“The Wedding Planner” without Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey??
In an interview celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary, director Adam Shankman revealed Tuesday that the two superstars almost didn’t star in the iconic 2001 romantic comedy about a wedding planner who falls in love with a pediatrician.
According to Shankman, the film rights were first owned by the now-defunct Fine Line Features, who initially decided to cast Minnie Driver as the character of Mary Fiore.
“Fine Line was trying to get into more of a commercial market, and they really liked this script,” Shankman said. “The plot was essentially the same, but it was going to be a very low-budget indie movie.”
However, the film rights were later acquired by Sony Pictures, who considered actors such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Freddie Prinze Jr. for the lead roles.
“Those actors were people who were talked about, but no one was ever officially cast,” Shankman explained.
Although J.Lo expressed interest in the film, Shankman was initially reluctant to cast her.
“I was honestly resistant to the idea,” he admitted. “I didn’t perceive her as a romantic comedy person; she seemed too tough to me, frankly. But my agency said, ‘You have to meet with her: She read the script and she really wants to do this.’”
However, after the two met for lunch, Shankman knew Lopez was the right choice.
“I was completely hypnotized by her. At that time, she was very much that character: She had just come out of a marriage and was not interested in men,” he said, referencing Lopez’s divorce from first husband Ojani Noa in 1998.
“She was ambitious and understood everything that was girly and feminine about the movie, but at the same time recognized the engine inside of it,” he added. “There were many factors about the real-life Jennifer that really spoke to what the character was.”
After casting Lopez, Shankman considered Brendan Fraser to play the role of Steve Edison.
“I had been working with Brendan a lot as a choreographer — we did everything from ‘George of the Jungle’ to ‘Mrs. Winterbourne’ together. So I talked to him, and he was in,” Shankman said. “But then he switched agencies while we were negotiating, and the new agency pulled him out of our movie and into ‘Bedazzled.’”
Weeks before production was scheduled to begin, Sony Pictures told Shankman that McConaughey was the only actor who’d be able to come aboard.
“I said to everybody, ‘I can’t imagine Matthew would ever want to do a movie like this — he never has!’” Shankman recalled. “But I was told, ‘He is who is available. If you want to make the movie now, you have to get him.’”
Fortunately, Lopez and McConaughey “got on like wildfire” while on-set.
“I have never seen two people who, on the surface, are more different than Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, but they were absolutely adorable together,” Shankman said. “They had very different processes, but they allowed each other the space and freedom to work those processes.”
On Tuesday, Lopez and McConaughey reunited on Instagram Live to discuss their beloved rom-com.
“I so enjoyed working with you,” Lopez told McConaughey. “We had such a nice rapport and chemistry. We were somewhat at the beginning of our careers at that time. It was exciting to be working on any movie. I still feel that way. It was a magical time.”