Ben Stiller and writer/director John Hamburg had previously teamed up on Zoolander and Meet the Parents. Hamburg wrote those scripts without a specific actor in mind, but admits he did think of his friend Stiller when it came to the character of Reuben.
I was trying to write a romantic comedy and I had these characters in my mind. For the most part, I really did just try to write and not picture any actors in the roles because I like to write these people until they become real to me. But I had worked with Ben on several movies before, and the more I wrote Reuben, the more I thought that Ben was the perfect guy to do it. I think every day I imagined him doing different scenes, recalls Hamburg.
As for casting the role of Polly, Hamburg was impressed with Anistons comedic skills and was a big fan of her work on Friends, The Good Girl, and Office Space. I met with her and it just felt really right. I knew that she would have the ability to play the scenes opposite Ben and keep up with him in terms of comic ability and comic timing, but could also play the dramatic scenes. Jennifer brought so much to Polly, stuff that only she could create, and she is funny and sublime.
Pairing up for interviews to promote their work in Along Came Polly, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston set the record straight on working with ferrets, working off of one another, and chemistry.
How do you go back and forth between dramatic roles and comedic roles? How do you prepare?
JENNIFER ANISTON: I don't know. Life can be dramatic and funny all in the same day. With The Good Girl, I was also going back and forth from Friends to that in one day. So I don't know. I think you just step into the building and that other stuff kind of goes out the door.
So theres not really any difference in preparation?
JENNIFER ANISTON: It is the material. If you work from right in here [stomach], which I know Ben does just because he's so natural and so good.
BEN STILLER: I have been doing a lot of comedy lately, so I don't feel like I have been volleying back and forth for a while. But I think you kind of approach it the same way. You have an awareness of what the tone of whatever it is you are doing. But just coming from trying to be real in the moment. You're aware if you're in a comedy. I think choices can go a different way, which are more darker, but I think it's basically approaching it the same way.
Jennifer, I don't know if you are aware of this, but you are in Ferrets Magazine this month.
JENNIFER ANISTON: I didn't even know there was a ferret magazine. That is very exciting. You know, I feel sad for the ferret because I wasn't a big fan of the ferret. It's not the warmest, cuddliest
BEN STILLER: I don't feel bad for the ferret.
JENNIFER ANISTON: It bit you, that's why. But yeah, of all the animals out there to work with, a ferret wouldn't be my first choice. But you know, I hope I pretended as though I really liked it.
You were bitten?
BEN STILLER: I was bitten by the ferret, yeah. I didn't do anything, I swear. It was really weird. We were doing this final scene where I come running after [Jennifer]. I'm holding the ferret and I also had just gotten a root canal the day before, so maybe it sensed that. I was holding it up [and] they are weird because... Do they have spines? Because he did this crazy turn-around thing and he literally attached himself to my chin. And then he didn't let go. He was holding on to my chin. It was this surreal thing, where it's like, Okay, the ferret's on my chin. Then I had to go and get a rabies shot.
JENNIFER ANISTON: Who wouldn't?
BEN STILLER: But I didn't provoke it at all. Their teeth are sharp like razors. They are rat-like creatures, let's just face it.
JENNIFER ANISTON: It's just a big rat at the end of the day.
ADDITIONAL ALONG CAME POLLY RESOURCES:
Interview with Hank Azaria and Debra Messing
"Along Came Polly" Photo Gallery
"Along Came Polly" Trailer, Credits, and Movie News