Last Kiss for Zach Braff

For Zach Braff, the star of the new film, “The Last Kiss” from DreamWorks and Lakeshore Entertainment, the film seemed to be a natural progression from his roles in his acclaimed debut film, “Garden State.”

“Whereas 'Garden State' was about being lost and confused in your mid-1920s, this film is about being lost and confused as you turn 30,” says Braff.

“The film is about turning a major corner in your life: settling down and starting a family, while still clutching on to everything that was free, innocent, and fun about being young.”

Tony Goldwyn, who explored similar themes in “A Walk on the Moon,” directs the film.

“What we had the opportunity to do with “Last Kiss” was to make a comic drama about contemporary relationships that's really funny, very sexy, and, most importantly, real,” enthuses Goldwyn.

“The screenplay takes a refreshing and rather edgy look at the ideals we have about what we imagine we want in our life partners, how we see our lives going, and what we expect to achieve at various stages of our lives. Somehow life never quite works out like the ideal we envision. What do you do when life happens to you”

“The Last Kiss” began life as the Italian film “L'Ultimo Bacio,” which was nominated for ten Davids (Italy's Oscars), including Best Film, and winner of five. The film had a profound effect on lakeshore's Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi.

Two people told me about the Italian film in the same week, in fact, one was Jacinda Barrett, who would have a role in “The Last Kiss,” recalls Rosenberg. “I thought of it as a coming of age film. When I was a kid,, people faced adulthood at 20 to 21, but these kids in the movie are 29 going on 30, which I think is the new coming of age; it seems there's a bit of a prolonged adolescence today. “L'Ultimo Bacio” dealt with a lot of issues young people face, but no one ever talks about, or they talk about it in an idealized, silly ways.

I loved the Italian film” says Lucchesi, “and unlike many foreign film it seemed to lend itself naturally to an American remake. I found the subject matter really fascinating and the content seemed to have an American style to it.”

Screenplay

Once the rights to the Italian film were acquired, Lucchesi turned to Paul Haggis (Oscar-winner for “Crash”). He says: Haggis was really the key. We've worked together before on the film, 'Autumn in New York,' and we thought he'd be perfect for this material. We were right. He adapted the script for us and really nailed it.

By the way, through our relationship with Paul, we heard that he'd written this movie 'Million Dollar Baby,' that he couldn't get financed. So we got involved with that picture and, of course, it was a big Oscar winner, including the Best Picture Oscar.

Lead character

“For 'Last Kiss,” I was interested in what our lead character, Michael, was going through,” says Lucchesi. I could relate to it from a first-hand point-of-view. As a father of two daughters, I imagined what kind of scene would occur if a father had to encounter a future son-in-law who had cheated on his daughter. I thought that would be a very interesting and sort of remarkable encounter.”

“I also loved the message,” continues Lucchesi. “Temptation is all around us; it's how we deal with it, and what lessons weve learned in the past that's important. Quite often, we have to learn those lessons on our own. We can get advice from other people, but the advice they offer they've learned from the experiences that they have had.

Director Tony Goldwyn

Tony Goldwyn, who had previously shown a light tough with similar themes in his 1999 movie, 'A Walk on the Moon,' (with Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen), really responded to the screenplay.

Recalls Rosenberg: “Tony was the perfect choice for the material. He's intelligent, well-constructed, mature individual, and still an active actor, which is invaluable for an actor's piece like 'Last Kiss.' Each director comes with certain strengths, knowing how to direct films in a way that actors can appreciate is definitely a major strength for Tony.”

Casting

From the beginning, the producers, Haggis and Goldwyn saw “Last Kiss” as an 'actor's film,' one that was filled with interesting roles that attracted the interest of some of the finest young talents.

Goldwyn recalls, “When we were casting the movie, the actors in their 20s that we saw said to me, 'It's so amazing to read a script that's so honest about what it's like for us trying to figure out this relationship thing.' They told me they'd never read a script that doesn't cutesy it up, idealize it, or dump on it. It reinforced that we could make a film that's very loving, but painfully honest look at the ridiculous struggle that we all go through as we come of age.”

Zach Braff

For Goldwyn, “the actors hired determine what the final film is like: “There's sort of a group of 20-year-old guys who are out there in our pop-culture actor sphere. But every time a name was brought up, the actor just didn't seem right to me. And then, the producers mentioned Zach Braff, and I immediately said, 'That's the movie you want to make.'”

Zack is an actor who is adept at eliciting sympathy from the audience. Goldwyn notes that “it was a difficult line for Zach to walk in the role, and he does things that audiences normally won't forgive. The character of Michael has to be likeable and sweet, but without saccharine. There aren't many actors who could do this role. Zach knew it was a great role for him and he played it perfectly.”