In Columbia Pictures' romantic comedy Made of Honor, Tom (Patrick Dempsey) has finally realized that the woman of his dreams is the one who has been there all along: his best friend, Hannah (Michelle Monaghan). But just as he's getting ready to pop the question, Hannah gets engaged to another man - Scotsman Colin (Kevin McKidd) - and throws Tom for a loop by asking him to be her maid of honor. Tom accepts, seeing his opportunity to get close to the bride-to-be and woo her before it's too late. As Hannah begins to realize that Tom may be marriage material after all, she will have to decide between marrying her best friend or the man who asked first.
"Hannah's choice is not an easy one," says Neal H. Moritz, producer of Made of Honor. "Both Tom and Colin are good guys, they both have merit."
"At its heart, Made of Honor is the age-old idea that you don't see love when it's right in front of you," says director Paul Weiland. "Tom is a very good-looking man who gets women easily, but won't commit. When Hannah meets someone else, he realizes that not only is he going to lose his best friend, but he's really in love with this girl and just hadn't realized it. All along, he's had his cake and been able to eat it too, and suddenly, someone has taken his cake away."
"Unfortunately for Tom, he discovers too late that Hannah really is his true love," says Dempsey. "Hannah believes in true love and marriage, while to this point, Tom has been a ladies man with serious issues about marriage. Tom has many opportunities, missed moments, but Hannah's been there the entire time. Now she's been taken away from him, and his only recourse is to go to Scotland as her maid of honor and try to win her over."
Monaghan notes that "I really wanted to be a part of this project because I loved the story and everyone that was involved. The odd coincidence was it was a situation I had lived through: when I was married, my maid of honor was a man who is still my best friend."
From the very beginning, Moritz wanted to make the film with Patrick Dempsey. "When this script came to us, we loved the concept," recalls Moritz. "We thought it was a great idea for a romantic comedy. I had been a fan of Patrick Dempsey's ever since Can't Buy Me Love, and then he was in a film I made, Sweet Home Alabama. Since then, he's come to represent something - not just anyone could play Dr. McDreamy. Patrick can play romance and he can play the rogue, and you still end up rooting for him. Of course, he was the first person we talked to about the role of Tom."
"Patrick was absolutely perfect for this role," says Weiland. "I've always been incredibly impressed by his ability to do so many different things. When he and Michelle are together, it's an exciting combination. She's so full of life and has a sense of humor equal to his."
For his part, Dempsey was attracted to the role by the chance to bring the rogue around. "Tom has it all, right up until Hannah gets engaged - and then he realizes that his seemingly perfect life is nothing without her in it," he says. "When it becomes apparent to him that he might lose her, it really throws him - he's ready to change his entire life to make sure she stays in his life. I think that's a satisfying story - I know that a lot of guys out there wish they'd been smart enough, and bold enough, to hold onto the one that they let get away."
With Dempsey on board, Moritz set about looking for the perfect person to direct the film. A colleague suggested he see a movie called Sixty Six, directed by Paul Weiland. Moritz did, loved it, met with Weiland, and hired the director.
"Paul has a great comedic sensibility and he also knows the subtlety of relationships and romance," says the producer. "He is really able to bring a truthfulness to a story."
"I'm a bit of a romantic at heart myself," allows Weiland, "so making a romantic comedy is something I've always wanted to do. Tom is an emotional cripple in the beginning of the story but by the end he is able to confess his true love. I liked that this is from a male perspective, because most of the time in movies, it's the girl getting her heart broken. It's nice to see it happening to the opposite sex!"
Dempsey says, "One of the things that made this project so satisfying was working with Paul. Several times things have come up at the last minute that we've been able to flesh out with a little improvisation. It's challenging and fun to go through that process and discover where the humor is, and at the same time, Paul always keeps it grounded."
A perfect example of this is a scene where Tom, in his best "maid of honor" mode, accompanies Hannah to choose her china and silverware patterns. Remembers Weiland, "I read somewhere that Patrick knew how to juggle, so I suggested that he juggle the huge china plates. He was astonishing during several rehearsals. As luck would have it, he dropped all the plates on the first take - but he was perfect on the others."
"That idea came up the morning we were filming that scene," says Dempsey. "Paul asked if I juggled and when I said yes, he said, 'Why don't we try it with the plates?' I told him that I hadn't juggled in a while, but we just sort of built the scene around that notion. It changed the dynamic of the entire scene."
Hannah, the woman Tom suddenly discovers is not only his best friend but the love of his life, is played by Michelle Monaghan. "Hannah doesn't really take Tom seriously," she says. "She has a sense of humor and gets a kick out all of his stories about his adventures. The truth is, she really does have a thing for Tom, but she never acts on it. She doesn't see the potential for a long-term relationship because he doesn't believe in marriage and she, with her whole heart, does. It's the age-old experience of people not appreciating one another until they're no longer a part of your life."
Dempsey thoroughly enjoyed acting opposite Monaghan. "We laughed a lot," he says. "What makes her so fun is that she's a very brave actress - she is game for anything."
According to executive producer Callum Greene, "Made of Honor is a very sweet, compelling story with two actors that really are enjoyable to watch. I think that's key. Both Patrick and Michelle are such gifted actors and they bonded so well together. They make you laugh and they're completely engaging."
Monaghan says that Paul Weiland brought just the right mix of humor and emotion, slapstick and sophistication, to Made of Honor. "I absolutely adore Paul," she says with an enormous smile. "He made me smile and giggle every single day - I just enjoyed being around him and being directed by him. He has a wonderful sensibility you don't find in your typical romantic comedy director; he brings something unique, a European vision and tone to the film."
Kevin McKidd, who played the lead role in HBO's "Rome" and most recently starred on NBC's "Journeyman," takes on the third point in Made of Honor's romantic triangle: the Scotsman Colin, who falls for Hannah and asks for her hand after a whirlwind six weeks. Weiland says, "I was looking for someone who wasn't obvious for the role of Colin. I wanted a serious bloke - strong and passionate. It couldn't be someone that the audience would immediately hate, because he needed to be an equal foe for Tom. Colin is also rich, but he has better manners, he's more sincere. He seems to be the type of man that Hannah has been waiting for - strong, always there for her no matter what happens."
McKidd says, "On first impression, Colin is the perfect man. He owns a fantastic castle. He's the lord of a fantastic plot of land in Scotland. His family has owned a famous distillery of Scottish whiskey for generations and is very distinguished. He's almost a nobleman - it's a very posh, old-money family."
The actor admits that the role represented a break from the types of roles he usually plays. "I was a little nervous at first, because I've always done serious, intense films," he says. "In Made of Honor, I would be working opposite Patrick, a great actor who has been in lots of comedies and lots of romantic movies. He has such a wonderful gift for coming up with stuff on the spot and being funny. I was nervous, but he really made me feel very comfortable.
With these two co-stars, Monaghan says that falling into her role as Hannah was a piece of cake. "It was very easy to become besotted with these two men. Both Patrick Dempsey and Kevin McKidd are extremely, extremely charming. How bad could that be for an actress to play against?"
One memorable moment for McKidd came when the Scotsman learned to dunk a basketball. "In a early version of the script, my character played golf, which for a Scotsman felt natural. When they changed it to basketball, I thought, 'Oh man, this is bad!' The good news is I do have hand-eye coordination, so at least I could catch the ball. Fortunately, there also was quite a bit of basketball on television around the time I was going to shoot this scene. That, a great stunt coordinator, and movie magic turned me into a star dunker! "
Another serendipitous moment came when Weiland discovered that McKidd had a wonderful, though untrained, singing voice. In a scene originally scripted to have Colin, during a grand dinner party at the family castle recite a Robert Burns poem to his bride to be, McKidd instead sang a traditional Scottish song, "Love is Like a Rose," to nary a dry eye in the house - both cast and crew!
"Colin just really wows Hannah," Monaghan notes. "She's been waiting for her Prince Charming, and she thinks she's found him in Colin. He's new and fresh and unexpected and lovely. I swear, when Kevin sang 'Love is Like a Rose,' he melted my heart during each take. He is just so loving - and that accent! Cupid has caught her right between these two men."
Around the three stars, the filmmakers cast a pair of veteran actors to play parents: Sydney Pollack plays Tom's father and Kathleen Quinlan plays Hannah's mother, Joan.
"Sydney and Kathleen are actors of such great caliber," adds Moritz. "They both have several scenes with Patrick and Michelle that add a sense of weight and credibility to the story. It was a great decision on Paul's part to cast actors who would be able to lift those scenes tremendously."
"I've known Sydney for a while," says Weiland, "and actually, I have another project that his company is producing. He's very funny as Tom's father, but I have to admit, having him in the film brought a lot of fear to the project because basically I had to direct one of the most famous directors in the world! But he was very, very supportive and incredible fun.
"I was honored that Kathleen Quinlan accepted the part of Hannah's mother, Joan," Weiland continues. "It's not a very big role, but it is important, because she sees that maybe her daughter might be making a mistake marrying Colin. But she also isn't sure about Tom - although Joan likes the raffish aspects of Patrick's character, and has affection for him, I'm not sure she wants her daughter to marry him. Maybe it's a case of no one being good enough for her daughter, but I think Joan always felt that Hannah could do better. Joan comes to realize that Tom is the most important part of Hannah's life - and you can't get a better match than that."
FILMING IN SCOTLAND
From the very beginning, says producer Neal H. Moritz, the filmmakers intended to film the climax of Made of Honor in Scotland, where it is set. "There is simply no way that you could build sets or find locations to match the reality of where we filmed on location," he says. "Being in that beautiful environment tremendously helps the movie and also lets the characters really embrace who they are and what they're supposed to be doing. It lends an air of credibility to it - and it makes the magic happen."
"Scotland definitely becomes a character in the movie," says Patrick Dempsey. "You can feel the difference when you're there. The water, the countryside - it's so beautiful and doesn't look like anywhere else. And the local people were great - I couldn't understand a word they said, but they're very, very sweet."
The company filmed at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye for five days. Though there are only at most 12,000 people on Skye at any one time, the Made of Honor production rolled in with a crew of 250, a cast of 25, and 300 extras. "We were split up between over 50 different hotels and bed-and-breakfasts and inns. It was a staggering feat to pull off," says executive producer Callum Greene.
Dunvegan Castle, a fortress stronghold in an idyllic loch-side setting, is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in northern Scotland and has been occupied continuously by the chiefs of MacLeod for over seven centuries. It is still the MacLeod ancestral home. It was on the extensive grounds of the castle that the Highland Games as well as a touching scene between Hannah and Tom were filmed.
Paul Weiland recalls, "You look behind you across the field at Dunvegan Castle and it's like a fantasy, it's a feast for your eyes. For me, the visual effect of the film needs to be part of the whole package. I think that many romantic comedies are filmed in a flat way that is boring. I wanted this to be textural. I wanted to create a world that everyone who saw it would think, 'I wouldn't mind living there.'"
Kevin McKidd, who was raised on the eastern side of Scotland, was happy to have an opportunity to work in the land of his birth. "When the sun shines in Scotland, it's the most beautiful place in the world," he remarks. "I think it's great to show the audience that Scotland really is a romantic and magical country. You couldn't cheat this anywhere else in the world."
While on Skye, the company encountered a minor miracle. With huge exterior locations to be shot with hundreds of extras, there was not a drop of rain to be seen - despite shooting in an area that sees 60 to 80 inches of rain every year. None of the local citizens could believe it. And while it was dry on Skye, it was pouring and flooding across the border in England.
As for the Highland Games sequence, Moritz says, "It's a Scottish tradition that when somebody is going off to be married, the groom has to win the Highland Games to earn the right to marry the bride. Tom is trying to prove his worth participating in games that no American man has ever done before, like the Caber toss and Braemar Stone throw, as well as a very mean tug-of-war."
"I wanted to give the scene a real flavor," says Weiland. "The Highland Games are supposed to be fun, with everyone dressed up in kilts and Renaissance costumes, but Tom takes it very seriously, believing that if he can beat Colin at some of the events and come out the victor of the games, he will have an opportunity to win Hannah. Of course, things don't quite turn out that way for him."
While shooting on Skye, the production also filmed on the tiny Glenachulish ferry that traverses the Sound of Sleat, connecting Kylerhea to Glenelg. The ferry is the earliest recorded service in Skye's history, dating back at least to 1695.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Director PAUL WEILAND began his career in 1973 as a copywriter at London advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce & Partners. He worked briefly for the Alan Parker Film Company before setting up the Paul Weiland Film Company in 1980. The company now represents eleven directors both in the UK and America and is responsible for award winning commercials for clients including Hamlet Cigars, Heineken, British Telecom, Levis 501, Carlsberg, Walkers, and Coca-Cola. In 1988, he was voted top UK commercials director in Campaign's Top 100 League Table for his past 10 years work.
In 1987, Weiland turned his attention to drama and directed Anthony Minghella's "The Storyteller: The Three Ravens," starring Miranda Richardson and John Hurt for Jim Henson Productions. He went on to direct two additional projects for Jim Henson Productions: in 1989, "Living With Dinosaurs" with Michael Maloney and Juliet Stevenson, which won an Emmy Award for Best International Children's Program, and in 1990, "The Storyteller: Daedalus & Icarus," starring Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi.
In 1991, Weiland directed episodes of the Rowan Atkinson hit television series "Mr Bean" and the charming "Bernard and the Genie," a BBC Christmas special, starring Lenny Henry and Rowan Atkinson, which was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award.
He followed this by taking the helm of City Slickers II - The Legend of Curly's Gold, starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Jon Lovitz, and Jack Palance. In 1997, he directed the romantic comedy Roseanna's Grave, starring Jean Reno and Mercedes Reuhl. The film won the Houston Film Festival Grand Award for Best Feature Film.
In 1999, he directed Rowan Atkinson, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry, Colin Firth, and Kate Moss in Blackadder Back & Forth.
While developing and directing feature films, Weiland continued to direct commercials. He has been recognized many times by the Design and Art Direction Awards and the British Television Advertising Awards (BTA). He also received the Best TV Commercial of the year (Schweppes), the Grand Prix de Press at Cannes (Heineken), as well as a BAFTA and a BTA Award for Best Cinema Commercials (Fosters).
In 1993, he won the BTA Chairman's Award for his outstanding contribution to the industry. From 1994 to 1997, The Paul Weiland Film Company took the BTA Award for the Most Successful Production Company. In 1997, the company was voted Campaign's top production company of the year and was ranked second top production company in the world. In 2002, at D&AD's fortieth anniversary ceremony, the company received the President's Award.
In 2003, Weiland set up Contagious, a company to develop and produce film projects in partnership with David Barron. In 2005, he directed Sixty Six, a Working Title feature based on his own life story.
ADAM SZTYKIEL (Story by, Screenplay by) graduated from USC's School of Cinema-Television in 2000. He sold Made of Honor, which is his first feature film credit, as a spec script in 2003.
HARRY ELFONT & DEBORAH KAPLAN (Screenplay by) wrote and directed the films Can't Hardly Wait and Josie and the Pussycats. They have also written numerous screenplays, including A Very Brady Sequel, and the upcoming 99 Problems, Leap Year, and Sisters of Mercy, with Will Smith set to star.
READ MORE ABOUT FILMMING MADE OF HONOR
PATRICK DEMPSEY TALKS ABOUT HIS ROLE IN MADE OF HONOR
THE ART OF ORIGINAL FILMMAKING