The crusty veneer that surrounds Lawrence Wetherhold in SMART PEOPLE begins to crack apart when he does the one thing he never expected he would ever do again - fall in love, for the first time since his wife died ten years ago. The recipient of his affection is a former student who once had a school-girl crush on him back when he was her impossible-to-please professor. But now Janet Hartigan is very much an adult, a lonely Emergency Room doctor who finds herself boggled by a man who seems to have built impenetrable steel walls around himself. Their love story - awkward, eccentric and almost over before it starts - is the stuttering engine that drives the transformation of the Wetherhold family.
Golden Globe-winner Sarah Jessica Parker took on the role of Janet much to Dennis Quaid's delight. “I thought she was amazing,” he says, “with a character that's very different from anyone she's played before. As Dr. Hartigan, she's someone who's also emotionally closed off, although not as much as Lawrence is. They're really two people who don't seem to have a clue, or a chance, to pull off this relationship, and yet they do.”
Parker had previously worked with producer Michael London on The Family Stone, which led to him sending her SMART PEOPLE. “Sarah just seemed like the right color for this film,” remarks London. “I knew she was looking for something challenging, and she has a wonderful gift for prickly characters. She can make them feel real and accessible in a way few actors can.”
It was the unusual turbulence in the romance between Lawrence and Janet that first attracted Parker. “I liked that it was a real adult story about two people doing their best version of attempting a relationship - one that neither of them is really well equipped to deal with,” she says.
Working with Quaid became the icing on the cake. “He has a quality that reminds me of people who are just starting out in the movie business. He seems so fresh and delighted by things, not cynical about the process,” Parker comments. “He's really surprising and I grew very fond of him.”