Female athletes aren't typically the subject of American movies. In a culture where sex, action, and 3-D sells tickets and wins big at the box office, it's hard to imagine an athletic heroine winning over an American audience. But in the new romantic comedy, "How Do You Know," Academy Award-winning writer and director, James L. Brooks, takes a risk and places a professional woman softball player at the center of his plot.
In the film, Reese Witherspoon plays the protagonist, Lisa, who is consumed with her sport and at 31-years-old has no plans to get married and have a family. When she is cut from the national team because she is deemed too old to play, Lisa finds solace in a casual relationship with Matty (Owen Wilson), a major league pitcher who is so much of a womanizer that he keeps an assortment of new women's clothing in his closet as emergency morning-after attire for his conquests.
At the same time, Lisa goes on a blind date with George (Paul Rudd), a businessman who runs a company started by his father, Charles, (Jack Nicholson). George is recently the subject of a federal investigation and now a nervous wreck. Unemployed and emotional, Lisa soon finds herself in the midst of a love triangle with two equally handsome and complicated male suitors and she wonders if she's even the marrying type.
Sunday afternoon in the basement of the Ritz Carlton in Manhattan, Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, Kathryn Hahn and James L. Brooks gathered for a press conference to promote their new non-traditional romantic comedy, in an intimate and ornate room with chandeliers and impressionist paintings on the wall.
Witherspoon, a petite blonde, sat sandwiched between Wilson and Rudd, and instantly broke the ice, admitting, "I'm really not that athletic. [Brooks] wanted … [me] to work with coaches and train so I did that for four months [and] three hours a day. … I'm still not any good at softball but I learned a lot."
For Witherspoon, the female athlete's world made more of an impression than the game itself. "It is … completely different … [for] someone who … grows up as a high school athlete or a collegiate athlete and … it's sort of a parallel to being an actor. ... As a woman, … I don't even know if I'm supposed to say this, but we have a time that is the time that we work … a lot, and hopefully you shift and you're able to become the Meryl Streeps or the Diane Keatons … and continue working. … But to play a character who has a shelf life or an expiration date [and] who knows that by the beginning of her thirties her career is over … was an interesting culture to explore" Witherspoon said.
After chuckling at Witherspoon's story, Rudd, who is charming and effervescently handsome in real life, wasn't afraid to boast of a scarcely believable first date that Wilson labeled "almost criminal and beyond stupid."