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FAMILY AFFAIRS:
THE SUPPORTING CAST

     Surrounding the triangle of Rachel, Heck and Luce in IMAGINE ME & YOU are an assortment of family and friends for whom love is also in the air - in various high and low forms, from the caddish pursuits of Heck's best man, "Coop," to the jaded but not entirely faded romance of Rachel's parents.
     Cooper, Heck's determinedly single friend, is played with a light comic touch by Darren Boyd, who made his debut in the 2001 British comedy HIGH HEELS & LOW LIFES. Ol Parker was delighted with the rising young actor's performance. "He manages the remarkable and baffling task of making Cooper charming. I'm not sure Coop has a line in the film that isn't sexist or self-centered but somehow Darren makes him utterly winning and likeable."
     Boyd saw Cooper as the flip side of the far more traditionally romantic but problem-saddled Heck. "Cooper is very unapologetic about who he is and what he believes in. He's very much about being a free agent, about being in it for himself - and yet he's also about living life to its absolute fullest," the actor observes.
     Another of love's many different sides is portrayed in the long-lived but worn-thin marriage of Rachel's parents, Tessa and Ned, played by leading British lady of stage and screen Celia Imrie and Anthony Head (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER). Parker wrote the role of the tough-minded Tessa with Imrie in mind. "I knew exactly how brilliant she'd be," he says, "and then I sat back and watched her be twice as good."
     Imrie liked how the story of IMAGINE ME & YOU ventured into original territory, breaking away from the typical British romantic comedy. "I liked that it's not like anything else out there," she states. "And the character of Tessa made me laugh -- Ol really seems to know what it's like to be a woman. On the set, his love of these characters, his passion and his sense of humour spilled over to the rest of us."
     Most of all, Imrie loved the resounding romantic theme of IMAGINE ME & YOU. "Love can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime," she observes. "I believe that's why we're all romantics deep at heart."
     Meanwhile, to play Tessa's shell-shocked husband - poor passive Ned whose fire for romance appears to have all but gone out -- Parker searched for an actor with just the right qualities. "The minute I saw Tony, I knew I had to cast him," Parker says. "He's so preposterously handsome - and I wanted the audience to have that same sense of disappointment that he really should be someone amazing."
     Head describes his character as "a bit like a worn-out shoe." He continues: "Ned's a bit lived-in and not entirely comfortable in his skin. You get the feeling that he's retired further and further inside himself as life has gone on in part because it was simply easier. Yet in the course of the story, he also gains new confidence and self-respect."
     Like Rachel and Luce, Tessa and Ned have an unexpected awakening during the course of the film. Says Head: "What's wonderful about this story is that, through all the characters, the nature of love is questioned in different ways."
     Finally, there's little "H," Rachel's 8 year-old yet worldly-wise sister, who also finds herself bumping not only into love at first sight but her very first love. To play the perpetually inquisitive and entirely too smart H, Parker carried out auditions, ultimately casting Boo Jackson, who, though she had never acted on screen before, immediately impressed the filmmakers.
     "Boo was extraordinary and added something wonderful to the production," says Parker. "She arrived on set not only knowing her own lines but everyone else's, without a trace of fear and revealing a breathtaking talent. She held her own with this thrilling cast."

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