The backdrop is a sun kissed Los Angeles with all its grandeur and glory. A sexy beach landscape, a hot, muscular guy with caramel skin and amber colored eyes who spots a beautiful woman whose curves have curves. They meet for an impromptu photo shoot but before you know it, they slip into a blush-inducing lovemaking session. Simple enough, right? Maybe not: this hot guy has more to learn about women and love than he thought.
It’s the perfect set up for the rom-com The Perfect Match, starring and produced by Terrence Jenkins and directed by Bille Woodruff (Addicted). The story follows a player named Charlie who finally meets the mysterious woman that makes him rethink everything he ever thought he knew about love or the lack thereof.
The film, which opens Friday, is the first leading role for the former 106 & Park and E! anchor who recently left behind his hosting duties to focus solely on acting and producing projects. Cassie Ventura, Donald Faison, Paula Patton, Lauren London, Dascha Polanco (Orange is the New Black) Beau Casper Smart, and Robert Riley (Hit the Floor) round out the cast, with Brandy, Robin Givens and French Montana making cameos. Queen Latifah and her producing partner Shakim Compere serve as executive producers. EBONY.com spoke with director Woodruff and several cast members, (Terrence J was away shooting another film) who spilled details from behind the scenes while filming, their thoughts on love and if there really is such thing as a perfect match.
The Perfect Match was clearly a homage or wink to Boomerang – certainly with cameo from Robin Givens which was fun – but were there other elements from Boomerang that you included?
Bille Woodruff: Yeah, just the feeling that I had. I remember when that movie came out you saw these people of color that had these professional jobs and they looked really nice and the world that they were in was really, really cool and slick. And [with] Eddie Murphy, a lot of his stuff was like smooth. He was like a “James Bond.” And Halle Berry was really sweet but she was dope too. And the clothes were dope. And all of that. I remember that. I remember how I felt. So [I wanted to do] that kind of thing in a modern way. I wanted to still have that without hitting over the head but just organically within the story.
The scenes with the entire cast shooting together seemed so authentic – how was the camaraderie with the cast?
Lauren London: A lot of it was scripted. I have to give credit to the script. But Billie allows you to be free and adlib and put in your own little “this and that” but it was just a really good group of people that really got along. All of our personalities meshed. I think we were all really just on some grown ish.
Do you like working that way where you’re able to open up or do you like working with a tight script?
London: I love to open up. I think the magic is in opening up. What magic do you find … unless it’s like Avatar or one of those movies where it has to be, but I think when it comes to relationship movies, when it comes to friendship movies and romantic comedies – open it up. Let it breathe.
Bille, the sex scenes were hot and we hear that Terrence actually had some apprehension since he and Diddy (who is dating Ventura) are friends. Did you sense that?
Woodruff: Puffy and I are old friends and so there was definitely some apprehension from some producers and from of the talent. I didn’t have any just from the relationship that we have and known each other from when we were both in college. So I knew that he would want the movie to be hot in the places it was supposed to be hot in. So Diddy and I didn’t talk before shooting but he did call and speak with Terence. I didn’t have any apprehension.
Cassie Ventura: I know Terrence was apprehensive. I know him well and he’s a friend of mine. I did speak to Puff on it at one point but it was just like this is a movie. I never really looked at it any other way than that so any “man” conversation that went on, went on with the men and I went and handled it like the woman that I am.
Was it hard for you to turn on the “sexy” for this role?
Ventura: Personally I feel like I’m in charge of my sexuality and what empowers me. I definitely am comfortable with my body.
Dascha, in The Perfect Match we see you and your husband trying to conceive a baby and we’ve seen you on Orange is the New Black pregnant most of the time. So you’re just surrounded by pregnancy. Is that a sign?
Dascha Polanco: I will be pregnant soon guys don’t be surprised. I will be. Because obviously these are signs and I have to take advantage …I’ll probably be a pregnant super hero that has never been seen! That will be my super power. She will have kids for those that can’t have kids. (laughs). As far as me personally I’m really focused on my career so that’s not in the plans.
But for the most part on The Perfect Match it was interesting to play something totally different. Pressie and Rick, their relationship is not really strong but it’s organic, it’s funny, the dynamic that they have – you can see the immaturity in Rick but you can also see that there’s a balance to it. And there’s issues that anyone can relate to. So yes it’s the perfect match in a sense that we think we have the perfect match but you see in every different relationship [in the film] that there’s different issues, there’s different concerns and how we can get to an agreement or how we can support one another as friends to understand that there’s stages in life and nothing is perfect.
In the film Charlie has to come to terms with his true feelings and learns to express them – and in real life there seems to be a trend of celebrities expressing their feelings publically on social media a la Chris Brown and Sage the Gemini. Where do you stand with that?
Beau Casper Smart: I’m not in that position. But I don’t know. You never know what you’d act like when you feel a certain way. That’s why feelings are so crazy because when you’re mad or enraged like you do things that you normally wouldn’t do. You don’t think as you normally would. When you’re sad or depressed or whatever you do things, so I don’t know how I would be.
Ventura: I have to say I’ve been part of that team before where I’ve divulged on an emotion even if it may not have necessarily pertained to what I was going through, I may have posted something and it said something really crazy – I think we all go through it. I think it’s a fact of life. We’re all on social media but I feel like if you don’t want to talk about something you’re better off keeping your private, private.
Casper, you bring a lot of humor to the film with your character Abram who rides a hover board in almost every scene. Did you add the hover board or was that already scripted?
Smart: I added it. I actually went into the audition with the hover board.
Was there any apprehension from production or Billy with it?
Smart: Billy loved it. I asked him if I could have my character on the board the first day I showed up and he was like ‘yeah I love it.’ So we just went with it.
The film is called “The Perfect Match” but the wink is that there is no real “perfect match” or is there?
Ventura: I do believe that there is a perfect match, but I believe that there is a perfect match for those times in your life. So you can grow out of a person and then you might find another perfect match. I believe that the perfect match is just based off of time and where you are in your life.
Paula Patton: I think that … I HOPE that there’s a perfect match for different times in your life, for perfect moments. It doesn’t mean that there’s just one. If you have found your one stick with it. I’m not telling anybody to move forward. But I sure hope for myself that there’s another perfect match out there (laughs). And I’m a romantic so I like the idea. I love love.