As the director of Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters and the executive producer of Old School, Ivan Reitman knows a little something about making hit comedies and the importance of casting before an inch of film is shot. (After all, our love for all things Bill Murray is largely his fault.) So when it came time to staff his latest laugher about Matt (Luke Wilson), an architect who breaks up with his frumpy girlfriend Jenny (Uma Thurman) only to find out she's a spiteful superheroine, Reitman knew exactly who he wanted in the lead role.
''Luke Wilson is every man,'' he says of the actor, ''a likable guy that you want to hang out with.'' As for the dumpee, Thurman, the statuesque killer-of-Bill wouldn't seem to be the go-to girl for yuks, but ''I just had a sense about her,'' says Reitman, who hadn't seen The Producers when he cast her. ''Much in the same way that I was confident I could make Arnold Schwarzenegger funny in Twins or Robert Redford in Legal Eagles.''
Joining comedy vets Eddie Izzard and Anna Faris (as Jenny's archnemesis and Matt's new squeeze, respectively) is The Office's Rainn Wilson, who plays Matt's chauvinistic best friend, Vaughn. Casting Wilson proved difficult, however, because NBC wouldn't release him from his day job at Dunder Mifflin. ''It came down to this battle between the [movie] studio and NBC Universal about a handful of days, like 'Who owns me?''' says Wilson, who tried out for My Super Ex-Girlfriend before The Office became NBC's second-most-watched comedy. Reitman, who eventually guaranteed NBC a portion of his own salary ''a big portion'' if Wilson missed any Office workdays, figures it was worth it to get the ensemble he wanted. ''People love romantic comedies,'' he says, ''when they're done right.''