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Arts and Entertainment

The Love Happens Junket

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Photo courtesy of Universal

I just got on a plane to fly to Virginia for a wedding. I’ve got my laptop, inflatable neck pillow and eye mask, but I forgot my pink travel socks so I’m feeling a bit disconcerted. We all have our little habits when we fly. Jennifer Aniston is no different.

“You know what I have to do when I board an airplane? I have to walk on with my right foot first and tap the outside of the plane,” she shared when we got together to talk about her latest film, Love Happens. Jennifer plays a quirky florist named Eloise opposite Aaron Eckhert’s Burke, a self-help guru. Burke’s on his way to a seminar in Seattle when we first meet him in the film and there’s this cute moment where he’s riding down the airport escalator and a woman holding a book with his face on it recognizes him. A similar experience happened to Aaron on his way to L.A. for our interview.

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“Coming here, I was in an airport in Shreveport, Louisiana, walking through the magazine section. It was only me in the shop,” Aaron says, setting the stage. “The girl behind the counter looks at me and she goes, ‘I knew it!’ I looked at her and I go, ‘What?’ I look up and I was standing right in front of a magazine that I was on the cover of, like it was set up, the magazine was right there. She goes, ‘You cut your hair.’ It was just too perfect.”

These two travelers will be in a city near you as Love Happens opens in theaters across America today. Aaron and Jen opened up to us about their characters, some of their costars and the film, which they will be the first to tell you, is not your typical rom-com.

Aaron: I read the script and I thought, as an actor, that it really was a challenge to play everything in the movie. It dealt with grief, the death of a wife, the inability to lead an honest life afterwards, the inability to love again and then to love again. I thought it was a challenge for me as an actor.

Jen: There are only so many ways to tell a romantic story and there are a lot of unexplored situations that actually happen in life that people don’t take advantage of.

Aaron: Having gone through research for this movie, I hope that it will resonate with people who are dealing with grief. Not that this movie is a self-help movie or anything like that, but it does give an outlet to people who are grieving. It’s an interesting question about religious gurus and the Sunday Morning guys. Even if they are self-serving, are they still helping people? I do believe that they are, I believe that people gain solace and comfort and get strength from them. I think Burke is helping people.

Jen: There are so many self-help books out there, God knows, but there are always one or two where you’re like, “Hmm, that’s really interesting.” I think it’s a good thing, but I think it’s oversaturated because they’re now feeding on the fact that people are in need of this. And there are certain people where you can’t even ask a question without it being analyzed into the ground and that’s good for certain things, but breathe a little bit. Let life happen to you.

Aaron: I think it makes for good drama that Burke be kind of a slick guy that’s trying to brand himself in the media and make a good living off of this. I was very conscious of not making him too Thank You For Smoking. I wanted him to have a heart.”

Jen: I think Eloise sees Burke’s vulnerability, after they have their first date and he opens up about how long it’s been since he’s dated and the loss of his wife, and it’s a nice springboard. It’s how she first becomes drawn to him. When she meets Burke she’s kind of pissed off. There was a whole storyline that got cut from the movie about her and her younger boyfriend. She chooses these guys who are not quite available for fear of really going into a relationship. I think you always choose people who represent what it is you’re trying to break through… or not break through.

Aaron: Jen’s such a better actor than I am. She’s so effortless all the time, her timing and how playful she is, and yet she can turn on a dime and just be so thoughtful. I really get jealous of people like Jen because they seem just to do it.

LAist: Speaking of costars, you also work with both Martin Sheen and a cockatoo in this film. How did you prepare?

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Aaron: They’re both pros. That damn cockatoo, he was so funny. Here we are by this river, I’m there on my hands and knees talking to a cockatoo and there are wranglers on either side of me yelling at the cockatoo and jumping all over the place. It was a nightmare. But I felt like I had some good moments with him, like we really were communicating. (joking)

LAist: Was he a giving actor? (playing along)

Aaron: He was a giving actor. He stayed for off-camera. He didn’t come by my trailer, but that was okay. He did a lot of very funny things and I think a lot of that was improv.

Jen: One of the main reasons I took the role was because I wanted to work with Aaron. He has the driest sense of humor. He is so entertaining. He’s so into philosophy and psychology, which I love, and we’d sit and talk for hours. He’s so interesting and I think he’s so absolutely beautiful in this movie.

Article by Courtney Quinn