Egan with Seyfried in ‘Letters to Juliet
Before my interview with Chris Egan, I run into him at the refreshment table. He smiles as I ask “Which one is not decaf?” of the five pitchers of coffee on the table.
With an Aussie accent and dressed in All Saints garb (which I would later learn he loves) he’s just as puzzled as me, “I don’t know.” He calls out to the people in the next room, “Which one is not decaf?”
“I think all of them are regular,” says one of the random voices accented with a splash from the land down under.
He politely pours me a cup and then fills his own. I ask, “Do you take sugar or the fake stuff?”
“I need the real stuff,” he says.
“I never really understood fake sugar – sometimes it scares me,” I admit.
He laughs as we, along with his cohorts in the next room, go into a really interesting discussion of aspartame and saccharine.
Besides his need for the real “raw” sugar in the brown packets, my knowledge of Chris Egan didn’t go beyond his role in Eragon; a movie about dragon mythology that starred Jeremy Irons.
I never saw it — and I really like any movie that involves dragons and things of the fantastical variety.
Shame on me.
Egan in Eragon
Needless to say, I felt a little guilty when meeting Mr. Egan, who stars in Letters to Juliet with Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. In it, Egan is Charlie, an uptight English bloke who accompanies his grandmother (Redgrave) on a journey to find her long lost love that never received a love letter she wrote over 50 years ago. This is all thanks to Sophie (Seyfried), a Verona-vacationing American woman (and Charlie’s possible love interest) who finds said letter while volunteering with a group of Italian ladies who respond to letters asking for love advice from “Juliet” (as in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet).
Despite the sun-kissed vineyard setting of Italy, the movie is definitely a romance cynic’s worst nightmare, but it is a romantic comedy. Perhaps people who frown upon happy endings should cut it some slack.
“Everybody wants to go to a movie to see the guy and the girl get together,” says Egan. “(Letters to Juliet) is just a fun, down-to-Earth movie – it’s not trying to be something that it’s not.”
Egan and I chatted some more about getting started in the industry, his role as the anti-romantic robot Charlie, the hesitant joy that can come from romantic comedies and his past with musical theater and Glee creator Ryan Murphy.
Your character, Charlie, is kind of a prick in the beginning of the movie.
Yeah he is. (laughs)
But at the same time, he’s charming – maybe it’s the accent. Did you model the character after someone in your life? How did you find your inner-prick?
I had so much fun with this character. Reading (the script) from the beginning, I knew there was so much I wanted to do with him and really take it over the top. There are brutes like that out there. Even though he seems surreal in the beginning, but his unpleasant behavior comes from the love for his grandmother. He just doesn’t know how to show it in any other way with the girl he’s attracted to. They let us improvise a lot so I got to do quirky, weird mannerisms.
So you did like your character from the very beginning. Play audio clip for his answer (player works best in Safari or Google Chrome):
I’ll be kind of up front with you – I’m kind of a cynic when it comes to romantic comedies.
Yeah – I am too. (laughs)
What would you say to cynics like me to change their minds about romantic comedies?
I think it helps that Charlie isn’t romantic – at the same time, these are characters who are dealing with real issues. They have pasts and pain – especially with the loss that he and his grandmother has had. I don’t really think it’s like any other romantic comedy – even though it does have the corny balcony ending – but that’s even a constant joke in the movie. Other than that, everyone can relate to one of the characters.
Let me backtrack a little bit – how did you get involved with acting? Was there an “A HA!” moment? Play audio clip below, which includes a funny incident with a crying baby in the hall:
You said you started in musical theater – have you jumped on the Glee bandwagon?
I have seen a little bit of the show. I’ve actually worked with Ryan Murphy before.
Yeah, we worked on a pilot together. He is one of the most talented guys in Hollywood.
So what was your first role in musical theater? And would you go back? Play audio clip for his answer:
Okay – going back to the movie and “romance” – what was the most romantic thing you ever done?
The most romantic thing I have done was a road trip. I took my girlfriend at the time on a road trip from Paris to Italy. That’s another thing about this movie. There’s an element of this movie that’s like a road trip – it’s like a journey for all of them.
Do you think guys secretly like chick flicks?
I think they’ve become popular – so yeah, I do.
So what can guys get out of this movie?
I think it’s just great to remind people about romance – real romance.
…and that was said with a heaping amount of real sugar. Not the fake stuff.
Letters to Juliet is in theaters Friday May 14