Maxime Bouttier on 2nd chances, meeting George Clooney and Julia Roberts, and being taught by Filipino teachers
In “Ticket to Paradise,” George Clooney and Julia Roberts’ first rom-com together, the well-loved superstars play a constantly bickering divorced couple, David and Georgia Cotton, who grudgingly declare a truce to stop the wedding of their only daughter, new lawyer Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), to Gede (Maxime Bouttier), the Indonesian seaweed farmer she just met on her graduation trip to Bali.
So, barely 37 days after attending Lily’s graduation, David and Georgia put their differences aside and quickly find themselves stuck with each other on a plane to Bali with a shared goal in mind: Stop Lily from marrying Gede and save her from making the same mistake they made 25 years ago!
But just as David and Georgia begin to rediscover their affection for each other, the latter’s younger boyfriend, Paul (Lucas Bravo), shows up and asks for Georgia’s hand in marriage. What to do?
George and Julia’s individual and collective charisma is a given. But for director Ol Parker, the character of Gede was challenging to cast because viewers have to be convinced that the actor cast in the role is worth completely changing Lily’s life for.
In fact, in the fizzy but thoroughly adorable movie, David and Georgia are often heard saying how “insanely handsome” Lily’s Southeast Asian beau is.
Explaining the difficulty of casting Gede further, Parker noted, “Moviegoers have to buy that he’s a worthy adversary for Lily’s parents when they arrive. More crucially, we needed someone who wasn’t going to be totally freaked out when it’s George and Julia playing those parents. So, relief washed over us when Max’s [audition] tape came in. I saw one line and said, ‘Oh, there he is!’”
True enough, when we watched a preview of the film last week, it was easy to see how Max easily measured up to the casting requirements’ high, anxiety-inducing standards.
But while Gede is hardly seen getting fazed by David’s “subtle” warnings, Maxime told us in our one-on-one interview the other day that working with George and Julia was actually a “pretty intimidating but ultimately satisfying experience.”
“I was intimidated by George and Julia the whole time we were working on the movie,” Max admitted. “In fact, the first time I met George, I tried to introduce myself to him, and instead of saying, ‘Hi, I’m Maxime Bouttier,’ I slurred my words and said something else (laughs)!
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to remember for the rest of his life how I embarrassed myself the first time I met him…,’ that I couldn’t even say my own name right (laughs)! So, yeah, that was pretty memorable.
“And Julia, too. I mean, I met both of them together, and the only thing I could remember was, ‘Oh, my god. Tess and Danny Ocean of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ are in front of me right now!’ I love that movie so much, and I love George and Julia’s dynamic in it. To this day, I cannot believe how very lucky I got to get cast in this role.”
Universal Pictures International’s “Ticket to Paradise” will open in Philippine cinemas on Oct. 5.
Our Q&A with Maxime:
“Ticket to Paradise” is the perfect genre to bring back at a time when the world needs a boost of feel-good energy. While it touches on universal themes of love, regret and the complex emotions of coparenting, what makes this movie instantly relatable is its major theme on the “sweet surprise of second chances.” How does this resonate with you?
I completely believe in second chances. It’s something that we should bring up more often, because where things stand nowadays, it’s gloomy. Where is the end to all of these bleak things happening around the world? Do we get a happy or sad ending?
So yes, this is the perfect moment to seize our second chance at making amends for the things that we’ve done in the past. It’s our opportunity to make the world a better place—that’s the positive takeaway.
Also, second chances are kind of the glass-half-full attitude that we need to have right now. Let’s stay positive, and the movie does say that, especially where George and Julia’s characters are concerned. They realize that their tricky relationship with Gede also has its good days. Moreover, we should start the positive things within ourselves, which is something that resonates with me. The year 2020 was depressing, so we need to bounce back.
You and Kaitlyn had the complex task of approximating George and Julia’s superstar appeal and potent screen chemistry. How did you build your own chemistry with Kaitlyn?
Kaitlyn and I immediately hit it off. The first time we met was during the audition, over Zoom. Then, we had to wait before we could fly to the location of the shoot. So when I finally saw her in person on this beautiful island, I was like, “Kaitlyn, it’s nice to meet you!”—and I was so excited to see her because it was my first time to meet new people again after the pandemic started.
We were just hanging out and, with George and Julia around, we just listened in and observed how they worked. We were their kids at that point (laughs). That was how we bonded. Everything happened naturally.
Are you a hopeless romantic like your character?
I’d like to think that I am a hopeless romantic (laughs). I’d give everything I could for somebody special.
But would you do something as drastically life-changing in the name of love … like move to another country the way Lily does in the film? Hmm, I guess it has to be the right place, right time and right circumstances with the right person. I would do that for “the one,” yes. But these things require a great deal of compromise.
Give and take
If I’m moving for the person I love, I have to think about how I can make it work. “OK, how can I work here?” Because for all the sacrifices, I also need to survive somehow. So, I have to have a brainstorming session with that person.
What else do you want viewers to take away from the film?
It’s as good a day as any to take a closer look at what’s happening to nature. Portions of the ecosystem are dying … some coral reefs are now completely gray. So, it’s time for us to really think about what we throw in the trash. Which ones can we recycle?
The wise words to remember today are “give and take.” We have to be able to utilize nature without destroying it.
Have you ever been to Manila?
I’ve never been to Manila, unfortunately. But I went to a school in Bali where 40 percent of my teachers were from the Philippines. So I’ve always wanted to go there … I just haven’t had the chance yet.
I almost did fly to the Philippines, but just when I was good to go, COVID happened, so it didn’t work out. I will just have to make that happen pretty soon.
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