Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner talk fame and family
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past throws Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner into a familiar tale. It's A Christmas Carol, except this isn't Christmas and you won't be seeing an old, ugly and angry Scrooge in this romantic comedy! This is a McConaughey film after all.
Instead, playboy Connor Meed is handsome, charming and always smiling. That may not sound very Scroogey, but Connor is also the type of guy who interrupts his make out session with a starlet in order to break up with three other ladies...at the same time...via video conference!
"Like Connor says, he loves women, he loves all women. That's the problem here!" McConaughey says to SheKnows. "This was a fun role. You usually don't get a character that starts off with so much bite that you say, 'I can't believe you just said that!' or 'Woe!' It comes off in the beginning with a lot less pander than most stories like this do. That gives Connor a further distance to go."
The ladies' man does indeed have a long journey head. He has to tread through girlfriends past, present and future - and survive his brother Paul's (Brekin Meyer) wedding - in order to find his way back to the one he should never have given away, Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner)."You know we're going to get together at the end, but hopefully you're going to be entertained in how we get together," McConaughey emphasizes. "Usually, it's guy-girl, guy-girl, guy-girl. This had a few different twists, (like) the ghosts that scare some sense into him. That's a much better movie device than when they sit down and have 'the' conversation."A committed bachelor like Connor is immune to such conversations anyway, which is why his Uncle Wayne sends him on this ghostly trip down memory lane.
Uncle McConaughey's game
For better or worse, Connor learned everything he knows about working the ladies from his slick, hard-partying Uncle Wayne, played by the ever-smooth Michael Douglas."It was a ball working with him," McConaughey raves of Douglas. "I also enjoyed the time offset, between shots. I learned a lot of cool things just talking film business, making movies, experiences he had, Wall Street, Cuckoos Nest, things like that."With McConaughey's production company j.k. livin gearing up, it's no surprise he enjoyed picking his costar's brain, but he also focused on taking a lesson or two from Uncle Wayne."I saw Connor as this Bob Evans type, but then Uncle Wayne's got some brilliant dialogue in the movie, so (the key was) to go, 'What was this guys advice?' and take it, heed it, master it," shares McConaughey. "That's who Connor should be and the viewers get to see who his father figure is; why he is who he is and does what he does."Any viewers who've also perused the male dating guide The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists, by Neil Strauss, will recognize some similar mating ploys in Wayne's advise, but Jennifer Garner insists, "Uncle Wayne invented The Game!"In fact, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was pitched years before the 2005 best seller hit stands. Screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore found their inspiration somewhere closer to home. "We basically thought of what our wives would say, and then just wrote the opposite," Lucas recalls. "We obviously weren't players in the '70s, which is too bad, but I think the rules were different back them, so his advise is meant to be skewed and bizarre."
For every game player out there, there's a slew of ladies waiting to fall for his lines...and one who won't. Or at least, won't admit it. In this case, while the bridesmaids can't wait to bed best man Connor, its maid of honor and childhood love Jenny who struggles to appear immune to his charms.
"I never had a problem resisting someone I knew was going to break my heart," Garner considers. "Going after 'the bad guy' has not been a real issue for me, but one thing I liked about the role is it sounds like conversations I've had with tons of girlfriends, where's it's: 'Stay away from him.' 'But I can't! I see what he could be.' 'Just leave it alone. It's never going to happen.'"
Jenny has both sides of that argument buzzing in her head and as she battles her feelings -- she's also trying to keep Connor from ruining Paul's big day. Not an easy task as Connor's staunch anti-marriage stance and general playboy antics continuously threaten to throw the teetering bride (Lacey Chabert) over the edge and into bridezilla-land."I've been to a couple wedding where the coolest people were the most mellow days before and then, on the day of the wedding, freaking out," McConaughey says. "It's not about getting married, but about this (event) not being pulled off and the things that go wrong. You're walking a tightrope.""I am usually part of the disaster if I am a bridesmaid, which I have been lucky enough to be several times," Garner chimes in. "One time, I had my dress altered and hadn't tried it on and there was 4 to 6 inches left of the hem. We had to duct tape it up, but last minute, because I never get ready till the last minute, because I'm hanging out, chatting and doing girls makeup, which I should not be doing. I'm not a good bridesmaid in that way."Her strength, like her character Jenny's, is in reminding the stressed out bride that duct tape fixes everything.
Garner and McConaughey at attention
With McConaughey and Garner in the room, it was hard not to talk about the pratfalls of their fame. One just welcomed her second child, Seraphina, in January, while the other just had his first, Levi, last July. SheKnows wonders how the parents cope with the snapping, yapping and general lack of privacy."I don't have much of a strong opinion on that, because it's inevitable, unless I can work on changing some laws," shrugs McConaughey -- referring to the paparazzi. "I personally do not choose to retreat or hide out. I don't get emotional. Take a breath, go do what you do anyway and don't advertise it. I love my job and I'm starting to like it even more, because I understand it better.""You are very chill about it. You don't let it ruffle you," Garner marvels to her costar. "I too love my job. Looking at is as a working mom, there are a lot of great things. I work intensely for awhile, but in a way and place where people are very respectful of me and my kids. If I need to take a break and feed a baby, they let me, which isn't always the case for women in the corporate world, and I just got to take off 9 months of work. Who gets to do that?"As for how she's adjusting to the newborn in the house? "It's only one more, but it feels like three more," she says. "The experience is easier with the second child, but the overall thing is just chaos -- happy chaos. I have a great partner in raising kid and he's super involved and there with me. I have help and the support that I need."
Garner and McConaughey's marrying ways
That's about all Garner will say on the topic of her hubby, Ben Affleck, and their home life."The rule with marriage is, the less you talk about it the better," she demurs, turning the attention back to her costar. But, in case you haven't heard, the new dad isn't exactly talking marriage either. At least, not about setting a date with his baby mama, Camila Alves."Not today, and I don't have any plans for it," he confirms. "It's not an institution I'm against at all. I'm actually for it, believe in it and have seen it be very healthy for many relationships. Some people go through it some great ways. It's just not something I plan on doing right now or feel I need to do right now, but I'm not against it, at all."
(Not so) bad guy
Hmmâ€¦McConaughey is charming, gorgeous, has a party boy rep and doesn't want to get married. That sounds familiar!Director Mark Waters even shares that in casting Connor, they were looking for, "a guy who could be an incredible a-hole in the beginning of the movie, and yet somehow get away with it. The kind of guy who would sleep with all the women, but all the women would still kind of like him afterwards. That's how Matthew is with women."Waters may have been commenting on just how charming McConaughey is, rather than what an "a-hole" he is...especially considering what Garner rushed to say before her costar entered the room."I really liked him," she whispers. "It's embarrassing to talk about him when he's here, but he's the nicest, best guy and such a brilliant actor. I hope I get to work with him again. He is a charming, smart, funny guy who has a sense of humor about himself."And when asked about his take on the ladies, McConaughey himself reveals, "The birds and the bees talk was always Pop talking about respecting a woman."Apparently, McConaughey's already learned the lesson we're hoping Connor picks up from the Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. As for whether Connor succeeds...you'll have to catch the movie, in theaters May 1, to see for yourself!