The Oranges: A Conversation With Hugh Laurie About His Unusual On-Screen "Squeeze" And More!
By: Anne M. Raso
There are a lot of TV shows set in NJ these days from Jerseylicious to The Jersey Shore to The Real Housewives Of New Jersey--so it comes as no surprise that a bunch of movies set in NJ are starting to come out The Oranges is a dark comedy about two families in the West Orange, NJ area that have been friends for decades. When one family’s rebellious daughter (played by Leighton Meester) returns home for Christmas and has an affair with one of the father figures in the clan (played by Hugh Laurie), it forces everyone to think twice about what happiness really means to them. We obviously can't give away any spoilers here but you can see this quirky comedy soon enough--it starts it's limited run this Friday. (And if you are wondering if it was really shot in West Orange--no! It was shot in New Rochelle, NY, which looks very similar; director Julian Farino wanted to take advantage of the generous tax breaks NYC gives production companies that film there.)
The Cast of The Oranges
We were dying to ask the debonair Laurie what drew him to the character of a man who falls in love with the daughter of a friend who literally lives across the street! He responded, "I've got an interesting character. I read the script and I thought it was beautifully done. I thought it was very funny but I also thought it took people's lives seriously and it took people's feelings seriously and it did it in a way that wasn't condescending or judgmental in any way. It was very humane I thought. And then once I heard the other actors' names (involved in this project) of course I began to salivate in a slightly unseemly fashion. And it was an enormous thrill to be part of it."
As for the controversial May-December romance storyline, Laurie says, "It's a very delicate line to tread, and I think (director) Julian (Farino) has trodden it with elegance and grace. It is a tricky one. It could either be sort of 'ha ha ha' and yet not really be believable or respectful portrayal of real relationships and real consequences to things. But I just thought it was beautifully done." And then once you hear the other actors' names (involved in this project) of course you begin to salivate in a slightly unseemly fashion. And it's an enormous thrill to be part of it."
Laurie tells us that working his The Oranges co-star Leighton Meester on his hit show House for two episodes things easier for him on the film’s set. He reveals, "I think that (having worked together in the past) was an enormous help. I'm sure if we hadn't known each other we would probably have jumped in and somehow found our way, but I personally was very relieved. I can't speak for her because she isn't here right now. I liked Leighton a lot. She's an absolute hoot. We had a very good time doing this movie. "
Laurie is getting great reviews for The Oranges, but he says that he has to point out that film’s cast was totally "magical"--it includes veteran actors Alison Janney, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt and Adam Brody. You might die of laughter right in your theater seat at this unusual film, but it's Laurie who best sums up the films allure: "We are all drawn to the mistakes that human beings make and their imperfections in general. To tell tales of perfect human beings is A) dull and B) impossible. The Oranges is about how often mistakes are made out of kind intentions--and the consequences."
Oliver Platt told us that besides his great acting, Laurie constantly played piano on the set, keeping everyone entertained during down time. "We all shared a house down the street from the set instead of trailers. The doors were always open and Hugh had his piano and there was always extraordinary jazz wafting down. We took our clothes off and really lived a utopian existence." (We're still not sure if Platt meant that everyone took their clothes off literally or figuratively--so we'll let that one stay in your imagination!)
While The Oranges opens in a limited run on October 5, it will be "expanding screens" in the next few weeks.