The funniest scene in the Shediac, New Brunswick-shot comedy These Girls takes place between leading man David Boreanaz and one of his three female co-stars, Holly Lewis. Boreanaz plays Keith, the local weed dealer, who is being blackmailed by Lewis’ character, the cheery, teenaged Lisa. She wants him to deflower her, “deflower” being a word she finds especially fitting since he’s got a green thumb. There’s also an element of competition in her motives: Her two friends, the romantic idealist Glory (Amanda Walsh) and Keira (Caroline Dhavernas), the brainy narrator of the story, have already slept with him.
Lewis raves about her co-star, and says his years of experience playing the immortal vampire Angel on his own series and on Buffy the Vampire Slayer gave Boreanaz a natural ease in front of the camera.
“On top of that, he’s incredibly good-looking,” says Lewis, speaking on her cell from Toronto. “It wasn’t hard to act any of the ‘he’s so hunky’ kind of lines. In the virgin sex scene, we worked together on this honest, nervous energy thing. He was very comforting and very supportive, and talked a lot about his wife so we wouldn’t feel like he was going to be a bad guy. He took us out for dinner, even.”
On paper and in marketing it may appear as a broad sex comedy, but These Girls is more of a coming-of-age picture, with a witty, character-driven script. It’s about three small-town girls who decide to share a man between them. Keith is married with a toddler, though that doesn’t stop Glory from having an affair with him, and when Keira and Lisa discover the liaison, they put together a plan for all three to enjoy him over the summer. The arrangement isn’t without benefits for Keith, but it starts to complicate his life in ways that are probably not too difficult to predict.
These Girls is the second film from Montreal-based filmmaker John Hazlett, who directed Bad Money in 1999, and was one of the producers of the 1997 comedy Kitchen Party. Hazlett adapted These Girls from a stage play by Quebec writer Vivienne Laxdal, and he admits the original text was a great deal darker in tone than his adaptation. Though plays are often seen as great source material for low-budget film, this one took five years of development.
“I had it in my mind that it would always be a comedy,” says Hazlett from Montreal. “But there’s stuff I think people thought it was a little too out there, especially the scene where Lisa has sex for the first time. Some people were like, ‘This is pornographic,’ and I said, ‘No, no, no, it’s all in the treatment.’ If you see the movie it’s very funny.”
In cases like this, where funds are limited, it’s especially important the script be one that will generate interest in both financiers and talent. Hazlett’s biggest coup was nabbing American TV star Boreanaz for his low-budget Canadian comedy.
“Big Hollywood producers can buy an actor,” he says. “We just can’t, the actor has to be totally into it. We didn’t have enough to pay his rate—we had enough so it wouldn’t be embarrassing for him to take the role—but he took it based on the fact that he loved the script. Ultimately that’s why he’s in the movie.”
Shooting in Canada might have also been appealing to Boreanaz because he’s an avid hockey player who was keen to get some ice time, but the female leads didn’t need the incentive of extracurricular activities to be in the film. Holly Lewis had acted on TV in Ken Finkleman’s The Newsroom, and on stage in Toronto and at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, but this is her big screen debut. These Girls premieres in Toronto as well this week, and she has plans for the opening.
“I think I’m just going to the biggest movie theatre where it opens, to sit at the back with a baseball cap on and pretend I’m a star,” she says. “You only get your first time once.”
These Girls opens Friday at Bayer’s Lake.