Ahead of Love, Guaranteed‘s release, we chatted with Lisa Durupt about the film and her role in it. During our conversation, she shared a bit about her start in the industry, how she helped create Denise’s over-the-top look and some fun tales from behind the scenes. Read excerpts from our interview below, and then watch Love, Guaranteed on Netflix with Wiretap for more tidbits from Lisa Durupt.
Netflix ended a summer of blockbuster programming with Love, Guaranteed, a romantic comedy starring Rachael Leigh Cook (who also produced the flick) and Damon Wayans Jr. Susan (Cook), a lawyer at a small Seattle firm, takes on a high-paying case when Nick (Wayans Jr.) hires her to sue a dating website that guarantees its users will find love. Part of Susan’s team at the firm is office assistant, Denise, played by Lisa Durupt. Lisa is probably best known for her roles in Canadian series Heartland and Less Than Kind or in the 2019 film Breakthrough in which she starred alongside Chrissy Metz, Mike Colter, and Topher Grace.
What was the casting process like for Love, Guaranteed?
I wish there was a sexier story. I just auditioned like everybody else. I live in Vancouver, Canada, and we’re so spoiled because the film industry here has been booming for a good 10 years now, and it’s always floated between the second and third position as the hub for filming in North America. We get a lot of cool opportunities here that some people who don’t live in Canada get.
I love comedy. I got my foot in the door through comedy working with Mark McKinney — who’s now on Superstore but was a member of Kids in the Hall back in the day — on a Canadian series called Less Than Kind. But I don’t get to do as much comedy up here as I would like to. At first, I was excited about auditioning for Love, Guaranteed but when I looked into the description of the role, they referenced Retta from Parks and Recreation. I’m more of a Kristen Bell-type who couldn’t be more different from Retta if I tried. I treated the audition like a freebie, went in, and had some fun with it. The initial script was about Denise going through menopause, so I kept saying “early onset menopause.” And they went for it! I had a call back with director Mark Steven Johnson — he was the writer of Grumpy Old Men — and he was fun and let me do whatever in the audition.
You not only got the role … you joined an impressive ensemble cast that included Rachael Leigh Cook, Damon Wayans Jr., and Heather Graham.
Damon and Rachael were so funny together, but they had to cut a lot of that out of the movie. It was really interesting to watch Damon, someone I admire as a comedic actor, go through the process of toning down his comedic side and play the love interest. And it worked for him.
I really loved Denise’s wardrobe in the movie. How was that look created?
For the audition, I grabbed a pair of massive red reading glasses, did my hair in this crazy, curly topknot, and wore a big shawl. When I booked the job and went in for the wardrobe fitting, the costume designer and I had a blast. She asked me my thoughts, and I said, “Whatever is a little too much. Let’s make that the starting point for Denise.” And she pulled out this rack of over-the-top pieces and animal prints. We ended up with way too many outfits for Denise and had to cut it down.
On the day we were about to shoot the first scene — the one when Nick and Susan come into the law firm and the watercooler is being taken away — we were about to roll and Mark, the director, asked, “Where are Denise’s glasses?” You could see the looks on the prop guys’ faces, but they ran to the truck and grabbed whatever they had. That happened to be a pair they had in their kit from who knows how many shows ago, and they fit me perfectly. Within seconds, those were Denise’s glasses.
Besides the chemistry between Susan and Nick, there was this great comedic chemistry between Denise and Roberto, played by Sean Amsing. It looks like you both had a blast filming your scenes.
They let me and Sean go nuts, and there are so many parts we filmed that are not in the final cut. I don’t think there’s an outtake reel, but I wish we had one. There’s one scene where we must have done six different takes, the one where Susan comes into the office after spending time with Nick, and she’s in La La Land. She pours fish food into her coffee cup and we take it away from her before she drinks it. When Roberto runs into the office, we had a whole bit where Denise is watching the conversation and without realizing it, she starts to drink the fish food coffee. There was a freedom on the set that you don’t normally get when you’re playing a more serious character.
Was there anything that you and Sean improvised that made it into the film?
There are a couple of moments between Denise and Roberto where they let the camera roll and let us do whatever we wanted. One of them was a quick little snippet where Susan tells them they have to work all night. Denise and Roberto are at their desks, and the director told me to do anything to get Sean’s attention. My initial reaction was to throw something at him because physical comedy is something that I love to do. I started looking around and initially, I reached for a stapler. Sean looked at me and was like, “Girl. Oh, hell no!” So I looked over and grabbed a highlighter. I threw it knowing I would hit him, but he thought I would miss. Sure enough, they put the first take in the movie where I wailed him on the side of the face with the highlighter. You could hear video village behind us erupt when it happened because they didn’t think I would hit him.
I’d definitely love to see more of Denise and Roberto if there’s a follow-up to Love, Guaranteed. Are you hoping that it gets a sequel?
When the director saw the final cut, he messaged me that Netflix loved Denise and Roberto. I wrote back and asked, “Do you think they would take a pitch for a spin-off with them?” His response was, “Oh my god, yes. But let’s wait until it comes out and see the response.” I’d love to dive into more of what they’ve been doing outside of the firm. At the same time, the film is Rachael’s baby and her idea right from conception, so no matter what it would be exciting to be a part of it if they were to go again. There is tons of room to play with Susan and Nick, but I would not be sad whatsoever if they delved into more of Denise and Roberto’s love lives. It is mentioned that Roberto is married, but if you watch the closing credits, there’s a little surprise as to who Denise may be dating.
For more behind-the-scenes stories and commentary from Lisa Durupt, add Wiretap to Chrome today and watch Love, Guaranteed on Netflix!