On shooting the film:
Tom Riley chimes in. "We don't tend to overrun schedules, which is unusual. In these jobs, it's low budget and you pack a lot into the day, so it's the kind of film where you think, 'Oh my God, it's going to go over 20 minutes or half an hour. Everyone is going to have to be paid more. It's not going to work'. In England, everyone would be running around, terrified that was going to happen and shouting at each other. Not here."
Riley agrees that on-camera tomfoolery requires studious planning and consideration, but believes an actor should not worry about looking ridiculous. "It's better to commit 100% than be tentative about it. You have to throw yourself 110% into rolling around, falling over, being slapped about. Hopefully, and this is testament to the script, the slapstick is tempered by moments of stillness and calm and emotion, the more heartfelt elements. These are the moments that highlight the best elements of slapstick."
Unsurprisingly, child actor Sinead Maguire looked forward to her bit of physical comedy the most. "I'll be climbing up a tree and then my mam will come looking for me," she says. "I slip and fall and Tom catches me. I can't wait to do that!"
On casting the film
The film-makers struggled to find an actor to play Freddie. However, Hawkins' agent recommended Tom Riley. Riley had performed in TV fare like ITV's LOST IN AUSTEN and had a starring role, alongside Carmen Elektra and Michelle Ryan, in I WANT CANDY (2007). According to McKimm, the moment Riley entered the room he was "lovely and charming and the right balance of humour, fluffiness and attractiveness that the character has to possess. That was that.
We were happy." Burke adds: "It's a romantic comedy, so it was required that he be handsome, which I think he is. Or so I'm told. The character has to have good comic timing and has to be able to do that uptight thing and be attractive at the same time. I think he can do all of that."
Riley recalls reading the script in December 2007. He knew that wedding comedies are plentiful, and while some work - My Big Fat Greek Wedding, for example - others are woefully inadequate. But he was utterly charmed by the screenplay for HAPPY EVER AFTERS, considering it different to the usual rom-com set ups. When he was told that Sally Hawkins had signed up, he was raring to go.
Some years before, Hawkins and Riley had participated in a workshop with the British theatre director Peter Gill. Then, in 2005, they collaborated on FLIGHT 5065 - a series of 17 one-minute plays held on the London Eye, for the Make Poverty History campaign. They have remained friends ever since.
What is Hawkins like to work with? Riley ponders a moment. "You know those boring actor things where it's like 'She's great, she's wonderful', then behind the scenes they're going 'She's a shit. She drinks my coffee and stands in my light'. It's not like that. Sally is the most open, generous and kind member of a crew. She instantly knows everyone's name on set - probably before she has met them... She is so good to work with. So smiley. She makes people feel a million dollars: a real gift."
Hawkins, too, has her own thoughts as to working with Riley. "It's a nightmare. It's really difficult." She holds a deadpan face, then cracks up laughing. "No, it's great. He's really funny. It kind of helps if you have a rapport - you don't have to pretend. You can make it up and you don't have to act all the time. It just adds to the richness and the layers. It makes it slightly easier - I can't imagine doing this with someone I didn't get on with or didn't find funny or don't really respect."
In order to hone the role of Freddie, Burke pointed the actor toward films like Bogdanovich's What's Up Doc as well as Jack Lemmon films. Before filming commenced, Riley settled into his homework with a selection of DVD's. "Stephen mentioned Lemmon in passing - particularly The Odd Couple," he says.
"Freddie's a real dick. He experiences real extremes of emotion. To try and pull that off in a comedy, yet at the same time make him believable and someone that people want to care about is a tough job. In films like The Apartment, Jack Lemmon simultaneously creates this character that is so high-strung and annoying and difficult and can't see how he appears to everyone around him. And yet you feel for him. You don't hate him. If anything, you're impressed by him. If I can achieve 50 per cent, 40 or 30 per cent, of what Jack Lemmon did, then that's a winner."
Both Riley and Hawkins were required to master the Irish accent for the film. Prolific dialect coach Brendan Gunn, who has worked on films like SNATCH and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, spent time with the actors in England. On set in Bray, County Wicklow, the pair were helped and encouraged by people around them.
Another casting addition was Sinead Maguire. Aged 11, at the time of the production, Maguire proved grounded and reliable. What was Sally Hawkins like to work with? "A pleasure. Such a great actress." And Tom Riley? "He's great. Always messin'."
Rounding off the core cast was Jade Yourell, who plays Sophie. Tom Riley recalls a day spent nt in Dublin, during pre-production, in which he ran through the script with Hawkins, Burke, and Yourell. He was hugely impressed with Yourell's acting chops, and continued to feel this way throughout the shoot.