Malin Åkerman on Romantics, Romcoms and Her Surprising Truth About Improv

akerman_romantics_500alt.jpgWhen we all last heard from Malin Åkerman, she was preparing for the hometown premiere of her fiery drama The Bang Bang Club in Toronto. But for at least one more weekend, she's keeping an eye on her darling The Romantics as it expands into limited wide release. The ensemble film features the Swedish-Canadian actress as Tripler, one of several college pals reuniting for the marriage of Lila (Anna Paquin) and Tom (Josh Duhamel) -- over the simmering objection of Tom's ex Laura (Katie Holmes).

Soapy? Sure. It's also a well-acted, dynamic glimpse at a cluster of peers on the verge of something, a mystery adapted by writer-director Galt Niederhoffer from her own novel and brought rousingly to life by a group also including Adam Brody, Elijah Wood, Jeremy Strong and Rebecca Lawrence. Åkerman talked with Movieline about the exhilarating ensemble feeling, how she picks the right romantic comedies, the joys of playing the sidekick and the secret to playing a "tough chick."

I knew this about you from way back, but I keep reading you're still in a band. True or false?

Not any more. But it was a good start. I got something out of it.

That is something. Why did you quit? I mean, come on! Side project!

We didn't get any record labels!

Now's your chance!

Well, thanks to Auto-Tune it can sound great. But you know how it is. I'd gone to L.A. to try and do acting, but after the first year of auditions I really didn't get anything. I found these guys and started a band. So much fun, but it was a little bit more far-fetched than the acting side of things. I went back to try the acting, and that's when it caught on. And I thought, "OK, this is a sign I should be doing acting and not the singing career." So it literally just came to a point where I was sleeping in a couch on a studio; I had no money to pay my rent. I said, "Guys, I'm going to give acting one more shot. If it doesn't work out, I'll go back to Toronto and finish my schooling." I was in university in Toronto for a year; I was a psychology major. But then it all just... began.

And you've been in, like, every movie made since then.

It's been good! It's been a good few years.

How did this one come to you?

I got the script, and I was in Sweden visiting family. I had a phone conference with Galt, and we chatted. I loved the script I just thought it was a romantic comedy, but a little bit more poetic. It's a different formula than other romantic comedies you usually see. It's not a blockbuster romantic comedy; it's a little more artistic. I just loved the relationships between the characters. I loved the debauchery that went on the night before the wedding -- and the debauchery all the way through the end of the wedding. I thought my character Tripler was a lot of fun, and I just saw a lot of things we could do with her. I always like a character who's the life of the party and who gets people going. So I hope it brought some light to the film, even though there are some secrets are dark moments that come out in the film. Everybody has a light side and a dark side, and it's nice that these aren't just one-dimensional characters.

What kind of name is "Tripler"?

I do not know.

You never discussed its provenance or meaning?

Well, we have to ask Galt. We did, but now of course I've blanked. That was many, many moons ago. I do remember telling her, "I really like that character with the funny name." But because I had read the script months earlier, I completely blanked on the name. I think its something like a nickname for "Veronica III." I can't be sure; you'll have to ask her. Something like that. Don't tell her I forgot.

I asked this of Adam Brody as well, but all these characters seem to be facing their last chance at something. What's Tripler's?

Making out with Adam Brody's character? [Laughs] I don't know if it's so much a "last chance" as it is sort of a revelation for her. Or not a revelation, but a confession. I think Tripler is very much the one who keeps it together, and like I said, when you have someone who's grown up as the life of the party, you don't want to be a downer. I think there's a moment between her and Adam that allows her to tell the truth for once and confess to someone. But I think she sort of sees herself and her life as a kind of failure, what with her acting career. I also feel like she's not going to change after this. She's going to go back to being Tripler. So it's not really a last chance -- just a confession before she moves on with her life.

What were the bonding rituals like for this cast? How did you develop relationships?

They were developed so quickly. I think being in Greenport in the winter - when everything is closed down and there are maybe three restaurants that are open -- you can't really run away from each other. You're all staying at the same hotel, you're all hanging out together. Luckily we all loved each other. Literally -- it was a lovefest. It was the perfect title for the film, because we were the Romantics. It was magic; I don't think I've ever felt this way about every single cast member. We've all kept in touch; we've all wanted to see each other again and again and again. We organize dinners, and every time I'm in New York I call Galt and Jeremy. We love each other, and that's a really special thing to have.

That usually only happens on location. If you're shooting in L.A., and a lot of the cast lives in L.A., they go home. You have dinner with your husband and kids or whoever. I'm the type of person who doesn't want to sit alone in a restaurant or bar. So it was a lot of bonding over food and drinks and daytrips; renting a car and going down to the Hamptons. So we did a lot of things together, and everyone was game. Everyone was in the same zone.

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