Queen Latifah joined the cast as the unstoppable force that enters Peter’s life. Hoberman was a fan of the multi-talented star. “I always thought she was really gifted; she could sing, she was funny, and I loved her in ‘Living Out Loud.’”
Queen Latifah, who is also an executive producer of the film, brought a different point of view to the script. “There are a lot of controversial jokes in the film, and we’d go back and forth figuring out what was offensive, what was funny, and what was offensive but funny enough to get over-the-top,” says Queen Latifah.
The actress describes her character, Charlene, as “ghetto fabulous and smart; she’s just made some bad choices.” She enters Peter’s life like a pit bull without a leash.
Now that the two stars were on board, the production took on the important task of finding the perfect director for the material. Adam Shankman was everyone’s choice.
“I think Adam brought it all together,” says producer Ashok Amritraj. “We knew his rapport with the actors would bring out their best.”
Steve Martin felt he was in good hands with Shankman. “I saw ‘The Wedding Planner’ and thought it was fabulous. I could tell that Adam had a good, sharp comic sense,” he says.
Shankman was elated about the project. “It’s a big, broad, urban comedy with an edge, which is something a little different for me,” says Shankman. “And the chance to work with Queen Latifah and Steve Martin, who’s been my idol for years, was just a surreal opportunity,” he enthuses.
Shankman was also interested in the heart of the story. “The dangers of online dating is our opening warning wink,” he says. But the bond that forms between the mismatched pair is the eye-opener, to the director. “Peter and Charlene come from different worlds. And therefore, they behave in a certain way because of where they’re from not who they are,” he says. “So if you peel their outer shells away, they can relate to and teach each other a few important things about family and self respect.” One thing Shankman didn’t have to do was teach either actor about comedy. “I wanted to make a real traditional Steve Martin movie, like ‘All of Me’ and ‘Father of the Bride,’” says Shankman. “And I told Steve that I wanted him to do the really Steve Martin-y things in this film. It’s all very intangible, but he’s charismatic without trying. And his comic style is the blueprint for my generation’s physical, high-energy humor. No one does it like Steve. Also, I think you’ll see him at his suburban best in this film.”
Shankman was “blown away with Queen Latifah’s comedy chops,” he says. “She’s fearless and doesn’t mind playing the fool; she allows herself to look pretty crazy in the film. And she completely keeps up with Steve. In fact, she seems much more seasoned than her comic resume belies.”