Principal Photography Begins Monday
Moviehole caught up with Melbourne humorist Peter Helliar this morning – over lip-smacking bread-rolls and welcomingly searing java – who filled us in on his forthcoming debut film, “I Love You Too”.
Produced by Princess Pictures (TVs “Summer Heights High”) and Roadshow Films, the rom-com (a genre Helliar points out has been on pause since Claudia Karvan and Guy Pearce swapped â€˜woo woo’s – as my daughter calls them – on “Dating the Enemy” in 1996) tells of two blokes on a quest to win over the women they love. The flick will be carried by acclaimed Oz actor Brendan Cowell (“Love My Way”) and International star Peter Dinklage (“Death at a Funeral”).
It’s a film that’s been a long time coming, the 33-year-old comedian tells.
“I originally pitched it to [Producer] Laura Waters when we were doing the pilot for Rove. It was 2002; I remember I was pushing my little one – now 6 – down the street at the time”, but the film didn’t sound like an out-and-out comedy so Waters was a little unsure about the project, “She said â€˜Whose going to fund that?”, recalls Helliar.
Helliar, who also does the breaky shift on Melbourne’s Triple M, admits the premise mightn’t have sounded side-splitting, but he was confident – and still is – that it will induce a lot of laughs. “I didn’t write it as a comedy, I just wrote a story”, says Helliar, suggesting the screenplay works because it amplifies the humour found in real-life situations rather than just serving up a series of running gags.
Once she read the screenplay, Waters agreed.
The screenplay also worked magic on Roadshow Films – who has given us some comedy classics as “Crackerjack”, “Bad Eggs” and “The Castle”.
“They liked it”, says Helliar, hinting that it may have taken more than a few meetings to convince the company it was a film they had to make. “They were great. No rewrites, just a few notes. Joel [Pearlman] and Graham Burke were big supporters of it. It gets no better than Village Roadshow in Australia. Obviously the fact that we had some [acting] attachments helped too”.
Those â€˜attachments’ included Cowell, Dinklage (“Who was attached for years actually”, says Helliar, noting that the pint-sized actor was onboard even before his “Station Agent” and “Death at a Funeral” success), U.S actor Yvonne Strahovski (star of the hit U.S comedy “Chuck”) and prominent Supermodel Megan Gale.
Strahovski says she’s under a lot less pressure on this than she is on the fast-paced U.S hit “Chuck”, in which she plays a kick-butt secret agent. “I am so grateful for the rehearsal time [on this film]. Everything on Chuck is just really fast. This way, I’m about to really get to know the character and get to know [the character] before we start filming”.
Gale, making her Australian feature debut, will play an Italian Supermodel in the film.
As you’ll have read, the Aussie beauty was set to play Wonder Woman in a feature-film version of the comics series’ â€˜’Justice League” until it fell apart (“fingers crossed” it gets going again, says Gale) and agrees this’ll be far less demanding, but no less satisfying. “I was fully prepared and ready to do [Justice League], but yes, this is only a small part, and it’s great to be working with my friends – like Pete [Helliar]”.
Gale was approached by Peter Helliar backstage at â€˜’Rove” (Gale dates Rove regular â€˜Andy’ of â€˜Hamish & Andy’) one night – but only after the tyro scribe worked up the courage.
Helliar was justifiably nervous about asking the â€˜legendary’ model to be in his movie but after hearing about “what a great audition she did for George Miller on [“Justice League”]” realized he’d be a fool not to. “Within fifteen seconds of the audition, she had the job”, he says.
Gale, who has appeared in a few Italian movies, says she can really relate to her character. “It’ll be good to show people that Models aren’t untouchable creatures”, she says.
Cowell’s last stint was – to Helliar’s amusement – doing Shakespeare on stage. “After I played Hamlet I decided my standards were going to be high from then out”, says Cowell, who also starred in the acclaimed Aussie flick “Noise”. “Then I read this script and said to myself, â€˜Well, here’s my new project!”, he laughs.
“[But] I get to ride a Postie Bike – which I got my license for this week – and conduct a miniature train!”, adds Cowell.
One face you won’t find among the cast – surprisingly enough – is Helliar’s good mate and long-time collaborator Rove.
“I didn’t want this to be the Rove and Pete show”, says Helliar, who has been with the â€˜Rove’ show since the beginning. “There are a few comedian mates that pop up in small roles though”.
Directing the picture is sketch-comedy performer cum director Daina Reid, who worked with Helliar on the series “SKIThouse”. Reid says the script, despite being a comedy, “bought tears to her eyes”. Asked to compare it to another film, she can’t. “It’s magical. It has sparkle. It’s not really like anything I’ve ever seen before”.
Helliar’s hopeful the film will find it’s audience when it’s released sometime next year, as long as this “Pig Flu is gone”, adding “hopefully we’re not all wearing masks for the first few scenes of the movie”.
The film, which shoots in Melbourne over the next six weeks, will also feature acclaimed actors Steve Bisley (“The Big Steal”, TVs “Water Rats”), Travis McMahon (“Kokoda”) and Bridie Carter (TVs “MacLeod’s Daughters”).
Helliar will also play a role in the film, that of Cowell’s best friend.
The TV favourite is ecstatic that his script is finally being transferred to celluloid.
â€˜’It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever worked on”, he says. “I got into stand-up comedy so hopefully I could get a gig writing for television and through writing for television, make some contacts so hopefully I could write a movie. This has been the ultimate goal and to do it with these amazing people, I just couldn’t be happier”.