Harry Connick, Jr. plays union rep. Ted Mitchell in the romantic comedy New in Town. In a familiar story arc, he's Renee Zellweger's primary foe at the start and the man of her dreams by the closing credits. Recently, ReelzChannel talked with Connick about the movie and more.
ReelzChannel: What was it like shooting in the harsh weather of Minnesota?
Connick: It was unbelievably cold. I mean, you can't even imagine. We didn't shoot in Minnesota. We shot it in Winnipeg. Now that makes Minnesota look like the Caribbean! You know, I've been to Minnesota -- I was there a month ago and crazy snow and everything -- [but] nothing like that Canadian arctic cold where you can't even hardly blink.
RC: Any tips for staying warm?
Connick: Just don't go outside. Because if you go outside, you're going to get cold. They tell you not to wear jeans. There was like an instructional magazine they gave us when we first got there -- here's what you need to do, here's what you need not do. Wearing denim was something you couldn't do because it's supposed to get very cold and stay cold. So it's all these things that you had to know -- and they're for real.
RC: Any funny stories from the set?
Connick: Just the normal day-to-day stuff, goofball stuff. I mean J.K. [Simmons] is funny. Siobhan [Fallon] is funny. Renee is so funny. Just hanging out, you know? We have this Danish director directing a movie about people in Minnesota using these real strong accents, and sometimes there was a language barrier. The weather, itself, was the funniest character in the whole movie because it was debilitating. All you can do is just laugh and chalk it up to experience, really.
RC: What was appealing about the character you play?
Connick: I just wanted to work with Renee. I read the script and they said, "This is a romantic comedy with Renee Zellweger." And I said, "I like the script. I love Renee. Let's do it."
RC: Has your daughter ever asked you for advice before going to a dance?
Connick: No. And I'm reluctant to give advice, only because I don't like advice given to me. I like to find things out for myself. I like to seek advice. And she hasn't really sought my advice. She's got a pretty big head on her shoulders, and she's pretty good with making decisions. She's very independent, but she does know that I'm there for her if she needs me.
RC: How do you and Renee come together in New in Town?
Connick: Well, I play a guy who's a union rep at this factory, and she plays an executive in a corporation whose job it is to, basically, mechanize the factory and fire all the workers to be more cost effective. We meet at a diner, and she's unaware that I'm the union rep. I'm very aware that she is here to fire most of my workers. It doesn't get off to a very good start.
RC: Do you think international audiences will respond to this movie?
Connick: I think so. I think it's particularly prescient now because of what's going on globally in the economy. Everyone is losing their jobs left and right -- that being a sort of underlying theme in this movie.... I think no matter what, it's a romantic comedy. And if people are inclined to go see a romantic comedy, I think they'll be really impressed with [Renee's] performance.
RC: Has your life ever been taken in a different path?
Connick: Oh, sure. My mother died when I was 13 -- that took it in a different path. When I was about 21, I got a call to do some background music for a movie that turned out to be a very big movie and turned my musical career around. So yeah, I've been up and down with those kinds of situations.
RC: What advice do you give your kids about giving back?
Connick: More showing them, you know? When I was a kid, if we were at the supermarket and there was a lady putting her bags in the trunk of her car, my dad [would] say, "Go out and help that lady." That's just what we did, no questions asked. I think it's important for my kids to know that you help people. You do what you're supposed to do. Do your work and help people, that's all you can do.