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Lauren Graham Plays Mom in Evan Almighty


Lauren Graham Plays Mom in Evan Almighty

Lauren Graham in Evan Almighty.

© Universal Pictures

Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) stars as a mother of three who questions her husband's sanity when he claims God has told him to build an ark in Evan Almighty, a family-friendly comedy directed by Tom Shadyac and starring Steve Carell.

Suppose a Loved One Says He’s Supposed to Build an Ark…
In real life, would she stick by someone who’s apparently gone a little nuts? “I think I kind of go through all the colors in this because you want to believe them,” answered Graham. “You look for a rational explanation. You finally decide you can't take it anymore, and Morgan Freeman is your waiter and he tells you what to do. That's pretty much how I hope it would go. I don't know. You can't possibly know. I think the movie raises the question of, ‘How far will your faith take you? What do you do in the face of doubt? Is the power of love enough to get over what you perceive to be the reality of something?’ And I don't know the answers to all those questions. But we ask them here, in this little PG movie! (Laughing) It makes you think!”

Working Opposite Steve Carell: Carell undergoes a physical transformation in Evan Almighty that involves varying lengths of head and facial hair, and Graham got a lot of amusement out of Carell’s different appearances. “I thought that was really funny, because when I saw it... I mean, first of all, I got so used to seeing him in that stuff every day that he would just look weird when you saw him without it. And the metrosexual stuff I thought played really well. It was great. I mean, again, we sort of had the more dramatic scenes in the movie, so I wasn't like holding my sides laughing during them because that wasn't the tone of the scene. But he's a very funny guy. I really appreciate how he approaches things. He's a real actor, you know? I liked his work in 40-Year-Old Virgin because I thought, ‘This is so interesting. It's so small and subtle, and he's coming from the character. He's not coming from like, 'I'm doing something wacky and big!'’ And I just like that. So it was fun.”

The Challenges of Playing the Straight Woman in Evan Almighty: “I love movies like this and I think somebody has to be the straight man. And also to me, one of the things I liked about this movie was the heart of it, and the sort of emotional, real story of this man who seems to be going crazy and no one believes him. I think that's an important part of the story. I have had years and years of talking fast and being sassy, and I'm as happy to do something simpler. (Laughing) So it's not about trying to turn it into something else, it's just trying to do a good job with what this is. That's what I tried to do.”

The Set was a Real Zoo: The actors had to interact with a wide variety of animals on the set, which makes perfect sense because the film is all about building an ark. Graham recalled, “The amazing stuff with the animals was less what was my interaction with them, but watching these trainers get them kindly and very simply to do what they wanted them to do. Because I just thought, ‘These giraffes have not been training to do Evan Almighty like their whole lives. How do they know to bring him the hammer?’ You know, so much of the stuff is real that you see in the movie. So that was really amazing. I mean, we weren't sitting around petting the lions or anything, but it was cool to watch them walk by. (Laughing) You're like sitting drinking coffee and you just got strangely used to it.

The animal we dealt the most with was... We've all talked about it, so you probably already heard about Toothy the alpaca, who had an underbite? You didn't hear about Toothy? Well, he's our favorite! He has this huge underbite, and he was really unattractive. And I think we made the trainers mad because we called him Toothy and that's not his name. But the little boys got really into Toothy as like a mythical figure, even though he was right there. But they'd be like, ‘Do you think Toothy knows we're rolling? Do you think Toothy knows we're home?’ Like we'd be at dinner and they'd say, ‘What do you think Toothy's eating for dinner?’ So he was the one that somehow, became of his unusual appearance, struck gold in our hearts. We loved Toothy!”

Graham had never worked with animals before working on Evan Almighty. “It was totally new,” said Graham. “I've been on a show where I walk and talk until the cows come home and then suddenly we're doing… Again a lot of it was real enough that it wasn't like reacting to nothing. It was more that when I see the movie there are thousands of animals. When I did the movie, there were five. When I see the movie, there's a huge amount of water. When I did the movie, there was a hose. There was enough that you weren't just creating something out of nothing, but it was all new to me.”

Up Next – Laws of Motion: “It's an independent film that the playwright Craig Lucas is directing. Hilary Swank is a producer on it and has a supporting part in it, just to lend her name to it. And that's really cool, actually, and inspiring to see an actress who has a company who is helping get stuff made because she believes in it.

It's the story of a dysfunctional family and Matthew Perry is my husband. We have sort of a quiet marriage that is in trouble and his brother and sister come to stay with us to disastrous results. It's just kind of a dark comedy, but it's a very conservative, preppy shut-down character who is just trying to be nice to these people who she thinks are freaks. And so that's a cool kind of different place to be.

Then the next thing is I'm doing a wife world tour. I don't know if you could tell. I'm playing Greg Kinnear's wife in a movie about the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. It's based on a true story. It's a really great story because he felt that his patent was stolen by the car companies. He, in real life, spent his life not necessarily fighting for money, which he ended up getting quite a bit of, but fighting for the rights of inventors. He's a real figure among inventors as someone who really stood up for their rights, and it's like an amazing part for Greg. In that one I have five kids.”

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