshall says of his leading lady. “I went from when she was a kid to ‘I’m engaged!’ and to a mom of three great kids.”
But it wasn’t just a reunion for director and actress. “Some of the crew I had on Valentine’s Day was the same crew I had on Pretty Woman, so she was happy to see everybody,” Marshall.
Marshall was also excited to work with Ashton Kutcher. “I said to Ashton, ‘You know, I can make you charming. I know you like to play pranks and jump around. But you’re very charming when you’re just talking, me and you.’”
But Marshall, himself a fan of a good practical joke, got caught up in Kutcher’s Punk’d spirit.
“In the opening scene, when he wakes up Jessica Alba, we had a ski mask on him,” Marshall recalls. Soon enough, the director was playing pranks on other members of the cast. “When Taylor Lautner opens this box, this lovely gift, Taylor Swift had slipped in a picture of herself autographed to him,” he says.
Valentine’s Day opens next Friday.