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Tom Arnold Talks About "Happy Endings"

Arnold on Working with Writer/Director Don Roos and Playing a Wealthy Dad

By

Tom Arnold Talks About

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Tom Arnold in "Happy Endings"

© Lions Gate Films
The Story of “Happy Endings:” Writer/director Don Roos’ latest comedy follows the interwoven lives of 10 principal characters who are all searching for love.

Tom Arnold plays a wealthy playboy who falls for a woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who’s also seducing his gay son (Jason Ritter). Arnold isn’t the most obvious choice to play this sort of role, but writer/director Roos claims he knew all along Arnold was the perfect choice to play the character of Frank.

“Tom has a huge heart. Frank is this guy that you think is one way, but inside he’s very, very vulnerable and very open and a very loving guy. And Tom gave me that dichotomy. He was a surprise to some people, but not to me. Frank is very close to who he is,” explained Roos.

Tom Arnold on Working with Writer/Director Don Roos: “He’s good, but also Don is very organized in his life. When he writes, he’s got lists of how you can write and he’ll send it to you, the best way to write, the best time of day, how you segment your day so you have a personal life so your relationship is good.

He sent us a memo. It was very, ‘This is how it’s going to be: we’re all on time, we all stand in line to get our food. There’s no stars. There’s no this…’ And it really takes the pressure off. …Everybody was a team and it was great, and that helped.

On Staying True to the Script: “I only saw one thing changed that was kind of major and that was once Maggie [Gyllenhaal] got there. [Don Roos] said to me, ‘Don’t hit the punchlines, Tom. I watched a bunch of your different films and there’s always moments in there where you’re vulnerable. Other people may not see it, but I see it so just do it, feel it, whatever.’ And he was right, so everything was great and then Maggie comes and she’s not unlike her character. I remember we were sitting there and Don was like, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do…’ I remember her going, ‘I was thinking…’ And I was like looking at Jason [Ritter] like, ‘Uh-oh.’ ‘I’m going to run around the pool.’ I could see Don’s head, he’s such a nice guy, he’s like, ‘The pool might need some relighting… Okay, we’ll try it.’

Tom Arnold’s Take on His Character: “I don't think he’s homophobic. I remember when my brother - I knew he was gay, my younger brother, and I kept saying, ‘I know you’re gay. It’s okay.’ We lived in Iowa and I said, ‘You know, I have a lot of gay friends. Talk to me about it.’ We’re from a small town in Iowa. ‘If you feel like it, just talk to me.’ He’s like, ‘No, no, no.’ I let him know that I was hip and I was cool.

I was doing a movie, he never admitted it, and he came down to the set with a guy and they had shorts on. I remember they were sitting there and the guy, his boyfriend, put his hand on my brother’s leg and that instant I knew that he was gay. And even though I said it a million times, ‘Talk to me, I’m your cool brother.’ My heart kind of sank because I thought, ‘Oh my God, people are going to be mean to him back in Iowa.’ So I think that’s probably what [my character] is feeling.

If you have a kid, you want people to be nice. You want everything to be smooth. That seems like a valid mini-concern. Now my son has blown it way out of proportion with his secret. It’s one of those things you’ve got to just- - the lesson is just get it out there. Like when my brother went home - his boyfriend’s black too, by the way - so they were so confused in our small town that they just embraced him. They were like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s black, he’s gay. Come on.’” But it worked out. My brother thought it’d be bad but it worked out. My parents were cool. Everybody was, but he made it in his head that it was something else. I think that’s probably [what Jason Ritter’s character Otis] does here.”

On His Character and Women: “To me, when Don gave me the script, he said, ‘I based the character, knowing you personally, there’s a lot of you in this, the guy that I know.’ I was reading it with my wife and was like, ‘Weird, because this guy is very vulnerable, he’s 40-something, dating 20-something year old women.’

He buys them stuff. …You see these guys and you’re like, ‘Oh, younger gal, what’s in it for whoever?’ But I think if you’re smart, you say to yourself, ‘What do I have to offer?’ I think from the time we’re young guys until when we die, if we’re dealing with women or love or someone we wanted to like us, we open with our A game - whatever that is. And if you meet a young woman, you say, ‘How can I help her?’ So that’s always my thing. ‘What can I do to improve the quality of this person’s life so they will like me? What can I do?’"

PAGE 2: Tom Arnold on "True Lies 2" and Arnold Schwarzenegger

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