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As played by Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro, Holly and Alex are two characters in the new movie ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ who aren’t quite ready to be parents: they are both creative spirits who are used to their freedom and to making their decisions spontaneously. “Holly and Alex have a lot of fun together,” says Lopez.
“He’s into music and she’s into photography, and they’ve been married for a while. But their relationship has been mostly based on having a good time. There needs to be a transition into growing up, becoming a family, and really getting serious about their lives. They’ve been trying to have children, but they can’t. So they decide on adoption. And that leads to a series of other decisions they have to make along the way.”
As Holly, Lopez was able to explore the intense pressure that many modern women, who have their own careers and tend to have children later in life, experience with regard to having a family. “Holly lives with a tremendous guilt for not being able to do certain things and one of them is the fact that she can’t have a baby,” she says. “The one thing that women are supposed to be able to do, she feels like she can’t deliver that. So she’s always pushing to make this perfect life. ‘Let’s have the house and the baby and the this and the that.’ You realize how much it’s all weighing on her.”
The anxiety of impending parenthood also affects Alex, who isn’t sure he even wants to be a father. Says Santoro, “He’s a very interesting character because he represents a bunch of guys on this planet who are scared of becoming fathers, of growing up, actually. That was what made me really want to work on the movie.”
Alex’s doubts lead him to seek advice from the “Dudes Group,” an informal support group of Dads who, with toddlers in tow, meet at the park once a week to share the often hilarious, always unvarnished, truth about the vagaries of fatherhood. The leader of the Group is Vic, played by Chris Rock. Says Rock, “Vic is the head of the Dudes Group. He’s got the most kids, he’s the most into being a dad. From what I can see, he knows the most about being a parent. He’s the elder of the Dude Group. ”
Rock is joined by the comic performers Rob Huebel (as Gabe), Thomas Lennon (as Craig) and Amir Talai (as Patel). “The Dudes are a sort of Greek chorus,” offers co-screenwriter Shauna Cross. “They’re a chorus of misfits, but they really love being dads.”
As a whole, the Dudes Group represents the male perspective of what it is like to raise a child. “The Dudes Group is a very clear representation of how guys feel about pregnancy,” maintains Jones. “Often, the dads aren’t mentioned at all or, if they are, they’re shown to be very passive with their partners. These guys say what they think about all of it. And Chris, Rob, Tom and Amir were brilliant at improv and working together.”
In fact, the chemistry worked so well between the Dudes that the studio expanded the shoot to allow more time to capture their winning, off-the-cuff comedy. Continues Director Kirk Jones, “When you’ve got four guys who are so adept at improv trying to one-up each other, all you want to do is sit back, listen and enjoy…and toss in the odd idea every now and again.”
As if to throw their struggles in even starker light, the Dudes have one friend among them, a perpetual bachelor named Davis, who represents everything they’ve given up in the name of fatherhood. Davis has a swinging single life of casual sex, frequent travel, unlimited time to work out and no accountability, and he’s brought fittingly to life by “True Blood” heartthrob, Joe Manganiello.
“Davis is the coolest guy in the world,” explains Manganiello. “He’s a jet-setter; he has beautiful women waiting for him in different countries; he photographs surf competitions. All of the dads live vicariously through him, his pictures and the girls. But it winds up catching up with him in the end.”
Image Courtesy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting