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Hitch - Nightmare dates and romantic advice from the stars of the film



Feature by: Jack Foley

NIGHTMARE dates - we've all had them, those cringe-inducing moments when we wish the world could swallow us up whole to spare us from the embarrassment we have just created for ourselves.

Mine was choking on black pepper three times during the course of a romantic meal with my girlfriend (now fiancee).

Yet that first-date disaster can often be the thing that makes us most endearing, or prepare us better for the future.

And no matter how smooth or confident a person can be, there's always something waiting to happen.

Take the cast of Hitch, for example. It's hard to think of a more attractive line-up than one which contains Will Smith and two former super-models (Eva Mendes and Amber Valletta) - not to mention a stand-up comedian (Kevin James).

Yet spending time in their company, it quickly becomes apparent that everyone has a dating disaster to recall, or some advice to impart to anyone who will listen.

Smith, for example, admits to being hurt when he was young.

"I was about 10-years-old and Stacey Brooks promised me the last dance at Sean Haw’s birthday party," he told a recent London press conference.

"And I was prepared, I was there I was ready and I turned around and she’s on the floor with David Brandon – and I’ve been scarred from that moment – and I’m getting over it, and I think I’m going to be ok!"

Smith's misfortune didn't end in his younger years, either, given that he has been divorced once, and candidly admits that during the beginning of his relationship with present wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, 'everything that needed to go wrong went wrong very quickly, very early'.

"Normally, in the beginning of relationships, it’s all the flowers and the butterflies – we didn’t have that," he continued.

"You know I was coming out of a divorce and she was coming out of a bad relationship and there was just no time for bullshit and it was like blatant, hard, cold honesty and that’s the basis of our relationship – just harsh honesty.

"And everything was a dating disaster in the beginning – like on our second date, I think I’d just gotten out of my divorce and we go on up to a restaurant and the guy opens the door and goes 'Ah Mr Smith and Mrs Smith, good to see you', but he was thinking she was my ex.

"And she was like “I don’t want to eat here!” And that was it, that was our second date, about 16 minutes, just things like that constantly happening and it was a very tough time for us – a series of dating disasters."

For model-turned-actress, Eva Mendes, the dating game yielded similarly terrifying results.

Reflecting on her own experiences during a recent interview, the actress - who is the new face of Revlon - revealed: "I was in 12th Grade, so I was 17, and I asked this boy to the dance because I've always been very assertive and have no problem asking a man out.

"He said 'yes', I've no idea why, and we went to the dance together, although there's not too much conversation, but I'm trying to make it happen.

"So then we get there and you know how you take those silly professional pictures where you have to have that geeky smile on your face? Everybody does it, but he didn't want to do it, and I was a little crushed.

"But ok, we didn't do that, there was still hope, and we started dancing and he then says 'oh, Eva, hang on, I'll be right back, I have to go to the bathroom'. And he goes to the bathroom and never comes back. Just gone."

Thankfully, Eva has since found love, although she quickly adds that 'if it doesn't work out with me and this person, I would join a convent'!

Her co-star, Amber Valletta, may also be a former model but still admits to being floored by the singles game, despite now being happily married.

Recalling her worst dating experience, she described a blind date she had been on in New York when 'we both wound up talking about our ex's the whole time'.

"Needless to say, there wasn't a goodnight kiss; I think we talked later and said kind of 'yeah, nice to know you'," she added.

Her husband, too, had to deal with the odd embarrassing moment, despite being hopelessly romantic during the time he was wooing her.

"We met on Christmas Eve, we went out that night, and the next morning he took me to church," she explained.

"Then we went to my family's Christmas party and then I was going on vacation ten days later with a friend of mine and she backed out and my husband coincidentally had some time off and I said 'do you want to go on this holiday with me for a week?'

"We made a pact, let me just say, to keep it platonic. That we would get to know each other. We wouldn't have sex. We'd mess around but no sex. And if it went horribly wrong, I knew we were in a safe place and that I knew his family and he knew mine.

"But it ended up being, just.... I remember he brought me flowers every morning and put them on my pillow - different flowers he'd gone out and picked.

"But I also remember I couldn't go to the bathroom, because we shared this bathroom in our room in a little bungalow, but it was right there off the bedroom, so I couldn't go to the bathroom. I could urinate but I couldn't do the other. So I got constipated!

"And I kept trying to drink coffee to clear myself! And then finally it came up in conversation and I had to confess.

"But he said one thing to me that really was so powerful and probably way over the top, but that's when I knew he was mine. He said: "The woman just asked me if you were my wife and I didn't correct her."

Last but by no means least is Kevin James, the unlikely romantic hero of Hitch, who cuts an easily identifiable figure to all men (and women) who have ever done anything remotely goofy.

James is married in real-life, while his character in the movie successfully woos and wins the woman of his dreams (Valletta's rich heiress).

But the actor admits to having his fair share of courting disasters, while insisting that there's always hope, especially when you finally get to know that special someone.

"As far as bad dates, I was always so gun-shy; I remember one time I was in a club with my buddies and stuff and I finally approached this woman that I wanted to ask to dance, and so finally did, and she said 'yes'.

"I was so happy, so we went up to the dancefloor, and it was one of those DJ's who would spin one song into another, and I was out there for three songs not knowing that she had left after the first one [laughs].

"My friends were just cracking up but I was just so into it, spinning around, thinking I'm so in with this girl. That was devastating for me.

"But that's the thing. In the dating game, you've got to put up this front of who you think you should be and act differently; my wife knows me - if I don't get mustard on my shirt then something's wrong."

Adds Smith: "I think that everybody has a quality that is loveable and it’s about finding that quality and illuminating that quality.

"Love is the ultimate theme; it’s the more natural, the highest desire to which we all aspire – we all want to find that person that’s going to love us no matter how our feet smell, no matter how angry we get, no matter the things we say that we don’t mean.

"And the idea of this movie is that any guy has a shot at any woman and I think that that’s very real and I believe that."

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