Italy would've been nice and all, but we were more than happy to walk on over to the lower-Manhattan set for the scoop on the new fantastical romantic comedy 'When in Rome.' Kristen Bell plays an love-weary gallerina who, while in Rome for her sister's wedding, steals coinage from a "fountain of love" and is soon being chased by a band of suitors (they're played by Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepherd and Danny De Vito, though we'll say the odds-on-favorite is the above-the-title Josh Duhamel). Here's our traveler's guide to -- OK, 10 fun behind-the-scenes facts from -- 'Rome.'
Italy would've been nice and all, but we were more than happy to walk on over to the lower-Manhattan set for the scoop on the new fantastical romantic comedy 'When in Rome.' Kristen Bell plays an love-weary "gallerina" who, while in Rome for her sister's wedding, steals coinage from a "fountain of love" and is soon being chased by a band of suitors (they're played by Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard and Danny De Vito, though we'll say the odds-on favorite is the above-the-title Josh Duhamel). Here's our traveler's guide to -- OK, 10 fun behind-the-scenes facts from -- 'Rome.'
1 female star + 5 male stars = More funny.
What clearly separates 'Rome' from your average rom-com is the addition of the wildcard suitors in Shepard as a model, Arnett as a painter, Heder as a street magician and De Vito as a sausage king (actual occupation). "They're all very unique and very eccentric," Bell said. "So when they come together, the scenes with them just interacting is hysterical." At first Duhamel feared, as the straight man, he'd be "the most boring character in the movie," but his journalist Nick was bestowed one idiosyncratic characteristic: He has no peripheral vision. And tunnel vision is funny.
Filming rom-coms is dangerous.
You wouldn't think a romantic comedy would be all that physically grueling for one of the stars of 'Transformers,' but Duhamel had a trying experience shooting one of 'Rome's' only stunt shots, which required him to get hit by a car, roll onto the hood and tumble off it in NYC's highly trafficked Columbus Circle, near Central Park. "The first couple times I go ass over teakettle into the street," he said. Even worse, the actor had to perform the scene in front of a massive crowd, which included his father, who playfully taunted him with each gaffe. It's not surprising a video of the shot surfaced on YouTube claiming Duhamel had been hit by an actual car while filming. "I figured that might happen because there were so many people watching," he said. Maybe it was his dad.
Bell got a workout.
In the scene we watched filmed -- during the Italian wedding of Beth's sister Joan (Alexis Dziena) -- Bell struggles frantically to smash an antique vase against the floor, a local matrimonial tradition ("the number of pieces symbolize the years of happiness you wish for the bride and groom," the actress explained). She failed repeatedly, one take after the next. Could she ever hope of breaking the prop vase? "No, it's rubber," Bell said before deadpanning, "It's indestructible, like my spirit."
There will NOT be full-frontal male nudity in this one. We think.
"God I hope not," Bell answered when asked if any of the actors in 'Rome' will make like Jason Segel in her last romantic comedy, 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall,' and go The Full Monty. Of course, with Danny De Vito in the picture, who regularly raunches it up on the edgy FX sitcom 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,' you never know. (Good news for readers potentially haunted by that image: 'Rome' is rated PG-13.)
Danny De Vito is The Man.
"Danny's known as the maybe the smallest guy in showbiz," Duhamel said of the five-foot star of 'Twins' and 'Batman Returns' in 'Rome,' "but he's got such a big heart and such an air about him. He's truly a good guy, there's no attitude to him. He'll just sit and bulls**t with you for hours, even after he's done shooting." Duhamel pauses and transforms into fan mode. "It's always nice when someone who you've watched since you were a kid turns out to be a really cool dude."
Bell won't play favorites.
Despite Bell's offscreen relationship with co-star Shepard -- the two have been dating since 2007, and she sat on the actor's lap in between takes the night we were on set – she quite politically correctly refused to pick a favorite 'Rome' suitor. "Gosh, nail me to the wall," she joked. "I couldn't, they're all so unique." We'll take that as "Dax."
Duhamel alternated between a wedding scene and war zone.
In the midst of filming 'Rome' in New York, Duhamel went to Pennsylvania for four days to shoot scenes for 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.' "There's a different vibe on every set," he said. "And the difference between this set and that set, it's just literally different ends of the spectrum." One day Duhamel's in a tux attending a wedding, the next day he's in military fatigues defending the world from evil 'bots. "You just have to put yourself in a different mindset. You gotta be ready to go on [the 'Transformers' set]. Otherwise you get called out in front of the whole crew."
Bell comes to terms with schoolgirl crush.
The actress said she can't relate to Beth's dilemma of having multiple suitors (if it's happened it was unbeknownst to her), but has experienced the other side of group-lust. "In middle school my girlfriends and I always had a crush on the same guy, but he was someone [older] who was completely unattainable who didn't know we were alive." The most memorable object of her affection? A guy named Cory. "I don't know that I ever made contact with Cory, let alone said one word to him, but I swore that I was in love with him." You blew it big time, Cory, wherever you are.
The leads burned for Rome.
When actually in Rome to shoot, the two leads relished in different aspects of La dolce vita. Bell saw all the sights, but found enchantment in the simpler things, "just being on a street where there's a real shoemaker and a real dressmaker and it looks like time has forgotten them." Duhamel, meanwhile, who minored in art at Minot State University, ate up the breathtaking Baroque architecture, and visited landmarks like the Pantheon and Vatican. "I got my very Catholic grandmother a rosary blessed by the Pope, which put me in her good graces." What, she's not a 'Transformers' fan?
Josh Duhamel moonlights as a (fake) mugger.
The actor lowers his voice when asked how he spends his downtime on set. "Mostly f**k with the director." Not only the director, but also his co-stars. He recounts how earlier that day, he spotted Dax Shepherd a couple blocks from set, looking down and texting as he walked: "So I jumped into his pathway and went, "'Give me your money!'" Duhamel said he spied his director Mark Steven Johnson, quite randomly as it was far from set, on a Saturday afternoon off, and pulled the same prank. "That's been my trademark," he said. "My fake mug bit." He's not exaggerating. An hour later, as I'm on my way home, a good half-block from the set on a desolate street about to hail a cab, I jump as someone sticks their finger against my back and yells, "Give me all your money!" It's Josh Duhamel.