Writer-director Mike Binder played Joan Allen's communications director in 2000's The Contender, ''and we spent a lot of time together, stuck at the table during the courtroom scenes,'' the actress recalls. They hit it off and talked about teaming up someday. Binder (creator and star of HBO's short-lived The Mind of the Married Man) got to work on a script just for her, a comedydrama involving a lioness of a suburban housewife with four beautiful daughters who rages against the world after her husband leaves her. The tempestuous part lots of screaming, crying, and playing drunk ran Allen ragged. ''There were plenty of days where all I did was get up and go to work, and then go home and go to bed,'' she says.
Meanwhile, Kevin Costner costars as Allen's neighbor and love interest, a mischief-making, washed-up former baseball player named Denny a nimble turn that impressed Sundance audiences last month. But the Bull Durham star insists he's not poking fun at himself. ''In all those other films,'' he says, ''I kind of thought I was already playing around with the idea of being a baseball star.''