Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. co-star in a cold weather comic romance set in the freezing winter of rural Minnesota. Here's a look at the film New In Town.
Lucy Hill is definitely out of her element. The up-and-coming young executive was warm and happy at her company's headquarters in sunny Miami, Florida. Then the boss sent her to run a factory in snowy New Ulm, Minnesota.
Their problem with Lucy is that they know her assignment is to shut down the plant, which would put the town's main employer out of business. At first, she is cold and efficient. Well, she can't help but be cold with the sub-freezing temperatures of the Minnesota winter; and even meeting Ted, the town's most handsome eligible bachelor, doesn't help …at least not at first.
Gradually, however, Lucy warms up - to Ted and to the town - and her goal becomes reviving the factory instead of closing it.
Oscar-winner Renee Zellweger stars as Lucy and the Texas-born actress says she had no trouble identifying with the character.
"I know this woman. To Lucy Hill, initially, it's about numbers and what works on paper and a profit margin. It's sad, but it exists," Zellweger notes. "As for a small town: I grew up in a small town. I know communities of people like this. They are as headstrong in their perspectives as anyone who comes in and doesn't understand those perspectives. I recognize this community of eclectic folk. I recognize the values. I recognize the support systems that are inside small communities like that and generations of families who have lived in and contributed to those communities for years and years. It's a little colder in this particular community, but it's just nice to be in it again."
About that cold: New In Town was shot on the frigid streets of Winnipeg, Canada.
"It was highly entertaining and very educational. I didn't know cold like that. That was a whole different kind of experience and a marvelous exercise in developing new survival skills," Zellweger says.
But Zellweger adds that learning to cope with the cold taught her a lot about the character of the townspeople in the film.
"The tenacity of the people is just so impressive. To me, you look outside and you think 'where's the road? You can't see the road. I guess there's no driving today.' But that's not the case. Everybody just gets up and they get on with it, like it's normal [and] just commonplace that your face freezes within two seconds of stepping outside the door," she says.
For the record, it's not normal. There is no semblance of normalcy about that at all.
Harry Connick, Jr., who co-stars as Ted, was born and raised in warm and humid New Orleans and he admits to issues with the Winnipeg winter.
"Why you would live in that town …the people are amazing, but let's just be real. It's not human to live in a town like that. That's just crazy cold," Connick says.
However, Connick says his own life experience helped him understand the fish-out-of-water situation that Zellweger's character, Lucy, faced.
"When I moved to New York when I was 18 I was definitely new in town. I was coming from a much smaller place and you have all these dreams you think you're going to make happen …and you get up there and nobody cares, so you have to re-adjust how you think about things. So, yes, I know that feeling pretty well," Connick recalls.
Siobhan Fallon Hogan plays Marge Gunderson, the woman from town who becomes Lucy's assistant and friend. The veteran comic actress believes the film has fun with the quirks of midwestern stereotypes, but never mocks them.
"This is such a huge part of the United States that it seems like Hollywood veers away from because it is not 'hip' and I just thought it was a gift to have this script and the producers were brave enough to do it and not mock it and have it be something that the community is proud of and it's not a weird thing," Hogan says.
New in Town also features Frances Conroy as the town's real estate agent and all-around busybody; and J.K. Simmons plays the crusty but practical factory foreman. The film is the English-language debut of Danish director Jonas Elmer.