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Next to the main characters in the new movie adaptation of Janet Evanovich ‘One For The Money’, an exciting range of supporting cast will spark up the screen for theater-goers this spring.
When Katherine Heigl’s character Stephanie Plum realizes she needs formal training in order to succeed at her new job – and hopefully survive it – Stephanie enlists Ranger, a bounty hunter who specializes in fugitive apprehension, bodyguarding and other semi-legal business ventures, to show her the ropes.
As played by actor Daniel Sunjata, Ranger is cool, confident and knowing, and his scenes with the bumbling Stephanie teasingly suggest that opposites really do attract. “Stephanie and Ranger have a mentor-student relationship with sexual tension as the undertone,” says Sunjata. “I found his character to be interesting and appealing. It’s a color that I haven’t had the opportunity to show so far in my career.”
Of all the people in her brash dysfunctional family, Stephanie Plum relates to her Grandma Mazur the most. As played by screen legend Debbie Reynolds, Grandma Mazur is a plucky, opinionated woman who’s resolutely unwilling to grow old. “Stephanie and Grandma Mazur are actually kindred spirits,” explains Evanovich.
“They’re like the two bad apples on the family tree, in a good way. Grandma Mazur’s a woman of a certain age who doesn’t see any limitations to her life. She’s up for extreme bowling. She’ll do nude karaoke. You name it, Grandma Mazur’s there.”
“Grandma Mazur is a real character,” admits Debbie Reynolds with a laugh. “The part reminded me of my girlfriend Thelma Ritter years ago when all she did was wonderful character parts, and I never really had the opportunity to play those roles. So when this was offered to me, I said, ‘Well, I’d like to do that.’”
“As a person she’s fantastically funny and sharp-witted and raunchy, and she brought all of that to the part,” says Heigl of Reynolds. “I love her. And I love how she brought Grandma Mazur to life.”
As Stephanie’s mother, Mrs. Plum, New York actress Debra Monk appreciated portraying a real working class family onscreen. “I think everybody can relate to this family,” offers Monk. “In today’s world where people need jobs and are being let go and there’s no money, it really speaks to what’s happening today. It speaks to all working class families.”
Having grown up in a blue-collar neighborhood, actor Louis Mustillo immediately understood the part of Mr. Plum. “I see Mr. Plum as a really well-liked guy,” he says. “He says what he has to say at home and his mother-in-law is there all the time who’s quite a lot to handle. So he’s a saint, really. He’s the type of guy who you could call at four o’clock in the morning and he’d come and help you fix your flat tire.”
Apart from her family, Stephanie Plum encounters a colorful range of characters in her transition from lingerie salesperson to recovery agent. As she explores the seedy side of Trenton, Stephanie meets Lula, a prostitute played by Sherri Shepherd, who offers her information about the Morelli case. “It was kismet,” says Shepherd of winning the part of Lula. A longtime fan of Evanovich’s book, Shepherd had fantasized about playing Lula before she ever heard of a film adaptation.
“I remember thinking, ‘Gosh, if it ever becomes a movie I really want to play this woman. She’s evolved and sassy and she’s fun.’” Shepherd got her wish, and she’s thrilled to have a hand in bringing Stephanie Plum’s world to life. “Stephanie Plum is a woman who goes after what she wants even when the chips are down,” she says. “She fights, and she’s a strong woman. I think we need to see more women like that.”
As Stephanie investigates the darker underbelly of Trenton, she crosses paths with volatile men like Benito Ramirez, a boxer with a violent temper played by Gavin Keith Umeh, and Benito’s manager, Jimmy Alpha, played by John Leguizamo. “I’m the boss,” says Leguizamo. “I’m the alpha male in the movie. I’m a boxing manager and I’ve got my fighters that I promote and I’m trying to just make an honest living like a regular guy.”
Observes producer Tom Rosenberg, “John had different approaches to each take, he ad-libbed new lines that were really very good. He gave us a lot of options to work with. He’s a very creative actor who actually makes his role better.”
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