Piper Perabo, best known for the aggressively heterosexual Coyote Ugly, plays a bride who finds an unexpected romantic connection with another woman on her wedding day in Imagine Me & You. Perabo's character is also British, so the 29-year-old Jersey girl had to brush up on her English accent.
Perabo, who also appeared in Cheaper by the Dozen, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and The Cave, has just wrapped Because I Said So with Diane Keaton; her next project will be The Prestige, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale.
Q. How do you think British romantic comedies differ from American ones?
A. American-made comedies are either just love stories with a couple of jokes or comedies with people falling in love in the background. I think [Imagine Me & You] is part of a new genre coming out of actually funny love stories. I thought this was a well-balanced film; it was romantic and the jokes were funny.
Q. It's written and directed by an Englishman, filmed in England and stars an English cast. How did you score the part as an English actress?
A. I was trying so hard to get this role every day and, thankfully, [writer-director] Ol Parker let me audition. I don't know if I would cast me in a British romantic comedy. I mean they are spoiled with amazing, competent, well-trained actresses -- why would they want an American like me? I don't know. But I'm grateful he gave me the shot. I was very aware and nervous. I'm one of those people who hate watching a movie when someone is faking an accent.
Q. The film is all about true love and bad timing. Have you ever experienced that?
A. I've definitely had bad timing for falling in love. And, yes, this film is about timing. She is walking down the aisle to marry a man, and it's not the best time to fall in love at first sight on your way to the altar, with a woman. I could sort of empathize with her bad timing.
Q. You had a make-out scene on a pile of flowers. Was that as romantic as it seemed?
A. There was at least a truckload of flowers in that one scene. It was, by far, not as romantic as it looked. It was so technical. There were thorns, we bonked our heads, it was all very tricky to capture that action. But it was nice because there were a lot of flowers. I think most of the men on the shoot had a girlfriend by the end of filming. Flowers only last for a day, so everyone got to take them home every day.
Q. What's something surprising you learned about flowers?
A. Well, Lena Headey, who plays my love interest, she gives a big speech in the film about their meaning. I'm into flowers, I have a big garden in New York, but I didn't really know the meaning of all of them, like the Victorian mythology behind them. I mean, I know a red rose means love, and yellow means friendship. But I learned about all the different kinds of lilies. Each has a different metaphor.
Q. Do you think mainstream audiences are ready for a same-sex romantic comedy?
A. I think people are becoming more tolerant, but we still have a way to go. I hope that with movies like this one and Brokeback Mountain, finally we can make some progress into being a tolerant and accepting nation.
Q. What are your favorite romantic films?
A. A Room With a View would be my top choice; it's so romantic. And then The English Patient. It's a drama but such an interesting, committed, epic love story. And then I think It Happened One Night, with Claudette Colbert, for something a little lighter.
Q. Do you still get referred to as the Coyote Ugly girl?
A. Actually, it's funny. People used to come up to me and say, "Hey it's the girl from Coyote Ugly!" When we were in the pubs in London filming this movie, we would go out for pints after work, people would come up to me and say, "Hey you look like that girl from Coyote Ugly!" In some ways, that's easier for me because I can say, "Oh yeah, I get that all the time!"
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