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In the first movie Jennifer Westfieldt co-wrote and starred in, Kissing Jessica Stein, she played a single gal who decides to date a woman for the first time. In the second, Ira & Abby, she was a divorcée who marries someone she just met. Now, in Friends With Kids, she's exploring another unique romantic situation, portraying a Manhattanite who opts to have a baby with her best friend (Parks and Recreation?s Adam Scott)—and share custody without any strings attached. As with her other films, ''the premise here is 'Let's beat the system and do things in a different way,''' says Westfeldt, who makes her directorial debut. ''The characters Adam and I play decide, 'We love each other as friends. Maybe we can have a kid a different way. Let's be parents together and find perfect romance in the other half of our life.'''
Although most of the cast members are pals in real life, Megan Fox (left, with Jon Hamm), who plays Adam Scott's new girlfriend, didn't know any of them beforehand. ''It was easy, actually,'' she says. ''When you step into a family, you become part of the family.'' The downside of having her around, according to Westfeldt? ''With Megan Fox in your movie, you can't help but feel like a troll.''
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The ski cabin in the film is supposed to be in Vermont, but the cast—?including (from left) Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Jennifer Westfeldt (holding Theo Mitchell), and Chris O?Dowd—didn't have to travel far to shoot the sequence there. ''Believe it or not,'' reports Hamm, ''that cabin was in the Bronx.''
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Hamm and Wiig, so memorably frisky in Bridesmaids, again play a randy couple. ''We had Kristen attached long before the success of Bridesmaids,'' Hamm says. ''We thought it would give her a chance to do something she hadn't gotten to do.''
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Maya Rudolph, mother to two daughters and a son, supplied many of Friends With Kids' biggest laughs as one of Westfeldt's closest friends, an overwhelmed mom married to a man six years her junior (Chris O'Dowd).
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Adam Scott admits that tackling the lead role in the movie was daunting, particularly during the climactic New Year's Eve log-cabin scene. ''I was nervous because that's a real centerpiece of the movie,'' he says. ''Jon and I kind of go toe-to-toe there. And I was sitting next to Kristen Wiig, and I was just like, 'I wonder if she thinks I suck.' It was hard not to be intimidated at that table.''
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To play her love interest in the film, Westfeldt cast actor-director Edward Burns, who's no stranger to no-frills movie shoots. ''He's obviously a great independent filmmaker himself, so he gets it,'' she says. ''His first day was shooting outside in 10-degree weather, and he couldn't have been a better sport.''
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Hamm, who also served as a producer, plays perhaps the film's most unlikable character, an investment banker married to Wiig. ''We thought about me playing [love interest] Kurt,'' he says, ''but we thought that might be weird because I've played Jenn's boyfriend before, in Kissing Jessica Stein.''
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In his first big-screen appearance since his breakout performance in Bridesmaids last summer, O'Dowd masks his natural Irish brogue to play Rudolph's charmingly schlubby hubby.
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As a director, Westfeldt says her top priority while working with her cast was ''making sure we were getting different options and different choices and nuances on the day. Because you never quite know what pitch you want something at. You sort of rewrite the film in the editing room.''
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For many of the cast members, the film was their first experience working with a baby. Says Scott of his tiny costar Mitchell: ''He was pulling on my shirt and looking at me like, (a) 'Who are you?' and (b) 'Where the f--- is my mom?'''