The Verge: Stephanie Szostak

2010_dinner_for_schmucks_019.jpgIn The Devil Wears Prada, Stephanie Szostak played a French magazine editor who made a rival out of Meryl Streep, but in Jay Roach's Dinner for Schmucks, she goes one bigger: She makes a rival out of all the American women (and many American men) who covet Paul Rudd as their fantasy boyfriend.

Still, the French-born actress is a fortuitous fit for the role of Rudd's onscreen girlfriend, giving a dash of Gallic flavor to a film adapted from Francis Veber's 1998 French import The Dinner Game. She told Movieline about the unlikely circumstances that scored her the role, and how she made her way to Hollywood via fashion.

Jay Roach told me that when you booked this role, everyone in town was calling him to find out who you were. Did you feel that sudden wave of attention?

No! [Laughs] I did not know that!

There were lots of well-known actresses who were up for the role. How did you get into the mix?

I live in New York, and I had just changed managers and agents, and maybe a month after that, I went to LA to do meetings. Two days before I left, I got an email saying, "You're going to audition for this movie based on Le dîner de cons." And I went, "Oh, I know this movie! I love this movie!" I went to see the casting director, and she spent an hour with me. I thought, "This is strange." [Laughs]

That's certainly not typical.

Two days later I read with Jay and the producers and went back to New York, and then I had to go back to LA three days later to read in front of Jay and the producers again. A week later, I read with Paul.

It's a good thing to have the casting director in your corner from the start.

Yeah, it's never happened to me! We did all three scenes, and she kept giving me [notes], like, "Do it like this. Now like this." I don't know! It was like, "Wow, this is amazing."

Were you worried they would pick a more recognizable actress, or were you even cognizant of who else was up for the role?

No, I knew that -- they told me -- but it was my first big audition for a big role like this in a big commercial movie. I just thought that I needed to give it my all and my goal was to leave the room and just be happy with what I did, because whatever would happen would happen. I've done this before where it went down to two girls and I didn't get it, so I had that in the back of my mind, too. I thought, "Chances are, I'll hear the same thing with the name and all that." I mean, I was very nervous.

What do you mean, "With the name"?

That they'd say, "Oh, well we loved you, but they really wanted to have a name." [Laughs]

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