More than a billion people across the globe watch the iconic ball drop in New York City, counting down the seconds to a new year. Each person might have resolutions for the new year or maybe they just want to forget the year that has passed as the confetti falls. The film New Year’s Eve tells connecting stories of second chances, loves lost and found and hope.
Like Valentine’s Day in 2010, New Year’s Eve, which hits theaters Friday, Dec. 9, features an A-list Hollywood cast including Academy Award-winners Halle Berry, Robert De Niro and Hilary Swank, as well as Zac Efron, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Katherine Heigl and Sofia Vergara. Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel, who starred in Valentine’s Day, team again with director Garry Marshall.
Bringing a cast – that includes a mix of busy actors – together in New York City was a logistical challenge for Marshall, whose decades long career includes everything from the classic sitcoms The Odd Couple, Happy Days and Mork and Mindy to the hugely successful films Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries.
“Who ever showed up we shot and we followed their stories,” Marshall said. “I have worked with some of them before and some for the first time. We connected well and we moved on.”
With the weight of 2012 on her shoulders, Claire (Swank) is the newly promoted vice president of the Times Square Alliance and has the responsibility to coordinate not only the dropping of the ball, but the event’s superstar talent Jensen (Bon Jovi). Jensen is trying to reunite with the “one that got away,” Laura (Heigl), a caterer, who is working an exclusive party that Jensen is performing at. While Claire has a secret appointment she needs to keep that night, things go haywire when an important mechanism in the ball falters, leaving the world wondering if the ball is going to drop at all. She enlists the help of recently laid off engineer, Kominsky (Hector Elizondo, who has been in all 17 of Marshall’s features) to save the day.
Swank said she related to Claire’s optimism and some of her other characteristics.
“This woman takes her job really seriously and she is responsible,” Swank said. “I felt very in touch with that. I take a lot of things pretty seriously. I love the speech that I had (in the film). I can’t imagine one person not thinking about the year that just passed and the optimism for the next year and the idea about having another chance, a second chance to be a better person and to love more and to forgive. Essentially that’s life in a nutshell, in that monologue.”
Pfeiffer says she “loves disappearing” in her roles, and as the meek and dowdy office assistant Ingrid she has that chance. She gets the nerve to quit her job, the first accomplishment on a resolution to-do list that seems impossible to accomplish until she meets a bike messenger, Paul (Efron). To get her wishes granted, Ingrid tells Paul she will give him four tickets (that she took from her boss) to the hottest party in New York.
“I tried to figure out who this woman was who lived in New York City all these years and had never been to any of these places,” Pfeiffer said.
Efron admitted he had a crush on his co-star before he met Pfeiffer filming “Hairspray.” He said he was a bit awkward around her in the beginning.
“I was young and bashful and I tended to put my foot in mouth because I didn’t know what to say,” Efron, “But I loved every minute filming this.”
Pfeiffer, looking a bit embarrassed by his comments added, “I’m the envy of every girl across the planet. I got a kiss in there with Zac Efron. It was plenty clever of me at the ripe old age of 53.”
Making her feature film debut, Lea Michele, stars as Elise, Jensen’s ambitious and new back-up singer, who gets stuck in an elevator on her way to the concert in Times Square with her neighbor, Randy (Kutcher), who hates everything about New Year’s Eve.
A Bronx native, Michele was able to show off her vocal prowess, which has helped her earn Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role as Rachel Berry on “Glee” and Broadway, in “New Year’s Eve.” Next year she is the voice of Dorothy Gale in the animated “Dorothy of Oz.”
“I sing so much on my show that I sort of felt like maybe I would start looking into things that didn’t involve me singing,” Michele said. “But when I read the script, the songs were already in there. They didn’t add them for me. I felt that it was such a perfect part for me to play for my first film, just to transition from ‘Glee.’”
The revolving story lines in “New Year’s Eve” also includes a dying man (De Niro) who gets comfort from a nurse (Berry); a 15-year-old (Breslin) – who wants to go to Times Square for the ball drop to meet a boy she likes, but her mother (Parker) thwarts her plans; a couple (Biel and Seth Meyers) expecting their first child battle with another couple (Sarah Paulson and Til Schweiger) over who will have the first birth of the new year and a $25,000 reward; and Sam (Josh Duhamel) who is heading back to New York from Connecticut to give an important speech, but crashes his car and is stuck until he is helped by a friendly family who is also headed to the city.
Marshall added that the biggest challenge with the cast while filming in New York was keeping them warm.
“I think the biggest thing I had to do was hug them, not because I was so attractive, but they were freezing,” Marshall said. “We all hugged each other a lot.”