The upcoming Peter Bogdanovich relationship comedy She’s Funny That Way features quite an ensemble: Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, and Jennifer Aniston. (Watch the trailer above, exclusively on Yahoo Movies.)
But if the writer-director had his druthers, the long-lingering project, which dates back to the late ’90s, would have starred Cybill Shepherd (who was in his 1971 Oscar-winning drama The Last Picture Show) and the late John Ritter (who starred in his 1981 romantic comedy They All Laughed).
In 2003, Bogdanovich was in rehearsals for a guest spot on Ritter’s sitcom 8 Simple Rules, when the former Three’s Company star started complaining of chest pains. Ritter died hours later in surgery, just six days shy of his 55th birthday.
Bogdanovich, left, and Ritter on the set of ‘They All Laughed’
After the heartbreaking ordeal, Bogdanovich and his Funny co-writer, Louise Stratton, decided to shelve the project.
Fast-forward a decade later, when Bogdanovich met Owen Wilson through a mutual friend, this year’s multi-Oscar nominee Wes Anderson, whose Grand Budapest Hotel got nine nods.
"The more I got to know Owen, the more I thought he could play this part because he’s a real likable guy and he’s also brilliant at comedy without trying very hard," Bogdanovich told The Desert Sun. “To me, he’s a kind of movie star because he has a certain persona by now that plays very well.”
Bogdanovich explained that the new version of Funny is a different movie from the one he had envisioned with Ritter. Wilson plays a Broadway director who cheats on his actress wife (Kathryn Hahn) with a younger woman (Imogen Poots). Coincidental misfortunes snowball when the director is forced to cast his mistress in his play. Toss in his wife’s former flame (Rhys Ifans) and his girlfriend’s therapist (Jennifer Aniston) — who happens to be in a relationship with the show’s playwright (Will Forte) — and the recipe for a hilarious hot mess starts to simmer.
She’s Funny That Way opens in theaters May 1.
Photo: Everett Collection/ Clarius Entertainment