In Over Her Dead Body, Henry (Paul Rudd) is devastated when his beautiful fiancée Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) is accidentally killed on their wedding day. He reluctantly agrees to consult a psychic named Ashley (Lake Bell) at the urging of his sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane). Despite his skepticism over her psychic abilities, Henry finds himself falling hard for Ashley, and vice versa, but…there is a big snag. Ashley’s being haunted by Kate’s ghost, who considers it her heavenly duty to break up Henry and Ashley's fledgling romance if it is the last thing she does on this earthly plain.
The idea for the script came to writer/director Jeff Lowell when he was working with a friend on another project. Lowell, an absolute skeptic, and his friend, a firm believer in psychic phenomena, would have epic battles over their beliefs. Lowell began thinking about what it would take for a cynic to fall in love with someone who went against all his rational thinking. Then with added comedic complications, the pieces all started to come together for a fun, romantic film.
Eva Longoria Parker, the first actor to sign on for the film, was immediately drawn to the role of Kate.
“The role of Kate was hilarious,” notes Longoria Parker. “You don’t often read a script where the character has so many colors and so many things to do. It’s always fun playing the antagonist who causes all the drama and conflict.”
Adds producer Paul Brooks, President of Gold Circle Films, “The character could have been written precisely for Eva and she was our first choice!”
From the outset, Lowell and Longoria Parker felt that Kate was not a villain. After all, she did die on her wedding day. The audience needed to sympathize with her despite her control issues and often-venomous tactics in dealing with situations. Although Kate first appears as a bitch on wheels, both director and actor agreed that it was very important as the story progressed to reveal softer sides of Kate.
“Kate died on her wedding day, after all, so she has a right to be angry,” says Longoria Parker, “but, ultimately, she is a good person who only wants the very best for her former fiancée. It was a fine line between her retaliating against those who are trying to take away her man and allowing herself to realize what is really best for him.”
The filmmakers landed their first choice of actors for every role thanks to a luck combination of good timing, positive reaction to the script and strong characters. For Longoria Parker, the challenge was to work around her “Desperate Housewives” shooting schedule. In order to do the film, she worked many long weekends, thus creating a seven-day work week for her between her television and movie shoots.
“Oh, it was easy,” Longoria Parker laughs. “I love to work, and when you’re doing two separate projects simultaneously, coupled with photo shoots and actually living your life, keeping it all sane becomes no problem when you love what you do. I know how fortunate I am.”
Rising young actress Lake Bell beat out many other actors who auditioned for the role of Ashley, a woman who, in complete contrast to Kate’s Type-A personality, struggles between being cool and just making ends meet.
I had known Eva Longoria Parker socially, but we’d never worked together before,” says Bell. “After reading the script and hearing she was cast in the movie I jumped at the chance to audition.”
Adds Lowell, “we read several actresses for the role of Ashley, but then Lake came in and nailed it. We all looked at each other after she left the room and said ‘Was she really as good as we thought she was?’”
Henry, played by Paul Rudd, is the most sympathetic character in the film. He starts out damaged as a result of his fiancée Kate’s untimely demise and then slowly must be made whole again, which he begins to achieve by opening himself up to being in another relationship. But he is once more damaged when he learns his new relationship with Ashley was founded on blatant lies, so he must be made whole once again so he can allow happiness into his life.
“Here’s a guy who is basically victimized,” notes Rudd. “The woman he is about to marry dies, the next woman he then falls for deceives him, even his own sister lies to him. Yet through a series of strange events he somehow comes out okay in the end. I found it’s ‘women are out to get us’ message resonant…just kidding. I just thought it was funny. And the J Crew shirts were a plus!”