I’m seated in the conference room for The Back-up Plan’s national press conference. There are about fifty print, radio, and online press members present.
The stars of the movie, Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin, are seated side by side sharing a table with director, Alan Poul, and screen-writer, Kate Angelo.
It doesn’t take much time for me to be taken with O’Loughlin’s charm; the rest of the room seems to concur. His sense of humor is quick and natural, and the chemistry between he and co-star, Lopez, is unquestionably present off screen.
I cannot wait to uncover more.
13 April 2010
One On One
I have a series of questions neatly laid out in front of me. Feeling quite upbeat and even more inquisitive after my earlier interview with Poul, it’s finally my turn to see O’Loughlin. By this hour, he’s had a steady stream of interviewers walk through his door and I can only hope our interview goes smoothly.
He welcomes me with that bright smile of his, and he still looks as fresh as he did nearly four hours ago in the conference room twelve floors down. He is sporting a suit jacket, button up shirt (first two buttons undone), jeans, and Converse Chuck Taylors.
Believe it when they say that natural good looks on camera are even more striking in person. That and I am a sucker for long eyelashes, which he’s also blessed with. The peek-a-boo afternoon sun is shining inside the suite where I find myself seated before him.
O’Loughlin has an extremely charismatic vibe about him that is very fresh and inviting. Possessing these qualities, I’m certain, made it easier for him to connect with Lopez. But, I was still curious to find out if their on-screen chemistry came naturally, or if they perhaps needed to work on it at all?
“No, it was really easy,” he says. “We met before we did the film. I flew to New York City and I went out to Marc and Jen’s house [in] Long Island and we had a cup of tea, and we just hit it off, you know what I mean? Sometimes you sit with people and you don’t hit it off or you’re not that interested. And other times, you do.
And we both realized that we were to the other, someone who we could work with,” he explains.
“I knew I could work with her closely because I kind of ‘got her’. She was funny! That’s a big thing.
If she was someone who really took herself seriously and didn’t know how to laugh, I think I would have been like, ‘Weeeellll, I don’t know, it’s going to be a challenge to get to those important scenes,’ you know?”
“Yeah, make it a hard day on the set of a romantic comedy,” he agrees. “But it wasn’t.
We had a laugh; we kind of [played around]. She [clocked] my balls a bit; I kind of teased her a bit about her hair or whatever.
So that’s where it started and where we sort of set the tone for the [movie]. It’s great. We’ve been mates ever since. We’re pals now. So, it’s nice…”
If seeing O’Loughlin’s and Lopez’s interaction in the movie and then witnessing it off-camera during the conference wasn’t gratifying enough, he now has me laughing in between questions with his account of getting to know his co-star.
My laugh turns into a deep smile hearing O’Loughlin express his intent to keep in touch with his new pal,
“It’s a real kind of sibling, kind of good friend feel now,” he says. “It’s funny. I don’t see her much because she’s so busy and out of town with her music and stuff.
And they’re [in LA] or they’re in New York and Marc’s got a bunch of stuff. They’re always moving around, but I love the chance to see those guys when I do because they’re really cool people.
Like, I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and sometimes, most of the time, you lose contact. Sometimes you’ll text once here and there, every couple of years, ‘Oh, hey how’s it going’; but for the most part, so many people come and go.
But, there are some people along the way [where] it’s like, ‘Dude, you’re a great person; it was a great experience, we really clicked.’ And, you know, that was this experience.”
Working With An “Icon”
As we talk, O’Loughlin continues to rave about Lopez and her ability to make others feel a particular way, saying
“she’s a really lovely, open, earnest woman and she happens to be obscenely famous, you know? She happens to be this iconic figure in film and music that we all know about.”
He marvels some more adding,
“When I first met her, I was … I have been a big fan of music my whole life and my music tastes are a little [different]. I love all music, but I mainly head towards rock and blues, you know, and that’s sort of what I play [as a hobby].
But I knew who she was, of course, and I’d seen some of her films, and when I met her, I wasn’t nervous, but I was curious as to what she would be like, and how someone deals with that level of fame; because I’ve never had it, you know?
Right away, I discovered that she works really hard to deal with it, to have the privacy that she has to have a normal life for her and her family and that’s something that’s so admirable, because I think it would be so easy to go off the tracks…”
But we have also witnessed her transformation into a more guarded and protective person since her marriage to husband, Marc Anthony. This is something O’Loughlin understands,
“It’s really important, too. I think as you grow up, I mean, she was pretty famous pretty young, too, you know? And as you grow up, you get older, you get a family, [and] you have kids and stuff. You realize what’s important. You realize what’s sacred.”
Being the father of a twelve year old, O’Loughlin can personally relate to this,
“When you have kids, you [ask yourself], ‘when I die, what’s important?’
[It’s] not your Rolex or your Louboutins,” he offers.
“It’s that your kids are ok, that your family is ok. It’s not ‘wow, he looks so great on that billboard or she looks so great in that dress.’
So, [Lopez is] that. She’s that, man. She’s got her head screwed on.”
An Adult’s Playground
Speaking of family, Lopez’s twins often made an appearance on the set, what was that like? I ask. “So cool,” he says with an instant smile.
“It’s the best, really. A film set is like an adult’s playground and we spend so much time on them … I work and live on them.
To be on a film set where there’s a family vibe, and a family feel is kind of unusual and very refreshing. It was great to have [Jennifer’s] kids there so much and Marc there when he could be there, when he wasn’t working.
[Also] to have my son there, and my best friend would [visit], and her best friend was there, and her family. It was just awesome. It was the best time.”
Drama vs. Comedy
O’Loughlin has played a variety of roles throughout the years, but his stand-out role was likely as vampire Mick St. John in the short-lived, but beloved ‘Moonlight’. Most recently, O’Loughlin starred in CBS’ medical drama, ‘Three Rivers’. The Back-up Plan is his first foray into comedy.
Having worked mostly on dramas, what is the transition like from drama to comedy, I ask?
“That’s a good question,” he says. “It’s quite a transition, you know.
Comedy is difficult, [but so is] playing drama. You know, I’ve played a lot of characters; I’ve played characters that are similar to me as a person, but I’ve played a lot of characters that are very different to me as a person, as well.
And the further I am away from who I am and what I’m like, the easier it is for me. You can dress me up as the devil, with a big mask and stuff and that’d be easy for me to play because I am hiding behind it.
The closer you get to who I actually am, and ‘Stan’ has a lot of attributes that I have, the harder it is for me. The harder it is to put that on screen and to show my true self because as actors, a lot of us are very private with our true self. And [the reason] we’re so good and so comfortable on the job that we do, is because we can hide.
So, the transition from drama to comedy…and also comedy is challenging. There’s a lot of things – there’s timing, You’ve got to understand what’s funny and why it’s funny and then you’ve got to forget about it and just do it.
And often you mess it up. And you’ve got to be prepared to look like an idiot and fail completely…”
“Multiple times,” I figure and he agrees,
“multiple times to get to the one that works. But we’re both good at that, so…”
A Message From O’Loughlin’s Fans
Before I know it, it’s time to wrap things up and I’m delighted to find out he enjoys fan interaction,
“I love it, man. It’s hard. I wish I could do more of it. I’m so busy and sometimes it’s hard.
Like, I only get enough time with my family and of course, my family has to come first, but my fans are very, very important to me.
And whenever I can, I do. I reach out [on my] blog and I like to respond to what I can. My MySpace is – all the other ones – like, there’s people pretending to be me on Facebook and pretending to be me on Twitter.
That’s not me. But the [MySpace one] is.”
I tell him I am to deliver a quick message from his fans, sent to us by Tiffany from AlexOLoughlinOnline.com, and he lights up,
The message reads:
“We want to let him know we can’t wait to see him in The Back-up Plan, and we hope Hawaii Five-O gets picked up and we can’t wait to see you in it and we’ll keep supporting you.”
O’Loughlin claps and grins, saying,
I sincerely thank O’Loughlin for taking the time to talk to us as I make my way out.
“It’s a pleasure,” he responds.
As I happily drift down the hall, I realize I have completely forgotten to ask an imperative question! Lucky me, he has no other interviews, as it is now lunch time. I shuffle back towards him and tell him I just have to ask him one last question.
First, let me set it up for you, in The Back-up Plan, O’Loughlin plays a cheese-making farmer and selects one of his artisan cheeses representative of [Lopez’s character] ‘Zoe’s’ traits and names it, “The Zoe”. You will have to check out the movie when it opens on April 23 to find out everything about this cheese.
Pressed to know the ingredients in a cheese named after Lopez, I ask him to describe the cheese she would be … “The Jennifer”
He laughs in amusement to my question,
“ha ha! Oh! Ok, she’d be… Pretty similar to the Zoe, actually, I think … except not distrustful of men. That’s not right. She’d be smart. She’d be …. what would she be … ahhhh … well, ok, hang on.”
I’ve clearly stumped him, and I can’t help but chuckle. He takes a couple of seconds to cook up the perfect recipe,
“The 3 things that Jennifer would be in a cheese, strong, [biting], and with a sweet after palate.”
I’m completely satisfied!