Filmed in the U.K and Marocco June-August 2002. Preliminary release date: summer 2003
DIRECTOR: Dennie Gordon
PRODUCER: Denise Di Novi and Billy Gerber, Hunt Lowry and Casey La Scala for Warner Brothers
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Alison Greenspan, Di Novi Pictures
CAST: Amanda Bynes (Daphne), Colin Firth (Daphne's dad, Lord Henry Dashwood), Anna Chancellor, Kelly Preston (Mom), Jonathan Pryce, Eileen Atkins, Christina Cole, Sylvia Sims et al.
STORYLINE: Daphne is a young, free-spirited bohemia woman, raised in New York by a feminist, single mother (Kelly Preston). Daphne travels to England in search of the father (Colin Firth), who met and married Daphne's mom when they both served in the Peace Corps in Morocco some 20 years earlier, but when his noble family doesn't approve of his american wife, she leaves London and moves back to the States. In London, Daphne finds her dad, who now is a hotshot British politician, whose comfortable life changes dramatically when his unknown American daughter tracks him down. At the end Daphne find her dream job and dream man, reuinte her parents and join the competition for Debutante of the Year.
From the BBC website June 2003: Amanda Bynes is the latest teen idol to make the transition from small to big screen. /.../ Now she's aiming to discover What a Girl Wants. The movie tries to highlight the differences between Americans and Brits and make that a source of the comedy. /.../
What about working with Colin Firth? How was that?
"It was really special. He's an amazing guy and a wonderful actor, and to work alongside him was an honour. He's down to earth and has such a good sense of humour and he's so charming. He's such a lovely guy."
From the Comingsoon.net website: Who stirred up more attention during the London filming of What a Girl Wants: Queen Elizabeth or British actor Colin Firth? Tough call. Firth may have emerged the winner, but only because Her Majesty was a pretender, played by an impersonator known as Elizabeth R. /.../ [Director Dennie] Gordon says the married Firth works in the role, in part, because he has "that thing that adult women love. After Bridget Jones, Colin Firth makes us all weak in the knees." Some of Firth's fervid fans showed up unannounced during filming. "We had stalkers on the set," Gordon says. "One woman shows up everywhere he goes. She's very proper in her little red suit. He sees her and says, 'My stalker's here,' and goes over and says, 'Hello, how are you?'"
From the Montreal Gazette, 26 March 2003:
There she was - her majesty Queen Elizabeth II - in all her regal finery, puffing away on a cigarette on the grounds of London's venerable St. James Palace and chatting with member of the film crew. Or so it looked to the scandalized security personnel. "Oh my God!" one of them exclaimed. "The queen's hanging out with those ruffians." Actually, what they were seeing was a British actress who's a dead ringer for her majesty. She was taking a break from a shooting - a scene from the new Warner comedy in which Amanda Bynes, in the role of an uninhibited U.S. teenager on the loose in London high society, makes a splash at a royal ball. /.../
The one thing she [director Dennie Gordon] doesn't want is for What a Girl Wants to be perceived as just another teenage flick when it rolls into theatres next Friday. This, she declares, is a teenage movie that adults will want to see too. The key component in her strategy is the presence of Colin Firth in the cast. Gordon knew the film risked being pigeonholed when she first took on the project. After all, the central character is a teenager, and 16-year-old Bynes would portray her. Bynes is something of a teenage superstar thanks to her various Nickelodeon TV programs and last year's feature comedy Big Far Liar, in which she co-starred with Frankie Munez.
It's a given that Bynes will bring the kids into the theatres. But Gordon wants the adults as well, and that's why she cast Britain's Colin Firth in the role of Dashwood. Firth's performances in the TV version of Pride and Prejudice and the film version of Bridget Jones's have spawned a huge international fan following. Ever since she saw Firth in Pride and Prejudice, Gordon knew he was "hunka chunka" and that he "smoulders like nobody else. I had to have him." She flew over to England and met Firth at a posh hotel in central London, where he started a mini riot as he entered the hotel, she recalled. During the meeting, Gordon chickened out when telling Firth what he would have to do: squeeze into a pair of leather pants from his youth and start swivelling about to a throbbing rock beat. But, screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler said: "He really got into it."
What a Girl Wants is loosely based on two plays by British dramatist William Douglas Home, The Reluctant Debutante and The Reluctant Peer, neither of which screenwriter Chandler read before she took on the final script duties. Much of the humour stems from Daphne's floundering attempts to adapt to the English way of doing things and the horrified response of the English upper crust. Chandler makes no apology for hauling out the timeworn clichés and stereotypes about culture clash and the stuffiness of English society, but she insists the important thing is to have a sense of humour about it. "They do have these assumptions about us and we have assumptions about them, and what's really fun is poking holes in that and letting the air out."
From the Star, 9 Sep 2002: TRAVOLTA'S WIFE MAKES BIG SPLASH AT MOVIE BASH
From The Times, 25 August 2002: We meet in Battersea Park, London, on the set of the big-budget Warner Brothers comedy London Girl, [What a Girl Wants] a remake of Vincente Minnelli's The Reluctant Debutante. It's Firth's first work after a seven-month 'break' of sleepless nights and nappy-changing, but its star seems less than thrilled with the studio product, where rushes are beamed back to LA for corporate approval. It's fine, he says neutrally, Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce are in it. But reading between the lines, he took it for the money and because staying close to home matters.
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