Jen and Ben have a new love story in theaters. No, not THAT Jen and Ben. In the romantic comedy ”Along Came Polly,” control freak Reuben (Ben Stiller) meets free spirit Polly (Jennifer Aniston) and passion, ferrets, and salsa dancing ensue. Here’s what the other Bennifer has to say about bloody feet, awkward love scenes, and why bad girls post-”Friends” could be a good thing for Aniston.
A mostly blind ferret plays a key role in the film. How did you like working with the little guy?
ANISTON I feel sad for the ferret, because I wasn’t a big fan of it. It’s not that warm and cuddly. But I hope I pretended that I really liked it.
STILLER I don’t feel bad for the ferret, because I was bitten by it. And I didn’t do anything, I swear! We were doing a scene where I come running after Jennifer holding the ferret, and he did this crazy turn-around thing and latched onto my chin and wouldn’t let go. So it was this surreal thing, like, okay, the ferret’s on my chin. And then I had to go get a rabies shot. Those teeth are sharp, sharp like razors. They’re ratlike creatures, let’s just face it.
ANISTON And you know, the woman who handled it said: oh no, it won’t bite. Ever.
In addition to foul-tempered pets, both of you show off your salsa dancing skills in the movie. How did you pull it off?
STILLER I just took classes for a while and tried to be as good as I can be, which, of course, is not that great. Luckily, that worked for the script.
ANISTON I, however, was supposed to be a really good salsa dancer. Shooting my salsa scenes took five days straight, and my feet looked like raw meat. It was just disgusting. I don’t know how dancers do it. But right after we shot that, I broke my toe by stubbing it on an ottoman, so thank God we shot all that stuff when we did.
In the movie, Ben plays a neurotic, uptight guy while Jennifer portrays an irresponsible free spirit. Any real-life similarities?
STILLER I’m not neurotic about germs. I eat food off the floor if something drops. I don’t have that issue. But, like Reuben, I’m not a great dancer. I don’t dance in public.
ANISTON Really? I thought you were a good dancer. There are aspects of Polly that are very similar to me, in terms of indecision and commitment. But I’m not into the same cuisine. I’m a creature of habit. I like Italian or Mexican, not Greek or Indian.
How did you enjoy shooting a love scene together?
ANISTON It’s nerve-wracking, and there’s nothing sexy about it. But somehow we managed to have fun, so we were really proud of ourselves that day.
STILLER It is a comedic scene, so that makes it easier. And because it’s the first time for these characters and it’s sort of uncomfortable, that helped, too. It’s harder if it’s a heavy, romantic deep thing.
ANISTON That did make it easier. But I’ve only had one other love scene, and it was 30 seconds and then it was over.
STILLER The worst love scenes are when you’re alone. I’ve done those scenes, and that’s more lonely and weird.
What’s next for you two?
ANISTON Like therapy or something? I think I’m going to take a long vacation. I need that, I’ve needed it for a long time. Maybe two months, then take a job. I don’t want to do anything that I’ve already done that I regretted. So I’m ruling out clichéd romantic comedies. I’m attracted to a story based somewhat in reality. And I would absolutely play a bad girl. I’ve been offered some roles like that, but the scripts were not great.
STILLER We finished ”Starsky and Hutch” and its coming out in March. It was a chance to do something a little different instead of playing the neurotic, accident-prone guy. It’s not a spoof in any way, and even though it does take place in the ’70s, it’s not making fun of that era. The way the director describes it, which I think is kind apt, is that this is really the pilot for ”Starsky and Hutch.” And then they recast.