In the film, the last thing Lisa (Witherspoon) wants or needs was a complicated relationship – and things get even more complicated when she’s set up on a blind date with George Madison (Rudd), a man going through several transitions of his own. “He gets this letter – ‘The United States Government vs. George Madison’ – and all of a sudden he’s in trouble for something he doesn’t think he’s done,” says Rudd. “Things escalate from there and when he meets Lisa, he’s right at the bottom. And there’s something about her – the way she talks to him, and the way she handles that situation – that makes him fall for her on the spot. When I read that, I thought that was a great impetus for a story – what would happen if two people met on the worst day of their lives?”
A potential new love affair should be the last thing on George’s mind, but it just might be the only thing that can keep him going. He has every reason to doubt that he could actually fall in love in this state, but he is convinced that it is so. “Everything starts to escalate,” adds Rudd. “He’s indicted for stock fraud, his girlfriend leaves him, and his former assistant gives him dire warnings of a peril of which he is unaware. Then, when he’s really hit rock bottom, he meets Lisa – and suddenly things start to look better.”
“George is so absorbed in his own problems that on that first date, he can’t talk about anything else,” Rudd explains. “The way she handles it is just perfect: she suggests they just don’t talk during the entire dinner. And for a moment, he changes focus from himself, and I think he falls in love with her in that instant.”
“But the only thing that George and Lisa have in common is something they don’t even know – they are meeting each other on the worst day of their lives,” says Brooks. “They are each trying to dig themselves out of their troubles in their own way.”
Brooks says that Rudd pulls off a pretty incredible acting trick: his character forgets his troubles by falling in love, but, thanks to Rudd’s performance, it’s not facile or glib. “In the way that I don’t think I could have made `As Good As It Gets’ with anybody but Jack Nicholson, I don’t think I could have made this picture with anybody but Paul,” says Brooks. “I think his reaction is real – you believe, every step of the way, that somebody in the ashes can rise out of it. I think you understand that somebody really could act that way. That’s what Paul brought. And somehow he doesn’t sacrifice one comedic beat in getting there. He’s really funny and really real.”
Opening across the Philippines on March 9, “How Do You Know” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.