Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, ...
Credit: Two Weeks Notice: Eli Reed

While making his directorial debut, Lawrence suffered from headaches, sinus infections, and a root canal. Not to mention a slipped disc. ”I?m a bit of a hypochondriac,” admits the 41-year-old. ”That was really the hardest part for me — remaining alive during the shoot.” Which, compared with all the creative and political ailments that could burden first-time projects, ain?t all that bad.

It didn?t hurt that veteran Bullock, with whom Lawrence had collaborated twice before, was on board to star and produce from day one — actually, before day one. Lawrence wrote the script in 2000, during postproduction on ”Miss Congeniality,” which he cowrote; he also penned Bullock?s ”Forces of Nature.” ”I shifted the computer over [to Bullock] and said, ‘What do you think of this?? hoping she would be interested, and pretending I was just looking for generic feedback,?” he laughs. ”She read the first 15 or 20 pages and liked [it].”

As for casting Bullock?s costar, Lawrence went straight to Grant — not only because he and Bullock had been hoping to work together for some time, but also for his skill with verbal comedy. ”In terms of dialogue and rhythm, there?s no one better,” Lawrence boasts. ”And I was hoping that this part could be slightly new ground for him — not the ‘Notting Hill’ character, yet not quite as insidious as the ‘Bridget Jones?s Diary’ [persona either].” Grant, in turn, was impressed with the script?s witty exchanges. ”The writing is so sharp, all repartee and banter,” says the actor, who plays a real estate mogul so dependent on his overworked chief counsel (Bullock) that she decides to quit…until their hearts draw them back together. ”It just seemed bang-on, and working with [Bullock felt] like I?d come home in some weird way, like she was the actress I was always supposed to do romantic comedies with.”

That may be because the two stars share an affection for scatological humor. ”As soon as the conversation came down to a 7-year-old level, we were both in tears of laughter,” Grant recalls. ”You cannot believe how juvenile — the noise of ice dropping into a drink, making a plopping sound. There?s quite a good gag reel — mainly us just cracking up, unable to do scenes we were laughing so hard.” Which will probably make a better addition to the DVD than the director?s root-canal surgery.

THE LOWDOWN Riding the ”Bridget Jones?s Diary”/”About a Boy” wave, Grant could be just what Lawrence and Bullock need to make their third go-round a charmer.

Two Weeks Notice
  • Movie
  • 105 minutes