In Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is living the good life – or so he thinks. He’s a celebrity photographer, makes a great salary and can have any woman he wants with no strings attached, except for the one true love of his life Jenny (Jennifer Garner).
The two dated briefly and while it was clear Connor was really in love with Jenny, he left her without any explanation because he couldn’t deal with commitment and he doesn’t want to get hurt by relationships. The pair runs into each other years later at a wedding and Connor still hasn’t changed his playboy ways.
To warn him of the lonely life he is soon to have if he doesn’t give up his bachelor lifestyle, Connor’s dead uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), who he idolizes, makes an unexpected appearance at the wedding and explains Connor is about to be visited by ghosts of his past which will hopefully make him see how wrong he’s been about love.
Connor doesn’t know it, but his life is about to change forever and he does everything he can to fight it.
ComingSoon.net talked to McConaughey and Garner about their new roles in the Mark Waters-directed film:
Q: Do you feel a particular connection to Connor or is it because it’s such a well written role?
Matthew McConaughey: I probably have to go with the second one but it really was a well written role. You usually don’t get to start off with, or I don’t get to start off playing a lead male that has such an opinion one way that’s crass and brash and not pandering where you’re going, “oh don’t say that! He didn’t just say that. Wait, is he saying that here?” To then, go through the story, learn some lessons and come out the other side the next day and it’s a new man. A guy that has lost his way and then finds his way and still has a journey to get his brother’s love back and then look up and still have his childhood love there for a second chance. It was a long way to go and our ways to get there; we had great elements to the story that helps us go there. It’s this ghost who would scare the hell out of me. And it’s comedic. In one night, ghosts visiting you, can really move your floor and change you a hell of a lot better than one night sitting down or one year of sitting down and going through therapy or something.
Jennifer Garner: That’s something to think about!
McConaughey: I was looking at some scenes thinking I just can’t wait to do that. It also adds a real honest heart at the end. For me, that completely connects to it, talking to you and talking to the wedding and talking to Lacey [Chabert] at the car. It was really well written.
Garner: It just makes it easy.
McConaughey: Yeah. You don’t have to act as much.
Q: What was the challenge of playing this character especially when he gets so cynical?
McConaughey: There are some things. A lot of what he and Uncle Wayne say in the scientific world, you could say, okay, that’s true. Whoever cares less has the most power. Then the question is, well is that what you really want? At first reaction, you go yeah then you sit back and go, wait a minute. You have all the power but it’s going to be lonely [and] like I said you are going to go to the funeral and no one is going to be there. Good for you if that’s what you are after. So he was cynical about love because if you love someone, hunker down. Instead it’s you and me. In his past, everyone he had done that with, he had lost. Mom, Dad, Uncle Wayne. Anyone he sat there kind of holed up with and said, all right, it’s just you and me. The only person he had left were his brother and then she (Jenny) comes back. So he wanted to go back that way and check out the youngen side of where his POV is coming from. That’s where it came from. That helped me not embrace his character. He didn’t have a negative look towards women.
Q: You have a great rapport on screen. How do you create that? Is it just luck?
Garner: I think it’s just luck. I mean you can work together and spend time together going over scenes and trying to make them more organic. Just being together you kind of start to feel an actual real relationship which was necessary for this because these characters had been the most important characters in each others lives but then it’s just you know…
McConaughey: But you don’t. I had a sense of who I thought you were.
Garner: I mean we dated those 2 years! (sarcastic)
McConaughey: One thing that I really liked and saw, okay this is really going to work with you and I is that she doesn’t bring any riff raff or extra BS drama from the outside.
Garner: We kind of approach work the same way. We have a good time with it but we show up to work.
McConaughey: You weren’t competitive in a non-creative way as some people can be.
Garner: Yeah they can and it’s no fun. It just takes the fun out of it.
Q: Both of you are in relationships now with children, was it fun or scary to go back in time where you are trying to get it right?
Garner: It’s always fun. The whole point of playing a role is that it’s not really you. I mean it was to go back and doing a romantic comedy you get to fall in love. It’s great! Nothing better!
Q: Matthew, can you talk about the flashback scene? With the hair? Was it meant to be that way?
McConaughey: We had a lot of discussions about that hair! I loved it!
Garner: The hair got caught in his mouth. He did a lot of this (imitating how he would brush the hair off his face.)
McConaughey: That was a move my brother used to do. Even if it wasn’t in his face! I think that longer hair and also going back to that time period, that was a great little, there was something fun about it that made me really comfortable in that decade. The silk shirt was a little too tight!
Garner: The silk shirt that was unbuttoned. You were so into it!
Q: Do you think this movie is more designed women than it is for guys in the sense that girls will learn not to hang out with D-Bags?
Garner: (She leans over and whispers to Matthew) It means douche bag.
McConaughey: You thought he was a douche bag? Oh come on. What are you saying about her by saying that?
Garner: Thank you!
Q: But all the bridesmaids just want to sleep with your character and they know he doesn’t seem to have much respect for women.
McConaughey: I think he has a lot for respect for women.
Garner: But that’s the women’s fault. Are we really going to go down this road? Let’s just answer the question.
McConaughey: They just wanted a wedding shag.
Garner: Right, right. What does that say about them?
McConaughey: They were just young and having fun. It was a wedding shag.
Garner: (She mouths the word “sluts”.)
McConaughey: It’s more for women because it tells them not to go for the douche bag.
Garner: No, it’s more for me to say you have to risk love and commitment otherwise you’re going to end up alone in old aged makeup and sad. The beautiful woman is going to go off and marry someone else.
Q: What was your funniest moment working together?
(They both start whistling as if they’re trying to jokingly avoid the question and say there wasn’t a funny moment.)
McConaughey: The cake scene is a homerun.
Q: We hear Jennifer created that whole thing.
Garner: Oh yeah.
McConaughey: What did you do?
Garner: I told Mark [Waters] there should be a dance scene.
McConaughey: A dance scene?
Garner: At the wedding.
McConaughey: With you and
Garner: Yeah with me and Brad. I just wanted to.
McConaughey: You love to dance.
Garner: I wanted to do it.
McConaughey: And you did. Good shot.
Garner: Then when we had endless dance rehearsals I kept my mouth shut. It was my fault.
McConaughey: I can’t imagine that scene not being in it. That scene with you two possibly getting together
Garner: It was fun and Daniel [Sunjata] and I had also just worked together in New York doing “Cyrano” so it was really fun to get to work with him in a different way and to see him so quickly master dancing. It was great.
Q: Did you work with the actors that played the younger versions of you in the film?
Garner: Well I’ll start. The younger version of Jenny, the main teenage girl had actually played the younger version of me in “13 Going on 30.” So I suggested her for the role. I said I knew somebody who is a great young me. She’s kind of perfected and I’m kind of perfected being the older version of her. She’s a really sweet young actress.
McConaughey: I met the middle Conner I hung out with and I kept a closer eye on him than I did the youngest one. I hung with Logan quite a bit. Tell you what… talking about younger actors where my mind was going is you weren’t there, but it was the scene where we were shooting at the high school. Remember the girls that come up and go, “He’s wants to talk to you. He’s over there” and then scream and get so excited? I was so excited to see these young thespians. It’s a small part and you get to come up. Its three hours before we’re supposed to shoot and I walk through rehearsals and they’re on it 100% cue for cue and having the best freaking time. Then when the lights came on they were having the time of their lives. They were so committed to the work. Off screen lines they were going endlessly. They did it for 10 days and never got tired. I was kind of inspired to see the youth.
Q: Was it hard to do the scenes where he’s there, but you’re not supposed to see him?
Garner: We were just talking about this. I liked it. I felt like it informs the scene to perform them for him in a weird way. Just having his character witness what’s happening just gives it a little more depth.
Q: I was just wondering if it was hard to ignore him.
Garner: (Whispers) I had no problems ignoring him.
Q: Do you think you have a new career as a celebrity photographer?
McConaughey: Just turn the cameras back around on the paparazzi and start popping them. There’s money to be made.
Garner: Have you noticed since the economy has been tanking that people have been showing up from the middle of the country going (makes clicking sound) with their elecrolight cameras.
McConaughey: You get a little group. A certain group will follow me or a certain group will follow her and all of a sudden there’s a bunch of new people.
Garner: And then the other ones are mad at them because they get in the way. It’s a disaster.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past opens in theaters on Friday, May 1st.