In 'Shotgun Wedding,' Director Jason Moore And Jennifer Lopez Flip The Rom-Com Script
Jason Moore’s new movie may be titled “Shotgun Wedding,” but the director jokes that the action-comedy more accurately conveys the “wonderful, happy, exhausted feeling” of a post-reception afterparty.
“Shotgun Wedding,” released on Amazon Prime last week, follows Darcy Rivera (played by Jennifer Lopez) and Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel) as they travel to a private island in the Philippines to exchange vows before a bevy of guests that includes Jennifer Coolidge as Tom’s mother, Carol. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when a band of international pirates descends upon the island, throwing the postcard-perfect nuptials into chaos.
Over the course of her film career, Lopez has demonstrated an affinity for wedding-centric films, from 2001’s “The Wedding Planner” to 2005’s “Monster-in-Law” to 2022’s “Marry Me,” co-starring Owen Wilson. Offscreen, she’s also a happy newlywed, having tied the knot with Ben Affleck in July of last year.
Josh Duhamel (left), Jennifer Lopez and Jason Moore at the premiere of "Shotgun Wedding" in Los Angeles.
Moore, however, believes “Shotgun Wedding” differs from those previous movies by subverting many romantic comedy tropes, starting with the film’s focus on a more mature couple.
“Most rom-coms are about people who meet and end up getting married,” he said. “Ours starts with a wedding, pulls it apart, asks what’s important about the relationship and puts it back together again, which is something I’d never seen before.”
He went on to note: “Listen, I love every one of [Lopez’s] rom-coms ― I’ve seen ‘Maid in Manhattan’ probably 50 times. But this is a character who’s saying: ‘I’m my own woman. I love you, but I don’t need a princess dress.’ She’s at a different stage in her life than a young blushing bride. She has divorced parents, so she’s a little afraid. I know Jennifer liked that component to it, that it’s about two people who are already in love and need to deepen their relationship.”
“Shotgun Wedding” is Moore’s third feature film, after 2012’s “Pitch Perfect” and 2015’s “Sisters.” The New York-based director has also worked on a number of iconic television series, including “One Tree Hill” and “Dawson’s Creek.” But he’s perhaps best known for theater, having directed the Tony-winning musical “Avenue Q” on Broadway.
Lopez "thinks like a director and, as you would expect, she’s incredibly prepared," Moore said.
That theatrical background came in handy during pre-production on “Shotgun Wedding,” Moore said, when he faced a much-publicized casting debacle. Armie Hammer, the movie’s original Tom, dropped out of the project after problematic allegations regarding his interactions with various women surfaced online.
Moore soon drew up a short list of actors who could replace Hammer, with Duhamel quickly becoming his and Lopez’s top choice before filming on the movie commenced in the Dominican Republic.
“One of the things I learned on Broadway is that, when an understudy goes on, that person is just as good if not better,” Moore explained. “I got Jennifer and Josh together on Zoom, and they were instantly poking fun at each other and finishing each other’s sentences. They already felt like a couple, and they could give each other shit, so I knew we would land where we should and we did.”
“Josh is dashingly 1940s movie star handsome, but he’s also not afraid to look vulnerable or silly,” he added. “He’s an athlete, so it’s really fun to watch him be back-footed. He and Jennifer knew each other long before the movie, so there was already a lot of trust between them.”
"They were instantly poking fun at each other and finishing each other’s sentences," Moore said of Lopez and Duhamel.
Praising Lopez’s attention to detail on-set as a co-producer on “Shotgun Wedding,” Moore believes she has the potential to step behind the camera at some point in the future.
“She’s in a lot of the movie, so she shot almost every one of our 40 days. She’s aware of what everybody’s job is. She thinks like a director and, as you would expect, she’s incredibly prepared. She knows how to get on a zip line or drive a boat and not be scared. It steps up everybody’s game when she’s in the room.”
Moore mentioned his hope of one day directing an action film while directing Cher’s bio-musical, “The Cher Show,” on Broadway. Taking into account his experiences working with Cher and Lopez, the director names Helen Mirren, Taylor Swift and Emma Thompson as the stars he’d love to work with next.
“Maybe we can get all three of them together in one movie,” he quipped.
With his “Shotgun Wedding” experience now behind him, Moore is forging ahead by developing the film adaptations of two books: Emma Straub’s “This Time Tomorrow” and Steven Rowley’s “The Guncle.”
“I’m drawn to sharp, left-of-center comedy,” Moore said, when asked how those forthcoming projects will fit into his cinematic oeuvre as a whole. “I’ve said before that a lot of my projects are about outsiders finding a family. And these are also about making, or blending, a family.”