The over-the-top comedy of I Love You, Man actually started someplace down to earth. While no one involved with the latest from writer-director John Hamburg (Undeclared) has ever had a street fight with Lou Ferrigno (at least that they're admitting to), the situations and characters sprang from Hamburg's own experience after moving to Los Angeles, and were relatable to most of the movie's top-notch cast.
Talking about the film with co-stars Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau last Saturday at the South by Southwest Film Fest in Austin, Hamburg said, "I always thought it was a great premise because it was always out there, how do you make friends as an adult? I found myself wanting to make more friends but didn't know how to do so."
Rudd plays Peter Klaven, a Realtor who's never been a "guy" guy, who's prompted by his fiancee (Jones) to make some male friends before the wedding. After a couple of fun false starts with the likes of Reno 911's Thomas Lennon, Peter meets Sydney (Segel), who gets him so much in touch with his Rush-loving, alpha-male side that it upends Peter's life.
"I'm not even a beta male," Rudd joked. "When I first read the script, I was surprised this movie hadn't been made already. ... It just seemed to make sense."
The more touching side of their relationship, a strange sort of twist on romantic comedies, hit a particular nerve in Segel.
"I had the same best friend since I was 12 years old, we were living together for a couple of years and he moved away," he recalled. "I gave him a guy going-away party. Then I woke up that night crying hysterically, so when I read the script I thought it was material I could really sink my teeth into."
As Zooey's best friend, who's constantly fighting with her husband (Favreau), Pressly also saw something familiar in her character, but thankfully only through association. "We all know that couple that breaks up to make up," she said.
Both Pressly and Jones credited Hamburg for writing smart female characters that aren't afraid to talk rude.
The one actor who had a hard time relating was Favreau. In the middle of the madness of directing Iron Man, he agreed to take his part in I Love You, Man after being told it was written especially for him. Then he read the description: a guy who's 40 pounds overweight, with a Jew-fro and a small penis.
"It was a Daniel Day Lewis-like transformation for me," Favreau deadpanned. "Having a small penis, it's like a whole new perspective. I didn't say Oscar buzz, but I'd love to get one. I did do the work."
"I Love You, Man"