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Jessica Alba is known for many things, but not her comedic skills. She is lusted after by men for her fantastic body. She is admired by women for her empowering action roles. She is sought after by filmmakers for her screen presence. But to prove to Hollywood that she could be funny, Alba took a hosting gig that led to her first screen comedy, Good Luck Chuck.

"I hosted the MTV Movie Awards two summers ago," she explained. "I kind of used it as my audition, because I haven't really done any comedies. I couldn't get into those roles, because people just didn't think that was my thing. They thought I was an 'action girl.' I hosted the Movie Awards, knowing I was going to be able to do funny skits, and Dane [Cook] was at the show, and that's when he made the call. He said he thought I could do comedy and I could do Good Luck Chuck with him."

A stand-up comedy sensation for the past 17 years, Dane Cook is still relatively new at film himself. Though his fans number in the millions, as indicated by his MySpace friend roster, only small audiences have turned out to such films as Waiting and Employee of the Month. Cook hopes fans of his observational comedy will open their hearts up to characters he portrays on screen.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of my favorite movies of all time and it was almost a template for me," said Cook. "Adoring Steve Martin growing up, wanting to emulate Steve Martin growing up, and John Candy as well, but when I would watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles, it reminded me to try to tell stories that yes, you can have big laughs. The scene when they’re about to crash and he’s Satan and Steve Martin’s a skeleton- it’s so broad and it’s so ridiculous, and then moments later you’re talking about John Candy losing his wife and it’s just about wanting to get home. I want to tell stories that have big laughs and big heart."

Chuck (Cook) is a man with a blessing and a curse. If he sleeps with a woman, the next person she meets will be her soul mate. This makes him a hot commodity for ladies who want to reap the benefits, and it's not a bad gig for Chuck until he meets a lady (Jessica Alba) he considers his soul mate. He doesn't want to sleep with her and spur her on to a different man.

It is definitely high concept, but Cook focused on the heart of Chuck's dilemma. "I don’t like sketchy, skitty, comedies that dissipate two months after you see them," Cook declared. "If I can continue to build a career that people trust that I’m going to bring quality, I’d like to continue to do more movies like Good Luck Chuck that allow me to tell stories that hopefully will be on your DVD shelf years from now."

Dating is tough, even for fabulous movie stars. Alba won't settle for just any suitor who has the nerve to approach her. "I think you have to be in the right state of mind," said Alba. "You have to be in the right state of mind with the type of dating that you want to have with the person that is also in the right straight of mind to be dating you. Timing is everything. There's a lot out there, I guess. A good sense of humor is a big deal for me. When people are considerate, that's another big one for me. That's very sexy, and you're not thinking only of yourself. So when you're thinking of other people, I love that."

As for "curses," fictional characters like Chuck are not alone. Everyone can feel unlucky in love. "I think everyone brings it onto themselves," said Alba. "I have to believe that that's the way it is. It's so random, why things happen. Some people, bad things always happen. My Aunt, like every car she has, they break. Every car, whether it's brand new, whether it's old, whether it's my car, if she's driving it, it's going to break. So I think that you just carry around an energy. You enforce that upon everything, whether it's breaking cars involuntarily or getting in relationships and constantly sort of not finding your match. I think it's about creating patterns, breaking them and learning from them. Sometimes if you're not willing to do that, in retrospect, you just kind of go in circles."

Love and sex collide in Good Luck Chuck, and Cook has to put himself out there in a montage of Chuck's sexual encounters. It is the most revealing he has ever been on film.

"Sex scenes were interesting because we had to do a montage that people see in the film," said Cook. "I think [it is] one of the wildest sexual romp in that arena montages. It is weird. I mean, doing one love scene is awkward enough with a team of union guys standing around, but there was certainly a challenge there and when you’re doing scenes like that and you’re scantily clad, you’re basically wearing these little tiny felt bathing suits so no strings can be seen. You’re basically wearing Kermit the Frog flesh. So it was Looney Tunes on the set doing those scenes, but again, once you see how it all comes together, then it’s not so bad at the end of the day. You won’t be blushing, hopefully."

The most precarious sex scene has Chuck putting his curse to the test. He finds an utterly repulsive woman to see if sleeping with her will really help her find her soul mate. "[Director] Mark [Helfrich] had quite a good time with setting up that scene. I don’t want to give anything away, but it was a lot of fun."

Alba gets to go wild in Good Luck Chuck also. She takes numerous pratfalls in her endearing, klutzy way. "I'm quite clumsy in my own personal life, more than any person should be," revealed Alba. "It's kind of a joke. It was fun being able to not hide that. I'm usually having to be incredibly self-aware and self-possessed and self-conscious even just walking in heels. And trying to pretend I'm a super hero and try to be the most co-ordinated person on the planet in Dark Angel and all these things. In this, I really got to be goofy and just have fun. I didn't have to be so self-conscious, so it was nice. I related to it in a personal way."

The chance to show that on film allowed Alba to distinguish herself from the cover girl on Maxim magazines that men may have in their minds. "I'm not incredibly self-conscious. I don't really feel like I walk around making fashion or my appearance is the most important thing in the world. That's certainly not the way that I live my life. I'm not really sure how the magazines perceive me, because I don't read them. Subverting it, I'm not sure. I think in this movie particularly, I get to play with it a little bit. I'm the good girl. I am the good girl."

Cook isn't such a good boy. His humor is definitely R-rated, and so is Good Luck Chuck. However, he is sensitive to using an R rating responsibly. "With Chuck it was like yes, we have an R rating, but let’s use it to our advantage, where we can still have a big heart and get big laughs," said Cook. "Let’s not be vulgar or salacious for no reason. We’re telling a good story and we get to do it with a bit of a freedom with the language, which to me is inticing."

After taking a few years to make movies, Cook is gearing back up for stand-up. He promises to announce some new tour dates on his website, to coincide with a comedy album he is releasing. Whether it is on film or stage, he has the same approach to making us laugh. "When it comes to comedy specifically, I just want to have the element of truth. I think that people who do enjoy my stand-up comedy and the people who get it and the people who are taken in by it, they see that I’m a guy that has love of the game. I stick to the basic, real principle of comedy: get f*cking laughs. It’s a simple equation for me. Get laughs. Tell any story, any way, any how, whether I’m being irreverent or wry, or witty, or quippy, or vulgar, blue, I don’t care. I’ll tell it and as long as I can get a story across, then I feel like I’m taking you on a journey."



www.Dishmag.com / Issue 75 - September 2018
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