In the words of the great Pat Benatar, “Love Is A Battlefield”.
This sentiment holds true in Netflix’s new film, Love, Guaranteed.
While most of us can recount a horror story or two about an online dalliance, Nick (Damon Wayans Jr) has 1,000 documented instances of disastrous dates to detail when he chooses to sue the dating website, Love, Guaranteed, for failing to find him love. He hires Susan (Rachael Leigh Cook) to take on the site and owner, Tamara Taylor (Heather Graham), and thus begins their journey for justice.
I had the pleasure of speaking with super witty, down-to-earth Lisa Durupt, who plays Denise in the film, an associate to Susan at S. Whitaker & Associates.
Gabrielle Bisaccia: What drew you to this role?
Lisa Durupt: At first, I didn’t know where they were going with her; initially, she was written quite differently. The original description of her referenced Retta, who played Donna on Parks and Rec. She’s a very witty character, but she’s also a very beautiful, larger black woman in her late forties, early fifties. They had written the character as someone who was going through menopause and that was her spiel that was funny, which was very different from Rachael’s character, age-wise too. When I went in for it, I just realized that if they wanted to see me for this, they must be open to different interpretations. So, I made her sunshine, roses and positivity; maybe sometimes she likes to drink wine with her breakfast, so there’s a little twist to her! I took a spin on a girlfriend of mine who passed away from cancer a while ago. I thought, “Ok, what’s my best Susan Livingston version?” She was just love, joy, and happiness. She didn’t drink, though, but I thought, “I’ll make her a little more fun and just play with it.” I had no idea if they would go for it, but once you added in a fantastic costume designer who let me put on everything that was just a little too much, it worked!
GB: What was it like working with Rachael Leigh Cook?
LD: I’d never worked with her before, but I’ve done a fair bit in the Hallmark world, and she’s been in a number of Hallmark films. I had heard through friends how fantastic she was; just as a person, she’s very down to earth. She’s very smart, very kind, and she has this amazing dry sense of humor and a very calm energy about her. I heard from 5 or 6 people, “She’s so cool. She’s so great!” So, I walked into it expecting her to be awesome, and she was. She was exactly what you’d expect her to be like. There’s nothing phony about that woman at all. She was just really nice, and that made the whole experience a lot better. I would work for Rachael anytime. She’s fantastic!
GB: What’s your take on the online dating world?
LD: Well, I’ve watched many friends use it. I’ve watched many friends get married from it, so I do think it’s just what people do now, 100%. I think I’d be horrible at online dating, and not because I wouldn’t trust it. I’m that kind of person that I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Like my mom said in the younger years, “You’d probably have married the first person you went on a date with!” So, I think it’s fantastic, but I don’t know how people do it. You’ve got to have a thick skin. For example, all this ghosting stuff, or you see people pretending to be someone they’re not. I think it’s tough, and I feel for them, but really, especially now with quarantining and stuff, I don’t know how people meet other people. Especially people who are getting married later in life, or maybe it’s their second or third go at it. Unless you meet people through friends, it’s tough! I think it’s 100% a necessity. I would be very much like Susan, but I’d probably take Denise’s shtick on the positivity, and I’d probably want to marry every single person and be so confused as to why they don’t want to get married to me. I would get myself into a lot of trouble!
GB: Did you adlib any of your lines?
LD: They did a lot of letting us do what we wanted and then picked little bits for the film.
GB: How hard was it to keep a straight face when delivering those hysterical one-liners?
LD: It would be so easy to break up and laugh, but what you guys don’t see is the 50 people standing around starring at us that want so badly to go on lunch or end the day. We definitely do get the giggles every now and then but rarely over the years do I crack. I’ve worked with some pretty funny people and you have to hang on! Sometimes you lose it but you get all of the giggles out in rehearsal. What cracks me up is when you hear a producer start to lose it or you hear a crew person starting to lose it; when other people start to laugh, that’s when I start to.
GB: How similar are you to your character, “Denise”?
LD: I would say I’m not nearly as aloof. What I share with her is an enthusiasm for everything; there is nothing about Denise that is cynical. Everything airs on the side of positivity, even if the world has beat her down. I come from a family of people that are very funny and very witty; my dad was really into watching comedy movies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. When other kids were watching age-appropriate videos, I was watching live stand-up comedy of Robin Williams.
GB: Have you worked with director Mark Steven Johnson before?
LD: I’ve known of him for years; he wrote Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men, which were classics. He was so much fun, he was just like, “do whatever”.
GB: How did you prepare for this role?
LD: I’m a huge fan of very funny women like Bette Midler and Kathryn Hahn; my favorite is her in Bad Moms. She’s so good at being absolutely ridiculously over the top with zany characters, but still makes them believable by grounding them just enough. When I’m given these little opportunities of comedy where we get to be that zany character, I just think back to all the fantastic females that pulled it off so well. It’s just a matter of pulling from other people and putting your own spin on it!
GB: Can we expect to see you in any future Netflix films/shows?
LD: I hope so! I did a one-off for a kid’s show called The Main Event, that was my first adventure with Netflix. I hope to do more with them, it was such a good experience!
GB: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share with our readers?
LD: With everything going on, I’ve been enjoying spending time with my 19 month old daughter and enjoying time off! As of right now, watch out for Heartland and check out Love, Guaranteed.