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Movies - Loves at first sight

Perabo's romantic decisions, in real life and on film

By Brian Truitt
Examiner Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, February 2, 2006 8:30 PM EST
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Piper Perabo (right) met her "Imagine Me & You" co-star Lena Headey on the set of "The Cave." The actresses play two-thirds of a progressive love triangle.
Fox Searchlight photo

One would assume that an actress who became semi-famous for dancing on a bar would have had her share of loves in her life. And like her newest character, Piper Perabo dealt with the question of possibly having too many at the same time.

The British romantic comedy "Imagine Me & You" finds the 29-year-old New Jersey native and "Coyote Ugly" star cast as a middle-class Londoner (the first time she's done a modern British accent on film) named Rachel who's married to a man (Matthew Goode) but finds herself strangely and undeniably attracted to Luce (Lena Headey), the woman who arranged the flowers for the couple's wedding.

One drop of a ring into a punch bowl later and sparks are a-flying.

"When you actually care about people and care about their feelings and trying to make sure everyone is OK, it's complicated," says Perabo, adding that it was a hard decision in her own life choosing between lovers, as Rachel has to do in the film.

"You might have to risk it all. That's a scary thing when you're in love with someone and you realize, 'Oh my God, I'm in love with someone else. And was I ever really in love with that first person? Do I even know what love is? Am I an idiot, am I a jerk? How do I even bring this up?' Do you lie to yourself and stay in the relationship you're in? It's confusing."

If this was an American romantic comedy, there would no doubt be some villainous option, making one person the love for Rachel she should choose. That is why Perabo liked the script "Imagine Me & You" so much, she pestered writer-director Ol Parker for a year and a half to cast her instead of a British actress - Perabo loved that everybody was human and that Rachel's hubby is her best friend but maybe not the love of her life, yet is definitely a likable guy.

"To me that was interesting," Perabo says. "A lot of romantic comedies, it's so obvious she shouldn't be with X and she should be with Y. This is more complicated than that."

Perabo says she took different paths interacting with Goode and Headey not because of their genders but because they're different people, and her character could only open up to one of them. "You can only really open yourself up so far to someone that you don't truly love - you keep something back when you know somewhere in your gut that this relationship is going to be forever."

She had befriended Headey earlier that year filming the action clunker, "The Cave." That relationship helped film tender scenes like Rachel and Luce's makeout session amid a room full of roses, which Perabo likened to a game of Twister due to the different camera angles and constant worry of getting caught by a thorn.

While filming "The Cave," Perabo says, "we had spent all this weird time in Romania underground, scuba diving, doing all these insane things together, so you trust the person more than you trust the character. That helps when you're doing all kinds of love scenes."

And was that friendship the best part after escaping that bad movie? "There were so many good things about getting out of 'The Cave,' " Perabo says, laughing. "I don't even know where to begin on that subject. Like 17 things that are great about getting out of 'The Cave.'

"I actually don't get out of the cave in the movie, sadly. I'm glad in real life I got out."

When it comes to that one true storybook love, though, Perabo doesn't believe if there's one specific soulmate for each person, but does believe in love at first sight.

"Anyone that I've ever loved, even if I didn't admit it to myself when I first saw them, when I finally had the courage to admit it to them that I loved them, I know that I knew it from the minute I met them - in some instinctual way, I knew it. You recognize something in a person," she says.

"I hope for me, I hope for everyone that - it's so overromantic and overidealistic - one day in your life you turn around and there they are. There's that big love and they just walked into the room and it's going to be so interesting now, your life together. I think that is such an exciting idea. Wouldn't that be so great?"

Piper Preview

Some upcoming projects for Piper Perabo:

- "First Snow," about a man who's sent into hysterics after a particularly creepy psychic reading.

- "Because I Said So," a drama featuring an overprotective mom trying to set her daughter up with Mr. Right, starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore.

- "The Prestige," directed by Christopher Nolan and based on the Christopher Priest novel about two rival magicians in 1880s London.


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